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Force-time characteristics and fiber composition in human leg extensor muscles

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Recording of the force-time (f-t) characteristics of muscular contraction expresses the rate at which tension is developed. To further understand the problems involved in force production during voluntary contraction, the f-t curve was registered during maximal voluntary isometric extension of both legs performed in the sitting position with the knee angle at 107 degrees. 38 athletes representing various sport events, five pairs of monozygous, and ten pairs of dizygous twins were used as subjects. The reference group consisted of eight normal men. The data disclosed that the time to produce certain force levels showed good trial-to-trial and satisfactory day-to-day reproducibility below tension levels of 0.9×P 0. At these force levels the time of tension development was positively (p<0.05) related to the per cent distribution of slow twitch fibers in the vastus lateralis muscle. This result is consistent with animal experiments concerning the mechanical characteristics of slow and fast muscles. In addition, it was observed that the athletic groups had f-t curves different from the other subjects. Genetic factors had only slight influence on the f-t measurement.

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Viitasalo, J.T., Komi, P.V. Force-time characteristics and fiber composition in human leg extensor muscles. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 40, 7–15 (1978).

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