Fatigability of the elbow flexor muscles for a sustained submaximal contraction is similar in men and women matched for strength
Journal of Applied Physiology
The purpose of this study was to compare the time to task failure for a submaximal fatiguing contraction sustained with the elbow flexor muscles by men and women who were matched for strength (n = 20, 18-35 yr). The maximal torque exerted at the wrist was similar for the men and women [64.5 ± 8.7 (SD) vs. 64.5 ± 8.3 N·m; P > 0.05], which meant that the average torque exerted during the fatiguing contraction [20% of maximum voluntary contraction (MVC)] was similar for the two sexes. The time to task failure was similar for these strength-matched men and women (819 ± 306 vs. 864 ± 391 s; P > 0.05). The mean arterial pressure was similar at the beginning of the contraction for men (97 ± 12 mmHg) and women (96 ± 15 mmHg; P > 0.05) and at task failure (134 ± 18 vs. 126 ± 26 mmHg; P > 0.05, respectively). Furthermore, the increases in heart rate, torque fluctuations, and rating of perceived exertion during the fatiguing contraction were similar for the two sexes. However, the electromyogram (EMG) activity differed for the men and women: the rate of increase in the average of the rectified EMG (% peak MVC) for all the elbow flexor muscles was less for the women compared with the men (P < 0.05). Furthermore, the bursts of EMG activity for the elbow flexor muscles increased toward exhaustion for all subjects but at a greater rate for the women compared with the men (P < 0.05). The results indicate that strength-matched men and women experienced similar levels of muscle fatigue and cardiovascular adjustments during a sustained low-force isometric contraction, despite differences in the EMG activity for the two groups of subjects.