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Relationship between recovery of neuromuscular function and subsequent capacity to work above critical power

European Journal of Applied Physiology Aims and scope Submit manuscript

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To investigate the relationship between the recovery of neuromuscular fatigue and the recovery of amount of work done above critical power ().


Ten healthy men performed, on different days, constant work rate exercises until task failure to determine critical power (CP) and . In the three following visits, participants performed two exhausting constant work rate exercises estimated to induce task failure within 6 min (P61 and P62), interspaced by 3, 6 or 15 min of recovery. Neuromuscular function was assessed before and periodically after the P61 using percutaneous electrical femoral nerve stimulation. The W´ recovery was measured from the total work performed above CP during the P62.


The P61 induced a full use of and a reduction in maximal voluntary contraction (MVC, − 19 ± 4%), voluntary activation (VA, − 6 ± 2%) and twitch force stimulated at 1 Hz (− 37 ± 11%), 10 Hz (− 50 ± 16%) and 100 Hz (− 32 ± 11%), when compared to baseline (P < 0.05). The time constant of VA recovery was significantly faster than the time constant of W´ recovery (P < 0.05), but there was no significant difference between the time constant of W´ recovery and the time constant of recovery of MVC or twitch force stimulated at 1, 10 and 100 Hz (P > 0.05). However, the time constant of W´ recovery was only associated to the time constant of MVC recovery (r = 0.73, P < 0.05).


The W´ recovery is not associated to the recovery of peripheral or central fatigue alone. Rather, W´ seems to be associated to the recovery of the overall capacity to generate force.

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Fig. 1
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Fig. 4



Work rate difference between GET and the V̇O2max


Voluntary activation


Analysis of variance

Ca2+ :



Confidence interval


Central nervous system


Critical power


Surface electromyography


Electrical stimulation


Gas exchange threshold


Heart rate


Maximal isometric voluntary contraction


Muscle action potential




Exercise intensity estimated to induce task failure within 6 minutes

Q tw,unpot :

Unpotentiated twitch torque

Q tw,pot :

Quadriceps potentiated twitch evoked by single pulse

Q tw10 :

Quadriceps potentiated twitch evoked by paired pulse at 10 Hz

Q tw100 :

Quadriceps potentiated twitch evoked by paired pulse at 100 Hz


Rating of perceived exertion

t 1/2 :

Half-time to recovery

t :

Time to task failure

\(\dot{\mathrm{V}}\)CO2 :

Carbon dioxide production


Minute ventilation

\(\dot{\mathrm{V}}\)O2max :

Maximal oxygen uptake


Amount of work done above critical power


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This study was financed in part by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel-Brazil (CAPES)-Finance Code 001, and an internal Grant from the Research and Graduate Office of Federal University of Pernambuco–Brazil (process Nº 024985/2015-75). Leandro C. Felippe and Guilherme A. Ferreira are grateful to CAPES for scholarships. Marcos D. Silva-Cavalcante is grateful to CAPES for current Post-Doctoral Fellowship (PNPD/CAPES). We also thank Isael João de Lima for his contribution to the paper. The English text of this paper has been revised by Sidney Pratt, Canadian, MAT (The Johns Hopkins University), RSAdip—TESL (Cambridge University).

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Formulation of the idea and designed research by LCF, TGM, RB, and AELS; data collection by LCF, TGM, MDSC, and GAF; data analysis and interpretation by LCF, TGM, DB, and AELS; preparation of the manuscript by LCF, TGM, RB, and AELS; edition and revision by LCF, TGM, MDSC, GF, DB, RB, and AELS. All authors have read and give final approval of this version of the manuscript for publication.

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Correspondence to Leandro Camati Felippe.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Communicated by Nicolas Place.

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Felippe, L.C., Melo, T.G., Silva-Cavalcante, M.D. et al. Relationship between recovery of neuromuscular function and subsequent capacity to work above critical power. Eur J Appl Physiol 120, 1237–1249 (2020).

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