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Dyn Med. 2008 Sep 10;7:15. doi: 10.1186/1476-5918-7-15.

The relationships among endurance performance measures as estimated from VO2PEAK, ventilatory threshold, and electromyographic fatigue threshold: a relationship design.

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Department of Health and Exercise Science, University of Oklahoma, Huston Huffman Center, 1401 Asp Ave., Norman, OK 73019, USA.
Contributed equally



The use of surface electromyography has been accepted as a valid, non-invasive measure of neuromuscular fatigue. In particular, the electromyographic fatigue threshold test (EMG(FT)) is a reliable submaximal tool to identify the onset of fatigue. This study examined the metabolic relationship between VO(2PEAK), ventilatory threshold (VT), and the EMGFT, as well as compared the power output at VO(2PEAK), VT, and EMG(FT).


Thirty-eight college-aged males (mean +/- SD = 22.5 +/- 3.5 yrs) performed an incremental test to exhaustion on an electronically-braked cycle ergometer for the determination of VO(2PEAK) and VT. Each subject also performed a discontinuous incremental cycle ergometer test to determine their EMG(FT) value, determined from bipolar surface electrodes placed on the longitudinal axis of the vastus lateralis of the right thigh. Subjects completed a total of four, 2-minute work bouts (ranging from 75-325 W). Adequate rest was given between bouts to allow for subjects' heart rate to drop within 10 beats of their resting heart rate. The EMG amplitude was averaged over 10-second intervals and plotted over the 2-minute work bout. The resulting slopes from each successive work bout were used to calculate EMG(FT).


Power outputs and VO2 values from each subject's incremental test to exhaustion were regressed. The linear equations were used to compute the VO2 value that corresponded to each fatigue threshold. Two separate one-way repeated measure ANOVAs indicated significant differences (p < 0.05) among metabolic parameters and power outputs. However, the mean metabolic values for VT (1.90 +/- 0.50 l.min-1) and EMG(FT)VO2(1.84 +/- 0.53 l.min-1) were not significantly different (p > 0.05) and were highly correlated (r = 0.750). Furthermore, the mean workload at VT was 130.7 +/- 37.8 W compared with 134.1 +/- 43.5 W at EMG(FT) (p > 0.05) with a strong correlation between the two variables (r = 0.766).


Metabolic measurements, as well as the power outputs at VT and EMG(FT), were strongly correlated. The significant relationship between VT and EMG(FT) suggests that both procedures may reflect similar physiological factors associated with the onset of fatigue. As a result of these findings, the EMG(FT) test may provide an attractive alternative to estimating VT.

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