Sports Medicine

, Volume 39, Issue 9, pp 709–721 | Cite as

Is it Time to Retire the ‘Central Governor’?

Current Opinion Is it Time to Retire the ‘Central Governor’?


Over the past 13 years, Noakes and his colleagues have argued repeatedly for the existence of a ‘Central Governor’, a specific brain centre that provides a feed-forward regulation of the intensity of vigorous effort in order to conserve homeostasis, protecting vital organs such as the brain, heart and skeletal muscle against damage from hyperthermia, ischaemia and other manifestations of catastrophic failure. This brief article reviews evidence concerning important corollaries of the hypothesis, examining the extent of evolutionary pressures for the development of such a mechanism, the effectiveness of protection against hyperthermia and ischaemia during exhausting exercise, the absence of peripheral factors limiting peak performance (particularly a plateauing of cardiac output and oxygen consumption) and proof that electromyographic activity is limiting exhausting effort. As yet, there is a lack of convincing experimental evidence to support these corollaries of the hypothesis; furthermore, some findings, such as the rather consistent demonstration of an oxygen consumption plateau in young adults, argue strongly against the limiting role of a ‘Central Governor’.


Cardiac Output Maximal Voluntary Contraction Maximal Oxygen Intake Ramp Function Central Governor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



No funding was received for the preparation of this article, and the author has no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Physical Education and Health, University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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