A Short Submaximal Test to Determine the Fatigue Threshold of Knee Extensors in Young Men

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Recently, a fatigue threshold obtained during submaximal repetitive isometric knee extensor contractions was related to V˙O2max measured during cycling and to exercise endurance. However, test duration is quite long (20–30 min in young people) to be of practical and possibly clinical use. The purpose of the present study was to test the day-to-day reliability of a newly developed short test that assessed the fatigue threshold during a submaximal test with the knee extensors.


Fifteen healthy young males were tested three times, once using the original long protocol (5-min blocks of repetitive unilateral isometric knee extensor contractions with stepwise (5% MVC) increases of force) and twice using a new shorter protocol. In the latter, force increased by 2% MVC every 30 s, starting at 15% MVC (all contractions were 3 s on, 2 s off). The fatigue threshold was defined as the force where the EMG/force ratio started to increase and, compared with the force, at which deoxygenated hemoglobin concentration ([HHb]) increased steeply (HHb threshold).


The EMG/force threshold during the short trials was reached after 3.9 ± 1.5 min of submaximal exercise and similar (P > 0.05) between days. The EMG/force threshold showed good reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.87, SEM = 2.2%) and did not differ between (P > 0.05) the short (31.1% ± 7.6% MVC) and long tests (30.5% ± 6.2% MVC), with a significant relation (r = 0.71) between both tests. Similar results (P > 0.05) were found for the HHb threshold.


In young healthy men, a fatigue threshold can be detected during repetitive isometric knee extensor contractions using a short submaximal test, which may be suitable for untrained or frail people and patients.

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