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J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):348-57. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cc23d5.

Evidence of a double peak in muscle activation to enhance strike speed and force: an example with elite mixed martial arts fighters.

Author information

  • 1Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. mcgill@uwaterloo.ca

Abstract

The main issue addressed here is the paradox of muscle contraction to optimize speed and strike force. When muscle contracts, it increases in both force and stiffness. Force creates faster movement, but the corresponding stiffness slows the change of muscle shape and joint velocity. The purpose of this study was to investigate how this speed strength is accomplished. Five elite mixed martial arts athletes were recruited given that they must create high strike force very quickly. Muscle activation using electromyography and 3-dimensional spine motion was measured. A variety of strikes were performed. Many of the strikes intend to create fast motion and finish with a very large striking force, demonstrating a "double peak" of muscle activity. An initial peak was timed with the initiation of motion presumably to enhance stiffness and stability through the body before motion. This appeared to create an inertial mass in the large "core" for limb muscles to "pry" against to initiate limb motion. Then, some muscles underwent a relaxation phase as speed of limb motion increased. A second peak was observed upon contact with the opponent (heavy bag). It was postulated that this would increase stiffness through the body linkage, resulting in a higher effective mass behind the strike and likely a higher strike force. Observation of the contract-relax-contract pulsing cycle during forceful and quick strikes suggests that it may be fruitful to consider pulse training that involves not only the rate of muscle contraction but also the rate of muscle relaxation.

PMID:
20072065
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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