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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of quadriceps cross-sectional area (CSA) of the dominant quadriceps muscle in the assessment of the physical working capacity at the fatigue threshold (PWCFT) during incremental cycle ergometry. Methods: Eighteen adults (9 men and 9 women; mean age ± SD = 20.5 ± 1.04 yr; mean body weight ± SD = 73.9 ± 18.2 kg; mean height ± SD = 172.3 ± 11.5 cm; mean dominant quadriceps CSA ± SD = 68.7 ± 14.5 cm2) performed an incremental cycle ergometry test to exhaustion while the electromyographic (EMG) signals were recorded from the vastus lateralis (VL) muscles. Fatiguing and non-fatiguing power outputs were differentiated by examining the slope coefficients for the EMG amplitude versus time relationship at each power output throughout the incremental cycle ergometry test. Quadriceps CSA was estimated from an equation. Subjects were divided into groups of small quadriceps CSA (57.3 ± 10.0 cm2) and large quadriceps CSA (80.0 ± 7.6 cm2). Results: Independent t-test results indicated no significant mean differences between the PWCFT for the large and small quadriceps CSA groups (p=0.456). Conclusion: The findings of the study suggest that muscle CSA may not have a significant effect on the assessment of the PWCFT, and therefore that PWCFT may be a determinant of neuromuscular fatigue independent of muscle CSA. Future research could explore the contributions of muscle fibertype predominance to CSA and PWCFT and provide more conclusive evidence relating these variables.


This article was reused with kind permission from the International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology (, previously known as Journal of Undergraduate Kinesiology Research.

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Journal of Undergraduate Kinesiology Research





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