European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 113, Issue 11, pp 2769–2779 | Cite as

Changes in phosphocreatine concentration of skeletal muscle during high-intensity intermittent exercise in children and adults

  • J. KappensteinEmail author
  • A. Ferrauti
  • B. Runkel
  • J. Fernandez-Fernandez
  • K. Müller
  • J. Zange
Original Article



The aim of the present study was to test the hypotheses that a greater oxidative capacity in children results in a lower phosphocreatine (PCr) depletion, a faster PCr resynthesis and a lower muscle acidification during high-intensity intermittent exercise compared to adults.


Sixteen children (9.4 ± 0.5 years) and 16 adults (26.1 ± 0.3 years) completed a protocol consisting of a dynamic plantar flexion (10 bouts of 30-s exercise at 25 % of one repetition maximum separated by 20-s recovery), followed by 10 min of passive recovery. Changes of PCr, ATP, inorganic phosphate, and phosphomonoesters were measured by means of 31Phosphorous-magnetic resonance spectroscopy during and post-exercise.


Average PCr (percentage of [PCr] at initial rest (%[PCr]i)) at the end of the exercise (adults 17 ± 12 %[PCr]i, children 38 ± 17 %[PCr]i, P < 0.01) and recovery periods (adults 37 ± 14 %[PCr]i, children 57 ± 17 %[PCr]i, P < 0.01) was significantly lower in adults compared to children, induced by a stronger PCr decrease during the first exercise interval (adults −73 ± 10 %[PCr]i, children −55 ± 15 %[PCr]i, P < 0.01). End-exercise pH was significantly higher in children compared to adults (children 6.90 + 0.20, −0.14; adults 6.67 + 0.23, −0.15, P < 0.05).


From our results we suggest relatively higher rates of oxidative ATP formation in children’s muscle for covering the ATP demand of high-intensity intermittent exercise compared to adults, enabling children to begin each exercise interval with significantly higher PCr concentrations and leading to an overall lower muscle acidification.


31P-MRS Intramuscular pH Maturation Muscle metabolism Recovery 



Force–time integral


Magnetic resonance


Intracellular pH


Inorganic phosphate




Peak power output




Range of motion


Standard deviation


Time constant




Wingate anaerobic test

W/kg mm

Watts per kilogram muscle mass


One repetition maximum


31Phosphorous-magnetic resonance spectroscopy


Percent of PCr at initial rest


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Kappenstein
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. Ferrauti
    • 1
  • B. Runkel
    • 2
  • J. Fernandez-Fernandez
    • 1
  • K. Müller
    • 3
  • J. Zange
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Training and Exercise Science, Faculty of Sport ScienceRuhr-University BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.Department of Sports MedicineUniversity of WuppertalWuppertalGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Aerospace MedicineGerman Aerospace Center DLRCologneGermany
  4. 4.Medical FacultyUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

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