Maximal Neuromuscular Performance


Course Objective

The student has knowledge of the role of muscle activation and
(changing) muscle properties on maximal human neuromuscular performance
during high intensity exercise and the student has knowledge of the
relevant research methods.
The student can apply this knowledge to questions regarding testing and
improving of maximal neuromuscular performance in sports (and
The student is able to evaluate the validity and relevance of basic
scientific literature for neuromuscular performance in a sport
(rehabilitation) related context.
The students will learn to critically read scientific papers on
neuromuscular performance published in international journals. The
student will be able to communicate (‘translate’) the implications of
basic scientific knowledge of neuromuscular performance to practical
issues raised by coaches and therapists in the field of sports (and
Students will not learn how to do research, or how to test athletes, or
how to design exercise programs in sports or rehabilitation etc.
Students will learn what underlying factors/mechanisms they should be
aware of while designing muscle function tests and exercise programs.

Course Content

During the course, a critical overview will be given of the current
knowledge of maximal neuromuscular performance during relatively high
intensity exercise of short duration (40 ms up to 5 min). Many examples
will be provided from own research. The emphasis will be on the coupling
between basic knowledge of muscle activation and (changing) muscle
properties during human movement and their consequences for testing and
training. This is a fundamental sports related muscle physiology course,
not an applied sports course.
The following subjects will be addressed:
• Voluntary activation;
• Explosive force/power;
• Influence of temperature (incl. warm-up);
• Potentiation;
• Fatigue;
• Shortening deficit and lengthening force enhancement;
• Recruitment of motor units.
• Muscle oxygenation

Teaching Methods

The course consists of a series of nine lectures condensed in a
three week period (September 4th- September 22rd), during which relevant
practical questions will be used as a starting point. Subsequently the
focus will be on fundamental neuromuscular properties as studied in a
series of accompanying scientific papers.

Method of Assessment

2 hours 15 minutes exam with open-ended questions in the week
immediately following the three week lecture period (most likely on
Wednesday September 27th).

Entry Requirements

Students with a Ba degree in physiotherapy or physical education are
strongly advised to take the second year course Muscle Physiology (which
from 2017 is no longer part of the obligatory pre-master program). In
general, students with a ‘HBO-degree’ indicate that they lack the entry
knowledge required to successfully complete this high level Master

Sufficient knowledge of the basics of Muscle Physiology is absolutely
necessary. In order to successfully participate, students have to
understand the following concepts: anatomy of skeletal muscle, sarcomere
function, twitch, tetanus, length-force, force- and power-velocity, and
stimulation frequency-force relations, the size principle of motor unit
recruitment, rate coding, EMG, electrical stimulation, fibre type
related differences in contractile properties, cross-bridge kinetics,
excitation contraction coupling, the basic metabolic changes during
exercise (changes in ATP and CrP, glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation)


The course will mainly use research papers. Basic background information
is derived from Chapters 1-10 of: Skeletal muscle: from molecules to
movement. A textbook of muscle physiology for sport, exercise,
physiotherapy and medicine. Jones, D.A., Round, J. and A. de Haan,
Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier Science Limited, 2004. ISBN 0
443 07427 5

General Information

Course Code B_MAXNEUR
Credits 3 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Fac. of Behavioural and Movement Science
Course Coordinator dr. C.J. de Ruiter
Examiner dr. C.J. de Ruiter
Teaching Staff dr. C.J. de Ruiter

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Teaching Methods Lecture