Is there an intermuscular relationship in voluntary activation capacities and contractile kinetics?

  • Elyse Hucteau
  • Marc Jubeau
  • Christophe Cornu
  • Thomas CattagniEmail author
Original Article



The force-generating capacities of human skeletal muscles are interrelated, highlighting a common construct of limb strength. This study aimed to further determine whether there is an intermuscular relationship in maximal voluntary activation capacities and contractile kinetics of human muscles.


Twenty-six young healthy individuals participated in this study. Isometric maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque, voluntary activation level (VAL), and doublet twitch contractile kinetics (contraction time and half-relaxation time) evoked by a paired supramaximal peripheral nerve stimulation at 100 Hz were obtained in elbow flexors, knee extensors, plantar flexors and dorsiflexors of the dominant limb.


Peak MVC torque had significant positive correlations between all muscle group pairs (all P values < 0.01). A significant positive correlation for VAL was found only between knee extensors and plantar flexors (r = 0.60, P < 0.01). There were no significant correlations between all muscle group pairs for doublet twitch contraction time and doublet twitch half-relaxation time.


These results show that there is a partial common construct of maximal voluntary activation capacities that only concerns muscle groups that have incomplete activation during MVC (i.e., knee extensors and plantar flexors). This suggests that the common construct of MVC strength between these two muscle groups is partly influenced by neural mechanisms. The lack of intermuscular relationship of contractile kinetics showed that there is no common construct of muscle contractile kinetics, as assessed in vivo by investigating the time-course of evoked doublet twitch contractions.


Maximal voluntary contraction Voluntary activation Twitch Plantar flexors Dorsiflexors Knee extensors Elbow flexors 



Maximal voluntary contraction


Voluntary activation level


Author contributions

TC, MJ and CC conceived and designed research. EH and TC conducted experiments. EH analyzed data. EH and TC wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire “Motricité, Interactions, Performance” EA 4334, Faculty of Sport SciencesUFR STAPS, University of NantesNantes cedex 3France

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