Optimizing the "priming" effect: influence of prior exercise intensity and recovery duration on O2 uptake kinetics and severe-intensity exercise tolerance

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Dec;107(6):1743-56. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00810.2009. Epub 2009 Oct 1.


It has been suggested that a prior bout of high-intensity exercise has the potential to enhance performance during subsequent high-intensity exercise by accelerating the O(2) uptake (Vo(2)) on-response. However, the optimal combination of prior exercise intensity and subsequent recovery duration required to elicit this effect is presently unclear. Eight male participants, aged 18-24 yr, completed step cycle ergometer exercise tests to 80% of the difference between the preestablished gas exchange threshold and maximal Vo(2) (i.e., 80%Delta) after no prior exercise (control) and after six different combinations of prior exercise intensity and recovery duration: 40%Delta with 3 min (40-3-80), 9 min (40-9-80), and 20 min (40-20-80) of recovery and 70%Delta with 3 min (70-3-80), 9 min (70-9-80), and 20 min (70-20-80) of recovery. Overall Vo(2) kinetics were accelerated relative to control in all conditions except for 40-9-80 and 40-20-80 conditions as a consequence of a reduction in the Vo(2) slow component amplitude; the phase II time constant was not significantly altered with any prior exercise/recovery combination. Exercise tolerance at 80%Delta was improved by 15% and 30% above control in the 70-9-80 and 70-20-80 conditions, respectively, but was impaired by 16% in the 70-3-80 condition. Prior exercise at 40%Delta did not significantly influence exercise tolerance regardless of the recovery duration. These data demonstrate that prior high-intensity exercise ( approximately 70%Delta) can enhance the tolerance to subsequent high-intensity exercise provided that it is coupled with adequate recovery duration (>or=9 min). This combination presumably optimizes the balance between preserving the effects of prior exercise on Vo(2) kinetics and providing sufficient time for muscle homeostasis (e.g., muscle phosphocreatine and H(+) concentrations) to be restored.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Lactic Acid