Muscle metabolism during intense, heavy-resistance exercise

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1986;55(4):362-6. doi: 10.1007/BF00422734.


The objective of this study was to examine the muscle metabolic changes occurring during intense and prolonged, heavy-resistance exercise. Muscle biopsies were obtained from the vastus lateralis of 9 strength trained athletes before and 30 s after an exercise regimen comprising 5 sets each of front squats, back squats, leg presses and knee extensions using barbell or variable resistance machines. Each set was executed until muscle failure, which occurred within 6-12 muscle contractions. The exercise: rest ratio was approximately 1:2 and the total performance time was 30 min. Concentrations of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), creatine phosphate (CP), creatine, glycogen, glucose, glucose-6-phosphate (G-6-P), alpha-glycerophosphate (alpha-G-P) and lactate were determined on freeze-dried tissue samples using fluorometric assays. Blood samples were analyzed for lactate and glucose. The exercise produced significant reductions in ATP (p less than 0.01) and CP (p less than 0.001), while alpha-G-P more than doubled (p less than 0.05), glucose increased tenfold (p less than 0.001) and G-6-P fourfold (p less than 0.001). Muscle lactate concentration at cessation of exercise averaged 17.3 mmol X kg-1 w. w. Glycogen concentration decreased (p less than 0.001) from 160 to 118 mmol X kg-1 w. w. It is concluded that high intensity, heavy resistance exercise is associated with a high rate of energy utilization through phosphagen breakdown and activation of glycogenolysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Glycolysis
  • Humans
  • Muscles / metabolism*
  • Phosphates / metabolism
  • Sports*
  • Weight Lifting*


  • Phosphates