Torque Production at Different Velocities as a Predictor of the Proportion of Fast-twitch Muscle Fibers in Skeletal Muscles of Athletes


The aim of the study was to evaluate the possibility to predict the muscle fiber-type proportion in men of different sports specialization by testing the maximal torque production by knee extensors at different velocities. For this reason the proportion of fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers (MFs) in m. vastus lateralis of 23 athletes (11 endurance and 12 power athletes), as well the maximal torque production of knee extensors at various angular velocities in isokinetic mode were determined. The group of strength trained athletes significantly exceeded the group of endurance trained athletes in body mass, body mass index, volume of the m. quadriceps femoris, maximum torque production, and specific force at angular velocities 30, 180 and 300 degrees per second. In contrast to cross-sectional area (CSA) of slow-twitch MFs, the average CSA of fast-twitch MFs and the proportion of fast-twitch MFs in the group of power athletes significantly exceeded those in the group of endurance athletes. In the combined group of volunteers (n = 23), the proportion of fast-twitch MFs significantly correlated with the torque production at high angular velocities (r = 0.51 and p = 0.01 at 180 deg/s; r = 0.47 and p = 0.02 at 300 deg/s). We did not find any correlation between these parameters in the separate groups of power and endurance athletes. The results indicate a low accuracy in predicting the proportion of fast-twitch MF in m. vastus lateralis in athletes using the maximal torque production of knee extensors at different angular velocities. Significant correlation between the proportion of fast-twitch MF and maximal torque at high angular velocities in the general group (n = 23) was due to the presence of two significantly different subgroups.

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Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project no. 20-315-70034 “The role of the central factor (recruitment of muscle fibers of different types and the effectiveness of nervous control) in the regulation of the anabolic signal response to strength exercise” in the analysis of the ratio of fast and slow MF and the speed–strength capabilities of athletes’ muscles. Russian Science Foundation, project no. 17-15-01436 “Comprehensive analysis of the contribution of genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors to the individual variability of the composition of human muscle fibers” in terms of the formation of groups of volunteers, taking samples of muscle biopsy.

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Correspondence to E. A. Lysenko.

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All studies were conducted in accordance with the principles of biomedical ethics formulated in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its subsequent updates, and approved by the Commission on Biomedical Ethics of the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow, Russia).


The authors declare no obvious and potential conflicts of interest related to the publication of this article.


Each study participant provided a voluntary written informed consent, signed by him/her after explanation of the potential risks and benefits, as well as the nature of the upcoming study.

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Lysenko, E.A., Vepkhvadze, T.F., Lednev, E.M. et al. Torque Production at Different Velocities as a Predictor of the Proportion of Fast-twitch Muscle Fibers in Skeletal Muscles of Athletes. Hum Physiol 46, 689–695 (2020).

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  • skeletal muscle
  • fast-twitch muscle fibers
  • torque production at different velocities
  • muscle biopsy