Muscle Glycogen Content Modifies SR Ca2 + Release Rate in Elite Endurance Athletes

Kasper Degn Gejl, Lars G Hvid, Ulrik Frandsen, Kurt Jensen, Kent Sahlin, Niels Ortenblad

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: The aim of the present study was to investigate the influence of muscle glycogen content on sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) function and peak power output (Wpeak) in elite endurance athletes. Methods: Fourteen highly trained male triathletes (V̇O2max = 66.5 ± 1.3 mL O2·kg·min), performed 4 h of glycogen-depleting cycling exercise (HRmean = 73% ± 1% of maximum). During the first 4 h of recovery, athletes received either water (H2O) or carbohydrate (CHO), separating alterations in muscle glycogen content from acute changes affecting SR function and performance. Thereafter, all subjects received CHO-enriched food for the remaining 20-h recovery period. Results: Immediately after exercise, muscle glycogen content and SR Ca release rate was reduced to 32% ± 4% (225 ± 28 mmol·kg dw) and 86% ± 2% of initial levels, respectively (P < 0.01). Glycogen markedly recovered after 4 h of recovery with CHO (61% ± 2% of preexercise) and SR Ca release rate returned to preexercise level. However, in the absence of CHO during the first 4 h of recovery, glycogen and SR Ca release rate remained depressed, with the normalization of both parameters at the end of the 24 h of recovery after receiving a CHO-enriched diet. Linear regression demonstrated a significant correlation between SR Ca release rate and muscle glycogen content (P < 0.01, r = 0.30). The 4 h of cycling exercise reduced Wpeak by 5.5%-8.9% at different cadences (P < 0.05), and Wpeak was normalized after 4 h of recovery with CHO, whereas Wpeak remained depressed (P < 0.05) after water provision. Wpeak was fully recovered after 24 h in both the H2O and the CHO group. Conclusion: In conclusion, the present results suggest that low muscle glycogen depresses muscle SR Ca release rate, which may contribute to fatigue and delayed recovery of Wpeak 4 h postexercise.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)496–505
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Online 2 Okt 2013


  • Physical Fitness/physiology
  • Humans
  • Sarcoplasmic Reticulum/metabolism
  • Bicycling/physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal/metabolism
  • Athletes
  • Lactic Acid/blood
  • Calcium/metabolism
  • Oxygen Consumption/physiology
  • Ion Transport/drug effects
  • Denmark
  • Adult
  • Glycogen/metabolism


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