European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 101, Issue 6, pp 671–677 | Cite as

Anaerobic performance and metabolism in boys and male adolescents

  • Ralph BenekeEmail author
  • Matthias Hütler
  • Renate M. Leithäuser
Original Article


Short-term maximum intensity performance, absolute and related to body mass, is lower in children than adolescents. The underlying mechanisms are not clear. We analysed Wingate Anaerobic Test (WAnT) performance and metabolism in ten boys (mean (SD); age 11.8 (0.5) years, height 1.51 (0.05) m, body mass 36.9 (2.5) kg, muscle mass 13.0 (1.0) kg) and 10 adolescents (16.3 (0.7) years, 1.81 (0.05) m, 67.3 (4.1) kg, 28.2 (1.7) kg). Related to body mass, power of flywheel acceleration (6.0 (1.6) vs. 8.1 (1.1) W kg−1), peak power (10.8 (0.7) vs. 11.5 (0.6) W kg−1), average power (7.9 (0.5) vs. 8.9 (0.7) W kg−1), minimum power (6.1 (0.7) vs. 6.9 (0.9) W kg−1) and anaerobic lactic energy (687.6 (75.6) vs. 798.2 (43.0) J kg−1) were lower (P < 0.05) in boys than in adolescents. Related to muscle mass the change in lactate (0.69 (0.08) vs. 0.69 (0.04) mmol kg MM −1  s−1) and PCr (0.60 (0.17) vs. 0.52 (0.10) mmol kg MM −1  s−1) were not different. The corresponding oxygen uptake (1.34 (0.13) vs. 1.09 (0.13) ml kg MM −1  s−1), total metabolic rate (132.4 (12.6) vs. 119.7 (8.5) W kg MM −1 ) and PP (30.5 (2.6) vs. 27.5 (1.7 W) kg MM −1 ) were higher (P < 0.01) in boys than in adolescents. The results reflect a lower relative muscle mass combined with no differences in muscular anaerobic but fascilitated aerobic metabolism in boys. Compared with adolescents, boys’ performance seemed to be significantly impaired by flywheel inertia but supported by identical brake force related to body mass.


Wingate anaerobic test Creatin phosphate Lactate Oxygen uptake 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of M. Jung in subject recruitment and data collection.


