Intramuscular determinants of the ability to recover work capacity above critical power

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 Apr;115(4):703-13. doi: 10.1007/s00421-014-3050-3. Epub 2014 Nov 26.


Purpose: The primary purpose of this investigation was to compare the recovery of the W' to the recovery of intramuscular substrates and metabolites using (31)P- and (1)H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Methods: Ten healthy recreationally trained subjects were tested to determine critical power (CP) and W' for single-leg-extensor exercise. They subsequently exercised in the bore of a 1.5-T MRI scanner at a supra-CP work rate. Following exhaustion, the subjects rested in place for 1, 2, 5 or 7 min, and then repeated the effort. The temporal course of W' recovery was estimated, which was then compared to the recovery of creatine phosphate [PCr], pH, carnosine content, and to the output of a novel derivation of the W' BAL model.

Results: W' recovery closely correlated with the predictions of the novel model (r = 0.97, p = 0.03). [PCr] recovered faster [Formula: see text] than W' [Formula: see text] The W' available for the second exercise bout was directly correlated with the difference between [PCr] at the beginning of the work bout and [PCr] at exhaustion (r = 0.99, p = 0.005). Nonlinear regression revealed an inverse curvilinear relationship between carnosine concentration and the W' t 1/2 (r (2) = 0.55).

Conclusion: The kinetics of W' recovery in single-leg-extensor exercise is comparable to that observed in whole-body exercise, suggesting a conserved mechanism. The extent to which the recovery of the W' can be directly attributed to the recovery of [PCr] is unclear. The relationship of the W' to muscle carnosine content suggests novel future avenues of investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carnosine / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Phosphocreatine / metabolism
  • Physical Endurance*


  • Phosphocreatine
  • Carnosine