EMG profiles of lower extremity muscles during cycling at constant workload and cadence

J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 1992;2(2):69-80. doi: 10.1016/1050-6411(92)90018-E.


Limited conclusions concerning the variability in EMG patterns during cycling can be made from available data in the literature because of methodological differences which include electrode placement and experimental design. The purpose of this study was to monitor EMG signals from ten lower extremity muscles over a large number of pedalling cycles in experienced cyclists at constant workload and cadence. Variability across subjects was evaluated by calculating the coefficient of variation (CV) at 10% intervals of the pedalling cycle. Within subject EMG patterns were very consistent within a single trial. The single-joint hip and knee extensors (gluteus maximus, vastus medialis, and vastus lateralis) had the lowest CV values (less than 30%). This low variability appears to support their role as power generators. Variability was generally higher in the hamstring muscles with two biceps femoris patterns emerging despite relatively similar experimental conditions. EMG signals from surface and fine wire electrodes for the hamstring muscles were compared for possible contribution to the discrepancies in the EMG profiles. Fine wire EMG data were quite similar to those obtained using surface electrodes, indicating that crosstalk had minimal effect, in general, on the hamstring signals. The tibialis anterior, gastrocnemius, and soleus muscles displayed fairly repeatable patterns, with variability highest in the first 20% of the pedalling cycle for all muscles studied.