European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 115, Issue 1, pp 57–70 | Cite as

The impact of pedal rate on muscle oxygenation, muscle activation and whole-body VO2 during ramp exercise in healthy subjects

  • Jan Boone
  • Thomas J. Barstow
  • Bert Celie
  • Fabrice Prieur
  • Jan Bourgois
Original Article



The aim of this project was to study the impact of pedal rate on breakpoints in muscle oxygenation (deoxy[Hb + Mb] and total[Hb + Mb]) and activation (iEMG and MPF) at high intensities during ramp exercise.


Twelve physically active students performed incremental ramp exercises at 60 rpm, starting either at 50 or 80 W (i.e., 60rpm50 and 60rpm80), and at 100 rpm, starting at 50 W (100rpm50). Pulmonary VO2, muscle activation (iEMG and MPF) and oxygenation were recorded with EMG and NIRS, respectively. IEMG, MPF, deoxy[Hb + Mb] and total[Hb + Mb] were expressed as functions of work rate (WR) and pulmonary VO2 (%VO2peak) and analyzed with double-linear models.


The breakpoints (BP) of iEMG, MPF, total[Hb + Mb] and deoxy[Hb + Mb] in %VO2peak did not differ among the pedal rate conditions (P > 0.05), whereas the BPs in WR were significantly lower in 100rpm50 compared to 60rpm50 and 60rpm80 (P < 0.01). Across the pedal rate conditions the BP (in %VO2peak) of total[Hb + Mb] (82.7 ± 1.5 %VO2peak) was significantly lower (P < 0.01) compared to the BP in iEMG (84.3 ± 1.7 %VO2peak) and MPF (84.2 ± 1.6 %VO2peak), whereas the BP in deoxy[Hb + Mb] (87.4 ± 1.4 %VO2peak) and respiratory compensation point (89.9 ± 1.8 %VO2peak) were significantly higher (P < 0.01) compared to the BP in total[Hb + Mb], iEMG and MPF. Additionally, the BPs in iEMG, MPF, total[Hb + Mb] and deoxy[Hb + Mb], and the RCP were highly correlated (r > 0.90; P < 0.001).


The present study showed that muscle activation and oxygenation at high intensities during incremental exercise are related to pulmonary VO2 rather than external WR, with a close interrelationship between that muscle activation, oxygenation and pulmonary VO2.


Muscle oxygenation Muscle activation Whole-body VO2 Pedal frequency Incremental exercise 



100 rpm starting from baseline 50 W


60 rpm starting from baseline 50 W


60 rpm starting from baseline 80 W


Arterio-venous O2 difference

Deoxy[Hb + Mb]

Concentration of deoxygenated hemo- and myoglobin


O2 diffusion capacity


Integrated electromyography


Gas exchange threshold




Mean power frequency


O2 pressure


Oxygen delivery


Respiratory compensation point

\(S1_{{V{\text{O}}_{2} }}\)

Slope of the VO2/WR relationship below the GET

\(S2_{{V{\text{O}}_{2} }}\)

Slope of the VO2/WR relationship above the GET

Total[Hb + Mb]

Summation of concentration of deoxy[Hb + Mb] and oxy[Hb + Mb]


Muscle oxygen uptake


Conflict of interest

This study was performed without any conflict of interest, financial or otherwise.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Boone
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thomas J. Barstow
    • 3
  • Bert Celie
    • 1
  • Fabrice Prieur
    • 4
  • Jan Bourgois
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Movement and Sport SciencesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Center of Sports MedicineGhent University HospitalGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Kansas State UniversityKansasUSA
  4. 4.Laboratoire CIAMS, Equipe MHAPSUniversité Paris Sud-Université d’OrléansOrléansFrance

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