Metabolic rates can increase 21 times above resting levels during cycling with the majority attributed to muscular contractions. Metabolic estimates attained through gas exchange parameters are limited by the respiration rate and time delay with respect to these contractions. In contrast surface electromyography (EMG) contains instantaneous muscle contraction information at higher temporal resolutions. An adequate metabolic power-EMG relationship has not been established to use EMG as a metabolic estimate during dynamic activities. The purpose of this study was to establish a metabolic power-EMG relationship during non steady-state conditions. Participants cycled at workloads between 25 and 90% O2max while EMG and gas exchange were monitored. The EMG was resolved into intensities and total EMG intensity was calculated as the sum of intensities across all muscles for each pedal cycle. Metabolic power was estimated from gas exchange parameters and the mean total EMG intensity between breaths was calculated and used as breath-by-breath values. Comparisons were made between breath-by-breath resolutions of metabolic power and total EMG intensity. Different weighting coefficients were also applied to the EMG for each muscle to analyze the effects of different muscle weightings on metabolic power estimations. There was a significant correlation (r = 0.91) between estimates of metabolic power from EMG and gas exchange. Muscle weighting had a significant effect on metabolic power determination with the highest and lowest correlated estimates having the largest weightings on muscles proximal and distal to the knee respectively. This study demonstrates that EMG contains important information about the metabolic costs of muscle contractions and provides good predictions of metabolic changes during non steady-state conditions. Also, the importance of each muscle is workload dependent with inappropriate weightings reducing metabolic estimations. These findings have implications for future EMG applications as they provide more immediate, higher temporal resolution predictions of changes in metabolic power.
SpringerPlus 2013, 2:229 doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-229
Estimating Changes In Metabolic Power From EMG
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