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Gender Differences In The Fatigability Of Human Skeletal Muscle

John G. Semmler, Devin V. Kutzscher, Roger M. Enoka

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After participating in a 4-wk intervention that reduced normal usage of the elbow flexor muscles, all six women, but only one of six men, experienced a marked increase in the endurance time during a low-force fatiguing contraction. The increase in endurance time was associated with an altered pattern of muscle activation that did not involve the commonly observed progressive increase in muscle activity. Rather, the muscle activity comprised intermittent motor unit activity. In those individuals who exhibited this behavior, the novel pattern of muscle activity was only present immediately after 4 wk of limb immobilization and not before the intervention or after 4 wk of recovery. These findings suggest possible differences between women and men in the adaptations of the neuromuscular system.