An 8-wk progressive resistance training program for the lower extremity was performed twice a week to investigate the time course for skeletal muscle adaptations in men and women. Maximal dynamic strength was tested biweekly. Muscle biopsies were extracted at the beginning and every 2 wk of the study from resistance-trained and from nontrained (control) subjects. The muscle samples were analyzed for fiber type composition, cross-sectional area, and myosin heavy chain content. In addition, fasting blood samples were measured for resting serum levels of testosterone, cortisol, and growth hormone. With the exception of the leg press for women (after 2 wk of training) and leg extension for men (after 6 wk of training), absolute and relative maximal dynamic strength was significantly increased after 4 wk of training for all three exercises (squat, leg press, and leg extension) in both sexes. Resistance training also caused a significant decrease in the percentage of type IIb fibers after 2 wk in women and 4 wk in men, an increase in the resting levels of serum testosterone after 4 wk in men, and a decrease in cortisol after 6 wk in men. No significant changes occurred over time for any of the other measured parameters for either sex. These data suggest that skeletal muscle adaptations that may contribute to strength gains of the lower extremity are similar for men and women during the early phase of resistance training and, with the exception of changes in the fast fiber type composition, that they occur gradually.
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