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Neuromuscular performance of explosive power athletes versus untrained individuals

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posted on 15.03.2011, 17:21 by Neale A. Tillin, Pedro Jimenez-Reyes, Matthew PainMatthew Pain, Jonathan FollandJonathan Folland
Electromechanical delay (EMD) and rate of force development (RFD) are determinants of explosive neuromuscular performance. We may expect a contrast in EMD and RFD between explosive power athletes, who have a demonstrable ability for explosive contractions, and untrained individuals. However, this comparison, and the neuromuscular mechanisms for any differences, has not been studied. The neuromuscular performance of explosive power athletes (n = 9) and untrained controls (n = 10) was assessed during a series of twitch, tetanic, explosive and maximum voluntary, isometric knee extensions. Knee extension force and EMG of the superficial quadriceps was measured in three 50 ms time windows from their onset, and normalised to strength and maximal M-wave (Mmax), respectively. Involuntary and voluntary EMD were determined from twitch and explosive voluntary contractions, respectively, and were similar for both groups. The athletes were 28% stronger and their absolute RFD in the first 50 ms was 2-fold that of controls. Athletes had greater normalised RFD (4.86 ± 1.46 vs. 2.81 ± 1.20 MVC.s-1) and neural activation (mean quadriceps, 0.26 ± 0.07 vs. 0.15 ± 0.06 Mmax) during the first 50 ms of explosive voluntary contractions. Surprisingly the controls had a greater normalised RFD in the second 50 ms (6.68 ± 0.92 vs. 7.93 ± 1.11 MVC.s-1) and a greater change in EMG preceding this period. However, there were no differences in the twitch response or normalised tetanic RFD between groups. The differences in voluntary normalised RFD between athletes and controls were explained by agonist muscle neural activation, and not the similar intrinsic contractile properties of the groups.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


TILLIN. N.A., 2010. Neuromuscular performance of explosive power athletes versus untrained individuals. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 42 (4), pp. 781-790.


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This article is a non-final version of an article published in final form in the journal, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise [© American College of Sports Medicine].