European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 117, Issue 5, pp 969–978 | Cite as

The relationship between oxygen uptake kinetics and neuromuscular fatigue in high-intensity cycling exercise

  • John Temesi
  • Felipe Mattioni Maturana
  • Arthur Peyrard
  • Tatiane Piucco
  • Juan M. Murias
  • Guillaume Y. MilletEmail author
Original Article



In theory, a slow oxygen uptake (\(\dot VO_2\)) kinetics leads to a greater accumulation of anaerobic by-products, which can, in turn, induce more neuromuscular fatigue. However, the existence of this relationship has never been tested.


After two sessions to measure peak \(\dot VO_2\), peak power output (POpeak), and \(\dot VO_2\) kinetics responses in the unfatigued state (τ \(\dot VO_2\) MOD), 10 healthy young adults performed a 6-min cycling bout at 80% POpeak (INT6-min). \(\dot VO_2\) kinetics responses were also measured during INT6-min. Neuromuscular fatigue was measured isometrically pre- and post-INT6-min (immediately post- and 15-s post-INT6-min) with an innovative cycle ergometer.


Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) force, high-frequency doublet amplitude, and the ratio of low- to high-frequency doublet amplitudes decreased by 34 ± 7, 43 ± 11, and 31 ± 13%, respectively (all P < 0.01). A significant Spearman’s rank correlation was observed between the change in low-frequency doublet force (ΔDb10) immediately after INT6-min and both τ \(\dot VO_2\) MOD and τ \(\dot VO_2\) INT6-min (ρ = −0.68 and ρ = −0.67, both P < 0.05). When considering the largest responses from the two neuromuscular evaluations post-INT6-min, significant correlations were also found between τ \(\dot VO_2\) MOD and ΔDb10 (ρ = −0.74; P < 0.05) and between τ\(\dot VO_2\) INT6-min and both ΔDb10 and low-frequency fatigue (ρ = −0.70 and ρ = −0.66; both P < 0.05).


The present results suggest that subjects with slow \(\dot VO_2\) kinetics experience more peripheral fatigue, in particular more excitation–contraction coupling failure, likely due to a greater accumulation of protons and/or inorganic phosphates.


Muscle fatigue Oxygen uptake kinetics Intense cycling exercise Excitation–contraction coupling failure 



Steady-state increase in \(\dot VO_2\) above baseline cycling


Force evoked by 10-Hz paired-pulse femoral nerve stimulation


Force evoked by 100-Hz paired-pulse femoral nerve stimulation


Gas exchange threshold


6-min cycling bout at 80% of peak power output


Blood lactate concentration


Three step transitions from baseline to an intensity corresponding to the \(\dot VO_2\) at 90% of the GET, performed in session 2


Maximal voluntary contraction


Inorganic phosphate


Power output


Peak power output


Neuromuscular evaluation performed immediately post-exercise


Largest responses from the two neuromuscular evaluations post-exercise


Respiratory compensation point


Rectus femoris


Rating of perceived exertion


Time delay


Potentiated twitch

\(\dot VCO_2\)

Carbon dioxide production

\(\dot VE\)

Minute ventilation


Vastus lateralis

\(\dot VO_2\)

Oxygen uptake

\(\dot VO_{2peak}\)

Peak oxygen uptake


\(\dot VO_2\) at any given time (t)


\(\dot VO_2\) at the 20-W baseline



Special thanks are given to John Holash, Andrzej Stano, and the Science Workshop at the University of Calgary for their help in designing the new cycle ergometer.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Performance Laboratory, Faculty of KinesiologyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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