Gender-specific knee extensor torque, flexor torque, and muscle fatigue responses during maximal effort contractions

Danny M Pincivero, Claudio M B Gandaio, Yoshihiko Ito
European Journal of Applied Physiology 2003, 89 (2): 134-41
The purpose of this study was to examine gender differences in knee extensor and flexor peak torque, work, power, and muscle fatigue during maximal effort isokinetic contractions. Subjects included 19 healthy male and 20 healthy female volunteers. Following a dynamic warm-up period, subjects performed 30 reciprocal, concentric maximal knee extension and flexion contractions at a pre-set angular velocity of 3.14 rad x s(-1) on the Biodex Isokinetic Dynamometer. Values for knee extensor peak torque, work, and power were calculated for each repetition over an angular displacement of 1.05 rad for each repetition. The single highest repetition value for knee extensor and flexor peak torque, work, and power was then calculated relative to body mass (N x m x kg(-1), J x kg(-1), W x kg(-1)) and allometric-scaled (N x m x kg(-) (n), J x kg(-) (n), W x kg(-) (n)) units. The allometric-scaled units were derived from a log-log transformation and linear regression analysis to calculate the exponent to which body mass is raised. The rate of quadriceps femoris muscle fatigue was calculated as the decline in each isokinetic variable by the linear slope from the single highest repetition value through the 30th repetition, and by two different fatigue indexes. The results demonstrate higher knee extension and flexion peak torque, work, and power in absolute, relative, and allometric-scaled units for males compared to females. Males exhibited higher fatigue rates for both muscle groups of each isokinetic variable than females, as described by the slope and the fatigue index, except when adjusted for peak values via analysis of covariance. The findings suggest that during maximal-effort muscle contractions, males exhibit a higher susceptibility to muscle fatigue than females, a phenomenon that may be related to an inherent ability to generate higher knee extensor and flexor torque.

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