The effects of exercise intensity and duration on the relationship between the slow component of V̇O2 and peripheral fatigue

Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2022 Feb;234(2):e13776. doi: 10.1111/apha.13776. Epub 2022 Jan 21.


Aim: If the development of the oxygen uptake slow component (V̇O2SC ) and muscle fatigue are related, these variables should remain coupled in a time- and intensity-dependent manner.

Methods: 16 participants (7 females) visited the laboratory on 7 separate occasions: (1) three 6-minutes moderate-intensity cycling exercise bouts proceeded by a ramp incremental test; (2-3) 30-minutes constant power output (PO) exercise bout to determine the maximal lactate steady state (MLSS); (4-7) constant-PO exercise bouts to task failure (TTF), pseudorandomized order, at (i) 15% below the PO at MLSS; (ii) 10 W below MLSS; (iii) MLSS; (iv) 10 W above MLSS (first intensity and randomized order thereafter). Neuromuscular fatigue was characterized by isometric maximal voluntary contractions and femoral nerve electrical stimulation of knee extensors to measure peripheral fatigue at baseline, at min 5, 10, 20, 30 and TTF. Pulmonary oxygen uptake (V̇O2 ) was continuously recorded during the constant-PO bouts and V̇O2SC was characterized based on each individual V̇O2 kinetics during moderate transitions.

Results: The development of V̇O2SC and peripheral fatigue were correlated across time (r2 adj range of 0.64-0.80) and amongst each exercise intensity (r2 adj range of 0.26-0.30) (all P < .001). Also, TTF was correlated with V̇O2SC and neuromuscular fatigue parameters (r2 adj range of 0.52-0.82, all P < .001).

Conclusion: The V̇O2SC and peripheral fatigue development are correlated throughout the exercise in a time- and intensity-dependent manner, suggesting that the V̇O2SC may depend on muscle fatigue even if the mechanisms of reduced contractile function are different amongst intensities.

Keywords: MLSS; cycling; exercise tolerance; fatigue; neuromuscular fatigue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bicycling / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal* / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption* / physiology