Muscle Fatigue

Observing how temperature and fatigue impact muscle function and performance.

Human Body

Muscle Women

PASPORT Force Sensor (PS-2104)

PASPORT Force Sensor (PS-2104)

Lab Summary

Our human body is a complex system of bones, muscles, organs, nerves, etc… Students will experience and observe the function of muscle contraction, and observe how temperature and fatigue impact muscle function and performance.

Bones and organs are moved by contractile muscle tissue, of which there are three types: skeletal, smooth, and cardiac. Skeletal muscles, those responsible for moving parts of the body that are under voluntary control, are made up of muscle fibers. Each muscle fiber is an elongated, multinucleated cell crossed by dark and light striations, and the fibers are grouped into bundles called fascicles. Generally, the muscle fibers span the length of the muscle and are woven into connective tissues like tendons at the end of the muscle. The tendons attach the muscle to the bone, allowing it to function as a biological lever that can exert force on the bone it attaches to. The more fibers a muscle has, the more powerful the muscle is: for example, the quadriceps has a huge number of fibers, so it is one of the most powerful muscles in the body.

Every skeletal muscle is supplied with at least one nerve, one artery, and one vein. This is to ensure that every muscle can receive incoming nerve impulses while being fueled by fresh blood from the arteries. The veins are needed to export deoxygenated blood containing metabolic wastes and other byproducts. Active muscles require energy, and therefore require a continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients. For fuel, muscles rely on glucose form the bloodstream, glycogen stored in the muscle fibers, or fat molecules during vigorous, prolonged exercise. When energy availability fails to keep pace with the demands being placed on the muscle, the muscle will lose its physiological ability to contract in a controlled fashion due to ATP depletion. Even though the muscle may still receive nerve stimulation to move, muscle fatigue sets in.


Published: March 2002

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Here's What You Need

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Probeware (PASPORT Systems)

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Xplorer GLX (PS-2002)
(or alternate PASPORT interface — see other options)

The Xplorer GLX is a data collection, graphing, and analysis tool designed for science students and educators.

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PASPORT Force Sensor (PS-2104)

Designed to measure both pulling and pushing forces. Uses range from collisions to tug-of-war. For use with PASPORT Interfaces.

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Probeware (ScienceWorkshop Systems)

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750 Interface, USB (CI-7650)
(or alternate PASPORT interface — see other options)

The 750 Interface allows students to measure force, temperature, pressure, angular velocity, acceleration, current, and magnetic field with a built-in function generator and oscilloscope mode.

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Economy Force Sensor (CI-6746)

Designed to measure both pulling and pushing forces allowing labs from cart collisions to tug-of-war.

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Other Materials

  • Container of cold water
  • Ice