AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSIOLOGY-REGULATORY INTEGRATIVE AND COMPARATIVE PHYSIOLOGY, vol.320, no.5, 2021 (SCI-Expanded)
Muscle fatigue induced by voluntary exercise, which requires central motor drive, causes central fatigue that impairs endurance performance of a different, nonfatigued muscle. This study investigated the impact of quadriceps fatigue induced by electrically induced (no central motor drive) contractions on single-leg knee-extension (KE) performance of the subsequently exercising ipsilateral quadriceps. On two separate occasions, eight males completed constant-load (85% of maximal power-output) KE exercise to exhaustion. In a counterbalanced manner, subjects performed the KE exercise with no pre-existing quadriceps fatigue in the contralateral leg on one day (No-PreF), whereas on the other day, the same KE exercise was repeated following electrically induced quadriceps fatigue in the contralateral leg (PreF). Quadriceps fatigue was assessed by evaluating pre- to postexercise changes in potentiated twitch force (DQtw,pot; peripheral fatigue), and voluntary muscle activation (DVA; central fatigue). As reflected by the 57 +/- 11% reduction in electrically evoked pulse force, the electrically induced fatigue protocol caused significant knee-extensors fatigue. KE endurance time to exhaustion was shorter during PreF compared with No-PreF (4.6 +/- 1.2 vs 7.7 +/- 2.4 min; P < 0.01). Although DQtw,pot was significantly larger in No-PreF compared with PreF (-60% vs -52%, P < 0.05), DVA was greater in PreF (-14% vs -10%, P < 0.05). Taken together, electrically induced quadriceps fatigue in the contralateral leg limits KE endurance performance and the development of peripheral fatigue in the ipsilateral leg. These findings support the hypothesis that the crossover effect of central fatigue is mainly mediated by group III/IV muscle afferent feedback and suggest that impairments associated with central motor drive may only play a minor role in this phenomenon.