ARMS FATIGUE FASTER THAN THE LEGS IN AN EXERCISE BOUT BUT AT THE END OF THE EXERCISE BOTH LIMBS ARE SIMILAR
Zielinski, G., & Elmer, S. (2014). Exercise-induced locomotor muscle fatigue and recovery: leg vs. arm. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46(5), Supplement abstract number 98.
This study evaluated changes in maximum cycling power before, during, and immediately after exhaustive high-intensity leg-endurance and arm-endurance cycling in trained cyclists (N = 10). Ss performed maximal isokinetic leg cycling trials (3 seconds, 90 rpm) before and again 0, 0.25, 0.75, 2.0, 3.3 , 6.6, and 10 minutes after an isokinetic leg-cycling time-trial (10 minutes, 90 rpm). Four individuals who were upper-body endurance-trained performed maximal isokinetic arm cycling trials (3 seconds, 75 rpm) before and again 0, 0.25, 0.75, 2.0, 3.3 , 6.6, and 10 minutes after an isokinetic arm-cycling time-trial (10 minutes, 75 rpm). Cycling power was measured with a power meter and fatigue was estimated by comparing relative exercise-induced changes in maximum power.
Mean power produced during leg-cycling was greater than arm-cycling. Heart rate, overall rating of perceived exertion, limb-specific rating of perceived exertion, and whole-blood lactate measured at the end of each time-trial did not differ between leg- and arm-cycling. After the initial one-third of the time-trial, there was a greater reduction in maximum power for arm-cycling compared to leg-cycling. However, at the end of the time-trial, the reduction in maximum power did not differ between leg- and arm-cycling. At 6.6 minutes post-time-trial, maximum power had recovered to pre-exercise values for both leg and arm cycling.
Implication. High-intensity work fatigues the arms faster than the legs. Despite that difference, leg and arm end-exercise fatigues were similar and the time courses of recovery for maximal voluntary neuromuscular function generally paralleled one another.
Return to Table of Contents for this issue.