Torque steadiness and neuromuscular responses following fatiguing concentric exercise of the knee extensor and flexor muscles in young and older individuals Academic Article uri icon


  • The purpose of this study was to investigate the age-related alterations in the ability to exert maximal and to sustain submaximal isometric muscle torques after a fatiguing concentric exercise conducted with knee extensor (KE) and flexor (KF) muscles. Sixteen young (aged 19-30 years; 8 women) and 17 older (aged 65-75 years; 9 women) volunteers participated. The following tasks were performed before and immediately after 22 maximal concentric efforts of the right KE and KF at 1.05 rad/s: (1) a maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) task involving both KE and KF; and (2) a KE torque-steadiness task at a submaximal target contraction intensity (20% MVIC). During the dynamometric tests, surface EMG was recorded simultaneously from the KE and KF muscles. Fatigue-induced reductions in knee extension MVIC were similar (~15%) between groups, but young participants showed more pronounced declines in agonist (i.e. quadriceps) EMG responses in both time (RMS amplitude; ~15% vs. ~10%, p < 0.001) and frequency (median frequency; ~14% vs. ~8%, p < 0.01) domains. Torque steadiness exhibited a similar post-fatigue decrease in the two age groups (p < 0.01), but interestingly agonist activation (~17%; p < 0.001) and antagonist (i.e. hamstrings) co-activation (~16%; p < 0.001) declined only in the older participants. These findings suggest that the fatiguing concentric KE and KF exercise results in similar relative reductions (%) in maximal torque and steadiness of the KE in young and older individuals, but they are sustained by different age-related neuromuscular strategies.


  • Wu, Rui
  • Delahunt, Eamonn
  • Ditroilo, Massimiliano
  • Ferri Marini, Carlo
  • De Vito, Giuseppe

publication date

  • 2019