Bilateral deficit in maximal force production

Jakob Škarabot, Neil Cronin, Vojko Strojnik, Janne Avela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


The bilateral deficit phenomenon, characterized by a reduction in the amount of force from a single limb during maximal bilateral actions, has been shown in various movement tasks, contraction types and different populations. However, bilateral deficit appears to be an inconsistent phenomenon, with high variability in magnitude and existence, and seems to be plastic, as bilateral facilitation has also been shown to occur. Furthermore, many mechanisms underlying this phenomenon have been proposed over the years, but still remain largely unknown. The purpose of this review was to clarify and critically discuss some of the important issues relevant to bilateral deficit. The main findings of this review were: (1) bilateral deficit does not seem to be contraction-type dependent; however, it is more consistent in dynamic compared to isometric contractions; (2) postural stabilization requirements and/or ability to use counterbalances during unilateral actions seem to influence the expression of bilateral deficit to a great extent; strong evidence has been provided for higher-order neural inhibition as a possible mechanism, but requires further exploration using a lower limb model; biomechanical mechanisms, such as differences in shortening velocity between contraction modes and displacement of the force–velocity curve, seem to underlie bilateral deficit in ballistic and explosive contractions; (3) task familiarity has a large influence on bilateral deficit and thus adequate testing specificity is warranted in training/cross-sectional experiments; (4) the literature investigating the relationship between bilateral deficit and athletic performance and injury remains scarce; hence, further research in this area is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2057-2084
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number11-12
Early online date31 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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