OBJECTIVES: The ability to maximally generate active muscle tension during resistance training has been established to be a primary determinant for strength development. The influence of intrasession rest intervals may have a profound effect on strength gains subsequent to short-term high intensity training. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of rest interval on strength and functional performance after four weeks of isokinetic training. METHODS: Fifteen healthy college aged individuals were randomly assigned to either a short rest interval group (group 1, n = 8) or a long rest interval group (group 2, n = 7). Subjects were evaluated for quadriceps and hamstring isokinetic strength at 60 (five repetitions) and 180 (30 repetitions) degrees/second and functional performance with the single leg hop for distance test. One leg of each subject was randomly assigned to a four week, three days/week isokinetic strength training programme for concentric knee extension and flexion performed at 90 degrees/second. Subjects in group 1 received a 40 second rest interval in between exercise sets, whereas subjects in group 2 received a 160 second rest period. RESULTS: A two factor analysis of variance for the pre-test--post-test gain scores (%) showed significantly greater improvements for isokinetic hamstring total work and average power at 180 degrees/second for the trained limb of subjects in group 2 than their contralateral non-trained limb and the subjects in group 1. Significantly greater improvements for the single leg hop for distance were also found for the trained limbs of subjects in both groups as compared with the non-trained limbs. CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate that a relatively longer intrasession rest period resulted in a greater improvement in hamstring muscle strength during short term high intensity training.
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