Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Effects of prolonged cycle ergometer exercise on maximal muscle power and oxygen uptake in humans

  • 88 Accesses

  • 26 Citations


The mechanical power (Wtot, W·kg−1) developed during ten revolutions of all-out periods of cycle ergometer exercise (4–9 s) was measured every 5–6 min in six subjects from rest or from a baseline of constant aerobic exercise [50%–80% of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max)] of 20–40 min duration. The oxygen uptake [VO2 (W·kg−1, 1 ml O2 = 20.9 J)] and venous blood lactate concentration ([la]b, mM) were also measured every 15 s and 2 min, respectively. During the first all-out period, Wtot decreased linearly with the intensity of the priming exercise (Wtot = 11.9−0.25·VO2). After the first all-out period (i greater than 5–6 min), and if the exercise intensity was less than 60% VO2max, Wtot, VO2 and [la]b remained constant until the end of the exercise. For exercise intensities greater than 60% VO2max, VO2 and [la]b showed continuous upward drifts and Wtot continued decreasing. Under these conditions, the rate of decrease of Wtot was linearly related to the rate of increase of V [(d Wtot/dt) (W·kg−1·s−1) = 5.0·10−5 −0.20·(d VO2/dt) (W·kg−1·s−1)] and this was linearly related to the rate of increase of [la]b [(d VO2/dt) (W·kg−1·s−1) = 2.310−4 + 5.910−5·(d [la]b/dt) (mM·s−1)]. These findings would suggest that the decrease of Wtot during the first all-out period was due to the decay of phosphocreatine concentration in the exercising muscles occurring at the onset of exercise and the slow drifts of VO2 (upwards) and of Wtot (downwards) during intense exercise at constant Wtot could be attributed to the continuous accumulation of lactate in the blood (and in the working muscles).

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Box GE, Hunter WG, Hunter JS (1978) Statistics for experimenters. An introduction to design, data analysis and model building. Series in probability and mathematical statistics, Wiley, New York

  2. Brooks GA (1985) Anaerobic threshold: review of the concept and directions for future research. Med Sci Sports Exerc 17:22–31

  3. Casaburi R, Barstow TJ, Robinson T, Wasserman K (1989) Influence of work rate on ventilatory and gas exchange kinetics. J Appl Physiol 67:547–555

  4. Connett RJ, Honig CR (1989) Regulation of VO2 in red muscle: do current biochemical hypotheses fit in vivo data? Am J Physiol 256:R898-R906

  5. Cuthbert D, Wood FS (1980) Fitting equations to data. Computer analysis of multifactor data. Series in probability and mathematical statistics. Wiley, New York, pp 277–280

  6. Davies NJ, Dannison DM (1979) The measurement of metabolic gas exchange and minute volume by mass spectrometry alone. Respir Physiol 36:261–267

  7. di Prampero PE (1981) Energetics of muscular exercise. Rev Physiol Biochem Pharmacol 89:143–222

  8. di Prampero PE (1984) The control of muscle oxygen consumption afte heavy exercise. Boll Soc Ital Biol Sper [Suppl 3] LX:80–81

  9. di Prampero PE, Margaria R (1968) Relationship between OZ consumption, high energy phosphates and the kinetics of the Oz debt in exercise. Pflügers Arch 304:11–19

  10. Ferretti G, Gussoni M, di Prampero PE, Cerretelli P (1987) Effects of exercise on maximal instantaneous muscular power of humans. J Appl Physiol 62:2288–2294

  11. Gerken GZ (1960) Die quantitative enzymatische Dehydrierung von L(+)Lactate für die Mikroanalyse Physiol Chem 320:180–186

  12. Harris RC, Sahlin K, Hultman E (1977) Phosphagen and lactate contents of m. quadriceps femoris of man after exercise. J Appl Physiol 3:852–857

  13. Hitchcock HC (1989) Recovery of short-term power after dynamic exercise. J Appl Physiol 67:677–681

  14. Karlsson J, Diamant B, Saltin B (1971) Muscle metabolites during submaximal and maximal exercise in man. Scand J Clin Invest 26:385–394

  15. Linnarsson D (1974) Dynamics of pulmonary gas exchange and heart rate changes at start and end of exercise. Acta Physiol Scand [Suppl] 425:1–68

  16. Mahler M (1985) First-order kinetics of muscle oxygen consumption and an equivalent proportionality between QO2 and phosphorylcreatine level. J Gen Physiol 86:135–165

  17. Margaria R, di Prampero PE, Aghemo P, Derevenco P, Mariani M (1971) Effect of a steady-state exercise on maximal anaerobic power in man. J Appl Physiol 30:885–889

  18. Marquardt DW (1959) Solution of non-linear chemical engineering models. Chem Eng Prog 55:65–70

  19. Molé PA, Coulson RL, Caron JR, Nichols BG, Barstow TJ (1985) In vivo 31P-NMR in human muscle: transient patterns with exercise. J Appl Physiol 59:101–104

  20. Piiper J, di Prampero PE, Cerretelli P (1968) Oxygen debt and high-energy phosphates in gastrocnemius muscle of the dog. Am J Physiol 215:523–531

  21. Poole DC, Ward SA, Gardner GW, Whipp BJ (1988) Metabolic respiratory profile of the upper limit for prolonged exercise in man. Ergonomics 9:1265–1279

  22. Poole DC, Schaffartzik W, Knight DR, Derion T, Kennedy B, Guy HJ, Prediletto R, Wagner P (1991) Contribution of exercising legs to the slow component of oxygen uptake kinetics in humans. J Appl Physiol 71:1245–1253

  23. Sargeant AJ, Dolan P (1987) Effect of prior exercise on maximal short-term power output in humans. J Appl Physiol 63:1475–1480

  24. Whipp BJ, Mahler M (1980) Dynamics of pulmonary gas exchange during exercise. In: West JB (ed) Pulmonary gas exchange. Academic Press, New York, pp 33–96

  25. Whipp BJ, Wasserman K (1972) Oxygen uptake kinetics for various intensities of constant-load work. J Appl Physiol 33:351–356

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Carlo Capelli.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Capelli, C., Antonutto, G., Zamparo, P. et al. Effects of prolonged cycle ergometer exercise on maximal muscle power and oxygen uptake in humans. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 66, 189–195 (1993).

Download citation

Key words

  • Cycle ergometer exercise
  • Maximal power
  • Oxygen uptake kinetics
  • Lactate
  • Fatigue