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Unit of study_

EXSS2030: Muscle Adaptations to Use and Disuse

The purpose of the unit is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of skeletal muscle function and how muscle adapts to increased use, specifically how muscle responds to high-resistance training (HRT, also know as strength training) and to disuse. Students will gain an understanding of muscle force development in terms of myosin function and organization (sarcomeres, myofibrils, muscle fibers) and the neural processes involved in maximal voluntary contractions. Students will then apply this knowledge to understand how HRT works in terms of hypertrophy and neural adaptations, the process of muscle atrophy during disuse and the effects of retraining after disuse. Students will integrate this biological understanding with an evidence-base approach to HRT prescription. Students apply and integrate these approaches gain skills in the real-world prescription of HRT through participation in HRT program in practical session, and then gain skills in data analysis via interpretation of their own responses to training. Students will gain skills in the ability to critically evaluate, and communicate applications of evidence-base research in healthy and clinical populations. Finally the unit examines concepts on muscle energy balance in terms of methods and control of ATP production and use, and these concepts are used to understand the concepts of peripheral and central fatigue.


Academic unit Movement Sciences
Unit code EXSS2030
Unit name Muscle Adaptations to Use and Disuse
Session, year
Semester 2, 2021
Attendance mode Normal day
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Tom Gwinn,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam Final exam
Short answer and MCQ
50% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Tutorial quiz Quiz 1
Short answer and MCQ
5% Week 04
Due date: 31 Aug 2021 at 23:55
15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Tutorial quiz Quiz 2
Short answer and MCQ
5% Week 06
Due date: 14 Sep 2021 at 23:55
15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Tutorial quiz Quiz 3
Short answer and MCQ
5% Week 08
Due date: 05 Oct 2021 at 23:55
15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO2
Tutorial quiz Quiz 4
Short answer and MCQ
5% Week 10
Due date: 19 Oct 2021 at 23:55
15 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4
Presentation group assignment Evidence base presentation
Oral presentation and report
15% Week 11 15 minutes, 500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO4
Assignment group assignment Practical report 1
Written Report
15% Week 12
Due date: 05 Nov 2021 at 23:55
3 A4 pages
Outcomes assessed: LO5
group assignment = group assignment ?
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?

4 x ONLINE QUIZZES (5% each) MCQ quiz plus short answer questions reviewing the previous 2 weeks lecture content. Each quiz will take approximately 15 min to complete, but will be ‘open’ for one week.

PRACTICAL REPORT: Group assignment.  Students will analyse cross-sectional muscle strength data collected in pre-training assessment practical and longitudinal data from high-resistance training program. Report will using spreadsheet functions to determine group means, maximum and minimum values, and histogram plots. Reports will include short answer questions related to the interpretation of the data analysis.

EVIDENCE-BASE PRESENTATION: Group assignment. Students acquire skills evidence-based practice by evaluating and presenting a review of a randomised controlled trial examining a high-resistance training intervention. The study is self-selected from a master list of studies in populations including healthy older-adult, frail elderly, a range of clinical conditions (including diabetes, CHF, CAD and COPD) and healthy young adults. All students in a group are expected to contribute to the live presentation. Attendance at the presentation session is compulsory. If students cannot attend physically, then Zoom attendance is required. Non-attendance of individual student in a group will result in that student receiving half marks for the presentation, in the absence of Special Consideration submission.

FINAL EXAM: The exam questions will cover the lecture and tutorial material from week 1-12.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100



