Intermuscle differences in activation

Muscle Nerve. 2002 Feb;25(2):236-43. doi: 10.1002/mus.10008.


The objective of this study was to investigate differences within individual subjects in the ability to activate the quadriceps, plantar flexors (PF), dorsiflexors (DF), and elbow flexors (EF) during isometric contractions. Twelve male subjects performed submaximal and maximal voluntary isometric contractions, and maximal tetanic contractions were also induced by electrical stimulation. The interpolated twitch technique was used to gauge the extent of muscle inactivation or inability to produce maximum force. Measurements included torque output, absolute and relative rate of force development (RFD), and percentage of muscle inactivation. The quadriceps exceeded all other muscle groups in voluntary and tetanic torque output, voluntary absolute RFD, and absolute and relative tetanic RFD. The quadriceps also exceeded the PF and DF in voluntary relative RFD and had greater muscle inactivation (15.5%) than the EF (5.0%), PF (5.0%), and DF (1.3%). Although the higher RFD may suggest a higher percentage of type II fibers in the quadriceps, their higher threshold of recruitment leads to greater difficulty in fully activating the quadriceps.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Extremities
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Torque