European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 1, pp 61–71 | Cite as

The influence of knee extensor fatigue on lower extremity muscle activity during chair rise in young and older adults

  • Megan A. BryantonEmail author
  • Martin Bilodeau
Original Article



The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate alterations in muscular effort and temporal characteristics of their activity during the sit-to-stand (STS) due to isolated fatiguing of the knee extensors, as indicated by declines in torque output.


Surface electromyography of the lower extremity was recorded in healthy young (n = 11) and older (n = 11) adults as they ascended from a seated position, before and after dynamic knee extension exercise.


Knee extensor fatigue caused significant increases in soleus, gastrocnemius, and gluteus maximus relative effort (%MVC) in both age groups during the STS task. Rectus femoris %MVCs in both young and older adults significantly increased to similar extents throughout the STS movement, whereas vastus lateralis amplitudes only increased in preparation for seat-off. Muscle temporal characteristics appeared to generally be invariant with fatigue, except for earlier activation onset for the ankle musculature in older adult participants.


These findings demonstrate that isolated knee extension fatiguing exercise caused compensatory changes in muscle activation patterns and increased reliance of non-fatigued muscles at the ankle and hip as well as increased activity of synergist muscles during the STS. Moreover, this occurred to similar extents in older adults who had lower knee extensor strengths and greater quadriceps %MVCs in comparison to their younger counterparts, regardless of fatigue condition.


Aging Fatigue Sit-to-stand Electromyography Knee extensors 



Biceps femoris






Gluteus maximus


Maximal voluntary contraction


Rectus femoris






Vastus lateralis


Author contributions

MAB conceptualized the study, carried out the data collection and statistical analyses, and wrote and edited the manuscript. MB participated in the conception and design of the study, provided advice and content expertise, and revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Human KineticsUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.School of Rehabilitation SciencesUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Aging and Movement LaboratoryBruyère Research Institute (BRI)OttawaCanada

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