Pacing strategies during repeated maximal voluntary contractions

I. Halperin, S. J. Aboodarda, F. A. Basset, J. M. Byrne, D. G. Behm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Pacing strategies have been reported to occur during continuous cyclical exercises. However, currently no studies have examined if pacing takes place during repeated maximal voluntary muscle contractions (MVCs). Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to examine if informing subjects on the number of MVCs they would perform would affect force and root mean squared electromyography (EMG), during similar fatiguing protocols. Methods: Thirty well-trained male subjects completed three fatiguing protocols in a randomized order. In the control condition participants were informed they would perform 12 MVCs, and then completed all 12. In the unknown condition they were not told how many MVCs they would perform, but were stopped after 12. Lastly, in the deception condition they were initially told they would perform only 6 MVCs, but after the 6 contractions they were asked to perform a few more repetitions and were stopped after 12. Results: Compared to the unknown condition, subjects demonstrated greater forces (p < 0.05, ES = 0.35-1.14, 2-7.5 %) and biceps EMG (p < 0.05, ES = 0.6, 6 %) in the deception condition during the first six MVCs. Additionally, under all conditions subjects applied greater forces in the last repetition (#12) relative to the previous one (#11) (p < 0.06, ES = 0.36-0.5, 2.8-3.8 %). Conclusions: The anticipation of performing a certain number of MVCs led the subjects to utilize different pacing strategies. The results also question the assumption that subjects followed the instruction to exert maximal effort during repeated MVCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1413-1420
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Deception
  • Electromyography
  • Fatigue


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