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ATP Utilization And Force During Intermittent And Continuous Muscle Contractions

D. Chasiotis, M. Bergstrom, E. Hultman

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Energy utilization and force generation under anaerobic conditions were studied in electrically stimulated quadriceps femoris muscle of four volunteers. To investigate the effects of intermittent vs. continuous stimulation one leg was stimulated intermittently and the other continuously during 50 s. The same initial force was produced, and biopsy samples were obtained before the stimulation and after 10, 20, and 50 s and analyzed for energy-rich phosphagens, glycolytic intermediates, and phosphorylase. The ATP utilization and glycolysis were greater during intermittent contraction, but glycogenolysis was equal. ATP content decreased to lower values after intermittent contraction (16.4 compared with 19.6 mmol/kg dry muscle after continuous contraction). Force generation was well preserved during continuous contraction but successively decreased after 20 s of intermittent stimulation down to 50% of initial at end of work. The energy cost per unit work was greater during intermittent stimulation and increased with contraction time, whereas it decreased with time during continuous stimulation. The decrease in force generation in intermittent exercise is suggested to be due to the higher energy cost for contraction resulting in greater changes in the intracellular environment with lower ATP and increased H+ and Pi. These changes would decrease both activation of the contractile system and the cross-bridge turnover rate resulting from activation.