JOURNAL ARTICLE

Muscle strength and electromyogram in boys and girls followed through puberty

J Y Seger, A Thorstensson
European Journal of Applied Physiology 2000, 81 (1): 54-61
10552267
The main purpose of this study was to investigate the changes in anthropometric measures and muscle strength that occur during puberty in children from the age of 11 to 16 years. Special attention was paid to possible gender- and muscle action-type-specific alterations in torque/velocity and EMG/velocity characteristics. Sixteen children participated in the study (9 boys and 7 girls). Eccentric and concentric muscle strength was measured on an isokinetic dynamometer at angular velocities of 45, 90 and 180 degrees x s(-1). Simultaneously, a surface electromyogram (EMG) was recorded from the quadriceps muscle. At the age of 11, the boys and girls exhibited equal anthropometric measures and strength performance. In both genders, body measures and muscle strength increased significantly during the 5-year period, with larger increases being recorded for the boys. In addition, the boys increased selectively their eccentric torque per body mass, indicating an action-type-specific change in muscle quality. The general shape of the torque/velocity relationship exhibited an adult-like pattern both before and after puberty, and did not differ between genders. Both pre- and postpuberty, myoelectric activity was generally lower during eccentric than concentric actions, the highest values occurring for both genders in the concentric 180 degrees x s(-1) test. Ratios of eccentric to concentric torque per EMG, which reflect electromechanical efficiency, showed no significant changes with age. A significant velocity- and gender-specific change in electromechanical efficiency was observed at the highest speed at postpuberty, where the ratio for the girls was higher than for the boys.

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