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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2003 Dec;81(12):1092-100.

Coexistence of potentiation and low-frequency fatigue during voluntary exercise in human skeletal muscle.

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Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, ON, Canada.


The role of muscle potentiation in overcoming low-frequency fatigue (LFF) as it developed during submaximal voluntary exercise was investigated in eight males (age 26.4 +/- 0.7 years, mean +/- SE) performing isometric leg extension at approximately 30% of maximal voluntary contraction for 60 min using a 0.5-duty cycle (1 s contraction, 1 s rest). At 5, 20, 40, and 60 min, exercise was interrupted for 3 min, and the maximum positive rate of force development (+dF/dtmax) and maximal twitch force (Pt) were measured in maximal twitch contractions at 0, 1, 2, and 3 min of rest (R0, R1, R2, R3); they were also measured at 15 min of recovery following the entire 60-min exercise period. These measures were compared with pre-exercise (PRE) as an indicator of potentiation. Force at low frequency (10 Hz) was also measured at R0, R1, R2, and R3, and at 15 min of recovery, while force at high frequency (100 Hz) was measured only at R0 and R3 and in recovery. Voluntary exercise increased twitch +dF/dtmax at R0 following 5, 20, 40, and 60 min of exercise, from 2553 +/- 150 N/s at PRE to 39%, 41%, 42%, and 36% above PRE, respectively (P<0.005). Twitch +dF/dtmax decayed at brief rest (R3) following 20, 40, and 60 min of exercise (P<0.05). Pt at R0 following 5 and 20 min of exercise was above that at PRE (P<0.05), indicating that during the early phase of moderate-intensity repetitive exercise, potentiation occurs in the relative absence of LFF. At 40 and 60 min of exercise, Pt at R0 was unchanged from PRE. The LFF (10 Hz) induced by the protocol was evident at 40 and 60 min (R0-R3; P<0.05) and at 15 min following exercise (P<0.05). High-frequency force was not significantly compromised by the protocol. Since twitch force was maintained, these results suggest that as exercise progresses, LFF develops, which can be compensated for by potentiation.

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