Endurance training in humans: Aerobic capacity and structure of skeletal muscle

H. Hoppeler, H. Howald, K. Conley, S. L. Lindstedt, H. Claassen, P. Vock, E. R. Weibel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

525 Scopus citations


The adaptation of muscle structure, power output, and mass-specific rate of maximal O2 consumption (VO2(max)/M(b)) with endurance training on bicycle ergometers was studied for five male and five female subjects. Biopsies of vastus lateralis muscle and VO2(max) determinations were made at the start and end of 6 wk of training. The power output maintained on the ergometer daily for 30 min was adjusted to achieve a heart rate exceeding 85% of the maximum for two-thirds of the training session. It is proposed that the observed preferential proliferation of subsarcolemmal vs. interfibrillar mitochondria and the increase in intracellular lipid deposits are two possible mechanisms by which muscle cells adapt to an increased use of fat as a fuel. The relative increase of VO2(max)/M(b) (14%) with training was found to be smaller by more than twofold than the relative increase in maximal maintained power (33%) and the relative change in the volume density of total mitochondria (+40%). However, the calculated VO2 required at an efficiency of 0.25 to produce the observed mass-specific increase in maximal maintained power matched the actual increase in VO2(max)/M(b) (8.0 and 6.5 ml O2 min-1 kg-1, respectively). These results indicate that despite disparate relative changes the absolute change in aerobic capacity at the local level (maintained power) can account for the increase in aerobic capacity observed at the general level (VO2(max)).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-327
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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