European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 91, Issue 2–3, pp 147–154 | Cite as

Muscle strength testing: evaluation of tests of explosive force production

  • Dragan M. Mirkov
  • Aleksandar Nedeljkovic
  • Sladjan Milanovic
  • Slobodan JaricEmail author
Original Article


The purpose of the study was to evaluate four tests of explosive force production (EFP). Specifically, the main aims of the study were to assess the reliability of different EFP tests, to examine their relationship with maximum muscle strength, and to explore the relationship between EFP tests and functional movement performance. After an extensive preliminary familiarization with the tasks, subjects (n=26) were tested on maximum explosive strength of the elbow extensor and flexor muscle, as well as on rapid elbow extension and flexion movements performed in both an oscillatory and a discrete fashion. In addition to maximum force (F max), four different EFP tests were assessed from the recorded force–time curves: the time interval elapsed between achieving 30% and 70% of F max (F 30–70%), the maximum rate of force development (RFD), the same value normalized with respect to F max (RFD/F max), and the force exerted 100 ms after the contraction initiation (F 100 ms). Excluding F 30--70%, all remaining EFP tests revealed either good or fair reliability (intraclass correlation coefficients being within 0.8–1 and 0.6–0.8 intervals, respectively) which was also comparable with the reliability of F max. RFD and F 100 ms demonstrated a positive relationship with F max, but not T 30–70% and RFD/F max. Stronger elbow flexor muscles also demonstrated higher values of RFD and F 100 ms than weaker elbow extensor muscles, while no difference was observed between either T 30–70% or RFD/F max recorded from two muscles. Despite the simplicity of the tested movement tasks, the relationship observed between the EFP tests and the peak movement velocity remained moderate and partly insignificant. It was concluded that most of the EFP tests could be reliable for assessing neuromuscular function in their muscle-force- (or, indirectly, muscle size) dependent (such as RFD and F 100 ms), or muscle-force-independent (T 30–70% and RFD/ Fmax) forms. However, their “external validity” when applied to assess the ability to perform rapid movements could be questioned.


Elbow Force–time Movement Reliability Validity 



The study was supported in part by a grant No. 1758 from the Serbian Research Foundation. The conducted study complied in general with the current laws of the country in which the experiments were performed.


