Journal of Applied Physiology

Effects of isometric training on the elasticity of human tendon structures in vivo

Keitaro Kubo, Hiroaki Kanehisa, Masamitsu Ito, Tetsuo Fukunaga


The present study aimed to investigate the effect of isometric training on the elasticity of human tendon structures. Eight subjects completed 12 wk (4 days/wk) of isometric training that consisted of unilateral knee extension at 70% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) for 20 s per set (4 sets/day). Before and after training, the elongation of the tendon structures in the vastus lateralis muscle was directly measured using ultrasonography while the subjects performed ramp isometric knee extension up to MVC. The relationship between the estimated muscle force and tendon elongation (L) was fitted to a linear regression, the slope of which was defined as stiffness of the tendon structures. The training increased significantly the volume (7.6±4.3%) and MVC torque (33.9±14.4%) of quadriceps femoris muscle. The L values at force production levels beyond 550 N were significantly shorter after training. The stiffness increased significantly from 67.5±21.3 to 106.2±33.4 N/mm. Furthermore, the training significantly increased the rate of torque development (35.8 ± 20.4%) and decreased electromechanical delay (−18.4±3.8%). Thus the present results indicate that isometric training increases the stiffness and Young's modulus of human tendon structures as well as muscle strength and size. This change in the tendon structures would be assumed to be an advantage for increasing the rate of torque development and shortening the electromechanical delay.

  • resistance training
  • stiffness
  • ultrasonography
  • vastus lateralis muscle


  • Address for reprint requests and other correspondence: K. Kubo, Dept. of Life Science (Sports Sciences), Univ. of Tokyo, Komaba 3-8-1, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan (E-mail:kubo{at}

  • The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. The article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

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