Metabolic and performance-related consequences of exercising at and slightly above MLSS

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2018 Dec;28(12):2481-2493. doi: 10.1111/sms.13280. Epub 2018 Sep 10.


Exercising at the maximal lactate steady state (MLSS) results in increased but stable metabolic responses. We tested the hypothesis that even a slight increase above MLSS (10 W), by altering the metabolic steady state, would reduce exercise performance capacity. Eleven trained men in our study performed: one ramp-incremental tests; two to four 30-minute constant-load cycling exercise trials to determine the PO at MLSS (MLSSp ), and ten watts above MLSS (MLSSp+10 ), which were immediately followed by a time-to-exhaustion test; and a time-to-exhaustion test with no-prior exercise. Pulmonary O2 uptake V.O2 ) and blood lactate concentration ([La- ]b ) as well as local muscle O2 extraction ([HHb]) and muscle activity (EMG) of the vastus lateralis (VL) and rectus femoris (RF) muscles were measured during the testing sessions. When exercising at MLSSp+10 , although V.O2 was stable, there was an increase in ventilatory responses and EMG activity, along with a non-stable [La- ]b response (P < 0.05). The [HHb] of VL muscle achieved its apex at MLSSp with no additional increase above this intensity, whereas the [HHb] of RF progressively increased during MLSSp+10 and achieved its apex during the time-to-exhaustion trials. Time-to-exhaustion performance was decreased after exercising at MLSSp (37.3 ± 16.4%) compared to the no-prior exercise condition, and further decreased after exercising at MLSSp+10 (64.6 ± 6.3%) (P < 0.05). In summary, exercising for 30 min slightly above MLSS led to significant alterations of metabolic responses which disproportionately compromised subsequent exercise performance. Furthermore, the [HHb] signal of VL seemed to achieve a "ceiling" at the intensity of exercise associated with MLSS.

Keywords: Maximal lactate steady state; O2 extraction; exercise tolerance; fatigue.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anaerobic Threshold*
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Fatigue / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood*
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Lactic Acid