Low frequency of the "plateau phenomenon" during maximal exercise in elite British athletes

Doherty, Mike, Nobbs, Les and Noakes, Timothy (2003) Low frequency of the "plateau phenomenon" during maximal exercise in elite British athletes. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 89 (6). pp. 619-623. ISSN 1439-6319

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00421-003-0845-z


A plateau in oxygen consumption (V̇O2) has long been considered the criterion for maximal effort during an incremental exercise test. But, surprisingly, the termination of a maximum exercise test often occurs in the absence of a V̇O2 plateau. To explain this inconsistency, some have proposed that an oxygen limitation in skeletal muscle occurs only in elite athletes. To evaluate this hypothesis, we determined the frequency with which the "plateau phenomenon" developed in a group of elite male and female athletes. Fifty subjects performed a continuous incremental treadmill test to measure maximal oxygen consumption (V̇O2max). Treadmill velocity increased by 0.31 m s−1 until the respiratory exchange ratio (R) reached 1.00. Thereafter the treadmill gradient increased by 1% each minute until exhaustion. The V̇O2max was the highest V̇O2 sustained for 60 s. Three criteria were used to determine maximal efforts: (1) a plateau in the V̇O2, defined as an increase of less than 1.5 ml kg−1 min−1; (2) a final R of 1.1 or above; (3) a final heart rate (HR) above 95% of the age-related maximum. Mean V̇O2max exceeded 65 ml kg−1 min−1 in both groups. The criteria for R and HR were satisfied by 72% of males and 56% females, and 55% of males and 69% of females, respectively. In contrast a V̇O2 plateau was identified in only 39% of males and 25% of females. These findings refute the twin arguments: (1) that the absence of a "plateau phenomenon" results from an inadequate motivational effort in poorly trained athletes and (2) that the "plateau phenomenon" and a consequent skeletal muscle anaerobiosis occur only in athletes with the highest V̇O2max values.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B100 Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation
Depositing User: EPrint Services
Date Deposited: 05 May 2010 11:52
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2019 15:28
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/1028

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