Men and women exhibit a similar time to task failure for a sustained, submaximal elbow extensor contraction

Douglas J. Dearth, Jonathan Umbel, Richard L. Hoffman, David W. Russ, Thad E. Wilson, Brian C. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Sex differences in muscle fatigue-resistance have been observed in a variety of muscles and under several conditions. This study compared the time to task failure (TTF) of a sustained isometric elbow extensor (intensity 15% of maximal strength) contraction in young men (n = 12) and women (n = 11), and examined if their neurophysiologic adjustments to fatigue differed. Motor-evoked potential amplitude (MEP), silent period duration, interference electromyogram (EMG) amplitude, maximal muscle action potential (M max), heart rate, and mean arterial pressure were measured at baseline, during the task, and during a 2-min ischemia period. Men and women did not differ in TTF (478.2 ± 31.9 vs. 500.4 ± 41.3 s; P = 0.67). We also performed an exploratory post hoc cluster analysis, and classified subjects as low (n = 15) or high endurance (n = 8) based on TTF (415.3 ± 16.0 vs. 626.7 ± 25.8 s, respectively). The high-endurance group exhibited a lower MEP and EMG at baseline (MEP 16.3 ± 4.1 vs. 37.2 ± 3.0% M max, P < 0.01; EMG 0.98 ± 0.18 vs. 1.85 ± 0.26% M max, P = 0.03). These findings suggest no sex differences in elbow extensor fatigability, in contrast to observations from other muscle groups. The cluster analyses results indicated that high- and low-endurance groups displayed neurophysiologic differences at baseline (before performing the fatigue task), but that they did not differ in fatigue-induced changes in their neurophysiologic adjustments to the task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1098
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • EMG
  • Gender
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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