Comparison of critical force to emg fatigue thresholds during isometric leg extension

C. Russell Hendrix, Terry J. Housh, Glen O. Johnson, Michelle Mielke, Clayton L. Camic, Jorge M. Zuniga, Richard J. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Theoretically, the critical force (CF) and the EMG fatigue threshold (EMGFT) tests demarcate fatiguing from nonfatiguing isometric torque levels. Purpose: The purpose of this study was twofold: 1) to determine whether the mathematical model for estimating the EMGFT during cycle ergometry was applicable to isometric leg extension muscle actions and 2) to compare the mean torque level from the CF test to those of EMGFT tests for the vastus lateralis (VL), vastus medialis (VM), and rectus femoris (RF) muscles during isometric muscle actions. Methods: The slope coefficient of the linear relationship between total "isometric work" (Wlim in newton-meters per second) and time to exhaustion (Tlim in seconds) was defined as the CF. The EMGFT was defined as the y-intercept of the isometric torque versus EMG fatigue curve slope coefficient relationship. Results: There was a significant (P < 0.05) mean difference between the CF (25.9 ± 12.1 N•m) and the EMGFT value for the RF (41.1 ± 20.7 N•m) muscle. There were no significant differences, however, in EMGFT values among the three superficial muscles of the quadriceps femoris. In addition, the mean CF (17.6% maximum voluntary isometric contraction [MVIC]) occurred at a percentage of MVIC that is typically not affected by circulatory occlusion (20% MVIC), whereas the mean EMGFT values for the VL (25.9% MVIC), VM (22.9% MVIC), and RF (27.8% MVIC) exceeded this threshold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)956-964
Number of pages9
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Anaerobic work capacity
  • EMG
  • EMG amplitude
  • Isometric work (W )
  • Limit time (T )

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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