European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 112, Issue 5, pp 1967–1972 | Cite as

Frowning muscle activity and perception of effort during constant-workload cycling

  • Helma M. de Morree
  • Samuele M. MarcoraEmail author
Short Communication


We have recently demonstrated that electromyogram (EMG) amplitude of the frowning muscles correlates with perception of effort during leg-extension exercise. However, during aerobic exercise the relationship between facial EMG and perception of effort has never been investigated. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether facial EMG reflects perception of effort also during constant-workload cycling. We investigated the effects of exercise duration and exercise intensity on facial EMG of the corrugator supercilii muscles, rating of perceived effort, heart rate, and blood lactate concentration. Twenty recreationally active male and female volunteers performed a constant-workload time to exhaustion test on a cycle ergometer. Participants were randomly allocated to the heavy-intensity [63 ± 3% peak power output (P peak)], or the severe-intensity (80 ± 5% P peak) group. The results show that facial EMG can differentiate between two exercise intensities during constant-workload cycling. The effects of exercise duration are inconclusive. Facial EMG increased over time in the severe-intensity group, but not in the heavy-intensity group. Future studies testing a wider range of exercise intensities are required to establish a correlation between facial EMG and exercise intensity during aerobic exercise, and further investigations are needed to establish why there is a discrepancy between facial EMG and perception of effort during lower-intensity aerobic exercise.


Perceived exertion Facial electromyography Corrugator supercilii Facial expression Aerobic exercise 



The authors thank Lauren Mawn, Fabrizio De Rubeis, and Gordon Halton for their assistance during participant recruitment and data collection.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Sport, Health and Exercise SciencesBangor UniversityBangorWales, UK
  2. 2.Centre for Sports StudiesUniversity of Kent at MedwayChathamUK

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