Preprint / Version 1

Co-contraction training

myoelectric activity and recruitment strategies in an unorthodox resistance training technique.


  • Nilson Ribeiro dos Santos Silva
  • Matheus Pacheco
  • Rafael Akira Fujita
  • Marina Mello Villalba
  • Matheus Machado Gomes



co-activation, EMG, self-resistance exercise


Objective To elucidate the muscle recruitment patterns and interindividual variability during co-contraction training sessions for lower limbs. Methods Ten active male young adults underwent two days of tests, in which they performed, for each leg, a maximal isometric voluntary contraction protocol followed by a co-contraction training set. We acquired myoelectric (EMG) activity from the sartorius, biceps femoris long and short heads, semitendinosus, semimembranosus, rectus femoris, vastus lateralis and vastus medialis and tensor facia latae during both protocols. We used iterative HLM analyses and bootstrap ANOVAs to explain within and between participant variances. Results On average, participants started recruiting 36% of their maximum EMG amplitude, showing decays of 0.41% per repetition and increasing 7.45% from day 1 to day 2. Participants who started with higher recruitment showed greater decays over repetitions and vice-versa. The training stimulated similarly the ratio of participants’ flexors and extensors. However, participants demonstrated different average muscle recruitment patterns with some individuals modifying, largely, their recruitment over repetitions/days. Between and within-variability in recruitment pattern was maintained throughout repetitions and days. We found no consistent similarity in terms of pairs of participants as to find common types of recruitment. Conclusion Co-contraction training seems to be effective to recruit thigh muscles of both legs along an entire set of repetitions and days. Despite the accounted variations in intramuscular recruitment, co-contraction training evokes similar muscular in flexor’s and extensor’s recruitment among participants.