Background and purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of isometric training of the quadriceps femoris muscles, at different joint angles, on torque production and electromyographic (EMG) activity.
Subjects: One hundred seven women were randomly assigned to one of four groups. Three groups trained with isometric contractions three times per week at a knee flexion angle of 30, 60, or 90 degrees. The fourth group, which served as a control, did not exercise.
Methods: Isometric torque was measured using a dynamometer, and EMG activity was measured using a multichannel EMG system. Measurements were obtained during maximal isometric contraction of the quadriceps femoris muscles at 15-degree increments from 15 to 105 degrees of knee flexion. Measurements were taken before and after 8 weeks of training.
Results: Following isometric exercise, increased torque and EMG activity occurred not only at the angle at which subjects exercised, but also at angles in the range of motion at which exercise did occur. Further analyses indicated that exercising in the lengthened position for the quadriceps femoris muscles (90 degrees of knee flexion) produced increased torque across all angles measured and appeared to be the more effective position for transferring strength and EMG activity to adjacent angles following isometric training as compared with the shorter positions of the muscle (30 degrees and 60 degrees of knee flexion).
Conclusion and discussion: These findings suggest that an efficient method for increasing isometric knee extension torque and EMG activity throughout the entire range of motion is to exercise with the quadriceps femoris muscles in the lengthened position.