Context: Isokinetic and isotonic resistance training exercises are commonly used to increase strength during musculoskeletal rehabilitation programs. Our study was designed to examine the efficacy of isokinetic and isotonic muscle actions using surface electromyographic (EMG) amplitude-to-work ratios (EMG/WK) and to extend previous findings to include a range of isokinetic velocities and isotonic loads.
Objective: To examine work (WK), surface EMG amplitude, and EMG/WK during concentric-only maximal isokinetic muscle actions at 60, 120, 180, 240, and 300°/s and isotonic muscle actions at 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, and 50% of the maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) torque during leg extension exercises.
Design: A randomized, counterbalanced, cross-sectional, repeated-measures design.
Setting: A university-based human muscle physiology research laboratory.
Patients or Other Participants: Ten women (mean age = 22.0 ± 2.6 years) and 10 men (mean age = 20.8 ± 1.7 years) who were apparently healthy and recreationally active.
Intervention(s): Using the dominant leg, each participant performed 5 maximal voluntary concentric isokinetic leg extension exercises at randomly ordered angular velocities of 60, 120, 180, 240, and 300°/s and 5 concentric isotonic leg extension exercises at randomly ordered loads of 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, and 50% of the isometric MVIC.
Main Outcome Measure(s): Work was recorded by a Biodex System 3 dynamometer, and surface EMG was recorded from the superficial quadriceps femoris muscles (vastus lateralis, rectus femoris, and vastus medialis) during the testing and was normalized to the MVIC. The EMG/WK ratios were calculated as the quotient of EMG amplitude (μVrms) and WK (J) during the concentric phase of each exercise.
Results: Isotonic EMG/WK remained unchanged (
P > .05) from 10% to 50% MVIC, but isokinetic EMG/WK increased (
P < .05) from 60 to 300°/s. Isotonic EMG/WK was greater (
P < .05) than isokinetic EMG/WK for 50% MVIC versus 60°/s, 40% MVIC versus 120°/s, and 30% MVIC versus 180°/s; however, no differences were noted (
P > .05) between 20% MVIC versus 240°/s or 10% MVIC versus 300°/s. An 18% decrease in active range of motion was seen for the isotonic muscle actions, from 10% to 50% MVIC, and a 3% increase in range of motion for the isokinetic muscle actions from 60 to 300°/s was also observed. Furthermore, the peak angular velocities for the isotonic muscle actions ranged from 272.9 to 483.0°/s for 50% and 10% MVIC, respectively.
Conclusions: When considering EMG/WK, peak angular velocity, and range of motion together, our data indicate that maximal isokinetic muscle actions at 240°/s or controlled-velocity isotonic muscle actions at 10%, 20%, or 30% MVIC may maximize the amount of muscle activation per unit of WK done during the early stages of musculoskeletal rehabilitation. These results may be useful to allied health professionals who incorporate open-chain resistance training exercises during the early phases of rehabilitation and researchers who use isotonic or isokinetic modes of resistance exercise to examine muscle function.