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JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES, 2016

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2016.1221521

A simple method for assessment of muscle force, velocity, and power producing
capacities from functional movement tasks
Milena Z. Zivkovica, Sasa Djurica, Ivan Cuka,b, Dejan Suzovica and Slobodan Jaricc,d
a
Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, The Research Centre, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia; bDepartment of Kinesiology, College of
Sports and Health, Belgrade, Serbia; cDepartment of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA; dBiomechanics
and Movement Science Graduate Program, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA

ABSTRACT ARTICLE HISTORY


A range of force (F) and velocity (V) data obtained from functional movement tasks (e.g., running, Accepted 2 August 2016
jumping, throwing, lifting, cycling) performed under variety of external loads have typically revealed
KEYWORDS
strong and approximately linear F–V relationships. The regression model parameters reveal the max- Regression; mechanics;
imum F (F-intercept), V (V-intercept), and power (P) producing capacities of the tested muscles. The aim parameter; output; load
of the present study was to evaluate the level of agreement between the routinely used “multiple-load
model” and a simple “two-load model” based on direct assessment of the F–V relationship from only 2
external loads applied. Twelve participants were tested on the maximum performance vertical jumps,
cycling, bench press throws, and bench pull performed against a variety of different loads. All 4 tested
tasks revealed both exceptionally strong relationships between the parameters of the 2 models (median
R = 0.98) and a lack of meaningful differences between their magnitudes (fixed bias below 3.4%).
Therefore, addition of another load to the standard tests of various functional tasks typically conducted
under a single set of mechanical conditions could allow for the assessment of the muscle mechanical
properties such as the muscle F, V, and P producing capacities.

Introduction Chevalier, & Monod, 2002; Nikolaidis, 2012), and running


(Jaskolska, Goossens, Veenstra, Jaskolski, & Skinner, 1999;
Routine procedures for testing muscle function have been
Morin, Samozino, Bonnefoy, Edouard, & Belli, 2010; Rabita
usually conducted under a single mechanical condition. As a
et al., 2015). Note that such tasks reveal only the outputs that
result, the muscle capacities, such as those for producing high
reflect the capacity of the active muscles as a whole to produce
F, V and P outputs, cannot be distinguished from single out-
high external F and V, but not the same capacities of individual
comes of such tests (Jaric, 2015). This inevitably leads to a
muscles (McMahon, 1984; Winter et al., 2016). Nevertheless, the
fundamental problem in the contemporary literature both
applied regression modelling inevitably revealed the maximum
regarding the design of various research and testing proce-
F (i.e., the F-intercept; Fmax), maximum V (V-intercept;
dures, as well as an ambiguity in interpreting their results.
Vmax = Fmax/a), and maximum power (P) [Pmax = (Fmax · Vmax/
A solution of the discussed problem could be based on a
4); (Driss et al., 2002; Jaric, 2015; Samozino et al., 2012)]. In the
number of recent studies that have been focused upon the
further text, this approach will be referred to as the multiple-
force–velocity (F–V) relationship of muscular systems perform-
load model. Of particular importance could be that the multiple-
ing various functional movement tasks [i.e., multi-join move-
load model parameters depicting the external F, V, and P out-
ments represented in either everyday behaviour or various
puts of the tested muscles (i.e., Fmax, Vmax, and Pmax, respec-
sport activities such as jumping, cycling, or lifting; (Jaric,
tively) proved to be highly reliable and at least moderately valid
2015)]. Specifically, a manipulation of external loads provided
with respect to the same variables directly measured through
a range of F and V data that allowed for applying various
standard tests (Jaric, 2015). Therefore, the F–V relationship
regression models revealing V-associated decrease in F.
could provide a comprehensive and valuable set of information
Outcomes of the applied regressions typically revealed excep-
regarding different mechanical capacities of the tested muscles,
tionally strong and linear F–V relationship (i.e., F = Fmax−aV)
particularly when compared with the standard testing proce-
from functional tasks such as lifting (Garcia-Ramos, Jaric, Padial,
dures typically performed under a single set of mechanical
& Feriche, 2016; Sanchez-Medina, Gonzalez-Badillo, Perez, &
conditions (Bobbert, 2012; Jaric, 2015; Rabita et al., 2015;
Pallares, 2014; Sreckovic et al., 2015) jumping and leg push
Samozino et al., 2012, 2014).
offs (Cuk et al., 2014; Feeney, Stanhope, Kaminski, Machi, &
Several authors have already suggested that the method of
Jaric, 2016; Giroux, Rabita, Chollet, & Guilhem, 2015; Meylan
obtaining the linear F–V relationship from loaded functional
et al., 2015; Nikolaidis, 2012; Samozino, Rejc, Di Prampero,
movements procedure could be developed into a routine
Belli, & Morin, 2012, 2014), cycling (Driss, Vandewalle, Le

