Sports Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 18–34 | Cite as

The Utility of Isokinetic Dynamometry in the Assessment of Human Muscle Function

  • N. P. Gleeson
  • T. H. Mercer
Review Article


Isokinetic dynamometry has become a favoured method for the assessment of dynamic muscle function in both clinical research and sports environments. Several indices, such as peak torque, are used in the literature to characterise individual, group or larger population performance via these sophisticated data acquisition systems.

Research suggests that there are several competing demands on the design of the measurement protocol which may affect the measurement of isokinetic strength and subsequent suitability of data for meaningful evaluation and interpretation. There is a need to increase measurement rigour, reliability and sensitivity to a level which is commensurate with the intended application, via more elaborate multiple-trial protocols. However, this may be confounded by logistical and financial constraints or reduced individual compliance. The net effect of the interaction of such demands may be considered to be the utility of the isokinetic dynamometry protocol.

Of the factors which impinge on utility, those which relate to reliability afford the most control by the test administrator. Research data suggest that in many measurement applications, the reliability and sensitivity associated with all frequently-used indices of isokinetic leg strength which are estimated via single-trial protocols, are not sufficient to differentiate either performance change within the same individual or between individuals within a homogeneous group. While such limitations may be addressed by the use of protocols based on 3 to 4 inter-day trials for the index of peak torque, other indices which demonstrate reduced reliability, for example the composite index of the ratio of knee flexion to extension peak torque, may require many more replicates to achieve the same level of sensitivity. Here, the measurement utility of the index may not be sufficient to justify its proper deployment.


