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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2001 Aug;91(2):671-9.

Effect of contraction frequency on leg blood flow during knee extension exercise in humans.

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  • 1Department of Kinesiology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 66506-0302, USA.


Previous studies in isolated muscle preparations have shown that muscle blood flow becomes compromised at higher contraction frequencies. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of increases in contraction frequency and muscle tension on mean blood flow (MBF) during voluntary exercise in humans. Nine male subjects [23.6 +/- 3.7 (SD) yr] performed incremental knee extension exercise to exhaustion in the supine position at three contraction frequencies [40, 60, and 80 contractions/min (cpm)]. Mean blood velocity of the femoral artery was determined beat by beat using Doppler ultrasound. MBF was calculated by using the diameter of the femoral artery determined at rest using echo Doppler ultrasound. The work rate (WR) achieved at exhaustion was decreased (P < 0.05) as contraction frequency increased (40 cpm, 16.2 +/- 1.4 W; 60 cpm, 14.8 +/- 1.4 W; 80 cpm, 13.2 +/- 1.3 W). MBF was similar across the contraction frequencies at rest and during the first WR stage but was higher (P < 0.05) at 40 than 80 cpm at exercise intensities >5 W. MBF was similar among contraction frequencies at exhaustion. In humans performing knee extension exercise in the supine position, muscle contraction frequency and/or muscle tension development may appreciably affect both the MBF and the amplitude of the contraction-to-contraction oscillations in muscle blood flow.

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