  1. Belanger AY, McComas AJ (1989) Contractile properties of human skeletal muscle in childhood and adoloscence. Eur J Appl Physiol 58:563–567CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bell RD, Mac Doughall JD, Billeter R, Howald H (1980) Muscle fiber types and morphometric analysis of skeletal muscle in 6 year old children. Med Sci Sports Exerc 12(1):28–31PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Beneke R, Pollmann Ch, Bleif I, Leithäuser RM, Hütler M (2002) How anaerobic is the wingate anaerobic test for humans? Eur J Appl Physiol 87:388–392PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beneke R, Hütler M, Jung M, Leithäuser RM (2005) Modeling the blood lactate kinetics at maximal short-term exercise conditions in children, adolescents and adults. J Appl Physiol 99:499–504PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berg A, Kim SS, Keul J (1986) Skeletal muscle enzyme activities in healthy young subjects. Int J Sports Med 7(4):236–239PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Brooke MH, WK Engel (1969) The histographic analysis of human muscle biopsies with regard to fiber types: children´s biopsies. Neurology 19:591–605PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bouchard C, Thibault MC (1977) Jugend und Sport. Dtsch Z Sportmed 28:206–220Google Scholar
  8. Carlson JS, Naughton GA (1994) Performance characteristics of children using various braking resistances on the Wingate anaerobic test. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 34:362–369PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Cooper DM (1995) New horizons in pediatric exercise research. In: Blimkie CR, Bar-Or (eds) New horizons in pediatric exercise science. Human Kinetics, Champaign, pp 1–24Google Scholar
  10. di Prampero PE (1981) Energetics of muscular exercise. Rev Physiol Biochem Pharmacol 89:144–222Google Scholar
  11. Donovan CM, Brooks GA (1983) Endurance training affects lactate clearance, not lactate production. Am J Physiol 244:E83–E92PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Dore E, Bedu M, Franca NM, Diallo O, Duche P, V Praagh E (2000) Testing peak performance: effects of braking force during growth. Med Sci Sports Exerc 32(2):493–498PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dotan R, Bar-Or O (1983) Load optimisation for the Wingate anaerobic test. Eur J Appl Physiol 51:409–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Elder GCB, Kakular BA (1993) Histochemical and contractile property changes during human development. Muscle Nerve 16:1246–1253PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Eriksson BO, Karlsson J, Saltin B (1971) Muscle metabolites during exercise in pubertal boys. Acta Paediatr Scand 217:154–207Google Scholar
  16. Falgairette G, Bedu M, Fellmann N, van Praagh E, Coudert J (1991) Bioenergetic profile in 144 boys aged from 6 to 15 years with special reference to sexual maturation. Eur J Appl Physiol 62:151–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Falk B, Bar Or O (1993) Longitudinal changes in peak aerobic and anaerobic mechanical power of circumpubertal boys. Ped Ex Sci 5:318–331Google Scholar
  18. Fournier M, Ricca J, Taylor AW, Ferguson RJ, Montpetit RR, Chaitman (1982) Skeletal muscle adaptation in adolescent boys: sprint and endurance training and detraining. Med Sci Sports Exerc 14(6):453–456PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Gastin PB (2001) Energy system interaction and relative contribution during maximal exercise. Sports Med 13 (10):725–741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gaul CA, Docherty D, Cicchini R (1995) Differences in anaerobic performance between boys and men. Int J Sports Med 16 (7):451–455PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hebestreit H, Mimura KI, Bar-Or O (1993) Recovery of muscle power after high-intensity short-term exercise: comparing boys and men. J Appl Physiol 74:2875–2880PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Hebestreit H, Meyer F, Heigenhauser GJ, Bar-Or O (1996) Plasma metabolites, volume and electrolytes following 30-s high-intensity exercise in boys and men. Eur J Appl Physiol 72(5–6):563–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hebestreit H, Kriemler S, Hughson RL, Bar-Or O (1998) Kinetics of oxygen uptake at the onset of exercise in boys and men. J Appl Physiol 85 (5):1833–1841PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Heller J, Bunc V, Peric T (1998) Anaerobic performance in young adult ice hockey players. In: Jeschke D, Lorenz R (eds) Sportartspezifische Leistungsdiagnostik. Energetische Aspekte. Bundesinstitut für Sportwissenschaft. Köln, pp 217–222Google Scholar
  25. Inbar O, Bar-Or O (1986) Anaerobic characteristics in male children and adolescents. Med Sci Sports Exerc 18:264–269PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Inbar O, Bar-Or O, Skinner JS (1996) The Wingate anaerobic test. Human Kinetics, Champaign, pp 1–95Google Scholar
  27. Kindermann W, Huber G, Keul J (1975) Anaerobe Kapazität bei Kindern und Jugendlichen in Beziehung zum Erwachsenen. Sportarzt Sportmed 6:112–115Google Scholar
  28. Kohler G, Boutellier U (2005) The generalized force–velocity relationship explains why the preferred pedalling rate of cyclists exceeds the most efficient one. Eur J Appl Physiol 94:188–195PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Knuttgen HG (1970) Oxygen debt after submaximal physical exercise. J Appl Physiol 29:651–657PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Kuno S, Takahashi H, Fujimoto K, Akima H, Miyamaru M, Nemoto I (1995) Muscle metabolism during exercise using phosphorus-31 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in adolescents. Eur J Appl Physiol 70:301–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lakomy HKA (1986) Measurement of work and power output using friction-loades cycle ergometer. Ergonomics 29:509–517PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lexell J, Sjoström M, Nordlund AS (1992) Growth development of human muscle: a quantitative morphological study of whole vastus lateralis from childhood to adult age. Muscle Nerve 15:404–409PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Macek M, Vavra J (1980) The adjustment of oxygen uptake at the onset of exercise: a comparison between prepubertal boys and young adults. Int J Sports Med 1:70–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Malina RM, Bouchard C (2004) Growth, maturation, and physical activity. Human Kinetics, ChampaignGoogle Scholar
  35. Mercier B, Mercier J, Granier P, LeGallais D, Prefaut Ch (1992) Maximal anaerobic power: relationship to anthropometric characteristics during growth. Int J Sports Med 13(1):21–26PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Mero A (1988) Blood lactate production and recovery from anaerobic exercise in trained and untrained boys. Eur J Appl Physiol 57:660–666CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Micklewright D, Alkhatib A, Beneke R (2006) Mechanically vs. electromagnetically braked cycle ergometer—performance and energy cost of the Wingate anaerobic test. Eur J Appl Physiol 96(6):748–751PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Oertel G (1988) Morphometric analysis of normal skeletal muscles in infancy, childhood and adolescence: an autopsy study. J Neurol Sci 88:303–313PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Paterson DH, Cunningham DA, Bumstead LA (1986) Recovery O2 and blood lactic acid: longitudinal analysis in boys aged 11 to 15 years. Eur J Appl Physiol 55:93–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Petersen SR, Gaul CA, Stanton MM, Hanstock CC (1999) Skeletal muscle metabolism during short-term high-intensity exercise in prepubertal and pubertal girls. J Appl Physiol 87 (6):2151–2156PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Roberts AD, Morton AR (1978) Total and alactic oxygen debts after supramaximal work. Eur J Appl Physiol 38:281–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Robinson S (1938) Experimental studies of physical fitness in relation to age. Int Z Angew Physiol Arbeitsphysiol 10:251–323Google Scholar
  43. Serresse O, Lortie G, Bouchard C, Boulay MR (1988) Estimation of the contribution of the various energy systems during maximal work of short duration. Int J Sports Med 9(6):456–460PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Spriet LL (1995) Anaerobic metabolism during high-intensity exercise. In: Hargreaves M (ed) Exercise metabolism. Human Kinetics, Champaign, pp 1–39Google Scholar
  45. Stegemann J (1991) Leistungsphysiologie. Thieme Verlag. Stuttgart, New York, pp 57–59Google Scholar
  46. Van Praagh E, Dore E (2002) Short-term muscle power during growth and maturation. Sports Med 32 (11):701–728PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Van Praagh E, Fellmann N, Bedu M, Falgairette G, Coudert J (1990) Gender difference in the relationship of anaerobic power output to body composition in children. Pediatr Exerc Sci 2:336–348Google Scholar
  48. Vogler C, Bove KE (1985) Morphology of skeletal muscles in children. Arch Pathol Lab Med 109:238–242PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Zanconato S, Cooper DM, Armon Y (1991) Oxygen cost and oxygen uptake dynamics and recovery with 1 min of exercise in children and adults. J Appl Physiol 71:993–998PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Zanconato S, Buchthal S, Barstow TJ, Cooper DM (1993) 31P-magnetic resonance spectroscopy of leg muscle metabolism during exercise in children and adults. J Appl Physiol 74(5):2214–2218PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph Beneke
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Matthias Hütler
    • 2
  • Renate M. Leithäuser
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Sports and Exercise Science, Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of EssexColchesterEngland
  2. 2.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationHaukeland University HospitalBergenNorway
  3. 3.Biomedical Sciences, Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of EssexColchesterEngland

Personalised recommendations