CONTACT Slobodan Jaric jaric@udel.edu Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, University of Delaware, Rust Arena, Rm. 143, 541 South
College Avenue, Newark, DE 19716, USA
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
2 M. Z. ZIVKOVIC ET AL.

procedure for testing the muscle mechanical capacities (Cuk applied testing protocol and also instructed to avoid any
et al., 2014; Garcia-Ramos et.al., 2016; Jaric, 2015; Meylan et al., unusual strenuous activities over the course of the study.
2015; Nikolaidis, 2012; Sreckovic et al., 2015). However, the Both the experimental protocol and the informed consent
same procedure could be too demanding due to a need for a signed by the participants were in accordance with the
number of loading conditions and, therefore, being prone to Declaration of Helsinki and approved by Institutional Review
fatigue, as well as due to the required regression modelling. A Board.
possible solution of the stated problems could be based on
the 2 findings. First, since the F–V relationship obtained from a
Functional movement tests
series of loaded functional movements proved to be excep-
tionally strong, the number of the different loads applied Participants were tested on maximum counter-movement
could have only a minor effect upon the shape of the jumps without arm swing (JUMP) on a F plate (AMTI;
observed F–V relationship. Second, due to the typically linear Watertown, USA) wearing a weighted vest and belt (MiR Vest
shape of the observed F–V relationships, the magnitude of the Inc; San Hose, USA). Although loaded bars positioned upon
applied loads should also play a minor role. Therefore, a subjects’ shoulders have been more frequently employed, we
plausible simplification of the standard procedure of obtaining selected the applied loading method because it brings the
F–V relationship referred to as the multiple-load model could load closer to the body centre of mass, reduces loading of the
be based on drawing a line through just 2 pairs of F and V spine, and less affect the jumping pattern. No specific instruc-
data obtained from 2 distinctive loads (i.e., the two-load tions were given regarding the depth of the counter move-
model). Such a two-load model could accurately replicate the ment. Two trials per load were performed and the rest period
F–V relationship obtained from a multiple-load model applied between consecutive jumps was 1 min and 2–3 min between
on a number of trials performed under different loads. As a different loading magnitudes (Feeney et al., 2016; Leontijevic
result, the two-load model might discern among the F, V, and et al., 2012).
P capacities of the tested muscles in the same way as the A 6-s maximal cycling sprint test (CYCLING) performed on a
parameters of the typically applied multiple-load model does, Monark 834E leg cycle ergometer (Monark, Varberg, Sweden)
while still avoiding ambiguity of interpretation of routine tests consisted entirely of testing the maximum P output (Jaskolska
typically performed under a single mechanical condition. et al., 1999). Participants were instructed to perform an “all
To explore to what extent the two-load model replicates out” effort from the very beginning of the test and to remain
the actual F–V relationship obtained from the multiple-load seated during the entire sprint. The seat height was individu-
