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Combining isometric knee extension exercises with hip adduction or abduction does not increase quadriceps EMG activity
  1. J Hertel1,
  2. J E Earl2,
  3. K K W Tsang3,
  4. S J Miller1
  1. 1Penn State University, University Park, PA, USA
  2. 2University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI, USA
  3. 3Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 J Hertel
 Penn State University, Department of Kinesiology, 269A Recreation Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA;


Objective: To determine if the combined isometric contractions of knee extension/hip adduction and knee extension/hip abduction will elicit a different quadriceps and gluteus medius electromyographic (EMG) pattern as compared to isometric contraction of a uniplanar knee extension exercise.

Methods: Eight healthy young adult volunteers without history of knee or quadriceps injury participated. Surface EMG data were collected from the vastus medialis oblique (VMO), vastus lateralis (VL), and gluteus medius (Gmed) muscles of the dominant leg of each subject during three single leg, weight bearing, isometric exercises (uniplanar knee extension, knee extension/hip adduction, knee extension/hip abduction). All exercises were performed at a position of 60° knee flexion. Three trials lasting 5 s each were performed for each of the three exercises. EMG data from each muscle were integrated and the maximum root mean square activity over a 0.5 s window for each trial was averaged. Analyses of variance were performed with exercise (straight extension, extension/adduction, extension/abduction) as the independent variable and VMO, VL, and Gmed activity and VMO:VL ratio as dependent variables.

Results: A significant main effect for exercise was found for the VMO (p = 0.006) and VL (p = 0.02), but not the Gmed (p = 0.25) or the VMO:VL ratio (p = 0.13). For the VMO and VL, the uniplanar knee extension task produced significantly more EMG activity than the extension/adduction or extension/abduction tasks.

Conclusions: Uniplanar knee extension exercises may be more appropriate than combining isometric knee extension exercises with hip adduction or abduction when eliciting maximal VMO and VL contractions.

  • electromyography
  • gluteus medius
  • patellofemoral pain syndrome
  • vastus lateralis
  • vastus medialis oblique
  • EMG, electromyographic
  • Gmed, gluteus medius
  • PFPS, patellofemoral pain syndrome
  • VL, vastus lateralis
  • VMO, vastus medialis oblique

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  • Conflict of interest: none declared.