Sports Medicine

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 17–38 | Cite as

Developing Maximal Neuromuscular Power

Part 1 — Biological Basis of Maximal Power Production
  • Prue Cormie
  • Michael R. McGuigan
  • Robert U. Newton
Review Article


This series of reviews focuses on the most important neuromuscular function in many sport performances, the ability to generate maximal muscular power. Part 1 focuses on the factors that affect maximal power production, while part 2, which will follow in a forthcoming edition of Sports Medicine, explores the practical application of these findings by reviewing the scientific literature relevant to the development of training programmes that most effectively enhance maximal power production. The ability of the neuromuscular system to generate maximal power is affected by a range of interrelated factors. Maximal muscular power is defined and limited by the force-velocity relationship and affected by the length-tension relationship. The ability to generate maximal power is influenced by the type of muscle action involved and, in particular, the time available to develop force, storage and utilization of elastic energy, interactions of contractile and elastic elements, potentiation of contractile and elastic filaments as well as stretch reflexes. Furthermore, maximal power production is influenced by morphological factors including fibre type contribution to whole muscle area, muscle architectural features and tendon properties as well as neural factors including motor unit recruitment, firing frequency, synchronization and intermuscular coordination. In addition, acute changes in the muscle environment (i.e. alterations resulting from fatigue, changes in hormone milieu and muscle temperature) impact the ability to generate maximal power. Resistance training has been shown to impact each of these neuromuscular factors in quite specific ways. Therefore, an understanding of the biological basis of maximal power production is essential for developing training programmes that effectively enhance maximal power production in the human.


Motor Unit Maximal Voluntary Contraction Pennation Angle Motor Unit Recruitment Fascicle Length 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose and no funding was received for this review.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Prue Cormie
    • 1
  • Michael R. McGuigan
    • 2
    • 3
  • Robert U. Newton
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health SciencesEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia
  2. 2.New Zealand Academy of Sport North IslandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Institute of Sport and Recreation Research New ZealandAuckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand

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