Rates of Performance Loss and Neuromuscular Activity in Men and Women During Cycling: Evidence for A Common Metabolic Basis of Muscle Fatigue
Format of Original
American Physiological Society
Journal of Applied Physiology
The durations that muscular force and power outputs can be sustained until failure fall predictably on an exponential decline between an individual’s 3-s burst maximum to the maximum performance they can sustain aerobically. The exponential time constants describing these rates of performance loss are similar across individuals, suggesting that a common metabolically based mechanism governs muscle fatigue; however, these conclusions come from studies mainly on men. To test whether the same physiological understanding can be applied to women, we compared the performance-duration relationships and neuromuscular activity between seven men [23.3 ± 1.9 (SD) yr] and seven women (21.7 ± 1.8 yr) from multiple exhaustive bouts of cycle ergometry. Each subject performed trials to obtain the peak 3-s power output (Pmax), the mechanical power at the aerobic maximum (Paer), and 11–14 constant-load bouts eliciting failure between 3 and 300 s. Collectively, men and women performed 180 exhaustive bouts spanning an ~6-fold range of power outputs (118–1116 W) and an ~35-fold range of trial durations (8–283 s). Men generated 66% greater Pmax (956 ± 109 W vs. 632 ± 74 W) and 68% greater Paer (310 ± 47 W vs. 212 ± 15 W) than women. However, the metabolically based time constants describing the time course of performance loss were similar between men (0.020 ± 0.003/s) and women (0.021 ± 0.003/s). Additionally, the fatigue-induced increases in neuromuscular activity did not differ between the sexes when compared relative to the pedal forces at Paer. These data suggest that muscle fatigue during short-duration dynamic exercise has a common metabolically based mechanism determined by the extent that ATP is resynthesized by anaerobic metabolism.