Dynamic knee extension as model for study of isolated exercising muscle in humans

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1985 Nov;59(5):1647-53. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1985.59.5.1647.


In an attempt to approach a system of isolated exercising muscle in humans, a model has been developed that enables the study of muscle activity and metabolism over the quadriceps femoris (QF) muscles while the rest of the body remains relaxed. The simplest version includes the subject sitting on a table with a rod connecting the ankle and the pedal arm of a bicycle ergometer placed behind the subject. Exercise is performed by knee extension from a knee angle of 90 to approximately 170 degrees while flywheel momentum repositions the relaxed leg during flexion. Experiments where electromyographic recordings have been taken from biceps femoris, gastrocnemius, tibialis anterior, and other muscles in addition to QF indicate that only the QF is active and that there is an equal activation of the lateral, medial, and rectus femoris heads relative to maximum. Furthermore, virtually identical pulmonary O2 uptake (Vo2) during and without application of a pressure cuff below the knee emphasizes the inactivity of the lower leg muscles. The advantages of the model are that all external work can be localized to a single muscle group suitable for taking biopsies and that the blood flow in and sampling from the femoral vein are representative of the active muscles. Thus all measurements can be closely related to changes in the working muscle. Using this model we find that a linear relationship exists between external work and pulmonary Vo2 over the submaximal range and the maximal Vo2 per kilogram of muscle may be as much as twice as high as previously estimated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Knee / physiology*
  • Lactates / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Exertion*


  • Lactates