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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991 Feb;23(2):231-7.

Effect of activation force on knee extensor torques.

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Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether the magnitude of the activation force, defined as the force that must be applied to the load cell in order to activate the resistance arm of an isokinetic dynamometer, affected knee extensor torques. Twenty-four healthy female subjects performed resisted knee extension through the range of 95 degrees to 5 degrees knee flexion, with a 5-s rest between concentric and eccentric muscle actions. Six exercise sets, composed of the combinations of activation force (20,50, and 100 N) and angular velocity (45 and 135 degrees.s-1), were randomly assigned on each of two occasions, completed within a 10-d period. Although peak torques were not affected by the activation force, average torques, eccentric torques at mid-range (50 degrees knee flexion), and torques during the initial portion of each muscle action (80 degrees knee flexion during concentric muscle actions and 20 degrees flexion during eccentric actions) increased as the activation force increased. The effect of the activation force tended to be more pronounced during eccentric than during concentric muscle actions, and at the faster angular velocity. Comparisons of torques should be based on similar test protocols, including activation force.

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