European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 114, Issue 9, pp 1801–1807 | Cite as

Metabolic and cardiovascular responses during voluntary pedaling exercise with electrical muscle stimulation

  • Kohei Watanabe
  • Yoshiki Taniguchi
  • Toshio Moritani
Original Article



We aimed to test the effect of additional electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) during moderate-intensity voluntary pedaling exercise on metabolic and cardiovascular responses.


Eleven healthy male subjects performed moderate-intensity pedaling exercise at a constant workload (80 % of ventilatory threshold) for 20 min while EMS was applied to thigh muscles from 5 to 10 min and from 15 to 20 min during the exercise.


A significantly higher oxygen uptake (VO2), heart rate, and respiratory gas exchange ratio were observed during the exercise periods with EMS despite the constant workload. These changes were accompanied by an elevated blood lactate concentration, suggesting the existence of additional fast-twitch motor unit (MU) recruitment during the exercise with EMS.


Our data suggest that the use of intermittent EMS during a constant load exercise mimics the high-intensity interval training, possibly due to additional fast-twitch MU recruitment and co-contractions of the quadriceps and hamstrings muscles, leading to higher anaerobic metabolism and a lower mechanical efficiency.


Involuntary exercise Electrical muscle stimulation Fast-twitch motor units Lactate Interval training 





Electrical muscle stimulation


Heart rate


Motor unit


End-tidal CO2 partial pressure


End-tidal O2 partial pressure


Rate of perceived exertion


Type 2 diabetes mellitus VO2 oxygen uptake




Carbon dioxide production

\(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{ \hbox{max} }}}\)

Maximal oxygen uptake


Oxygen uptake



This research was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) (No. 23300253, PI: Moritani) and Grant-Aid for Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (No. 22-1944, PI: Watanabe).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kohei Watanabe
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yoshiki Taniguchi
    • 2
  • Toshio Moritani
    • 2
  1. 1.School of International Liberal StudiesChukyo UniversityNagoyaJapan
  2. 2.Laboratory of Applied Physiology, Graduate School of Human and Environmental StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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