200901 New publi

Task failure during sustained low-intensity contraction is not associated with a critical amount of central fatigue

Authors: Robin Souron, Anne-Cloé Voirin, Djahid Kennouche, Loïc Espeit, Guillaume Y Millet, Thomas Rupp, Thomas Lapole.

Published: 01 September 2020 - Scand J Med Sci Sports.


Fatigue-related mechanisms induced by low-intensity prolonged contraction in lower limb muscles are currently unknown. This study investigated central fatigue kinetics in the knee extensors during a low-intensity sustained isometric contraction. Eleven subjects sustained a 10% maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) until task failure (TF) with neuromuscular evaluation every 3 minutes. Testing encompassed transcranial magnetic stimulation to evaluate maximal voluntary activation (VATMS ), motor evoked potential (MEP), and silent period (SP), and peripheral nerve stimulation to assess M-wave. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was also recorded. MVC progressively decreased up to 50% of the time to TF (ie, 50%TTF ) and then plateaued, reaching ~50% at TF (P < .001). VATMS progressively decreased up to 90%TTF and then plateaued, the decrease reaching ~20% at TF (P < .001). SP was lengthened early (ie, from 20%TTF ) during the exercise and then plateaued (P < .01). No changes were reported for MEP evoked during MVC (P = .87), while MEP evoked during submaximal contractions decreased early (ie, from 20%TTF ) during the exercise and then plateaued (P < .01). RPE increased linearly during the exercise to be almost maximal at TF. M-waves were not altered (P = .88). These findings confirm that TF is due to the subjects reaching their maximal perceived effort rather than any particular central event or neuromuscular limitations since MVC at TF was far from 10% of its original value. It is suggested that strategies minimizing RPE (eg, motivational self-talk) should be employed to enhance endurance performance.

Keywords: RPE; central fatigue; sustained contraction; task failure; transcranial magnetic stimulation; voluntary activation.

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