European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 11–12, pp 2545–2555 | Cite as

Maturation-related changes in the development and etiology of neuromuscular fatigue

  • Enzo PiponnierEmail author
  • Vincent Martin
  • Pierre Bourdier
  • Brice Biancarelli
  • Virginie Kluka
  • Sebastian Garcia-Vicencio
  • Anne-Gaëlle Jegu
  • Charlotte Cardenoux
  • Cédric Morio
  • Emmanuel Coudeyre
  • Sébastien Ratel
Original Article



The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of maturation on the etiology of neuromuscular fatigue induced by repeated maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVIC).


Nine prepubertal boys (9.9 ± 1.3 years), eight male adolescents (13.6 ± 1.3 years) and eleven men (23.4 ± 3.0 years) performed a series of repeated isometric MVICs of the knee extensors until the MVIC torque reached 60% of its initial value. Magnetic stimulations were delivered to the femoral nerve every five MVICs to follow the course of voluntary activation level (VA) and the potentiated twitch torque (Qtwpot).


Task failure was reached after 52.9 ± 12.7, 42.6 ± 12.5, and 26.6 ± 6.3 repetitions in boys, adolescents and men, respectively. VA remained unchanged in men whereas it decreased significantly and similarly in boys and adolescents (p < 0.001). In contrast, Qtwpot remained unchanged in boys and decreased significantly less in adolescents than adults (p < 0.05).


Children and adolescents experience less peripheral and more central fatigue than adults. However, adolescents experience more peripheral fatigue than children for a comparable amount of central fatigue. This finding supports the idea that the tolerance of the central nervous system to peripheral fatigue could increase during maturation.


Adolescent Central fatigue Peripheral fatigue Electromyography Peripheral magnetic stimulation 



Level of antagonist co-activation


Percentage of the number of repetitions


Partial eta-squared


Analysis of variance


Age from peak height velocity


Biceps femoris


Confidence interval




Knee extensors


Maximal M-wave amplitude


Maximal voluntary isometric contractions


Compound action potential


Potentiated twitch torque


Superimposed twitch torque


Unpotentiated twitch torque


Rectus femoris


Root Mean Square


Voluntary activation level


Vastus lateralis



Virginie Kluka was supported by a grant of the French National Agency of Technological Research (ANRT), n 2012/0284.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest. A funding from the French National Agency of Technological Research (ANRT: n°2012/0284; Virginie Kluka) was received for this project. This work is known to and agreed by the co-authors identified on the manuscript’s title page. This work required more than six people, because of clinical examination (physician or pediatrician), recruitment of volunteers, experimental procedures, statistical analysis and data analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Enzo Piponnier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vincent Martin
    • 1
  • Pierre Bourdier
    • 1
  • Brice Biancarelli
    • 1
  • Virginie Kluka
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sebastian Garcia-Vicencio
    • 1
    • 5
  • Anne-Gaëlle Jegu
    • 3
  • Charlotte Cardenoux
    • 3
  • Cédric Morio
    • 2
  • Emmanuel Coudeyre
    • 3
    • 4
  • Sébastien Ratel
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire AME2P (EA 3533)Université Clermont AuvergneClermont-FerrandFrance
  2. 2.Decathlon SportsLabVilleneuve d’AsqFrance
  3. 3.Clermont University HospitalClermont-FerrandFrance
  4. 4.Université Clermont Auvergne, UNH, INRAClermont-FerrandFrance
  5. 5.Unité de Physiologie de l’Exercice et des Activités en Conditions Extrêmes, Département Environnements OpérationnelsInstitut de Recherche Biomédicale des ArméesBrétigny-sur-OrgeFrance

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