Isometric Assessment of Muscular Function: The Effect of Joint Angle

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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The purpose of this investigation was to determine the relationship between isometric measures of muscular function at two different joint angles and dynamic performance. Thirteen experienced weight trainers performed two isometric tests in a bench press position, at elbow angles of 90 and 120°. Performance was assessed by a one repetition maximum (1-RM) bench press and a series of upper body bench press throws at loads of 15, 30, and 60% of the 1-RM load. The results clearly show that changing the joint angle from 120 to 90° improved the relationship between most of the tests and performance by more than 100%, possibly due to differences in motor unit recruitment patterns and differing muscle mechanics (e.g., length-tension), at varying joint angles. It was suggested that the best angle at which to assess isometric function may be the joint angle at which peak force is developed in the performance of interest.

The authors are with the Centre for Exercise Science & Sport Management, Southern Cross University, Lismore, 2480 NSW, Australia.

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