Mechanical power test and fiber composition of human leg extensor muscles

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1983;51(1):129-35. doi: 10.1007/BF00952545.


The present study was undertaken to assess the relationship between the mechanical power developed during new anaerobic power test and muscular fiber distribution. Ten track and field male athletes were used as subjects, whose muscle fiber composition (m. vastus lateralis) varied from 25 to 58 fast twitch (FT) fibers. The test consisted of measuring the flight time with a special timer during 60 s continuous jumping. A formula was derived to allow the calculation of mechanical power during a certain period of time (e.g., in the present study every 15 s during 60 s of jumping performance). The relationship between the mechanical power for the first 15 s period correlated best with fast twitch (FT) fiber distribution (r = 0.86, p less than 0.005). However, the power output during the successive 15 s periods demonstrated lower correlation with FT, and this relationship became statistically non-significant after 30 s of work. The sensitivity to fatigue of the test was supported by the relationship observed between the decrease of power during 60 s jumping performance and the percentage of FT fibers (r = 0.73, p less than 0.01). Thus, the present findings suggest that muscular performance, as determined by the new jumping test, is influenced by skeletal muscle fiber composition. The new test, which primarily evaluates maximal short term muscular power, also proved sensitive in assessing fatigue patterns during 60 s of strenuous work.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Leg
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Sports Medicine
  • Time Factors