Relationships between lower-body muscle structure and lower-body strength, power and muscle-tendon complex stiffness

Document Type

Journal Article


National Strength and Conditioning Association


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Exercise and Health Sciences




This article was originally published as: Secomb, J. L., Lundgren, L., Farley, O. R., Tran, T. T., Nimphius, S., & Sheppard, J. M. (2015). Relationships between lower-body muscle structure and lower-body strength, power and muscle-tendon complex stiffness. Journal of strength and conditioning research/National Strength & Conditioning Association. 29(8), 2221-2228. Original article available here


The purpose of this study was to determine whether any relationships were present between lower-body muscle structure and strength and power qualities. Fifteen elite male surfing athletes performed a battery of lower-body strength and power tests, including countermovement jump (CMJ), squat jump (SJ), isometric midthigh pull (IMTP), and had their lower-body muscle structure assessed with ultrasonography. In addition, lower-body muscle-tendon complex (MTC) stiffness and dynamic strength deficit (DSD) ratio were calculated from the CMJ and IMTP. Significant relationships of large to very large strength were observed between the vastus lateralis (VL) thickness of the left (LVL) and right (RVL) leg and peak force (PF) (r 0.54-0.77, p < 0.01-0.04), peak velocity (PV) (r 0.66-0.83, p < 0.01), and peak jump height (r 0.62-0.80, p < 0.01) in the CMJ and SJ, as well as IMTP PF (r 0.53-0.60, p 0.02-0.04). Furthermore, large relationships were found between left lateral gastrocnemius (LG) pennation angle and SJ and IMTP PF (r 0.53, p 0.04, and r 0.70, p < 0.01, respectively) and between LG and IMTP relative PF (r 0.63, p 0.01). Additionally, large relationships were identified between lower-body MTC stiffness and DSD ratio (r 0.68, p < 0.01), right (LG) pennation angle (r 0.51, p 0.05), CMJ PF (r 0.60, p 0.02), and jump height (r 0.53, p 0.04). These results indicate that greater VL thickness and increased LG pennation angle are related to improved performance in the CMJ, SJ, and IMTP. Furthermore, these results suggest that lower-body MTC stiffness explains a large amount of variance in determining an athlete's ability to rapidly apply force during a dynamic movement.