This research was seeking to estimate the true maximum force that human muscle could generate. Professor Anthony J Sargeant wants the reader to understand that answering this question is not as simple as it seems!
Journal of Applied Physiology
J Appl Physiol. 2001 Mar;90(3):865-72
In this study, we estimated the specific tensions of soleus (Sol) and tibialis anterior (TA) muscles in six men. Joint moments were measured during maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) and during electrical stimulation. Moment arm lengths and muscle volumes were measured using magnetic resonance imaging, and pennation angles and fascicular lengths were measured using ultrasonography. Tendon and muscle forces were modeled. Two approaches were followed to estimate specific tension. First, muscle moments during electrical stimulation and moment arm lengths, fascicular lengths, and pennation angles during MVC were used (data set A). Then, MVC moments, moment arm lengths at rest, and cadaveric fascicular lengths and pennation angles were used (data set B). The use of data set B yielded the unrealistic specific tension estimates of 104 kN/m(2) in Sol and 658 kN/m(2) in TA. The use of data set A, however, yielded values of 150 and 155 kN/m(2) in Sol and TA, respectively, which agree with in vitro results from fiber type I-predominant muscles. In fact, both Sol and TA are such muscles. Our study demonstrates the feasibility of accurate in vivo estimates of human muscle intrinsic strength