Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine central and peripheral factors of fatigability that could explain the differences in fatigability between adults and prepubertal boys after maximal sustained isometric contraction.
Methods: A total of 11 untrained adult men and 10 prepubescent boys volunteered to participate in this study. The level of voluntary activation was assessed before and after fatigue by means of the twitch interpolation technique as well as peak twitch torque, maximum rate of torque development and maximum M-wave (Mmax) area of the soleus and medial gastrocnemius. The fatigue-inducing protocol consisted of a sustained maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) of the ankle’s plantar flexor at 100% of MVC until the task could no longer be sustained at 50% of MVC.
Results: During the fatigue-inducing protocol, boys were fatigued less, showing longer endurance limit and delayed torque and agonist EMG decrease. After fatigue, the level of activation decreased to a similar extent in both groups, and boys were less affected regarding their peak twitch torque and rate of torque development, whereas no differentiation between the groups was observed regarding the decrease in Mmax area of the examined muscles.
Conclusions: The results obtained provide evidence that the greater fatigability resistance in prepubertal children during sustained maximal contractions is mainly explained by peripheral rather than central factors.