Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology

, Volume 469, Issue 10, pp 1257–1265 | Cite as

Blood lactate accumulation decreases during the slow component of oxygen uptake without a decrease in muscular efficiency

  • J.M. O’Connell
  • J.M. Weir
  • B.R. MacIntoshEmail author
Integrative Physiology
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Integrative Physiology


Pulmonary oxygen uptake (\( {\dot{\mathrm{V}}\mathrm{O}}_2 \)) slowly increases during exercise above the anaerobic threshold, and this increase is called the slow component of \( {\dot{\mathrm{V}}\mathrm{O}}_2 \). The mechanism of the increase in \( {\dot{\mathrm{V}}\mathrm{O}}_2 \) is assumed to be due to increasing energy cost associated with increasingly inefficient muscle contraction. We hypothesized that the increase in \( {\dot{\mathrm{V}}\mathrm{O}}_2 \) would be accompanied by a constant or increasing rate of accumulation of blood lactate, indicating sustained anaerobic metabolism while \( {\dot{\mathrm{V}}\mathrm{O}}_2 \) increased. Ten male subjects performed cycle ergometry for 3, 6, and 9 min at a power output representing 60% of the difference between lactate threshold and maximal \( {\dot{\mathrm{V}}\mathrm{O}}_2 \) while \( {\dot{\mathrm{V}}\mathrm{O}}_2 \) and blood lactate accumulation were measured. Blood lactate accumulation decreased over time, providing the energy equivalent of (mean ± SD) 1586 ± 265, 855 ± 287, and 431 ± 392 ml of \( {\dot{\mathrm{V}}\mathrm{O}}_2 \) during 0–3, 3–6, and 6–9 min of exercise, respectively. As duration progressed, \( {\dot{\mathrm{V}}\mathrm{O}}_2 \) supplied 86.3 ± 2.0, 93.6 ± 1.9, and 96.8 ± 2.9% of total energy from 0 to 3, 3 to 6, and 6 to 9 min, respectively, while anaerobic contribution decreased. There was no change in total energy cost after 3 min, except that required by ventilatory muscles for the progressive increase in ventilation. The slow component of \( {\dot{\mathrm{V}}\mathrm{O}}_2 \) is accompanied by decreasing anaerobic energy contribution beyond 3 min during heavy exercise.


Oxygen uptake kinetics Exercise metabolism Anaerobic energy Heavy exercise Severe exercise 



We would like to give many thanks to Felipe Maturana, Rafael Fortuna, John Temesi, and Jared Fletcher for their assistance in data collection and processing. Funding was generously provided by NSERC and the Sport Science Association of Alberta.

Compliance with ethical standards

The study was approved by the University of Calgary Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Kinesiology, Human Performance LaboratoryUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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