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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2001 Dec;91(6):2628-34.

Activation of human quadriceps femoris during isometric, concentric, and eccentric contractions.

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Groupe Analyse du Mouvement, Unité de Formation et de Recherche Sciences et Techniques des Activités Physiques et Sportives, Université de Bourgogne, BP 27877, 21078 Dijon Cedex, France.


Maximal and submaximal activation level of the right knee-extensor muscle group were studied during isometric and slow isokinetic muscular contractions in eight male subjects. The activation level was quantified by means of the twitch interpolation technique. A single electrical impulse was delivered, whatever the contraction mode, on the femoral nerve at a constant 50 degrees knee flexion (0 degrees = full extension). Concentric, eccentric (both at 20 degrees /s velocity), and isometric voluntary activation levels were then calculated. The mean activation levels during maximal eccentric and maximal concentric contractions were 88.3 and 89.7%, respectively, and were significantly lower (P < 0.05) with respect to maximal isometric contractions (95.2%). The relationship between voluntary activation levels and submaximal torques was linearly fitted (P < 0.01): comparison of slopes indicated lower activation levels during submaximal eccentric compared with isometric or concentric contractions. It is concluded that reduced neural drive is present during 20 degrees /s maximal concentric and both maximal and submaximal eccentric contractions. These results indicate a voluntary activation dependency on both tension levels and type of muscular actions in the human knee-extensor muscle group.

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