Force-velocity and Force-power Properties of Single Muscle Fibers from Elite Master Runners and Sedentary Men

Document Type




Format of Original

8 p.

Publication Date



American Physiological Society

Source Publication

American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology

Source ISSN



Gastrocnemius muscle fiber bundles were obtained by needle biopsy from five middle-aged sedentary men (SED group) and six age-matched endurance-trained master runners (RUN group). A single chemically permeabilized fiber segment was mounted between a force transducer and a position motor, subjected to a series of isotonic contractions at maximal Ca2+ activation (15 degrees C), and subsequently run on a 5% polyacrylamide gel to determine myosin heavy chain composition. The Hill equation was fit to the data obtained for each individual fiber (r2 > or = 0.98). For the SED group, fiber force-velocity parameters varied (P < 0.05) with fiber myosin heavy chain expression as follows: peak force, no differences: peak tension (force/fiber cross-sectional area), type IIx > type IIa > type I; maximal shortening velocity (Vmax, defined as y-intercept of force-velocity relationship), type IIx = type IIa > type I; a/Pzero (where a is a constant with dimensions of force and Pzero is peak isometric force), type IIx > type IIa > type I. Consequently, type IIx fibers produced twice as much peak power as type IIa fibers, whereas type IIa fibers produced about five times more peak power than type I fibers. RUN type I and IIa fibers were smaller in diameter and produced less peak force than SED type I and IIa fibers. The absolute peak power output of RUN type I and IIa fibers was 13 and 27% less, respectively, than peak power of similarly typed SED fibers. However, type I and IIa Vmax and a/Pzero were not different between the SED and RUN groups, and RUN type I and IIa power deficits disappeared after power was normalized for differences in fiber diameter. Thus the reduced absolute peak power output of the type I and IIa fibers from the master runners was a result of the smaller diameter of these fibers and a corresponding reduction in their peak isometric force production. This impairment in absolute peak power production at the single fiber level may be in part responsible for the reduced in vivo power output previously observed for endurance-trained athletes.


American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology, Vol. 271, No. 2 (August 1996): C676-C683. Permalink.