Investigations of high-intensity isometric fatiguing protocols report decreases in motor unit firing rates (MUFRs), but little is known regarding changes in MUFRs following fatigue induced by high-intensity dynamic contractions. Our purpose was to evaluate MUFRs of the anconeus (an accessory elbow extensor) and elbow extension power production as a function of time to task failure (TTF) during high-velocity fatiguing concentric contractions against a moderately heavy resistance. Fine-wire intramuscular electrode pairs were inserted into the anconeus to record MUs in 12 male participants (25 ± 3 yr), over repeated sessions on separate days. MUs were tracked throughout a three-stage, varying load dynamic elbow extension protocol designed to extend the task duration for >1 min thereby inducing substantial fatigue. Mean MUFRs and peak power were calculated for three relative time ranges: 0–15% TTF (beginning), 45–60% TTF (middle) and 85–100% TTF (end). Mean duration of the overall fatigue protocol was ∼80 s. Following the protocol, isometric maximum voluntary contraction (MVC), highest velocity at 35% MVC load, and peak power decreased 37, 60, and 64% compared with baseline, respectively. Data from 20 anconeus MUs tracked successfully throughout the protocol indicated a reduction in MUFRs in relation to power loss from 36 Hz/160 W (0–15% TTF) to 28 Hz/97 W (45–60% TTF) to 23 Hz/43 W (85–100% TTF). During these high-intensity maximal effort concentric contractions, anconeus MUFRs decreased substantially (>35%). Although the absolute MUFRs were higher in the present study than those reported previously for other muscles during sustained high-intensity isometric tasks, the relative decrease in MUFRs was similar between the two tasks.
- motor neuron
- discharge rate
- velocity-dependent contraction
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