Glycogen repletion following continuous and intermittent exercise to exhaustion

G. A. Gaesser, G. A. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Patterns of postexercise glycogen repletion in heart, skeletal muscle, and liver in the absence of exogenously supplied substrates during the first 4 h of recovery were assessed. Female Wistar rats were run to exhaustion using continuous (1.0 mph, 15% grade) and intermittent (alternate 1-min intervals at 0.5 and 1.5 mph, 15% grade) exercise protocols. Rats at exhaustion were characterized by marked depletion of glycogen in heart (55%), skeletal muscle (94%), and liver (97%). Blood glucose levels at exhaustion (1.33 μmol/g) were only 37% of preexercise levels. There were no significant differences between continuous and intermittent exercise groups for any of the tissue glycogen or blood glucose values. Cardiac muscle was the only tissue capable of complete restoration of glycogen levels while relying exclusively upon endogenous substrates. Concentrations of endogenous substrates present at the end of exercise were insufficient to support restoration of blood glucose levels to preexercise values nor support glycogen repletion in skeletal muscle and liver during the initial 4-h food-restricted postexercise period. With subsequent feeding, skeletal muscle demonstrated a glycogen supercompensation effect at 24 h (181.1 and 191.8% of preexercise levels for continuous and intermittent exercise, respectively). Lactate concentration in all tissues at the point of exhaustion (1.5-2.5 times resting levels) was only moderately elevated and returned to preexercise levels within 15 min. It was concluded that lactate removal after exercise contributed only minimally to the repletion of muscle glycogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-728
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology Respiratory Environmental and Exercise Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology


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