model, we conducted 4 functional movement tests under ally adjusted to individual satisfaction, and toe clips with
various external loads. We specifically hypothesised that straps were used to prevent the feet slipping off the pedals
there would be a high level of agreement between the para- (Driss et al., 2002). One trial per each resistance was performed
meters depicting the F, V, and P producing capacity of the and the rest period between consecutive sprints was 4 min.
tested muscles (i.e., Fmax, Vmax, and Pmax, respectively) Maximum bench press throws test (BPRESS) was performed
obtained from the two-load models and the corresponding on a Smith machine [see (Sreckovic et al., 2015) for details]
standard multiple-load models. If the hypothesised concurrent with the instruction “to throw the bar as high as possible.”
validity of the evaluated two-load model can be confirmed, Two stoppers were standing aside and catching the bar during
that could motivate its routine use for a comprehensive its descending trajectory. For safety reasons, mechanical stops
assessment of muscle mechanical capacities from various not only kept the bar about 1 cm above the chest prior to the
functional movements. test, but also prevented (if needed) the collision of the bar
with the subject’s chest. To avoid fatigue, the rest periods
between 2 consecutive trials were 45 s, while the rest between
Methods different loading conditions was about 3 min (Leontijevic,
Pazin, Kukolj, Ugarkovic, & Jaric, 2013; Sreckovic et al., 2015).
Participants
During the maximum bench press pull test (BPULL) the
We employed the sample size estimate (Cohen, 1988) for an participants were instructed to lay face down the high bench
alpha level 0.05 and P 0.8 based on previously observed and placing their chin on the padded edge of the bench. Their
effects of similar magnitudes of loading (Cuk et al., 2014; lower legs and the upper body were strapped to the bench
Sreckovic et al., 2015) assessed by one-way ANOVA. Between with padded rope. They pulled up the bar with maximum
3–12 participants appeared to be necessary to detect the effort until the bar struck the cushioned underside of the
differences among the F and V outputs obtained from differ- bench. The rest periods were the same as in BPRESS.
ent tests and loading conditions. Therefore, we recruited 12
healthy male participants (age 22.1 ± 3.4 years; body height
External loading
184.1 ± 7.1 cm; body mass 80.8 ± 8.2 kg, body mass index
24.5 ± 1.5 cm/kg2, and per cent body fat 11.2 ± 2.8 %; data The applied external loads in JUMP were 0, 8, 16, 24, and 32 kg
shown as mean ± SD). IPAQ questionnaire (Taylor-Piliae et al., of weights that allowed all participants to perform the jumps.
2006) revealed low, moderate, and high level of physical In total, they performed 10 jumps (5 loads × 2 trials). Based on
activity in 3, 5, and 4 participants, respectively. None of them a pilot testing, all subjects were able to jump (i.e., to reveal a
reported either medical problems or recent injuries. They were flight phase) with the 32 kg of added weights. Regarding
informed regarding the potential risks associated with the CYCLING, participants performed 5 sprints against the external
JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES 3

