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Constraints on muscular performance: trade-offs between power output and fatigue resistance.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


An important functional and evolutionary constraint on the physical performance of vertebrates is believed to be the trade-off between speed and endurance capacity. However, despite the pervasiveness of physiological arguments, most studies have found no evidence of the trade-off when tested at the whole-animal level. We investigated the existence of this trade-off at the whole-muscle level, the presumed site of this physiological conflict, by examining inter-individual variation in both maximum power output and fatigue resistance for mouse extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscle using the work-loop technique. We found negative correlations between several measures of in vitro maximum power output and force production with fatigue resistance for individual mouse EDL muscles, indicating functional trade-offs between these performance parameters. We suggest that this trade-off detected at the whole-muscle level has imposed an important constraint on the evolution of vertebrate physical performance.

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