European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 115, Issue 4, pp 715–725 | Cite as

Mental fatigue does not affect maximal anaerobic exercise performance

  • Kristy MartinEmail author
  • Kevin G. Thompson
  • Richard Keegan
  • Nick Ball
  • Ben Rattray
Original Article



Mental fatigue can negatively impact on submaximal endurance exercise and has been attributed to changes in perceived exertion rather than changes in physiological variables. The impact of mental fatigue on maximal anaerobic performance is, however, unclear. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to induce a state of mental fatigue to examine the effects on performance, physiological and perceptual variables from subsequent tests of power, strength and anaerobic capacity.


Twelve participants took part in the single-blind, randomised, crossover design study. Mental fatigue was induced by 90 min of the computer-based Continuous Performance Task AX version. Control treatment consisted of 90 min of watching emotionally neutral documentaries. Participants consequently completed countermovement jump, isometric leg extension and a 3-min all-out cycling tests.


Results of repeated measures analysis of variance and paired t tests revealed no difference in any performance or physiological variable. Rating of perceived exertion tended to be greater when mentally fatigued (mental fatigue = 19 ± 1 vs control = 18 ± 1, p = 0.096, \(\eta^{2}_{\text{p}}\) = .232) and intrinsic motivation reduced (mental fatigue = 11 ± 4 vs control = 13 ± 6, p = 0.063, d = 0.597) in the mental fatigue condition.


Near identical responses in performance and physiological parameters between mental fatigue and control conditions suggest that peripheral mechanisms primarily regulate maximal anaerobic exercise. Whereas mental fatigue can negatively impact submaximal endurance exercise, it appears that explosive power, voluntary maximal strength and anaerobic work capacity are unaffected.


Mental fatigue Peripheral Power Strength Anaerobic capacity 



Three-minute all-out cycle test


Analysis of variance


Continuous performance test AX version


Countermovement jump






Mental fatigue


Profile of mood states


Rating of perceived exertion


Rating scale of mental effort


Situational intrinsic motivation scale


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

The experiments conducted for the present manuscript comply with current laws of Australia.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristy Martin
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kevin G. Thompson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard Keegan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nick Ball
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ben Rattray
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Discipline of Sport and Exercise Science, Faculty of HealthUniversity of CanberraCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.UC Research Institute for Sport and ExerciseUniversity of CanberraCanberraAustralia

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