Sprinters have been found to possess longer muscle fascicles than non-sprinters, which is thought to be beneficial for high-acceleration movements based on muscle force-length-velocity properties. However, it is unknown if their morphology is a result of genetics or training during growth. To explore the influence of training during growth, thirty guinea fowl (Numida meleagris) were split into exercise and sedentary groups. Exercise birds were housed in a large pen and underwent high-acceleration training during their growth period (age 4–14 weeks), while sedentary birds were housed in small pens to restrict movement. Morphological analyses (muscle mass, PCSA, optimal fascicle length, pennation angle) of a hip extensor muscle (ILPO) and plantarflexor muscle (LG), which differ in architecture and function during running, were performed post-mortem. Muscle mass for both ILPO and LG was not different between the two groups. Exercise birds were found to have ∼12% and ∼14% longer optimal fascicle lengths in ILPO and LG, respectively, than the sedentary group despite having ∼3% shorter limbs. From this study we can conclude that optimal fascicle lengths can increase as a result of high-acceleration training during growth. This increase in optimal fascicle length appears to occur irrespective of muscle architecture and in the absence of a change in muscle mass. Our findings suggest high-acceleration training during growth results in muscles that prioritize adaptations for lower strain and shortening velocity over isometric strength. Thus, the adaptations observed suggest these muscles produce higher force during dynamic contractions, which is beneficial for movements requiring large power outputs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Biomedical Engineering