Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Study Spotlight: The Limit to Exercise Tolerance in Humans: Mind over Muscle

By: Joel Luedke

Exhaustive exercise and competition is not fun, its really hard.  It always feels that your body is going to give up on you and that everything fatigues out and thats the end of it.  That idea has been challenged by the 'Central Governors Theory'.  This theory states that your mind will shut down your body plenty before it will hit levels of full exhaustion.  This is a function of trying to protect

your body from damage.  This study takes a look at that same idea and if it is truly your body that shuts you down at exhaustion or your mind.  

What They Did:
In this experiment they measured maximal voluntary cycling power before and immediately after exhaustive cycling exercise (at 80% of peak aerobic power measured during a preliminary incremental exercise test).  Perceived Exertion was also measured during the cycling.

What They Found:
What was found was a very strong correlation between perceived exertion during exhaustive cycling exercise was strongly correlated with the time to exhaustion.

What It All Means:
This one took me a little while to figure out how to exactly explain but I think I got it and have some other areas to back it up.  What they authors of the study found was that the long-standing assumption that muscle fatigue causes exhaustion during high-intensity aerobic exercise isn't quite right and that exercise tolerance in highly motivated subjects is ultimately limited by perception of effort.

We can see that because the testing was at 80% of peak aerobic power and that peak power was tested again after the exhaustive bout of exercise.  Peak power rates were found to be the same if not higher even after the hard bout of exercise.

This is what leads to the idea that it isn't central or peripheral muscle fatigue that is the ultimate cause of exhaustion in exercise and it might be the mind that makes you give up first.  This opens up a lot of things to improve your performance or potentially cause you some problems along the way if you try and push your body too far (super motivated).  Overall I believe that it tells you that

you can push your body to a higher level but you need to have the mental capacity and motivation to do so.  Remember, you might have more in the tank than you believe.  

LINK: The Limit to Exercise in Humans: Mind Over Muscle

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