Torque Knee Flexion Knee Extension Peak Torque Isokinetic Dynamometer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Knuttgen HG, Kraemer WJ. Terminology and measurement in exercise performance. J Appl Sports Sci Res 1987; 1: 1–10Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bouchard C, Shephard RJ, Stephens T, editors. Physical activity, fitness, and health: consensus statement. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics, 1993Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Abernethy PJ, Jürimäe J, Logan PA, et al. Acute and chronic response of skeletal muscle to resistance exercise. Sports Med 1994; 17: 22–38PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cabri JMH. Isokinetic strength aspects of human joints and muscles. Crit Rev Biomed Eng 1991; 19: 231–59PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hislop HJ, Perrine JJ. The isokinetic concept of exercise. Phys Ther 1967; 47: 114–7PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Perrine JJ. Isokinetic exercise process and apparatus (3.465 and 592). U.S. Patent Office, 1969Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Thistle HG, Hislop HJ, Moffroid M, et al. Isokinetic contraction: a new concept in resistive exercise. Arch Phys Med Rehab 1967; 48: 279–82Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gleeson NP, Mercer TH. Effect of a fatigue task on absolute and relativised indices of isokinetic leg strength in female collegiate soccer players. In: Reilly T, et al., editors. Science and football III. London: E & FN Spon. In pressGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Gransberg L, Knutsson E. Determination of dynamic muscle strength in man with acceleration controlled isokinetic movements. Acta Physiol Scand 1983; 119: 317–20PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Westing SH, Cresswell AG, Thorstensson A. Muscle activation during maximal voluntary eccentric and concentric knee extension. Eur J Appl Physiol 1991; 62: 104–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Perrine JJ, Edgerton VJ. Muscle force-velocity and power-velocity relationships under isokinetic loading. Med Sci Sports 1978: 10(3): 159–66PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Marshall RN, Mazur SM, Taylor NAS. Three-dimensional surfaces for human muscle kinetics. Eur J Appl Physiol 1990; 61: 263–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Coyle EF, Costill DL, Lesmes GR. Leg extension power and muscle fiber composition. Med Sci Sports 1979; 11 1: 12–15PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Thorstensson A, Grimby G, Karlsson J. Force-velocity relations and fiber composition in human knee extensor muscles. J Appl Physiol 1976; 40: 12–16PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kanehisa H, Miyashita M. Specificity of velocity in strength training. Eur J Appl Physiol 1983; 52: 104–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Farrar M, Thorland W. Relationship between isokinetic strength and sprint times in college-age men. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 1987; 27 3: 368–72PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Narici MV, Roi GS, Landoni L, et al. Changes in force, cross-sectional area and neural activation during strength training and detraining of the human quadriceps. European J Appl Physiol 1989; 59: 310–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Caiozzo VJ, Perrine JJ, Edgerton VR. Training-induced alterations of the in vivo force-velocity relationship of human muscle. J Appl Physiol 1981; 51 3: 750–4PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Gregor RJ, Edgerton VR, Perrine JJ, et al. Torque-velocity relationships and muscle fiber composition in elite female athletes. J Appl Physiol 1979; 2: 388–92Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Imwold CH, Rider RA, Haymes EM, et al. Isokinetic torque differences between college female varsity basketball and track athletes. J Sports Med 1983; 23: 67–73Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Barnes W. Selected physiological characteristics of elite male sprint athletes. J Sports Med 1981; 21: 49–54Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Gleeson NP, Mercer TH. Reproducibility and sensitivity of indices of isokinetic leg strength in male sprinters and distance runners. J Sports Sci 1992; 10 5: 594–5Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    McGorry R. Active dynamometry in quantitative evaluation and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal dysfunction. Assist Technol 1989; 1: 91–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Schmidtbleicher D. Training for power events. In: Komi PV, editor. Strength and power in sport. Oxford (UK): Blackwell Scientific: 1992, 381–95Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Osternig LR. Isokinetic dynamometry: implications for muscle testing and rehabilitation. Exerc Sport Sci Rev 1986; 14: 45–80PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Baltzopoulos V, Brodie DA. Isokinetic dynamometry: applications and limitations. Sports Med 1989; 8: 101–16PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Kannus P. Ratio of hamstring to quadriceps femoris muscles’ strength in anterior cruciate ligament in sufficiency knee. Relationship to long term recovery. Phys Ther 1988a; 68, 6: 961–5Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Kannus P. Peak torque and total work relationship in the thigh muscles after anterior cruciate ligament injury. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 1988b; 10: 97–101PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Davies GJ, Ross DE, Gould JA, et al. Computerised Cybex testing of ACL reconstruction assessing quadriceps peak torque, TAE, total world, and average power. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1984; 16: 204Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Gould JA, Davies GJ, Ross DE, et al. Computerised Cybex testing of ACL reconstruction assessing hamstring peak torque, TAE, total work, and average power. