Failure to repeatedly supercompensate muscle glycogen stores in highly trained men

Patrick McInerney, Sarah J. Lessard, Louise M. Burke, Vernon G. Coffey, Sonia L. Lo Giudice, Robert J. Southgate, John A. Hawley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: It is not known whether it is possible to repeatedly supercompensate muscle glycogen stores after exhaustive exercise bouts undertaken within several days. Methods: We evaluated the effect of repeated exercise-diet manipulation on muscle glycogen and triacylglycerol (IMTG) metabolism and exercise capacity in six well-trained subjects who completed an intermittent, exhaustive cycling protocol (EX) on three occasions separated by 48 h (i.e., days 1, 3, and 5) in a 5-d period. Twenty-four hours before day 1, subjects consumed a moderate (6 g·kg-1)-carbohydrate (CHO) diet, followed by 5 d of a high (12 g·kg-1·d -1)-CHO diet. Muscle biopsies were taken at rest, immediately post-EX on days 1, 3, and 5, and after 3 h of recovery on days 1 and 3. Results: Compared with day 1, resting muscle [glycogen] was elevated on day 3 but not day 5 (435 ± 57 vs 713 ± 60 vs 409 ± 40 mmol·kg -1, P < 0.001). [IMTG] was reduced by 28% (P < 0.05) after EX on day 1, but post-EX levels on days 3 and 5 were similar to rest. EX was enhanced on days 3 and 5 compared with day 1 (31.9 ± 2.5 and 35.4 ± 3.8 vs 24.1 ± 1.4 kJ·kg-1, P < 0.05). Glycogen synthase activity at rest and immediately post-EX was similar between trials. Additionally, the rates of muscle glycogen accumulation were similar during the 3-h recovery period on days 1 and 3. Conclusion: We show that well-trained men cannot repeatedly supercompensate muscle [glycogen] after glycogen-depleting exercise and 2 d of a high-CHO diet, suggesting that the mechanisms responsible for glycogen accumulation are attenuated as a consequence of successive days of glycogen-depleting exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-411
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes


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