loads of 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 kg (i.e., 1 trial per load). The model was obtained from a linear regression applied on the
individual maximum load lifted in BPRESS and BPULL data observed from all loading conditions, while the two-load
appeared to be between 62 and 90 kg. Therefore, the applied model was drawn through the data obtained from only the
external loads were 20, 27.5, 35, 42.5, 50, and 57.5 kg. The lightest and heaviest load. Each model separately revealed the
minimum load of 20 kg consisted of the bar and arm seg- parameters Fmax (F-intercept), Vmax (V-intercept), and Pmax
ments (Sreckovic et al., 2015), while the weight plates were (Pmax = Fmax · Vmax/4).
added for higher loads. In total, participants completed 12
bench press throws and 12 bench pulls (i.e., 6 loads × 2 trials
Statistical analyses
each).
The analyses were performed on the parameters Fmax, Vmax,
and Pmax and correlation coefficients obtained separately from
Experimental protocol
the multiple-load and two-load model. Descriptive statistics
Each participant completed 4 sessions separated by rest per- were calculated as mean and standard deviation, while the
iods of 5–7 days. The first session consisted of anthropometric correlation coefficients were presented through their median
measurements, followed by familiarisation with 2 functional values and ranges. Initial testing revealed that none of the
tests. Specifically, body height and body mass were assessed dependent variables significantly deviated from their normal
by a standard anthropometer and digital scale, respectively. distribution (Kolmogorov–Smirnov test). Student’s t-test was
For the assessment of per cent body fat, a bioelectric impe- employed to test the differences between the same para-
dance method (In Body 720; USA) was used. Familiarisation meters observed from 2 models applied on the particular
with another 2 tests was conducted during the second ses- sets of data, while Pearson’s correlations were used to test
sion. The third and fourth testing sessions served for data their relationships. To assess systematic bias and the limits of
collecting. Note that the order of the tests was partially ran- agreement of the 2 models, we also used Bland–Altman plots
domised for each participant. Namely, to avoid fatigue, each (Bland & Altman, 1986). The level of statistical significance was
familiarisation and testing session involved 1 test of upper set to P < 0.05. All statistical tests were performed using SPSS
limbs and 1 test of lower limbs. The sequence of loads was 21 (IBM, Armonk, NY).
randomised for each particular test. For all tests except
CYCLING, the first trial was used as practice trial, while the
Results
second trial was used for further analysis. Standard 10-min
warm up procedures of the lower and upper body muscles Figure 1(a) shows the averaged across the participants F and V
were conducted prior to each test. A strong verbal encourage- data obtained from individual loads applied on 4 functional
ment was systematically provided. performance tests. The multiple-load model revealed excep-
tionally strong and approximately linear relationships. When
applied on individual sets of data, the same model revealed
Data analysis
the correlation coefficients 0.951 (0.877–0.992) in JUMP, 0.995
The first step of data analysis was the calculation of the F and (0.978–0.999) in CYCLING, 0.984 (0.963–0.991) in BPRESS, and
V values averaged either across the trials concentric phase (in 0.990 (0.940–0.997) in BPULL [all data shown as median
JUMP, BPRESS, and BPULL), or from the entire test interval (range)]. Figure 1(b) illustrates the similarity of the multiple-
(CYCLING). A custom-designed LabVIEW (National load and two-load model outcomes observed from a repre-
Instruments, 2013; USA) programme was used to acquire and sentative set of individual data. Although the two-load model
process the vertical component of the ground reaction F (solid line) was observed from only the first and the last point
exerted during JUMP. The F signal was sampled at 1000 Hz used to obtain the linear regression (i.e., the multiple-load
and low-pass filtered with a second-order recursive 10 Hz low- model; all points and dashed line), the 2 lines are almost
pass Butterworth filter. Integration of the acceleration signal overlapping. As a result, the values of the parameters of the
calculated from F was conducted to calculate V (Cuk et al., 2 models should have been very similar.
2014). Regarding CYCLING, the device software was used to The following figures show a high level of agreement
acquire P and the frequency data. To assess the corresponding between the 2 models through the similarity of their para-
linear measures, V was calculated from the frequency and the meters observed across the participants. Specifically, Figure 2
crank length, while F was calculated as P divided by V. presents the differences between the magnitudes, the same
Another custom-made Lab VIEW programme was used to parameters observed from the multiple-load and two-load
assess F and V from BPRESS and BPULL. 3D kinematic record- model applied separately on different functional performance
ing (Qualisys AB, Gothenburg, Sweden) sampled at a rate of tasks. Although 4 out of 12 comparisons revealed significant
240 Hz with recursive Butterworth 10 Hz low-pass filter was differences (P < 0.05; paired t-test), note that the magnitudes
used to assess the vertical position of the bar. V and accelera- of the differences were exceptionally small. Figure 3 shows the
tion of the bar were calculated from the first and second relationships between the same parameters. All correlation
derivative of the position, respectively, while F was calculated coefficients proved to be strong (all r > 0.952; P < 0.01).
as a sum of the weight (i.e., mass times gravity acceleration) Although the correlation coefficients obtained from BPRESS
and inertia (mass times acceleration) of the total mass lifted. appear to be somewhat lower than in the remaining 3 tests,
The second step of the data analysis was the assessment of none of the 12 correlation coefficients was either above or
2 models and their parameters. The individual multiple-load below the 95% confidence intervals of others.
4 M. Z. ZIVKOVIC ET AL.

