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Quantification of anaerobic capacity

Version 2 2024-06-13, 10:45
Version 1 2017-07-21, 11:27
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-13, 10:45 authored by PB Gastin
Anaerobic capacity may be defined as the maximal amount of ATP formed by the anaerobic processes during a single bout of maximal exercise. While several methods have been presented to measure a person's anaerobic capacity, none have become universally accepted. The muscle biopsy technique provides information on the anaerobic energy release from direct measures of ATP and CP breakdown and muscle lactate concentrations. As a practical measure of anaerobic capacity, the method may be limited, as it is an invasive, skilled technique. Furthermore, it has the limitation of measuring relative changes in concentrations, not amounts, such that the anaerobic contribution is estimated from estimates of the active muscle mass involvement. Measurement of lactate in blood after exhaustive exercise has frequently been used, but several factors suggest that, while it provides an indication of the extent of anaerobic glycolysis, it cannot be used as a quantitative measure of the anaerobic energy yield. The mean power during an all‐out effort on a bicycle ergometer has also been assumed to be a measure of anaerobic capacity, yet it provides only an indication of the ability to maintain high power outputs. Concerns over the duration of the test, the protocol and type of ergometer used and the contribution of the aerobic energy system to the energy supply also limit its validity as a measure of anaerobic capacity. The oxygen debt, defined as the recovery oxygen uptake above resting metabolic rates, has been discredited as a valid and reliable measure of the anaerobic capacity, as it is generally acknowledged that mechanisms other than the metabolism of lactate also contribute to the post‐exercise oxygen uptake. The recent work of Medbø et al. in re‐examining the issue of oxygen deficit has created considerable interest in its use as a measure of anaerobic capacity. The measurement of oxygen deficit directly depends on the accurate assessment of the energy cost of the work completed. This is not difficult during submaximal exercise, as the steady‐state oxygen uptake represents the energy costs. During exhaustive supramaximal exercise, the validity of the maximal accumulated oxygen deficit as a measure of the anaerobic capacity has been questioned, as the energy cost is estimated and not measured, either by assuming a given mechanical efficiency or by extrapolating the submaximal relationship between work intensity and oxygen uptake to supramaximal levels. Despite these theoretical objections, the maximal accumuiated oxygen deficit method remains a promising measure of the anaerobic capacity, as it provides a non‐invasive means of quantifying the anaerobic energy release during exhaustive exercise.



Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports






Chichester, Eng.







Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

1994, Munksgaard




Wiley-Blackwell Publishing