Endurance capacity and neuromuscular fatigue following high- vs moderate-intensity endurance training: A randomized trial

T. J. O'Leary, J. Collett, K. Howells, Martyn Morris

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35 Citations (Scopus)


High-intensity exercise induces significant central and peripheral fatigue; however, the effect of endurance training on these mechanisms of fatigue is poorly understood. We compared the effect of cycling endurance training of disparate intensities on high-intensity exercise endurance capacity and the associated limiting central and peripheral fatigue mechanisms. Twenty adults were randomly assigned to 6 weeks of either high-intensity interval training (HIIT, 6-8×5 minutes at halfway between lactate threshold and maximal oxygen uptake [50%Δ]) or volume-matched moderate-intensity continuous training (CONT, ~60-80 minutes at 90% lactate threshold). Two time to exhaustion (TTE) trials at 50%Δ were completed pre- and post-training to assess endurance capacity; the two post-training trials were completed at the pretraining 50%Δ (same absolute intensity) and the “new” post-training 50%Δ (same relative intensity). Pre- and post-exercise responses to femoral nerve and motor cortex stimulation were examined to determine peripheral and central fatigue, respectively. HIIT resulted in greater increases in TTE at the same absolute and relative intensities as pre-training (148% and 43%, respectively) compared with CONT (38% and −4%, respectively) (P≤.019). Compared with pre-training, HIIT increased the level of potentiated quadriceps twitch reduction (−34% vs −43%, respectively, P=.023) and attenuated the level of voluntary activation reduction (−7% vs −3%, respectively, P=.047) following the TTE trial at the same relative intensity. There were no other training effects on neuromuscular fatigue development. This suggests that central fatigue resistance contributes to enhanced high-intensity exercise endurance capacity after HIIT by allowing greater performance to be extruded from the muscle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1648-1661
Number of pages14
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
Issue number12
Early online date27 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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