Purpose: To compare muscle fatigability during two sets of repeated cycling sprints matched for initial mechanical output in a nonfatigued and fatigued state.
Methods: Eight young men performed 10, 6-s all-out sprints on a cycle ergometer interspersed with 30 s of recovery, followed, after 6 min of passive recovery, by five 6-s sprints, again interspersed by 30 s of recovery.
Results: On the basis of total work (TW), performance in sprint 11 (79.8 ± 4.8 J·kg−1) was not significantly different to performance in sprint 4 (80.3 ± 5.3 J·kg−1; P = 0.81). The decrease in TW for the five sprints after sprint 4 (i.e., sprints 4 to 8) averaged 14.5% (P < 0.001), which was significantly less than the decrement in TW from sprints 11 to 15 (20.3%; P < 0.05). Despite no significant differences in TW values achieved in sprints 4 and 11, the amplitude of the electromyogram (EMG) signal (i.e., root mean square (RMS)) recorded during sprint 11 (0.398 ± 0.03 V) was 12.0% lower (P < 0.05) than in sprint 4 (0.452 ± 0.02 V). In contrast, values of EMG median frequency (MF) recorded during sprint 4 (85.5 ± 5.5 Hz) and 11 (89.3 ± 7.2 Hz) were not significantly different (P = 0.33). However, the rate of decrease in EMG activity (i.e., RMS and MF) was similar for the two set of sprints.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that previous fatiguing repeated-sprint exercise, followed by a rest period, induces greater fatigability during subsequent repeated-sprint exercise, regardless of the initial mechanical output, and that these changes are associated with acute neuromuscular adjustments.