Cycling efficiency is related to the percentage of type I muscle fibers

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 Jul;24(7):782-8.


We determined that the variability in the oxygen cost and thus the caloric expenditure of cycling at a given work rate (i.e., cycling economy) observed among highly endurance-trained cyclists (N = 19; mean +/- SE; VO2max, 4.9 +/- 0.1 l.min-1; body weight, 71 +/- 1 kg) is related to differences in their % Type I muscle fibers. The percentage of Type I and II muscle fibers was determined from biopsies of the vastus lateralis muscle that were histochemically stained for ATPase activity. When cycling a Monark ergometer at 80 RPM at work rates eliciting 52 +/- 1, 61 +/- 1, and 71 +/- 1% VO2max, efficiency was determined from the caloric expenditure responses (VO2 and RER using open circuit spirometry) to steady-state exercise. Gross efficiency (GE) was calculated as the ratio of work accomplished.min-1 to caloric expenditure.min-1, whereas delta efficiency (DE) was calculated as the slope of this relationship between approximately 50 and 70% VO2max. The % Type I fibers ranged from 32 to 76%, and DE when cycling ranged from 18.3 to 25.6% in these subjects. The % Type I fibers was positively correlated with both DE (r = 0.85; P less than 0.001; N = 19) and GE (r = 0.75; P less than 0.001; N = 19) during cycling. Additionally, % Type I fibers was positively correlated with GE (r = 0.74; P less than 0.001; N = 13) measured during the novel task of two-legged knee extension; performed at a velocity of 177 +/- 6 degrees.s-1 and intensity of 50 and 70% of peak VO2 for that activity.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bicycling*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscles / metabolism*
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption