The development of peripheral fatigue and short-term recovery during self-paced high-intensity exercise

J Physiol. 2013 Mar 1;591(5):1339-46. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.245316. Epub 2012 Dec 10.


The time course of muscular fatigue that develops during and after an intense bout of self-paced dynamic exercise was characterized by using different forms of electrical stimulation (ES) of the exercising muscles. Ten active subjects performed a time trial (TT) involving repetitive concentric extension/flexion of the right knee using a Biodex dynamometer. Neuromuscular function (NMF), including ES and a 5 s maximal isometric voluntary contraction (MVC), was assessed before the start of the TT and immediately (<5 s) after each 20% of the TT had been completed, as well as 1, 2, 4 and 8 min after TT termination. The TT time was 347 ± 98 s. MVCs were 52% of baseline values at TT termination. Torque responses from ES were reduced to 33-68% of baseline using different methods of stimulation, suggesting that the extent to which peripheral fatigue is documented during exercise depends upon NMF assessment methodology. The major changes in muscle function occurred within the first 40% of exercise. Significant recovery in skeletal muscle function occurs within the first 1-2 min after exercise, showing that previous studies may have underestimated the extent to which peripheral fatigue develops during exercise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction*
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue*
  • Muscle Strength Dynamometer
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology
  • Recovery of Function
  • Time Factors
  • Torque
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation
  • Young Adult