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Vastus Lateralis O2 Desaturation in Response to Fast and Short Maximal Contraction


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 2007 - Volume 39 - Issue 11 - p 1949-1959
doi: 10.1249/mss.0b013e3181453476
BASIC SCIENCES: Original Investigations

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate, in heavy-resistance strength-trained (N = 10) and untrained (N = 10) subjects, the vastus lateralis muscle oxyhemoglobin (O2Hb) desaturation time course in response to a brief, maximal, voluntary isometric contraction.

Methods: The two groups were not statistically different physically. Mean (± SD) age, height, and body mass of all the subjects were 28.0 ± 6.3 yr, 1.8 ± 0.1 m, and 77.8 ± 9.9 kg, respectively. Each subject performed five trials. Every trial consisted of 1) a 1-min rest period, 2) a leg press exercise of 2-4 s, and 3) a 5-min recovery period. Leg press exercise consisted of a static maximal voluntary contraction performed using the dominant leg only. Leg press strength was recorded using a load cell. Muscle O2Hb saturation (SmO2) was measured noninvasively by near-infrared spectroscopy (0.17-s sampling time).

Results: Rate of force development was higher in the trained subjects than in the untrained ones (6897 ± 1654 vs 5515 ± 1434 N·s−1; P < 0.05). Once the exercise began, the time to the onset of SmO2 decrease was consistently shorter in the untrained than in the trained subjects (2.81 ± 0.40 vs 3.91 ± 0.67 s, P < 0.01). In all the trained subjects and in two of the untrained ones, SmO2 started to decrease once the exercise was stopped. After the end of the exercise, SmO2 transiently decreased and reached its minimum value in 15.0 ± 3.8 and 10.1 ± 1.3 s in the trained and untrained subjects, respectively (P < 0.01).

Conclusion: These data suggest that the vastus lateralis muscle of heavy-resistance strength-trained subjects could have a late activation of the oxidative metabolic system, or greater stored oxygen available, during a very fast, short, isometric maximal contraction.

1Department of Science and Biomedical Technologies, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, ITALY; and 2Center of Sport Medicine, Federazione Medico Sportiva Italiana, Scoppito, ITALY

Address for correspondence: Marco Ferrari, M.D., Department of Science and Biomedical Technologies, University of L'Aquila, Via Vetoio (Loc. Coppito), I-67100 L'Aquila, Italy; E-mail:

Submitted for publication September 2006.

Accepted for publication June 2007.

©2007The American College of Sports Medicine