Other Subject Area

Sport science


International Journal of Exercise Science 16(1): 987-998, 2023. The regulation of exercise intensity allows an athlete to perform an exercise in the fastest possible time while avoiding debilitating neuromuscular fatigue development. This phenomenon is less studied during intermittent activities. To investigate anticipatory and real-time regulation of motor output and neuromuscular fatigue during repeated-sprint exercise, twelve males randomly performed one (S1), two (S2), four (S4) and six (S6) sets of five 5-s cycling sprints. Mechanical work and electromyographic activity were assessed during sprints. Potentiated quadriceps twitch force (ΔQtw,pot) and central activation ratio (QCAR) were quantified from response to supra-maximal magnetic femoral nerve stimulation pre- vs post-exercise. Compared with S1, mechanical work developed in the first sprint and in the entire first set was reduced in S6 (–7.8% and –5.1%, respectively, P < 0.05). Work developed in the last set was similar in S4 and S6 (P = 0.82). Similar results were observed for EMG activity. The QCAR was also more reduced in S4 (–5.8%, P < 0.05) and S6 (–8.3%, P < 0.05) than in S1. However, ΔQtw,pot was not significantly different across all trials (–33.1% to –41.9%, P = 0.46). Perceived exhaustion increased across sprints to reach a maximal and similar level in S2, S4 and S6 (all 19.2, P < 0.01 vs S1). These results suggest that the regulation of performance, exerted at the beginning and continuously during repeated sprints, is based on the task endpoint, presumably to avoid excessive peripheral muscle and associated conscious overwhelming sensations.