Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Co-activation and tension-regulating phenomena during isokinetic knee extension in sedentary and highly skilled humans

  • 362 Accesses

  • 113 Citations


The aim of this study was to examine isokinetic torque produced by highly skilled (HS) and sedentary (S) human subjects, during knee extension, during maximal voluntary and superimposed electrical activation. To verify the level of activation of agonist (vastus lateralis, VL, and vastus medialis, VM) and antagonist muscles (semi-tendineous, ST), during maximal voluntary activation, their myo-electrical activities were detected and quantified as root mean square (rms) amplitude. Ten HS and ten S subjects performed voluntary and superimposed isometric actions and isokinetic knee extensions at 14 angular velocities (from −120 to 300°·s−1). The rms amplitude of each muscle was normalized with respect to its rms amplitude when acting as agonist at 15°·s−1. Whatever the angular velocity considered, peals torque and constant angular torque at 65° HS were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than those of S. Eccentric superimposed torque of S, but not HS, was significantly higher (P < 0.05) than voluntary torque at −120, −90, −60 and −30°·s−1 angular velocities. For a given velocity, the rms amplitude of VL and VM were significantly lower (P < 0.05), during eccentric than during concentric actions, in S, but not in HS. However, whatever the angular velocity, ST co-activation in HS was significantly lower (P < 0.05) than in S. We concluded that co-activation phenomenon could partly explain differences in isokinetic performances. Differences between voluntary and superimposed eccentric torques as well as lower agonist rms amplitude during eccentric action in S, support the possibility of the presence of a tension-regulating mechanism in sedentary subjects.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Amiridis IG, Cometti G, Morlon B (1994) Effets de différents types d'entraînement sur la relation couple de force/vitesse angulaire. Etude expérimentale par ergometrie isocinétique chez le basketteur de haut niveau. CR Soc Biol 188:1–14

  2. Barrata R, Solomonow M, Zhou EE, Letson D, Chuinard R, D'Ambrosia R (1988) Muscular coactivation: the role of the antagonist musculature in maintaining knee stability. Am J Sport Med 16:113–122

  3. Basmajian JV, De Luca CJ (1985) Muscles alive. Their functions revealed by electromyography. 4th edn. Wiliams and Wilkins, Baltimore, Md., pp 93–100

  4. Caiozzo VJ, Perrine JJ, Edgerton VR (1981) Training-induced alterations of the in vivo force-velocity relationship of human muscle. J Appl Physiol 51:750–754

  5. Carew TJ (1981) Spinal cord I and II. In: Kandel ER, Schwartz JH (eds) Principles of neural science. Arnold, London, pp 284–304

  6. Colliander EB, Tesch PA (1989) Bilateral eccentric and concentric torque of the quadriceps and hamstring muscles in females and males. Eur J Appl Physiol 59:227–232

  7. Duchateau J, Feiereisen P, Hainaut K (1995) Motor unit activation order during electrical stimulation. Book of abstracts, XVth Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, Jyväs-kylä, 2–6 July Gummerus Printing, Jyväskylä, Finland

  8. Dudley GA, Harris RT, Duvoisin MR, Hather BM, Buchanan P (1990) Effect of voluntary vs. artificial activation on the relationship of muscle torque to speed. J Appl Physiol 69:2215–2221

  9. Eloranta V, Komi PV (1980) Functions of the quadriceps femoris muscle under maximal concentric and eccentric contractions. Electromyogr Clin Neurophysiol 20:159–174

  10. Häkkinen K, Alén M, Komi PV (1985) Changes in isometric force and relaxation time, electromyographic and muscle fibre characteristics of human skeletal muscle during strength training and detraining. Acta Physiol Scand 125:573–585

  11. Heyters M, Carpentier A, Duchateau J, Hainaut K (1994) Twitch analysis as an approach to motor unit activation during electrical stimulation. Can J Appl Physiol 19:456–467

  12. Hortobagyi T, Katch FI (1990) Eccentric and concentric torquevelocity relationships during arm flexion and extension. Eur J Appl Physiol 60:395–401

  13. Martin L, Cometti G, Pousson M, Morlon B (1993) Effect of electrical stimulation training on the contractile characteristics of the triceps surae muscle. Eur J Appl Physiol 67:457–461

