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Central and Peripheral Fatigability in Boys and Men during Maximal Contraction


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: July 2014 - Volume 46 - Issue 7 - p 1326–1333
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000239
Basic Sciences

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.

1Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, School of Physical Education and Sport Science, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, GREECE; 2Department of Physical Education and Sport Science at Serres, School of Physical Education and Sport Science, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, GREECE; and 3Laboratory of Metabolic Adaptations of Exercise on Physiological and Pathological Conditions, University of Blaise Pascal, Clermont University, Clermont-Ferrand, FRANCE

Address for correspondence: Christos Kotzamanidis, Ph.D., Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54006 Thessaloniki, Greece; E-mail:

Submitted for publication July 2013.

Accepted for publication December 2013.

© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine