Electromyographic and mechanomyographic responses of the biceps brachii during concentric and eccentric muscle actions to failure at high and low relative loads

Brian Benitez, Taylor K. Dinyer-McNeely, Lindsay McCallum, Minyoung Kwak, Pasquale J. Succi, Haley C. Bergstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study examined neuromuscular responses of the biceps brachii (BB) for concentric and eccentric muscle actions during bilateral, dynamic constant external resistance (DCER), reciprocal forearm flexions and extensions to failure at high (80% 1 repetition maximum [1RM]) and low (30% 1RM) relative loads. Methods: Nine women completed 1RM testing and repetitions to failure (RTF) at 30 and 80% 1RM. Electromyographic (EMG) and mechanomyographic (MMG) amplitude (AMP) and mean power frequency (MPF) signals were measured from the BB. Analyses included repeated measures ANOVAs (p < 0.05) and post-hoc pairwise comparisons with Bonferroni corrected alpha of p < 0.008 and p < 0.01 for between and within factor pairwise comparisons, respectively. Results: EMG AMP and MPF were significantly greater for concentric than eccentric muscle actions, regardless of load or time. However, time course of change analysis revealed parallel increases in EMG AMP for concentric and eccentric muscle actions during the RTF trials at 30% 1RM, but no change at 80% 1RM. There were significant increases in MMG AMP during concentric muscle actions, but decreases or no change during eccentric muscle actions. EMG and MMG MPF decreased over time, regardless of muscle action type and loading condition. Conclusion: The greater EMG AMP and MPF values during concentric compared to eccentric muscle actions may reflect the difference in the efficiency characteristic of these muscle actions. The neuromuscular responses suggested that fatigue may be mediated by recruitment of additional motor units with lower firing rates during concentric muscle actions, and changes in motor unit synchronization during eccentric muscle actions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2145-2156
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number10
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
No funds, grants, or other support was received for this study. Furthermore, all authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply.


  • Dynamic constant external resistance
  • Motor unit cycling
  • Muscle wisdom
  • Onion skin scheme
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)


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