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An investigation of dynamic human muscle function using a variable inertial loading system

Pearson, Stephen John; (2003) An investigation of dynamic human muscle function using a variable inertial loading system. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis has developed and utilised an inertial loading system to study human skeletal muscle power output. Specifically, the apparatus has been used to study the effects of different modes of exercise, muscle myosin isoform composition and the effects of ageing on the ability of the lower limb muscles to generate explosive power. A variable inertial loading system was designed and constructed which allowed for the sensitive detection of the rotational properties of a flywheel from which the contractile characteristics of muscle could be inferred. When housed in the Nottingham Power Rig (NPR) the peak power generated by young non-trained male subjects from a single lower limb thrust ranged from 608 - 965 Watts and was found to occur at inertial loads ranging from 0.09 - 0.22 kgm2. To investigate the low power outputs observed at the low inertial loads, where the contraction time was short, a pre release mechanism was incorporated into the flywheel assembly. Significant increases in power output of ~ 17% were achieved at the lowest inertial load (P = 0.02), if a prior build up of isometric torque was allowed prior to movement. This suggested that at the low inertial loads, without the pre release, insufficient time was allowed for the muscle to generate its maximum power output. The flywheel system was incorporated into a cycle ergometer to allow power - velocity characteristics to be examined during inertial sprint cycling. Peak power obtained in young subjects (n = 9) was significantly higher in the cycle exercise when compared with the NPR (1620 vs. 937 Watts). In contrast to the NPR where a parabolic relationship between power and inertial load was observed, during sprint cycling power plateaued above a 'critical' load. It was concluded that the repetitive acceleration of inertial loads, above this critical threshold, will always allow the expression of peak power during cycling as ultimately a velocity will be achieved which corresponds to that required for peak power generation. An analysis of the myosin heavy chain (MHC) isoform composition of the vastus lateralis muscle was performed in young and elderly male subjects (n = 14, mean age 29.4 and 73.8). The percentage MHC-II isoform composition was significantly lower in the older subjects as was the velocity at which peak power occurred (Vopt). Overall the Vopt during sprint cycling was found to be related to the percentage MHC-II composition of the vastus lateralis (R = 0 .82, P<0.001). Finally, muscle power was examined in Elite level master Olympic weightlifters (n = 54, aged 40 - 87 years) and aged matched controls. On average the weightlifters generated ~ 32% more peak power than their aged matched counterparts and required significantly higher inertial loads to express their peak power output. In spite of 'load optimisation', power declined at twice the rate of strength. The levels of power suggest a 20 year advantage for the weightlifters.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: An investigation of dynamic human muscle function using a variable inertial loading system
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Biological sciences; Muscle power
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10098606
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