Muscle Fatigue with Prolonged Exercise: Contractile and Biochemical Alterations

Document Type




Format of Original

9 p.

Publication Date



American Physiological Society

Source Publication

American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology

Source ISSN



Alterations in the contractile and biochemical properties of fast and slow skeletal muscle were studied in rats following a prolonged swim to exhaustion. The exercise produced glycogen depletion (less than 1 mg/g tissue) in muscles representative of all three fiber types; the isometric contractile properties were altered in the 84% type I soleus (SOL) and the 60% type IIa extensor digitorium longus (EDL) but not in the 100% type IIb superficial region of the vastus lateralis (SVL). Peak tetanic tension (Po) and the rate of tension development and decline all decreased after prolonged exercise in both the SOL and the EDL. The maximal isotonic shortening velocity was highly correlated with the myofibrillar ATPase activity, and both were relatively resistant to fatigue. Furthermore, the Ca2+ sensitivity of the myofibrils was unaffected by exercise in both fast and slow muscle. The Ca2+ uptake capacity of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) was reduced in both the SOL and the fast-twitch type IIa deep region of the vastus lateralis, whereas the SR ATPase activity was unchanged. Our findings provide evidence that prolonged exercise produces alterations in contractile and biochemical properties of type I and IIa but not type IIb fibers and that muscle fatigue as measured by a decline in Po is not necessarily correlated with glycogen depletion.


American Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology, Vol. 242, No. 1 (January 1982): C65-C73. Permalink.