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Quadriceps EMG/force relationship in knee extension and leg press


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2000 - Volume 32 - Issue 2 - p 459

ALKNER, B. A., P. A. TESCH, and H. E. BERG. Quadriceps EMG/force relationship in knee extension and leg press. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 459–463, 2000.

Purpose: This study compared the relationship between surface electromyographic (EMG) activity and isometric force of m. quadriceps femoris (QF) in the single-joint knee extension (KE) and the multi-joint leg press (LP) exercises.

Methods: Nine healthy men performed unilateral actions at a knee angle of 90° at 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). EMG was measured from m. vastus lateralis (VL), m. vastus medialis (VM), m. rectus femoris (RF), and m. biceps femoris (BF).

Results: There were no differences in maximum EMG activity of individual muscles between KE and LP. The QF EMG/force relationship was nonlinear in each exercise modality. VL showed no deviation from linearity in neither exercise, whereas VM and RF did. BF activity increased linearly with increased loads.

Conclusions: The EMG/force relationship of all quadricep muscles studied appears to be similar in isometric multi-joint LP and single-joint KE actions at a knee angle of 90°. This would indicate the strategy of reciprocal force increment among muscles involved is comparable in the two models. Furthermore, these data suggest a nonuniform recruitment pattern among the three superficial QF muscles and surface EMG recordings from VL to be most reliable in predicting force output.

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Karolinska Institutet at Danderyds Hospital, Danderyd, SWEDEN and Medical Laboratory Sciences and Technology, Division of Clinical Physiology Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge University Hospital, Huddinge, SWEDEN

Submitted for publication July 1998.

Accepted for publication January 1999.

Address for correspondence: Hans E. Berg, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Karolinska Institute at Danderyd Hospital, Danderyd, SE-18288, SWEDEN. E-mail:

©2000The American College of Sports Medicine