Purpose: We determined the effect of reduced muscle glycogen availability on cellular pathways regulating mitochondrial biogenesis and substrate utilization after a bout of resistance exercise.
Methods: Eight young, recreationally trained men undertook a glycogen depletion protocol of one-leg cycling to fatigue (LOW), while the contralateral (control) leg rested (CONT). Following an overnight fast, subjects completed 8 sets of 5 unilateral leg press repetitions (REX) at 80 % 1 Repetition Maximum (1RM) on each leg. Subjects consumed 500 mL protein/CHO beverage (20 g whey + 40 g maltodextrin) upon completion of REX and 2 h later. Muscle biopsies were obtained at rest and 1 and 4 h after REX in both legs.
Results: Resting muscle glycogen was higher in the CONT than LOW leg (~384 ± 114 vs 184 ± 36 mmol kg−1 dry wt; P < 0.05), and 1 h and 4 h post-exercise (P < 0.05). Phosphorylation of p53Ser15 increased 1 h post-exercise in LOW (~115 %, P < 0.05) and was higher than CONT at this time point (~87 %, P < 0.05). p38MAPKThr180/Tyr182 phosphorylation increased 1 h post-exercise in both CONT and LOW (~800–900 %; P < 0.05) but remained above rest at 4 h only in CONT (~585 %, P < 0.05; different between legs P < 0.05). Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1α (PGC-1α) mRNA was elevated 4 h post-exercise in LOW (~200 %, P < 0.05; different between legs P < 0.05). There were no changes in Fibronectin type III domain-containing protein 5 (FNDC5) mRNA for CONT or LOW legs post-exercise.
Conclusion: Undertaking resistance exercise with low glycogen availability may enhance mitochondrial-related adaptations through p53 and PGC-1α-mediated signalling.