Is it legitimate to characterize muscle strength using a limited number of measures?

J Strength Cond Res. 2008 Jan;22(1):166-73. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31815f993d.


The purpose of this systematic review was to examine the legitimacy of using a single measure or a small set of measures of strength to characterize an individual's overall strength. Briefly, the methods involved: (a) a search of electronic databases, article reference lists, and personal files to identify relevant literature; and (b) a summarizing of that literature. As a result of the searches, 25 relevant articles were identified. The articles reported correlation coefficients, Cronbach's alpha, and factor analysis. Together, these statistics suggest a tendency for different strength measures to be related. A close examination of the relationships, however, suggests that caution should be exercised in characterizing overall strength using a single measure such as grip strength. In conclusion, it may be legitimate to use one or several measures obtained from a single limb to characterize the strength of that limb but not the entire body. What this means practically is that the practitioner interested in characterizing strength of a limb can reduce test burden by testing a limited number of muscle actions of that limb.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Calibration / standards
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle Strength Dynamometer
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Physiological Phenomena*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Upper Extremity