Fatigue pp 185-194 | Cite as

Metabolic Correlates of Fatigue from Different Types of Exercise in Man

  • N. K. Vøllestad
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 384)


It is well established that muscle fatigue, defined as a decline in maximal force generating capacity, is a common response to muscular activity. To what extent metabolic factors contribute to the reduced muscle function is still debated. Metabolic effects can affect muscle through different processes, either through a reduced ATP supply or by effects on EC-coupling or crossbridge dynamics. Observations from in vitro experiments are often extrapolated to interpret fatigue mechanisms from measurements performed in vivo, without recognizing that the biochemical reactions involved can be quite different depending upon such factors as activation pattern, mode and duration of exercise. During repeated submaximal contractions, there is a negligible accumulation of H+ and inorganic phosphate, and hence fatigue must be ascribed to other factors. Substrate depletion might contribute to exhaustion, but cannot explain the gradual loss of maximal force. Curiously, the energetic cost of contraction increases progressively during repeated isometric but not during concentric contractions. With contractions involving high-force or high power output, fatigue is better related to H2PO4 than to pH, but still other factors seem to play a role.


Muscle Fatigue Isometric Contraction Apply Physiology Test Contraction Submaximal Contraction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bangsbo J, Johansen L, Quistorff B & Saltin B (1993). NMR and analytic biochemical evaluation of CrP and nucleotides in the human calf during muscle contraction. Journal of Applied Physiology 74, 2034–2039.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bergström J (1962). Muscle electrolytes in man. Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation Supplement (Oslo) 14, 9–88.Google Scholar
  3. Bigland-Ritchie B, Cafarelli E & Vøllestad NK (1986a). Fatigue of submaximal static contractions. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica 128, 137–148.Google Scholar
  4. Bigland-Ritchie B, Furbush F & Woods JJ (1986b). Fatigue of intermittent submaximal voluntary contractions: central and peripheral factors. Journal of Applied Physiology 61, 421–429.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Cheetham ME, Boobis LH, Brooks S & Williams C (1986). Human muscle metabolism during sprint running. Journal of Applied Physiology 61, 54–60.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Cooke R & Bialek W (1979). Contraction of glycerinated muscle fibers as a function of the ATP concentration. Biophysical Journal 28, 241–258.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cooke R & Pate E (1985). The effects of ADP and phosphate on the contraction of muscle fibers. Biophysical Journal 48, 789–798.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Degroot M, Massie B, Boska M, Gober J, Miller RG & Weiner MW (1993). Dissociation of [H+] from fatigue in human muscle detected by high time resolution 31P-NMR. Muscle &Nerve 16, 91–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Donaldson SKB & Hermansen L (1978). Differential, direct effects of H+ on Ca2+-activated force of skinned fibers from the soleus, cardiac and adductor magnus muscles of rabbits. Pflügers Archiv 376, 55–65.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Edwards RHT (1976). Metabolic changes during isometric contractions of the quadriceps muscle. In: Jokl E (ed.), Medicine and Sport, vol. 9, pp. 114–131. Basel: Karger.Google Scholar
  11. Edwards RHT, Hill DH & Jones DA (1975). Metabolic changes associated with the slowing of relaxation in fatigued mouse muscle. Journal of Physiology (London) 251, 287–301.Google Scholar
  12. Essén B & Häggmark T (1975). Lactate concentration in type I and II muscle fibres during muscle contraction in man. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica 95, 344–346.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fitts RH (1994). Cellular mechanisms of muscle fatigue. Physiological Reviews 74, 49–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gollnick PD, Armstrong RB, Saubert CW, IV, Sembrowich WL, Sherpherd RE & Saltin B (1973). Glycogen depletion patterns in human skeletal muscle fibers during prolonged work. Pflügers Archiv 344, 1–12.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gollnick PD, Piehl K & Saltin B (1974). Selective glycogen depletion pattern in human muscle fibers after exercise of varying intensity and at varying pedalling rates. Journal of Physiology (London) 241, 45–57.Google Scholar
