Diurnal rhythm of the muscular performance of elbow flexors during isometric contractions

Chronobiol Int. 1996 Jul;13(2):135-46. doi: 10.3109/07420529609037077.


The influence of time of day on elbow flexion torque was studied. Thirteen physical education students, 7 males and 6 females, made maximal and submaximal isometric contractions at 90 degrees of elbow flexors using a dynamometer. The torque developed was measured on each contraction. The myoelectric activity of the biceps muscle was also measured at the same time by surface electromyography (EMG) and quantified from the root mean square (RMS) activity. Torque and surface EMGs were measured at 6:00, 9:00, 12:00, 15:00, 18:00, 21:00, and 24:00 h over the same day. Oral temperature before each test session was measured on each occasion after a 30-min rest period. We observed a diurnal rhythm in elbow flexor torque with an acrophase at 18:00 h and a bathyphase at 6:00 h, in phase with the diurnal rhythm in oral temperature. However, the diurnal rhythm of temperature did not appear to have any influence on the torque. Links between neuromuscular efficiency and RMS/torque ratio were evaluated by measuring muscle activity along with torque. We also assessed variations in the level of maximal activity of the muscle under maximal voluntary contraction. Neuromuscular efficiency fluctuated during the day, with maximal and minimal efficiency at 18:00 h and 9:00 h, respectively, whereas activation level was maximal at 18:00 h and minimal at 9:00 h. The diurnal rhythm of torque was accounted for by variations in both central nervous system command and the contractile state of the muscle.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Temperature
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Elbow Joint / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Torque