European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 362–366

Muscle metabolism during intense, heavy-resistance exercise


  • Per A. Tesch
    • Department of Environmental MedicineKarolinska Institute
  • Erland B. Colliander
    • Department of Environmental MedicineKarolinska Institute
  • Peter Kaiser
    • Department of Environmental MedicineKarolinska Institute

DOI: 10.1007/BF00422734

Cite this article as:
Tesch, P.A., Colliander, E.B. & Kaiser, P. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. (1986) 55: 362. doi:10.1007/BF00422734


The objective of this study was to examine the muscle metabolic changes occurring during intense and prolonged, heavy-resistance exercise. Muscle biopsies were obtained from the vastus lateralis of 9 strength trained athletes before and 30 s after an exercise regimen comprising 5 sets each of front squats, back squats, leg presses and knee extensions using barbell or variable resistance machines. Each set was executed until muscle failure, which occurred within 6–12 muscle contractions. The exercise: rest ratio was approximately 1∶2 and the total performance time was 30 min. Concentrations of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), creatine phosphate (CP), creatine, glycogen, glucose, glucose-6-phosphate (G-6-P), α-glycerophosphate (α-G-P) and lactate were determined on freeze-dried tissue samples using fluorometric assays. Blood samples were analyzed for lactate and glucose. The exercise produced significant reductions in ATP (p<0.01) and CP (p<0.001), while α-G-P more than doubled (p<0.05), glucose increased tenfold (p<0.001) and G-6-P fourfold (p<0.001). Muscle lactate concentration at cessation of exercise averaged 17.3 mmol · kg−1 w.w. Glycogen concentration decreased (p<0.001) from 160 to 118 mmol · kg−1 w. w. It is concluded that high intensity, heavy resistance exercise is associated with a high rate of energy utilization through phosphagen breakdown and activation of glycogenolysis.

Key words

ATP, CP, glucoseGlucose-6-phosphateLactateGlycogenα-glycerophosphoateStrength training
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© Springer-Verlag 1986