EMG frequency spectrum, muscle structure, and fatigue during dynamic contractions in man

  • Paavo V. Komi
  • Per Tesch


Fatigue of the vastus lateralis muscle was studied in healthy well-conditioned students, who differed considerably regarding their muscle fibre type distribution. Muscle force decline during repeated maximum voluntary knee extensions at a constant angular velocity (180‡×s−1 or π rad×s−1), using isokinetic equipment, was taken as the criterion for the degree of fatigue. In an attempt to study quantitative as well as qualitative changes in the EMG pattern, integrated EMG (IEMG) and the frequency of the mean power (MPF), computed from the power spectral density function (PSDF), were analysed. It was found that individuals with muscles made up of a high proportion of fast twitch (FT) muscle fibres demonstrated higher peak knee extension torque, and a greater susceptibility to fatigue than did individuals with muscles mainly composed of slow twitch (ST) muscle fibres. An IEMG decline (p<0.01) was demonstrated during 100 contractions in individuals rich in FT fibres. Only a slight, but not significant, reduction in IEMG occurred in individuals with a high percentage of ST fibres. Concomitantly, MPF decreased (p<0.001) in individuals with a high percentage of FT fibres, while their opposites demonstrated only a slight decrease (non-significant). It is suggested that muscle contraction failure might also be related to qualitative changes in the motor unit recruitment pattern, and that these changes occur more rapidly in muscles composed of a high proportion of FT muscle fibres than in muscles composed of a high proportion of ST fibres.

Key words

Electromyography Isokinetic contractions Mean power frequency Muscle fatigue Muscle fibre types 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paavo V. Komi
    • 1
  • Per Tesch
    • 2
  1. 1.Kinesiology Laboratory, Department of Biology of Physical ActivityUniversity of JyvÄskylÄJyvÄskylÄFinland
  2. 2.Department of Clinical PhysiologyKarolinska HospitalStockholmSweden

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