Alterations in peripheral muscle contractile characteristics following high and low intensity bouts of exercise.

Martyn Morris, Helen Dawes, Ken Howells, Oona M. Scott, Mary Cramp, Hooshang Izadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to monitor muscle contractile performance in vivo, using an electrical stimulation protocol, immediately following an acute high and low intensity exercise session conducted at the same average intensity performed on a cycle ergometer. Eighteen healthy males (25.1 ± 4.5 years, 81.6 ± 9.8 kg, 1.83 ± 0.06 m; mean ± SD) participated in the study. On two occasions, separated by 1 week, subjects completed a high and low intensity exercise session in a random order on a cycle ergometer, performing equal total work in each. At the end of each test, a muscle performance test using electrical stimulation was performed within 120 s. Post-exercise muscle data were compared to the subjects’ rested muscle. We found a reduction in muscle contractile performance following both high and low intensity exercise protocols but a greater reduction in maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) (P < 0.01), rate of torque development (RTD) (P < 0.001), rate of relaxation (RR½), (P < 0.001) the 60 s slope of the fatigue protocol (P < 0.01) and torque frequency response (P < 0.05) following the high intensity bout. Importantly muscle performance remained reduced 1 h following high intensity exercise but was recovered following low intensity exercise. Muscle function was significantly reduced following higher intensity intermittent exercise in comparison to lower intensity exercise even when the average overall intensity was the same. This study is the first to demonstrate the sensitivity of muscle contractile characteristics to different exercise intensities and the impact of higher intensity bursts on muscle performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-343
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Muscle contractile characteristics
  • Exercise intensity
  • Training


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