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1984; 16: 204Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Kannus P. Isokinetic peak torque and work relationship in the laterally unstable knee. Can J Sport Sci 1989; 14: 17–20PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Morrissey MC. The relationship between peak torque and work of the quadriceps and hamstrings after meniscectomy. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 1987; 8 8: 405–8PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Rothstein JM, Delitto A, Sinacore DR, et al. Electromyographic, peak torque, and power relationships during isokinetic movement. Phys Ther 1983; 63: 926–33PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Rothstein JM, Lamb RL, Mayhew TP. Bilateral isokinetic peak torque, torque acceleration energy, power, and work relationship in athletes and nonathletes. Clinical uses of isokinetic measurements. Critical issues. Phys Ther 1987; 67: 1840–4Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Burnie J, Brodie DA. Isokinetic measurement in preadolescent males. Int J Sports Med 1986; 7: 205–9PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Perrine DH, Robertson RJ, Ray RL. Bilateral isokinetic peak torque, torque acceleration energy, power, and work relationships in athletes and nonathletes. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 1987; 9: 184–9Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Kannus P, Jarvinen M. Prediction of torque acceleration energy and power of thigh muscles from peak torque. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1989; 21: 304–7PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Gleeson NP, Mercer TH. Reproducibility of isokinetic leg strength and endurance characteristics of adult men and women. Eur J Appl Physiol 1992; 65: 221–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Kannus P, Jarvinen M, Lehto M. Maximal peak torque as a predictor of angle-specific torques of hamstring and quadriceps muscles in man. Eur J Appl Physiol 1991; 63: 112–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Gleeson NP, Mercer TH. Reliability of relativised angle torque and angle-specific torque indices of isokinetic leg strength in women. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1995; 27(5): S209Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Thomas JR, Nelson JK. Introduction to research in health, physical education, recreation and dance. 2nd ed. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics, 1990Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Verducci FM. Measurement concepts in physical education. St. Louis: C.V. Mosby, 1980Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Kirkendall DR, Gruber JJ, Johnson RE. Measurement and evaluation for physical educators. 2nd ed. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics, 1987Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Sale DG. Testing strength and power. In: MacDougall JD, Wenger HA, Green HJ, editors. Physiological testing of the high performance athlete. 2nd ed. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics, 1991: 21–106Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Wyse J, Mercer TH, Gleeson NP. Intra-day variability of isokinetic leg strength indices. J Sports Sci 1992; 10 5: 572–3Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Wyse J, Mercer TH, Gleeson NP. Time-of-day dependence of isokinetic leg strength and associated variability. Br J Sports Med 1994; 28: 167–70PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Gleeson NP, Mercer TH. Intra-subject variability in isokinetic knee extension and flexion strength characteristics of adult males: a comparative examination of gravity corrected and uncorrected data. J Sports Sci 1991; 4 9: 415–6Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Sokal R, Rohlf F. Biometry. 2nd ed. Oxford (UK): W.H. Freeman, 1981Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Winer BJ. Statistical principles in experimental design. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 1981Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Feldt LS. The sampling theory for the intraclass reliability coefficient. Appl Measurement Educ 1990; 3 4: 361–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Beunen G, Borms J. Kinanthropometry: roots, developments and future. J Sports Sci 1989; 8: 1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Murray DA, Harrison E. Constant velocity dynamometer: an appraisal using mechanical loading. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1986; 18 6: 612–24PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Hinson M, Rosentsweig J. Comparative electromyographic values of isometric, isotonic, and isokinetic contraction. Res Q 1973; 44 1: 71–8PubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Kannus P. The relationship between peak torque and work of the quadriceps and hamstrings after knee injury. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 1990; 30 2: 185–9PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Herzog W. The relation between the resultant moments at a joint and the moments measured by an isokinetic dynamometer. J Biomech 1988; 21: 5–12PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Nelson SG, Duncan PW. Correction of isokinetic and isometric torque recordings for the effects of gravity. Phys Ther 1983: 63(5): 674–6PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Winter DA, Wells RP, Orr GW. Errors in the use of isokinetic dynamometers. Eur J Appl Physiol 1981; 46: 397–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Westing SH, Seger JY. Eccentric and concentric torque-velocity characteristics, torque output comparisons, and gravity effect torque corrections for the quadriceps and hamstring muscles in females. Int J Sports Med 1989; 10: 175–18PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Fillyaw