Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Aerobic performance capacity in athletes


Maximal oxygen uptake (max\(\dot V\)O2) in leg and arm work, succinate dehydrogenase activity (SDH) and percentage of slow twitch fibers (%ST fibers) in M. vastus lateralis (VL), M. gastrocnemius c.l. (GL) and M. deltoideus (D) were studied in 89 athletes practising 11 different sport events. It was found that maximal oxygen uptake correlated positively with %ST fibers and SDH activity in M. VL. The SDH activity and %ST fibers in M. VL correlated also with one another. The results suggest that oxidative capacity of the muscles is not the limiting factor for maximal oxygen uptake. The role of the oxidative capacity of the muscles might be important during submaximal work of long duration and when a relatively small muscle mass is activated (long-distance running). Max\(\dot V\)O2 might be the most important determinant of performance when large muscle mass is activated during maximal work of a duration from several minutes up to 1 h (cross-country skiing).

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    Bergh, U.: LÄngdlöpning. Idrottsfysiologi, Rapport nr. 11. Stockholm: Trygg-Hansa 1974

  2. 2.

    Bergström, J.: Muscle electrolytes in man. Scand. J. clin. Lab. Invest., Suppl. 68 (1962)

  3. 3.

    Daniels, J., Oldridge, N.: The effects of alternate exposure to altitude and sea level of world-class middle distance runners. Med. Sci. Sports 2, 107–112 (1970)

  4. 4.

    von Döbeln, W.: Maximal oxygen intake, body size and total hemoglobin in normal man. Acta physiol. scand. 38, 193–199 (1956)

  5. 5.

    Ekblom, B., Hermansen, L., Saltin, B.: Hastighetsåkning på skridsko. Idrottsfysiologi, Rapport nr. 5. Stockholm: Trygg-Hansa 1967

  6. 6.

    Gollnick, P., Armstrong, R., Saubert, C., Piehl, K., Saltin, B.: Enzyme activity and fiber composition in skeletal muscle of untrained and trained men. J. appl. Physiol. 33, 312–319 (1972)

  7. 7.

    Gollnick, P., Armstrong, R., Saltin, B., Saubert, C., Sembrowich, W., Shepherd, R.: Effect of training on enzyme activity and fiber composition of human muscle. J. appl. Physiol. 34, 107–111 (1973)

  8. 8.

    Gollnick, P., Armstrong, R., Sembrowich, W., Shepherd, R., Saltin, B.: Glycogen depletion pattern in human skeletal muscle fibers after heavy exercise. J. appl. Physiol. 34, 615–618 (1973)

  9. 9.

    Gollnick, P., Sjödin, B., Karlsson, J., Jansson, E., Saltin, B.: Human soleus muscle: A comparison of fiber composition and enzyme activities with other leg muscles. Pflügers Arch. 348, 247–255 (1974)

  10. 10.

    Hanson, J.: Maximal exercise performance in members of the US Nordic Ski Team. J. appl. Physiol. 35, 592–595 (1973)

  11. 11.

    Hermansen, L.: Oxygen transport during exercise in human subjects. Acta physiol. scand., Suppl. 399 (1973)

  12. 12.

    Hollmann, W., Venrath, H., Bouchard, C., Budinger, H.: Beanspruchung von Herz und Kreislauf bei verschiedenen Sportarten. Fortschr. Med. 82, 289–292 (1964)

  13. 13.

    Holloszy, J.: Biochemical adaptations in muscle. Effect of exercise on mitochondrial oxygen uptake and respiratory enzyme activity in skeletal muscle. J. biol. Chem. 242, 2278–2282 (1967)

  14. 14.

    Holloszy, J.: Biochemical adaptation to exercise: Aerobic metabolism. In: Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews (J. Wilmore, ed.), pp. 45–71. New York: Academic Press 1973

  15. 15.

    Karlsson, J., Hermansen, L., Agnevik, G., Saltin, B.: Energikraven vid löpning. Idrottsfysiologi, Rapport nr. 4. Stockholm: Trygg-Hansa 1972

  16. 16.

    Komi, P. V., Rusko, H., Vos, J., Vihko, V.: Anaerobic performance capacity in athletes. Acta physiol. scand. 100, 107–114 (1977)

  17. 17.

    Lowry, O., Rosebrough, N., Farr, A., Randle, R.: Protein measurement with the Folin phenol reagent. J. biol. Chem. 193, 265–275 (1951)

  18. 18.

    Padykula, H., Herman, E.: The specificity of the histochemical method of adenosine triphosphatase. J. Histochem. Cytochem. 3, 170–195 (1955)

  19. 19.

    Pennington, A.: Biochemistry of dystrophic muscle. Mitochondrial succinate-tetrazolium reductase and adenosine triphosphatase. Biochem. J. 80, 649–654 (1961)

  20. 20.

    Piehl, K.: Glycogen storage and depletion in human skeletal muscle fibers. Acta physiol. scand., Suppl. 402 (1974)

  21. 21.

    Saltin, B.: Metabolic fundamentals in exercise. Med. Sci. Sports 5, 137–146 (1973)

  22. 22.

    Saltin, B., åstrand, P.-O.: Maximal oxygen uptake in athletes. J. appl. Physiol. 23, 353–358 (1967)

  23. 23.

    Seliger, V., Kostka, V., Grusova, D., Kovac, J., Machovcova, N., Pauer, M., Pribylova, A., Urbankova, R.: Energy expenditure and physical fitness of ice hockey players. Int. Z. angew. Physiol. 30, 283–291 (1972)

  24. 24.

    åstrand, P.-O.: Experimental studies of physical working capacity in relation to sex and age. Copenhagen: Munksgaard 1952

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rusko, H., Havu, M. & Karvinen, E. Aerobic performance capacity in athletes. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 38, 151–159 (1978). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00421531

Download citation

Key words

  • Athletes
  • Maximal oxygen uptake
  • Muscle fiber distribution
  • Enzyme activity