  16. Hermansen L & Vaage O (1977). Lactate disappearance and glycogen synthesis in human muscle after maximal exercise. American Journal of Physiology 233, E422–E429.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Katz A, Sahlin K & Henriksson J (1986). Muscle ATP turnover rate during isometric contraction in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology 60, 1839–1842.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Le Rumeur E, Le Moyec L, Toulouse P, Le Bars R & de Certaines JD (1990). Muscle fatigue unrelated to phosphocreatine and pH: an “in vivo” 31-P NMR spectroscopy study. Muscle & Nerve 13, 438–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lundsgaard E (1930). Untersuchungen über muskelkontraktionen ohne Milchsäurebildung. Biochemische Zeitshrift 217, 162–175.Google Scholar
  20. McCartney N, Heigenhauser GJF, Sargeant AJ & Jones NL (1983). A constant-velocity cycle ergometer for the study of dynamic muscle function. Journal of Applied Physiology 55, 212–217.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Miller RG, Boska MD, Moussavi RS, Carson PJ & Weiner MW (1988). 31P nuclear magnetic resonance studies of high energy phosphates and pH in human muscle fatigue. Journal of Clinincal Investigation 81, 1190–1196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Quistorff B, Johansen L & Sahlin K (1992). Absence of phosphocreatine resynthesis in human calf muscle during ischaemic recovery. Biochemical Journal 291, 681–686.Google Scholar
  23. Sahlin K, Cizinsky S, Warholm M & Höberg J (1992). Repetitive static muscle contractions in humans-a trigger of metabolic and oxidative stress? European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 64, 228–236.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sejersted OM (1992). Electrolyte imbalance in body fluids as a mechanism of fatigue. In: Lamb DR, Gisolfi CV (eds.), Energy Metabolism in Exercise and Sport (Perspectives in Exercise Science and Sports Medicine), pp 149–207. Carmel, IN: Brown & Benchmark.Google Scholar
  25. Sejersted OM & Vøllestad NK (1993). Physiology of muscle fatigue and associated pain. In: Vaeroy H, Merskey H (eds.), Progress in fibromyalgia and myofascial pain, pp. 41–51. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publications.Google Scholar
  26. Söderlund K, Greenhaff PL & Hultman E (1992). Energy metabolism in type I and type II human muscle fibres during short term electrical stimulation at different frequencies. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica 144, 15–22.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Söderlund K & Hultman E (1986). Effects of delayed freezing on content of phosphagens in human skeletal muscle biopsy samples. Journal of Applied Physiology 61, 832–835.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Thorstensson A & Karlsson J (1976). Fatiguability and fibre composition of human skeletal muscle. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica 98, 318–322.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Vøllestad NK & Blom PCS (1985). Effect of varying exercise intensity on glycogen depletion in human muscle fibres. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica 125, 395–405.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Vøllestad NK, Sejersted I, Saugen E (1995) Increased relaxation rates during and following intermittent submaximal isometric contractions. Clinical Physiology In press.Google Scholar
  31. Vøllestad NK, Sejersted OM, Bahr R, Woods JJ & Bigland-Ritchie B (1988). Motor drive and metabolic responses during repeated submaximal contractions in man. Journal of Applied Physiology 64, 1421–1427.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Vøllestad NK, Tabata I & Medbø JI (1992). Glycogen breakdown in different human muscle fibre types during exhaustive exercise of short duration. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica 144, 135–141.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vøllestad NK, Vaage O & Hermansen L (1984). Muscle glycogen depletion patterns in type I and subgroups of type II fibres during prolonged severe exercise in man. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica 122, 433–441.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Vøllestad NK, Wesche J & Sejersted OM (1990). Gradual increase in leg oxygen uptake during repeated submaximal contractions in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology 68, 1150–1156.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Wilson JR, McCully KK, Mancini DM, Boden B & Chance B (1988). Relationship of muscular fatigue to pH and diprotonated Pi in humans: a 31P-NMR study. Journal of Applied Physiology 63, 2333–2339.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. K. Vøllestad
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyNational Institute of Occupational HealthOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations