Anatomical and neuromuscular variables strongly predict maximum knee extension torque in healthy men

Abstract

Purpose

This study examined the relative influence of anatomical and neuromuscular variables on maximal isometric and concentric knee extensor torque and provided a comparative dataset for healthy young males.

Methods

Quadriceps cross-sectional area (CSA) and fascicle length (l f) and angle (θ f) from the four quadriceps components; agonist (EMG:M) and antagonist muscle activity, and percent voluntary activation (%VA); patellar tendon moment arm distance (MA) and maximal voluntary isometric and concentric (60° s−1) torques, were measured in 56 men. Linear regression models predicting maximum torque were ranked using Akaike’s Information Criterion (AICc), and Pearson’s correlation coefficients assessed relationships between variables.

Results

The best-fit models explained up to 72 % of the variance in maximal voluntary knee extension torque. The combination of ‘CSA + θ f + EMG:M + %VA’ best predicted maximum isometric torque (R 2 = 72 %, AICc weight = 0.38) and ‘CSA + θ f + MA’ (R 2 = 65 %, AICc weight = 0.21) best predicted maximum concentric torque.

Conclusion

Proximal quadriceps CSA was included in all models rather than the traditionally used mid-muscle CSA. Fascicle angle appeared consistently in all models despite its weak correlation with maximum torque in isolation, emphasising the importance of examining interactions among variables. While muscle activity was important for torque prediction in both contraction modes, MA only strongly influenced maximal concentric torque. These models identify the main sources of inter-individual differences strongly influencing maximal knee extension torque production in healthy men. The comparative dataset allows the identification of potential variables to target (i.e. weaknesses) in individuals.

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Abbreviations

AIC:

Akaike’s information criterion (an information-theoretic approach for model selection)

AICc :

Akaike’s information criterion for a small dataset

ΔAICc :

The model's AICc minus the minimum AICc among candidate models

AICc w i :

The percentage of times that a given model would be selected as the ‘best-fit model’ by AICc, and serves as the weight of evidence for a given model being the best model from a set of candidate models

BF:

Biceps femoris

CI:

Confidence interval

CSA:

Anatomical cross-sectional area

CV:

Coefficients of variation

DIST:

Distal region muscle measurements

EMG:

Electromyogram

EMG:M:

Quadriceps EMG amplitude normalised to M-wave amplitude

EMG:MRF :

RF EMG amplitude normalised to RF M-wave amplitude

EMG:MVL :

VL EMG amplitude normalised to VL M-wave amplitude

EMG:MVM :

VM EMG amplitude normalised to VM M-wave amplitude

EMG:MAVEQ :

Average EMG:M ratio of RF, VL and VM

ICR:

Instantaneous centre of rotation

ICC:

Intra-class correlation coefficient

l f :

Fascicle length

MA:

Patellar tendon moment arm distance

Mmax :

Maximum peak-to-peak amplitude of the M-wave

MVC:

Maximal voluntary contraction

MID:

Middle region muscle measurements

M-wave:

Maximum muscle compound action potential of vastus lateralis

PCSA:

Physiological cross-sectional area

PROX:

Proximal region muscle measurements

RF:

Rectus femoris

RMS:

Root mean square

ROM:

Range of motion

T CON :

Maximum voluntary concentric torque

T CON-QUAD :

Maximum quadriceps-only concentric torque

T ISO :

Maximum voluntary isometric torque

T ISO-QUAD :

Maximum quadriceps-only isometric torque

T Pot-TW :

Maximum potentiated twitch torque

T Un-TW :

Maximum unpotentiated twitch torque

%VA:

Percent voluntary activation (calculated by interpolated twitch technique)

VI:

Vastus intermedius

VL:

Vastus lateralis

VM:

Vastus medialis

θ f :

Fascicle angle

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Acknowledgments

Funding was provided through the Edith Cowan University post-graduate research scholarship system.

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Correspondence to J. Trezise.

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Communicated by William J. Kraemer.

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Trezise, J., Collier, N. & Blazevich, A.J. Anatomical and neuromuscular variables strongly predict maximum knee extension torque in healthy men. Eur J Appl Physiol 116, 1159–1177 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-016-3352-8

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Keywords

  • Cross-sectional area
  • Fascicle angle
  • Muscle activity
  • Moment arm distance
  • Linear models
  • Strength