Contraction frequency modulates muscle fatigue and the rate of myoglobin desaturation during incremental contractions in humans

Danielle M. Wigmore, Douglas E. Befroy, Ian R. Lanza, Jane A. Kent-Braun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The metabolic cost of force production, and therefore the demand for oxygen, increases with intensity and frequency of contraction. This study investigated the interaction between fatigue and oxygenation, as reflected by deoxymyoglobin (dMb), during slow and rapid rhythmic isometric contractions having the same duty cycles and relative force-time integrals (FTIs). We used 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy and measures of dorsiflexor muscle force to compare dMb and fatigue (fall of maximal voluntary force, MVC) in 11 healthy adults (29 ± 7 y) during 16 min of slow (4 s contraction, 6 s relaxation) and rapid (1.2 s, 1.8 s) incremental (10%-80% MVC) contractions. We tested the hypotheses that (i) the rate of Mb desaturation would be faster in rapid than in slow contractions and (ii) fatigue, Mb desaturation, and the fall in FTI would be greater, and PO2 (oxygen tension) lower, at the end of rapid contractions than at the end of slow contractions. Although dMb increased more quickly during rapid contractions (p = 0.05), it reached a plateau at a similar level in both protocols (∼42% max, p = 0.49), likely due to an inability to further increase force production and thus metabolic demand. Despite the similar dMb at the end of both protocols, fatigue was greater in rapid (56.6% ± 2.7% baseline) than in slow (69.5% ± 4.0%, p = 0.01) contractions. These results indicate that human skeletal muscle fatigue during incremental isometric contractions is in part a function of contraction frequency, possibly due to metabolic inhibition of the contractile process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-921
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Deoxymyoglobin
  • Desaturation
  • Dorsiflexors
  • Magnetic resonance
  • PO
  • Strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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