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Normalization of EMG Signals: Optimal MVC Positions for the Lower Limb Muscle Groups in Healthy Subjects



A comprehensive investigation of various maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) positions to determine the optimal positions for vastus lateralis (VL), biceps femoris (BF), gastrocnemius lateralis (GL), and tibialis anterior (TA).


Twelve participants performed total of seventeen MVC positions for major lower limb muscle groups (VL, BF, GL, and TA). Neuromuscular activities were recorded by surface electromyography. Signals were smoothed by root mean square (RMS). Each MVC level were expressed as a percentage of MVC (% MVC). Statistical differences were measured with a one-way repeated measures analysis of variance and a Tukey’s HSD (p < 0.05).


Optimal MVC positions were found as follows: (i) VL: the combination of knee extension at 70° and 90° flexed knee in sitting position; (ii) BF: the combination of knee flexion at 30°, 45°, and 60° flexed knee in prone position; (iii) GL: unipedal standing position; (iv) TA: the combination of dorsiflexion in sitting position and ankle neutral, in standing position and ankle 110°, and in standing position and ankle 70°.


This study confirms that multiple positions were needed to elicit the maximal MVC values for VL, BF, and TA. For GL, single MVC position should be performed to elicit the maximal MVC.

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Data Availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author (BKS), upon reasonable written request.


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The authors declare that no funds, grants, or other support were received during the preparation of this manuscript.

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Authors and Affiliations



All authors contributed to the study design. GA was primarily responsible for the study design, data collection, and analysis and prepared the first draft of this manuscript. SO assisted with the study design, data collection, analysis, and manuscript editing. BS assisted with study design and manuscript editing. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Bryan K. Smith.

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The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

Ethical Approval

The study was performed following the principles outlined in the Helsinki Declaration and it was approved by the Ethics Committee of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (Date: April 29, 2021 / No: 1206).

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

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Avdan, G., Onal, S. & Smith, B.K. Normalization of EMG Signals: Optimal MVC Positions for the Lower Limb Muscle Groups in Healthy Subjects. J. Med. Biol. Eng. (2023).

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  • Electromyography
  • Maximum voluntary contraction
  • Normalization
  • Lower limb muscles