Figure 1. (a) The linear regressions obtained from the averaged across the
participant data recorded from 4 functional movement tests. The individual
points represent F and V values recorded from particular loads, while the
correlation coefficients are also indicated. (b) Comparison of the 2 models
applied on a representative set of individual data obtained from BPRESS.
While the standard “multiple-load model” is based on a linear regression
applied on all experimentally recorded F and V values (both the open and filled
squares; dashed line), the “two-load model” represents the line drawn through
only the first and last point (circled; solid line) of the tested individual.

Figure 2. The averaged across the participant values of the parameters Fmax
The Bland–Altman plots also revealed a high level of agree- (top panel), Vmax (middle panel), and Pmax (bottom panel) obtained from the
ment between the 2 models. Specifically, for all parameters the multiple-load (open bars) and two-load model (filled bars) for different tests
(means with SD error bars). Significant differences (*P < 0.05) between the 2
fixed bias was below 3.4%, while the proportional bias was models are also presented (corresponding effect sizes in parentheses).
R < 0.60 (all P > 0.05). Finally, the averaged 95% limit of
agreements was 5.6%, ranging from 2.9% (Vmax obtained from
CYCLING) to 10.7% (Vmax obtained from JUMP) (Figure 4). level of agreement between the multiple-load and two-load
model.
Previous studies revealed that the F–V relationships
Discussion
observed from the multiple-load model applied on loaded
Within the present study, we compared a model observed functional movements proved not only to be linear and
from just 2 distinctive loads with the outcomes of the stan- strong, but also that their parameters Fmax, Vmax, and Pmax
dard multiple-load model used to obtain the F–V relationship could be reliable and valid indices of muscle F, V, and P
from various tasks performed under a number of loading producing capacities, respectively (Jaric, 2015). The obtained
conditions. The results obtained from 4 different functional results strongly suggest that the two-load model that requires
movement tasks strongly supported our hypothesis. Namely, neither the regression modelling nor more than 2 different
both the absolute values, the relationships and the bias loads applied provides virtually identical outcomes regarding
observed between the models’ parameters revealed a high the magnitudes of the F–V parameters. This could be
JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCES 5

performing various multi-joint functional tasks [(Jaric, 2015);


see also Introduction].
Various functional movements, such as maximum perfor-
mance jumping, cycling, running, throwing, and lifting, have
been routinely employed to assess the mechanical capacities
of involved muscles, detect differences among various popu-
lations, and explore the effects of various rehabilitation and
training interventions. As already pointed out in Introduction,
they have been typically tested under a single set of mechan-
ical conditions including a single external load. Just a quick
glance at Figure 1(b) reveals the main problem of such an
approach: a single experimental point does not allow for the
assessment of the F–V relationship and, therefore, the muscle
F, V, and P producing capacities cannot be assessed. Moreover,
the position of the point relative to the maximum F (i.e., zero
V), V (zero F), and P (the middle section of the line) of the
tested muscles cannot be assessed. One could only speculate
to what extent such an approach has created ambiguity in
Figure 3. Correlation coefficients between the same parameters obtained from literature regarding whether the outcomes of standard func-
the multiple-load and two-load model (corresponding 95% confidence intervals tional movement tests reveal F, V, or P producing capacities of
also shown). the tested muscles.
The present data, however, suggest that adding of just
considered as an outcome that supports the concurrent valid- another external load could allow for using the two-load
ity of the two-load model with respect to the multiple-load model that distinguishes among the discussed muscle capa-
model already extensively used in literature. It is plausible to cities. Conversely, the obtained results also suggest that add-
assume that the level of agreement between the outcomes of ing more than just 1 external load may not be needed. That
the two-load and multiple-load model originate from both the eliminates a need for a linear regression modelling and also
strength and linearity of the F–V relationships of muscles makes the procedure both quicker and less prone to fatigue.

Figure 4. Bland–Altman plots illustrating the agreement of the 3 parameters (Fmax, Vmax, and Pmax) obtained from 4 different tests by means of the multiple-load
and two-load model. Dashed lines show the fixed bias, while the dotted lines show 95% limits of agreements.
6 M. Z. ZIVKOVIC ET AL.

Finally, a question could be the method of selection of the Nevertheless, further research is needed to standardise the
particular 2 loads. A plausible solution could be the selection testing procedures regarding the magnitudes of external
of 2 more, rather than less distinctive loads (as shown in loads applied, their type (Leontijevic et al., 2013), and addi-
Figure 1(b)). Namely, if each individual load provides F and V tionally explore the reliability, validity, and sensitivity of the
magnitudes with a similar error score, the error of the observed parameters.
obtained F–V relationship (and, therefore, of Fmax, Vmax, and
Pmax) would be smaller if calculated from more distant experi- Disclosure statement
mental points.
Regarding the possible limitations of the discussed two- No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
load model, note that it could be applied only on multi-joint
functional movement tasks, since the F–V relationship Funding
observed from in vitro muscles and single-joint movements
is generally considered to be curvilinear (Kaneko, Fuchimoto, This work was supported in part by the National Institute of Health, USA:
[Grant Number R21AR06065]; and the Serbian Research Council: [Grant
Toji, & Suei, 1983; McMahon, 1984). Nevertheless, it should be Number 175037].
noted that the functional movement tasks are not only exten-
sively used in routine testing, but also more ecologically valid
and typically more familiar for participants (Jaric, 2015). In
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