  14. Martin A, Martin L, Morlon B (1994) Theoretical and experimental behaviour of the muscle viscosity coefficient during maximal concentric actions. Ear J Appl Physiol 69:539–544

  15. Milner-Brown HS, Stein RB, Yemm R (1973) The orderly recruitment of human motor units during voluntary isometric contractions. J Physiol 230:350–370

  16. Minetti E. Alberto (1994) Contraction dynamics in antagonist muscles. J Theor Biol 169:295–304

  17. Moritani T, de Vries HA (1979) Neural factors versus hyperthrophy in the time course of mucle strength gain. Am J Phys Med 58:115–130

  18. Narici MV, Roi GS, Landoni L (1988) Force of knee extensor and flexor muscles and cross-sectional area determined by nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. Eur J Appl Physiol 57:39–44

  19. Narici MV, Roi GS, Landoni L, Minetti AE, Cerretelli P (1989) Changes in force, cross-sectional area and neural activation during strength training and detraining of the human quadriceps. Eur J Appl Physiol 59:310–319

  20. Osternig LR, Hamill J, Lander JE, Robertson R (1986) Co-activation of sprinter and distance runner muscles in isokinetic exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 18:431–435

  21. Perrine JJ, Edgerton R (1978) Muscle force-velocity and powervelocity relationships under isokinetic loading. Med Sci Sports Exerc 10:159–166

  22. Phillips CA, Petrofsky JS (1980) Velocity of contraction of skeletal muscle as a function of activation and fiber composition: a mathematical model. J. Biomech 13:549–558

  23. Sale DG (1988) Neural adaptation to resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 20:5135–5145

  24. Sale DG, MacDougall D, Alway SE, Sutton JR (1987) Voluntary strength and muscle characteristics in untrained men and women and male bodybuilders. J Appl Physiol 62:1786–1793

  25. Seger JY, Thorstensson A (1994) Muscle strength and myoelectric activity in prepubertal and adult males and females. Eur J Appl Physiol 69:81–87

  26. Solomonow M, Baratta R, Zhou B, Shoji H, Bose W, Beck C, D'Ambrosia R (1987) The synergistic action of the ACL and thigh muscles in maintaining joint stability. Am J Sports Med 15:207–213

  27. Solomonow M, Baratta R, Zhou BH, D'Ambrosia R (1988) Electromyogram coactivation patterns of the elbow antagonist muscles during slow isokinetic movement. Exp Neural 100: 470–477

  28. Stauber WT (1989) Eccentric action of muscles: physiology, injury, and adaptation. Exerc Sport Sci Rev 17:157–185

  29. Taylor NAS, Sanders RH, Howick EI, Stanley SN (1991) Static and dynamic assessment of the Biodex dynamometer. Eur J Appl Physiol 62:180–188

  30. Thepaut-Mathieu C, Van Hoecke J, Maton B (1988) Myoelectrical and mechanical changes linked to length specificity during isometric training. J Appl Physiol 64:1500–1505

  31. Tesch PA, Dudley GA, Duvoisin MR, Hather BM (1990) Force and EMG signals patterns during repeated bouts of concentric and eccentric muscle actions. Acta Physiol Scand 138:263–271

  32. Westing SH, Seger JY, Thorstensson A (1990) Effect of electrical stimulation on eccentric and concentric torque-velocity relationships during knee extension in man. Acta Physiol Scand 140: 17–22

  33. Westing SH, Cresswell AG, Thorstensson A (1991) Muscle activation during maximal voluntary eccentric and concentric knee extension. Eur J Appl Physiol 62:104–108

  34. Yates JW, Kamon E (1983) A comparison of peak and constant angle torque-velocity curves in fast and slow-twich populations Eur J Appl Physiol 51:67–74

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Amiridis, I., Martin, A., Morlon, B. et al. Co-activation and tension-regulating phenomena during isokinetic knee extension in sedentary and highly skilled humans. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 73, 149–156 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00262824

Download citation

Key words

  • Torque/angular velocity relationship
  • Isokinetic
  • Knee extensors
  • Tension regulation
  • Co-activation