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J Physiol. 2011 Feb 1;589(Pt 3):727-39. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2010.197723. Epub 2010 Dec 6.

Skeletal muscle fatigue precedes the slow component of oxygen uptake kinetics during exercise in humans.

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Institute of Membrane and Systems Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.


The mechanisms determining exercise intolerance are poorly understood. A reduction in work efficiency in the form of an additional energy cost and oxygen requirement occurs during high-intensity exercise and contributes to exercise limitation. Muscle fatigue and subsequent recruitment of poorly efficient muscle fibres has been proposed to mediate this decline. These data demonstrate in humans, that muscle fatigue, generated in the initial minutes of exercise, is correlated with the increasing energy demands of high-intensity exercise. Surprisingly, however, while muscle fatigue reached a plateau, oxygen uptake continued to increase throughout 8 min of exercise. This suggests that additional recruitment of inefficient muscle fibres may not be the sole mechanism contributing to the decline in work efficiency during high-intensity exercise.

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