M, Bevins T, Fernandez L. Importance of correcting isokinetic peak torque for the effect of gravity when calculating knee flexor to extensor muscle ratios. Phys Ther 1986; 66: 23–31PubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Grace TG, Sweetser ER, Nelson MA, et al. Isokinetic muscle imbalance and kneejoint injuries. J Bone Joint Surg 1984: 66A: 734–40Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Hemba GD. Hamstring parity. NSCA Journal 1985; 7 3: 30–1Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Campbell D, Glenn W. Rehabilitation of knee flexor and knee extensor muscle strength in patients with meniscectomies, ligamentous repair and chondromalacia. Phys Ther 1982; 62: 10–15PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Taylor NAS, Sanders RH, Howick EI, et al. Static and dynamic assessment of the Biodex dynamometer. Eur J Appl Physiol 1991; 62: 180–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Narici MV, Sirtori MD, Mastore S, et al. The effect of range of motion and isometric reactivation on isokinetic torques. Eur J Appl Physiol 1991; 62: 216–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Sapega AA, Nicholas JA, Sokolow D, et al. The nature of torque ‘overshoot’ in Cybex isokinetic dynamometry. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1982; 14 5: 368–75PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Osternig LR, Sawhill JA, Bates BT, et al. A method for rapid collection and processing of isokinetic data. Res Q Exerc Sport 1982; 53 3: 252–6Google Scholar
  67. 67.
    Farrell M, Richards JG. Analysis of the reliability and validity of the Kinetic communicator exercise device. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1986 18: 44–49PubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Moffroid M, Whipple R, Hofkosh J, et al. A study of isokinetic exercise. Phys Ther 1969; 49 7: 735–47PubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Seger JY, Westing SH, Hanson M, et al. A new dynamometer measuring concentric and eccentric muscle strength in accelerated, decelerated, or isokinetic movements. Eur J Appl Physiol 1988: 57(5): 526–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Mawsdley RH, Knapik JJ. Comparison of isokinetic movements with test repetitions. Phys Ther 1982; 62: 169–72Google Scholar
  71. 71.
    Johnson J, Siegel D. Reliability of an isokinetic movement of the knee extensors. Res Q 1978; 49 1: 88–90PubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Gleeson NP, Mercer TH. Reproducibility of peak torque, angle-specific torque and total work indices of isokinetic strength in adult females. J Sports Sci 1992a; 10(5): 595–6Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Montgomery LC, Douglas LW, Deuster PA. Reliability of an isokinetic test of muscle strength and endurance. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 1989; 10 8: 315–22PubMedGoogle Scholar
  74. 74.
    Sawhill JA, Bates BT, Osternig LR, et al. Variability of isokinetic measures. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1982; 14(2): 177Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    Bohannon RW, Smith MB. Intrasession reliability of angle specific knee extension torque measurements with gravity corrections. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 1989; 11 4: 155–7PubMedGoogle Scholar
  76. 76.
    Feiring DC, Ellenbecker TS, Derscheid GL. Test-retest reliability of the Biodex isokinetic dynamometer. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 1990; 11 7: 298–300PubMedGoogle Scholar
  77. 77.
    Stratford PW, Bruulsema A, Maxwell B, et al. The effect of inter-trial rest interval on the assessment of isokinetic thigh muscle torque. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 1990: 11(8): 362–6PubMedGoogle Scholar
  78. 78.
    Gleeson NP, Mercer TH. Reproducibility and sensitivity of isokinetic leg strength assessment in adult males. Eur J Appl Physiol 1994; 69: 59Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Gleeson NP, Mercer TH. An examination of the reproducibility and utility of isokinetic leg strength assessment in women. In: Bell FI, Van Gyn GH, editors. Access to active living. Victoria (BC): University of Victoria 1994a: 323–7Google Scholar
  80. 80.
    Gleeson NP, Parry A, Mercer TH. The effect of contraction mode on isokinetic leg strength and associated day-to-day reproducibility in adult males. J Sports Sci 1994; 12: 137–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. 81.
    Rochcongar P, Morvan R, Dassonville JJ, et al. Isokinetic investigation of knee extensors and knee flexors in young French soccer players. Int J Sports Med 1988; 9: 448–50PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. 82.
    Burdett RG, van Swearingen J. Reliability of isokinetic muscle endurance tests. Orthop Sports Phys Ther 1987; 8 10: 485–9Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    Enoka RM. Neuromechanical Basis of Kinesiology. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics, 1988: 155–60Google Scholar
  84. 84.
    Milner-Brown HS, Stein RB, Lee RG. Synchronisation of human motor units: Possible roles of exercise and supra-spinal reflexes. Electroencephalogr Clin Neurophysiol 1975; 38: 245–54PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. 85.
    Rees D. ACL reconstructions: possible modes of failure. Proceedings of the Football Association — Royal College of Surgeons (Edinburgh). 6th Joint Conference on Sport Injury, Lilleshall Hall National Sports Centre, Telford, Shropshire, UK; 1994 July 2–3Google Scholar
  86. 86.
    Currier DP. Elements of research in physical therapy. 2nd ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1984Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. P. Gleeson
    • 1
  • T. H. Mercer
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Sport, Health & Exercise, School of SciencesStaffordshire UniversityEngland

Personalised recommendations