Chronic eccentric arm cycling improves maximum upper-body strength and power

Steven J. Elmer, Dakota J. Anderson, Travis R. Wakeham, Matthew A. Kilgas, John J. Durocher, Stan L Lindstedt, Paul C. LaStayo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Eccentric leg cycling (cycle ergometry adapted to impose muscle lengthening contractions) offers an effective exercise for restoring lower-body muscular function, maintaining health, and improving performance in clinical and athletic populations. Purpose: We extended this model to the upper body and evaluated the effectiveness of a 7-week eccentric arm cycling (ECCarm) intervention to improve upper-body muscular function. We also explored whether ECCarm would alter arterial function. Methods: Participants performed ECCarm (n = 9) or concentric arm cycling (CONarm; n = 8) 3×/week while training intensity increased (5–20 min, 60–70% upper-body peak heart rate). Maximum elbow extensor strength, upper-body concentric power, and peripheral and central arterial stiffness were assessed before and after training. Results: During training, heart rates and perceived exertion did not differ between groups (~68% upper-body peak heart rate, ~12 Borg units, both P > 0.05), whereas power during ECCarm was ~2× that for CONarm (122 ± 43 vs. 59 ± 20 W, P < 0.01). Muscle soreness for ECCarm was greater than CONarm (P = 0.02), however, soreness was minimal for both groups (<0.50 cm). Following training, ECCarm exhibited greater changes in elbow extensor strength (16 ± 10 vs. 1 ± 9%, P = 0.01) and upper-body power (6 ± 8 vs. −3 ± 7%, P < 0.01) compared to CONarm. Peripheral and central arterial stiffness did not change for either group (both P > 0.05). Conclusion: Upper-body eccentric exercise improved dynamic muscular function while training at low exertion levels. Results occurred with minimal soreness and without compromising arterial function. ECCarm findings parallel eccentric leg cycling findings and indicate that eccentric cycle ergometry offers a robust model for enhancing upper-body muscular function. ECCarm could have applications in rehabilitation and sport training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1473-1483
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Arterial stiffness
  • Cycle ergometry
  • Exercise training
  • Lengthening contractions
  • Neuromuscular function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)


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