European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 91, Issue 4, pp 399–405

Differences in morphology and force/velocity relationship between Senegalese and Italian sprinters

  • Abderrehmane Rahmani
  • Elio Locatelli
  • Jean-Rene Lacour
Original Article


In order to investigate whether the supremacy of African sprinters is related to the leg extensor force/velocity relationship or to leg morphology, two groups of elite sprinters originating respectively from Senegal (S) and Italy (I) were compared in this respect. The groups included 13 S and 15 I male sprinters. Their mean best performances over 100 m during the preceding track and field season were 10.66 (0.3) and 10.61 (0.3) s (NS), respectively. Age, height and mass were similar in the two groups. The force/velocity relationship of the leg extensors was assessed during maximal half-squats on a guided horizontal barbell with masses of 20–140 kg added on the shoulders. Leg morphology was assessed by relating the sub-ischial length to the standing height (L/H) and by measuring the inertia in the vertical (IZ in kg.cm2), antero-posterior (IY, kg.cm2) and medio-lateral (IX, kg.m2) planes. The two groups developed non-different force and power when lifting the heaviest loads. Inversely, the lighter the load, the lower the force and power developed by S, as compared to I (P<0.001). S demonstrated greater L/H (P<0.001), and 26% lower IZ (P<0.01), 15% lower IY (P=0.09), and 14% lower IX (P=0.10). These results suggest that S and I sprinters were similar as regards the muscle abilities involved in slow maximal contractions. However, S demonstrated lower values in muscle abilities related to high-speed contractions, suggesting that S sprinters had a lower percentage of fast twitch fibres. This is likely to be compensated for by the lower level of internal work due to longer and lighter legs.


Ethnic group Force/velocity relationship Leg morphology Sprint running 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abderrehmane Rahmani
    • 1
  • Elio Locatelli
    • 3
  • Jean-Rene Lacour
    • 2
  1. 1.Groupe de Physiologie et Biomécanique de l’Appareil Locomoteur, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Département STAPSUniversité du MaineLe Mans Cedex 9France
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Physiologie de l’Exercice, GIP ExerciceFaculté de Médecine Lyon SudOullins CedexFrance
  3. 3.Santo Stefano RoeroItaly

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