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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2006 Feb;100(2):493-9. Epub 2005 Oct 20.

Explanation of the bilateral deficit in human vertical squat jumping.

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Institute for Fundamental and Clinical Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


In the literature, it has been reported that the mechanical output per leg is less in two-leg jumps than in one-leg jumps. This so-called bilateral deficit has been attributed to a reduced neural drive to muscles in two-leg jumps. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the possible contribution of nonneural factors to the bilateral deficit in jumping. We collected kinematics, ground reaction forces, and electromyograms of eight human subjects performing two-leg and one-leg (right leg) squat jumps and calculated mechanical output per leg. We also used a model of the human musculoskeletal system to simulate two-leg and one-leg jumps, starting from the initial position observed in the subjects. The model had muscle stimulation as input, which was optimized using jump height as performance criterion. The model did not incorporate a reduced maximal neural drive in the two-leg jump. Both in the subjects and in the model, the work of the right leg was more than 20% less in the two-leg jump than in the one-leg jump. Peak electromyogram levels in the two-leg jump were reduced on average by 5%, but the reduction was only statistically significant in m. rectus femoris. In the model, approximately 75% of the bilateral deficit in work per leg was explained by higher shortening velocities in the two-leg jump, and the remainder was explained by lower active state of muscles. It was concluded that the bilateral deficit in jumping is primarily caused by the force-velocity relationship rather than by a reduction of neural drive.

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