Recovery of upper-body muscle power after short intensive exercise: comparing boys and men

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2018 Aug;118(8):1555-1564. doi: 10.1007/s00421-018-3885-0. Epub 2018 May 14.


Purpose: Boys' lower-body muscle power generation (PO) recovers faster than men's following intensive exercise. The purpose of this study was to examine whether boys differ from adult men in recovering from upper-body muscle power generation following intensive exercise.

Methods: Fifteen prepubertal boys (M ± SD age 10.6 ± 1.0 years) and 13 men (31.1 ± 5.0 years) performed two upper-body Wingate Anaerobic Tests (WAnT), separated by either 2-min or 10-min recovery intervals. WAnT parameters, pre-and post-WAnT heart rates (HR), and blood lactate ([La]) were measured during recovery from the WAnTs.

Results: Boys' mean power (MP) of the repeated WAnT (WAnT2) following 2- and 10-min recoveries was 97.3 ± 7.2% and 99.4 ± 3.9%, respectively, compared to MP of the first test (WAnT1) (p > 0.05 for both tests). In contrast, in men's MP of the WAnT2 following the 2-min recovery, was significantly lower than that of the WAnT1 (84.4 ± 6.7%, p = 0.0001). While boys' and men's HR recovery after 2 min differed significantly (p = 0.046), no between-group differences were found following the 10-min recovery. Peak [La] in boys was 37-44% lower than that in men (p = 0.002).

Conclusions: The faster recovery of PO in boys after supra-maximal upper-body exercise is partially explained by the lower power generated by boys, attributed in part to a lower anaerobic capacity and to the greater relative contribution of aerobic processes to performance and recovery from anaerobic-type tasks. Further research is needed to determine the physiologic, neurologic and biochemical basis of the rapid muscle power recovery in children.

Keywords: Arms; Lactate; Pre-pubertal boys; Recovery; Supra-maximal exercise; Wingate anaerobic test.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Child
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Exercise*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Upper Extremity


  • Biomarkers
  • Lactic Acid