Catecholamine and blood lactate responses to incremental rowing and running exercise

A. Weltman, C. M. Wood, C. J. Womack, S. E. Davis, J. L. Blumer, J. Alvarez, K. Sauer, G. A. Gaesser

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Ten collegiate rowers performed discontinuous incremental exercise to their tolerable limit on two occasions: once on a rowing ergometer and once on a treadmill. Ventilation and pulmonary gas exchange were monitored continuously, and blood was sampled from a venous catheter located in the back of the hand or forearm for determination of blood lactate ([La]) and plasma epinephrine ([Epi]) and norepinephrine ([NE]) concentrations. Thresholds for lactate (LT), epinephrine (Epi-T), and norepinephrine (NE-T) were determined for each subject under each condition and defined as breakpoints when plotted as a function of O2 uptake (V̇O2). For running, LT (3.76 ± 0.18 l/min) was lower (P < 0.05) than Epi-T (4.35 ± 0.14 l/min) and NE-T (4.04 ± 0.19 l/min). For rowing, LT (3.35 ± 0.16 l/min) was lower (P < 0.05) than Epi-T (3.72 ± 0.22 l/min) and NE-T (3.70 ± 0.18 l/min) and was lower (P < 0.05) than LT for running. Within each mode of exercise, Epi- T and NE-T did not differ. Because LT occurred at a significantly lower V̇O2 than either Epi-T or NE-T, we conclude that catecholamine thresholds, per se, were not the cause of LT. However, for both modes of exercise LT occurred at a plasma [Epi] of ~200-250 pg/ml (rowing, 221 ± 48 pg/ml; running, 245 ± 45 pg/ml); these concentrations are consistent with the plasma [Epi] reported necessary for eliciting increments in blood [La] during Epi infusion at rest. Plasma [NE] at LT differed significantly between modes (rowing, 820 ± 127 pg/ml; running, 1,712 ± 217 pg/ml). We conclude that although LT and Epi-T (as defined herein) may not occur at same V̇O2, the observation that LT occurred at a plasma [Epi] of ~220-250 pg/ml, irrespective of mode of exercise, is consistent with the hypothesis that plasma [Epi] influences LT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1144-1149
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • epinephrine
  • exertion
  • norepinephrine
  • oxygen uptake
  • performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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