Quadriceps fatigue during hypoxic and ischemic knee-extension exercise is similar in males and females

Paolo B. Dominelli, Jonathon W. Senefeld, Chad C. Wiggins, Sarah E. Baker, Andrew J. Clayburn, Michael J. Joyner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hypoxia is known to increase muscle fatigue via both central and peripheral mechanisms. Females are typically less fatigable than males during isometric fatiguing contractions due to greater peripheral blood flow. However, sex differences in fatigue are blunted during dynamic fatiguing tasks. Thus, this study determined the interactions of sex and hypoxia on knee extensor muscle contractile function during a dynamic, ischemic fatiguing contraction. Electrical stimulation was used to determine contractile properties of the knee extensor muscles in eight males and eight females before and after an ischemic, dynamic fatiguing task while inspiring room air or a hypoxic gas mixture (10% O2:90% N2). Fatigue (assessed as time-to-task failure) was ~10% greater during the hypoxic condition (94.3 ± 33.4 s) compared with normoxic condition (107.0 ± 42.8 s, P ¼ 0.041) and ~40% greater for females than males (77.1 ± 18.8 vs. 124.2 ± 38.7, P < 0.001). Immediately after the dynamic fatiguing task, there were reductions in maximal voluntary contraction force (P ¼ 0.034) and electrically evoked twitch force (P < 0.001), and these reductions did not differ based on sex or inspirate. Cerebral tissue oxygenation showed a significant interaction of time and inspirate (P ¼ 0.003) whereby it increased during normoxia and remained unchanged in hypoxia. No sex-related differences in the changes of cerebral tissue oxygenation were observed (P ¼ 0.528). These data suggest that acute hypoxia increases central fatigue during ischemic single-leg exercise resulting in earlier exercise termination, but the effect does not differ based on sex. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Hypoxia exacerbates fatigue via central mechanisms after ischemic single-leg exercise. The greater fatigue observed during ischemic dynamic fatiguing exercise with hypoxia inspirate did not differ between the sexes. Hypoxia-induced central limitations are present in acute ischemic exercise and do not appear different in males and females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-188
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


  • central fatigue
  • oxygen delivery
  • peripheral fatigue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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