75 - 84



65 - 74



50 - 64



0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Practical report: Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date. After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Live Zoom - Unit overview and introduction Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Online lecture: Normal strength/ Strength & performance / Evidenced-based resistance training Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 02 Online lecture: Myosin structure and function / Sarcomeres, myofibrils and muscle fibres / proteins Online class (1 hr) LO1
Live Zoom - Review: Performance / Evidence based Prescription Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 03 Online lecture: Fiber types / forces & movements / concentric & eccentric contractions / muscle design Online class (1 hr) LO1
Live Zoom - Review: Myosin, sarcomeres, myofibril and muscle fibres Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Week 04 Online lecture: Muscle activation / EC coupling / neural adaptations to resistance training Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Live Zoom - Review: forces & movements / concentric & eccentric contractions Lecture (1 hr) LO1
Week 05 Online lecture: Protein synthesis and resistance training Online class (1 hr) LO2
Live Zoom - Review: Muscle activation and neural adaptations to training Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Arm flexion 1RM & training Practical (2 hr) LO5
Week 06 Online lecture: Cellular mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy / detraining Online class (1 hr) LO2
Live Zoom - Review: Protein synthesis and resistance training Lecture (1 hr) LO2
Tutorial 1: Muscle structure and function Tutorial (2 hr) LO1
Week 07 Online lecture: Disuse muscle atrophy and weakness / DOMS / isometric training Online class (1 hr) LO2 LO3
Live Zoom - Review: Muscle hypertrophy / detraining Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3
Use of pin load weight machines Practical (2 hr) LO5
Week 08 Online lecture: Screening and safety for resistance training Online class (1 hr) LO5
Live Zoom lecture: Resistance training for older clients Lecture (1 hr) LO2
Tutorial 2: Activation, Adaptations to resistance training Tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 09 Online lecture: Muscle cachexia in disease states Online class (1 hr) LO3
Live Zoom lecture: Malnutrition, atrophy and training Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3
Tutorial 3: Oxidative metabolism Tutorial (2 hr) LO6
Week 10 Online lecture: ATP balance / overview of oxidative metabolism Online class (1 hr) LO6
Live Zoom - Review: Disuse atrophy / DOMS Lecture (1 hr) LO2 LO3
Elastic training and step training Practical (2 hr) LO5
Week 11 Online lecture: Oxidative phosphorylation / the CK reaction and muscle fatigue Online class (1 hr) LO6
Live Zoom - Review: ATP balance / overview of oxidative metabolism Lecture (1 hr) LO6
Student Presentation: Review of resistance training RTC Presentation (2 hr) LO4
Week 12 Online lecture: Lactate accumulation and central fatigue / Integration of energy metabolism Online class (1 hr) LO6
Live Zoom - Review: Oxidative phosphorylation / the CK reaction and fatigue Lecture (1 hr) LO6
Tutorial 4: Energy metabolism Tutorial (2 hr) LO6
Week 13 Live Zoom - Review: Lactate and fatigue / Integration of energy metabolism Lecture (1 hr) LO6

Attendance and class requirements

Attendance: Students are encouraged to attend tutorials and practicals (Note: Running of scheduled face-to-face sessions may be postoned or cancelled in response to Covid-19 restrictions)

The Week 11 presentations are group presentations. All members of the group are required to participate in the presentation, i.e. each person has to participate in that presentation by speaking to some the specific presentation slides.  This may occur either via Zoom or in person (If the current Covid situation allows face-to-face classroom sessions). Non-participation without Special Consideration will result in the student receiving 50% of the mark received by the other students in that presentation group.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

There is no prescribed textbook for this unit. Content is referenced to primary research articles on a lecture-to-lecture basis. Some examples of references for further non-examinable reading are given below. Links to reference are available on Canvas.

  • Hubal MJ. et al. Variability in muscle size and strength gain after unilateral resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 37:964-72, 2005
  • Schoenfeld, BJ et al. Strength and Hypertrophy Adaptations Between Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 31; 3508 3523, 2017
  • Bickel CS et al. Exercise Dosing to Retain Resistance Training Adaptations in Young and Older Adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 43: 1177 1187, 2011.
  • Houston ME, et al Muscle performance, morphology and metabolic capacity during strength training and detraining: a one leg model. Eur J Appl Physiol 51 25 35 1983
  • Josse AR. et al Body composition and strength changes in women with milk and resistance exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 42:1122-30, 2010.
  • Wang N. et al. Muscle fiber types of women after resistance training — Quantitative ultrastructure and enzyme activity. Pflugers Archiv. 424:494 502, 1993.
  • Mcleod JC et al. Resistance exercise training as a primary countermeasure to age-related chronic disease. Front Physiol. 10, 1-11, 2019

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. explain the limits to voluntary muscle force production in terms of both muscle structure and neural activation
  • LO2. explain the neuro-muscular adaptations to high-resistance training in health, aging and disease
  • LO3. explain the neuro-muscular adaptations to muscle disuse, aging and chronic disease states effecting skeletal muscle
  • LO4. acquire skills in evaluating evidence-based guidelines for prescription of high-resistance training in health and disease
  • LO5. acquire skills and experience in the assessment of maximal voluntary strength and in the prescription and evaluation of a high-resistance training program
  • LO6. explain muscle energy balance in terms of ATP demand and supply and explain fatigue during muscular exercise.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
Students commented that last year there was a lack of specific comments on the face-to-face student presentation of a resistance training RTC. This year a feedback system will be implemented so students can receive comments from both markers.

This unit of study may require you to attend a teaching activity timetabled in teaching venues installed with the University’s Clinical Recording and Observation System (CROS) in the Susan Wakil Health Building. Students should be aware of the privacy and information management implications of this system. For more information, please refer to the University’s Privacy Statement.

Work, health and safety

Practicals and tutorials will conform to current Convid-19 safety precautions and recommendations.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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