Expressed in absolute terms, V O2 max achieved in exercise with the preferred legs was significantly larger than the non-preferred legs (2-84 cf. 2-74 l/min; P less than 0-01) and a similar but non-significant difference was found between the arms (1-10 cf. 1-05 l/min). If, however, V O2 max is standardized for the size of the active muscle mass (LV, muscle plus bone) these differences between the preferred and non-preferred limbs disappear. The implications of these observations are discussed.
It is often assumed that maximum aerobic function and muscle size is the same in right and left limbs in healthy subjects. This research paper by Anthony J Sargeant shows that this is not the case and significant differences exist between the preferred and non-preferred limbs. These are quite small in normal subjects but in subjects with a prior history of injury, even dating back many years, the differences can be large and persistent.
Subjects with such a history were excluded from this study.
Limb volume, composition, and maximum aerobic power output in relation to habitual ‘preference’ in young male subjects
Annals of Human Biology. 1977 Jan;4(1):49-55