Contraction mode shift in quadriceps femoris muscle activation during dynamic knee extensor exercise with increasing loads

J Biomech. 2008 Nov 14;41(15):3127-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2008.09.003. Epub 2008 Oct 17.


The objective of the present study was to examine the superficial quadriceps femoris (QF) muscle electromyogram (EMG) during dynamic sub-maximal knee extension exercise between young adult men and women. Thirty subjects completed, in a random order, 2 sub-maximal repetitions of single-leg knee extensions at 20-90% of their one-repetition maximum (1RM). Vastus medialis (VM), vastus lateralis (VL) and rectus femoris (RF) muscle integrated EMG (IEMG) during each sub-maximal lift was normalized to the respective 1RM for concentric, isometric and eccentric modes. The EMG median frequency (f(med)) was determined over the isometric mode. Men attained a significantly (p<0.05) greater knee angular velocity than the women during the concentric mode (83.6+/-19.1 degrees /s and 67.4+/-19.8 degrees /s, respectively). RF IEMG was significantly lesser than the VM (p=0.014) and VL (p<0.001) muscles, when collapsed across all contraction modes, loads, and sex. Overall IEMG was significantly greater during the concentric (p<0.001) and isometric (p<0.001) modes, than the eccentric mode. Men generated significantly (p=0.03) greater VL muscle IEMG than the women, while the opposite pattern emerged for the RF muscle. VM f(med) (105.1+/-11.1Hz) was significantly lesser than the VL (180.3+/-19.5Hz) and RF (127.7+/-13.9Hz) muscles across all lifting intensities, while the men (137.7+/-10.7Hz) generated greater values than the women (129.0+/-11.4Hz). The findings demonstrate a reduction in QF muscle activation across the concentric to eccentric transition, which may be related to the mode-specific velocity pattern.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Electromyography / methods
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*