High-energy phosphate metabolism during two bouts of progressive calf exercise in humans measured by phosphorus-31 magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2005 Jan;93(4):469-79. doi: 10.1007/s00421-004-1233-z. Epub 2004 Oct 29.


According to the literature the steady-state level of phosphocreatine (PCr) has a linear relationship to the workload during muscle exercise intensities below the lactate threshold, whereas this linearity is impaired during exercise intensities above the lactate threshold. The purpose of this study was to investigate the linearity between PCr kinetics and workload during two bouts of isotonic incremental calf exercise with transitions from moderate- to high-intensity as well as from high- to moderate-intensity work rates. Using a whole-body 1.5 T MR scanner and a self-built exercise bench, we performed serial phosphorus-31 magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((31)P-MRS) with a time resolution of 30 s in nine healthy male volunteers. Changes in PCr, inorganic phosphate (Pi) and pH were statistically evaluated in comparison to the baseline. The exercise protocol started with a 4.5 W interval of 6 min followed by two bouts of 1.5 W increments. The workload was increased in 2-min intervals up to 9 W during the first bout and up to 7.5 W during the second bout. The second bout was preceded by a 4.5 W interval of 2 min and followed by a 4.5 W interval of 4 min. PCr hydrolysis achieved a steady state during each increment and was highly linear to the work rate (r (2), -0.796; P <0.001). Pi accumulated during each bout, whereas the pH decreased continuously during the first bout and did not exhibit any substantial decrease during the second bout. The metabolite levels and pH were expressed as the median value and the range. Our study confirms that steady-state PCr levels also have a linear relationship to work intensities above the lactate threshold, while pH changes do not have any impact on PCr degradation. The lack of substantial changes in pH during the second exercise bout indicates that prior high-intensity exercise leads to an activation of oxidative phosphorylation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Phosphates / metabolism*
  • Phosphocreatine / metabolism*
  • Phosphorus
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*


  • Phosphates
  • Phosphocreatine
  • Phosphorus