Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 1211–1219 | Cite as

The role of thigh muscular efforts in limiting sit-to-stand capacity in healthy young and older adults

  • Megan BryantonEmail author
  • Martin Bilodeau
Original Article


Aging is associated with an unavoidable decline in muscle mass, known as sarcopenia, leading to neuromuscular declines, muscle weakness, and subsequent disability. One particular measure utilized by rehabilitative professionals in evaluating functional declines in older persons is sit-to-stand (STS) capacity. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the role of activation intensity requirements of the thigh musculature in limiting a multi-joint STS endurance task. To do so, surface EMG signals of the quadriceps femoris (QF) and hamstrings (biceps femoris; BF) and their co-activation ratios (H:Q) were collected in young (18–35 years; n = 12) and older (60–75 years; n = 12) adult participants who repeatedly stood from a seated position until exhaustion. QF %MVIC was the sole predictor of total STS task times, as those who required the highest quadriceps efforts had the shortest task times. Moreover, older adult participants had significantly higher starting QF %MVIC as well as shorter task times. Interestingly, the H:Q ratio was not a significant predictor of STS capacities, nor did it differ between age groups or with fatigue. Results indicate that strengthening of the quadriceps to elevate or maintain strength reserves may improve an older adult’s ability to perform multi-joint tasks repetitively throughout the day.


Sit-to-stand Muscle endurance Quadriceps Hamstrings Aging Co-contraction 



We would like to thank Dr. Heidi Sveistrup and the Motor Control Laboratory at the University of Ottawa for their assistance and providing the equipment for the data collection project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Human KineticsUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.School of Rehabilitation SciencesUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Aging and Movement LaboratoryBruyère Research InstituteOttawaCanada

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