Lower-volume muscle-damaging exercise protects against high-volume muscle-damaging exercise and the detrimental effects on endurance performance



This study examined whether lower-volume exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) performed 2 weeks before high-volume muscle-damaging exercise protects against its detrimental effect on running performance.


Sixteen male participants were randomly assigned to a lower-volume (five sets of ten squats, n = 8) or high-volume (ten sets of ten squats, n = 8) EIMD group and completed baseline measurements for muscle soreness, knee extensor torque, creatine kinase (CK), a 5-min fixed-intensity running bout and a 3-km running time-trial. Measurements were repeated 24 and 48 h after EIMD, and the running time-trial after 48 h. Two weeks later, both groups repeated the baseline measurements, ten sets of ten squats and the same follow-up testing (Bout 2).


Data analysis revealed increases in muscle soreness and CK and decreases in knee extensor torque 24–48 h after the initial bouts of EIMD. Increases in oxygen uptake \( \left( {{\dot{V}\text{O}}_{2} } \right) \), minute ventilation \( \left( {{\dot{V}}_{\text{E}} } \right) \) and rating of perceived exertion were observed during fixed-intensity running 24–48 h after EIMD Bout 1. Likewise, time increased and speed and \( {\dot{V}\text{O}}_{ 2} \) decreased during a 3-km running time-trial 48 h after EIMD. Symptoms of EIMD, responses during fixed-intensity and running time-trial were attenuated in the days after the repeated bout of high-volume EIMD performed 2 weeks after the initial bout.


This study demonstrates that the protective effect of lower-volume EIMD on subsequent high-volume EIMD is transferable to endurance running. Furthermore, time-trial performance was found to be preserved after a repeated bout of EIMD.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2



Creatine kinase

CO2 :

Carbon dioxide


Exercise-induced muscle damage




Heart rate


Blood lactate


Lactate turnpoint


Maximal voluntary contraction

O2 :



Repeated bout effect


Rating of perceived exertion


Stride frequency


Stride length


Visual analogue scale

\( {\dot{V}}_{\text{E}} \) :

Minute ventilation

\( {\dot{V}\text{O}}_{ 2} \) :

Oxygen uptake


Vastus lateralis


Vastus medialis

\( {\dot{V}\text{O}}_{{ 2 {\text{peak}}}} \) :

Peak oxygen uptake


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The authors wish to thank all participants who took part in the study and the Human Performance Laboratory staff for their technical support.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

The authors declare that the experiments carried out complied with current UK laws.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dean Burt.

Additional information

Communicated by Martin Flueck.

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Burt, D., Lamb, K., Nicholas, C. et al. Lower-volume muscle-damaging exercise protects against high-volume muscle-damaging exercise and the detrimental effects on endurance performance. Eur J Appl Physiol 115, 1523–1532 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-015-3131-y

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  • Exercise-induced muscle damage
  • Repeated bout effect
  • Oxygen uptake
  • Electromyography
  • Endurance running