  1. Aagaard P, Simonsen EB, Andersen JL, Magnusson P, Dyhre-Poulsen P (2002) Increased rate of force development and neural drive of human skeletal muscle following resistance training. J Appl Physiol 93:1318–1326PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Abernethy P, Wilson G, Logan P (1995) Strength and power assessment. Issues, controversies and challenges. Sports Med 19:401–417PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bobbert MF, van Zandwijk JP (1999) Dynamics of force and muscle stimulation in human vertical jumping. Med Sci Sports Exerc 31:303–310PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Corcos DM, Jaric S, Agarwal GC, Gottlieb GL (1993) Principles for learning single joint movements. 1. Enhanced performance by practice. Exp Brain Res 94:499–513PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Gorostiaga EM, Izquierdo M, Iturralde P, Ruesta M, Ibanez J (1999) Effects of heavy resistance training on maximal and explosive force production, endurance and serum hormones in adolescent handball players. Eur J Appl Physiol 80:485–493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gottlieb GL (1998) Muscle activation patterns during two types of voluntary single-joint movement. J Neurophysiol 80:1860–1867PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Gottlieb GL, Corcos DM, Agarwal GC (1989) Strategies for the control of single mechanical degree of freedom voluntary movements. Behav Brain Sci 12:189–210Google Scholar
  8. Haff GG, Stone M, O’Bryant HS, Harman E, Dinan C, Johnson R, Han KH (1997) Force-time dependent characteristics of dynamic and isometric muscle actions. J Strength Condit Res 11:269–272Google Scholar
  9. Hakkinen K, Alen M, Komi PV (1985) Changes in isometric force–time and relaxation–time, electromyographic and muscle-fiber characteristics of human skeletal-muscle during strength training and detraining. Acta Physiol Scand 125:573–585PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Hopkins WG (2000) Measures of reliability in sports medicine and science. Sports Med 30:1–15PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Izquierdo M, Aquado X, Gonsales R, Lopez JL, Hakkinen K (1999) Maximal and explosive force production capacity and balance performance in man of different ages. Eur J Appl Physiol 79:260–267Google Scholar
  12. Jaric S (2002) Muscle strength testing: the use of normalization for body size. Sports Med 32:615–631PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Jaric S (2003) Role of body size in the relation between muscle strength and movement performance. Exerc Sport Sci Rev 31:8–12PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Lestienne F (1979) Effects of inertial load and velocity on the braking process of voluntary limb movements. Exp Brain Res 35:407–418PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Markora S, Miller MK (2000) The effect of knee angle on the external validity of isometric measures of lower body neuromuscular function. J Sports Sci 18:313–319CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Matavulj D, Kukolj M, Ugarkovic D, Tihanyi J, Jaric S (2001) Effects of plyometric training on jumping performance in junior basketball players. J Sport Med Phys Fitness 41:159–164Google Scholar
  17. Murphy AJ, Wilson GJ (1996) Poor correlations between isometric tests and dynamic performance: relationship to muscle activation. Eur J Appl Physiol 73:353–357Google Scholar
  18. Paasuke M, Ereline J, Gapeyeva H, Sirkel S, Sander P (2000) Age-related differences in twitch properties of plantarflexor muscles in women. Acta Physiol Scand 170:51–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Paasuke M, Ereline J, Gapeyeva H (2001) Knee extensor muscle strength and vertical jumping performance characteristics in pre- and post-pubertal boys. Pediatr Exerc Sci 13:60–69Google Scholar
  20. Pryor JF, Wilson GJ, Murphy AJ (1994) The effectiveness of eccentric, concentric and isometric rate of force development tests. J Hum Mov Stud 27:153–172Google Scholar
  21. Sahaly R, Vandewalle H, Driss T, Monod H (2001) Maximal voluntary force and rate of force development in humans – importance of instructions. Eur J Appl Physiol 85:345–350Google Scholar
  22. Sale DG (1991) Testing strength and power. In: MacDougal JD, Wenger HA, Green HJ (eds) Physiological testing of the high-performance athlete. Human Kinetics, Champaign, Ill., pp 21–75Google Scholar
  23. Schmidt RA, Sherwood DE, Walter CB (1988) Rapid movement with reversals in direction. 1. The control of movement time. Exp Brain Res 69:344–354PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Sleivert GG, Wenger HA (1994) Reliability of measuring isometric and isokinetic peak torque, rate of torque development, integrated electromyography, and tibial nerve conduction velocity. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 75:1315–1321PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Sleivert GG, Backhus RD, Wenger HA (1995) Neuromuscular differences between volleyball players, middle distance runners and untrained controls. Int J Sports Med 16:390–398PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Ugarkovic D, Matavulj D, Kukolj M, Jaric S (2002) Standard anthropometric, body composition, and strength variables as predictors of jumping performance in elite junior athletes. J Strength Condit Res 16:227–230Google Scholar
  27. Viitasalo JT, Komi PV (1978) Force-time characteristics and fiber composition in human leg extensor muscles. Eur J Appl Physiol 40:7–15Google Scholar
  28. Wachholder K, Altenburger H (1926) Beitrage zur Physiologie der willkurlichen Bewegungen. X. Einzelbewegungen. Pflugers Arch 214:642–661Google Scholar
  29. Wilson GJ, Murphy AJ (1996) The use of isometric tests of muscular function in athletic assessment. Sports Med 22:19–37PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Yamazaki Y, Ohkuwa T, Itoh H, Suzuku M (1994) Reciprocal activation and coactivation in antagonistic muscles during rapid goal-directed movements. Brain Res Bull 34:587–593PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Zhou S, McKenna MJ, Lawson DL, Morrison WE, Fairweather I (1996) Effects of fatigue and sprint training on electromechanics. l. Delay of knee extensor muscles. Eur J Appl Physiol 72:410–416Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dragan M. Mirkov
    • 2
  • Aleksandar Nedeljkovic
    • 3
  • Sladjan Milanovic
    • 4
  • Slobodan Jaric
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Rm. 146, Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise SciencesUniversity of DelawareNewark USA
  2. 2.Department of Biophysics, School of MedicineBelgrade UniversityBelgradeYugoslavia
  3. 3.The Research Center, Faculty for Sports and Physical EducationBelgrade UniversityYugoslavia
  4. 4.Institute for Medical ResearchBelgradeYugoslavia

Personalised recommendations