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Interrelationship between Anaerobic Power Output, Anaerobic Capacity and Aerobic Power VICTOR L. KATCH & ARTHUR WELTMAN∗ To cite this article: VICTOR L. KATCH & ARTHUR WELTMAN∗ (1979) Interrelationship between Anaerobic Power Output, Anaerobic Capacity and Aerobic Power, Ergonomics, 22:3, 325-332, DOI: 10.1080/00140137908924616 To link to this article:

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ERGONOMICS, 1979, VOL. 22, No.3, 325-332

Interrelationship between Anaerobic Power Output, Anaerobic Capacity and Aerobic Power By VICTOR L. KATCH and ARTHUR WELTMAN· Physical Performance Research Laboratory. Physical Education Department. The University of Michigan, 401 Washtenaw Avenue. CCR. Building. Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA

The present experiment examined the interrelationship between performance estimates of anaerobic power-output, anaerobic capacity, and aerobic power (VO l mu ) ' A performance test

on the cycle ergometer (24 kpm pedal revolution -1 for 120s duration) using an all-out elTort was used to estimate anaerobic power-output and capacity. Partial correlations between the three estimates, holding body weight statistically constant, were r= -0'57 between Va max and anaerobic power-output; r== 0·27 between VOlmall and anaerobic capacity, and r=(}42 between

anaerobic capacity and anaerobic power-output. The data supports a specificity hypothesis of energy utilization during exercise.

Ergonomics 1979.22:325-332.

1. Introduction It is well documented that the most direct source of energy production during

muscular contraction is the anaerobic break-down of stored high-energy organic phosphate compounds (termed phosphagens) primarily adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and creatine-phosphate (CP). This direct splitting precedes all other exergonic processes and is limiting in the absence of resynthesis via either oxidation, the myokinase reaction (condensation of 2 ADP to I ATP and I AMP-catalyzed by the enzyme myokinase) or glycolysis. It has been estimated that muscular contraction can continue via this system for no longer than 6 s, or so (Bergstrom 1971, Karlsson 1970 a, Margaria 1964). The potential of this system is expressed as a rate per unit time, i.e., anaerobic power-output, rather than as a total energy score (diPrampero 1971, Margaria 1964, Margaria 1966). A second anaerobic energy system involves the glycolytic production of ATP where glycogen or glucose is metabolised to lactic acid (LA). Maximum involvement of this system is achieved when a rate of work requiring an energy load greater than an individual's maximum oxygen uptake (li0 2m ax ) is performed for as long as possible. Estimates of this work duration range from 40s (Margaria 1964, Margaria 1966)to 24 min (Cunningham 1969).The potential of this system is generally expressed as a total capacity score [i.e., total anaerobic work accomplished) or maximal lactate or pyruvate production. ' The third energy system, aerobic metabolism. involves the production of ATP via oxidation, (i.e., the TCA cycle, electron transport system, and coupled oxidative phosphorylation). The power of the aerobic system is measurable by the V0 2m a, expressed in l min "", cm 3kg-BW- tmin-', or cm ' kg-LBW-lmin- 1 It has been demonstrated that aerobic energy production can be sustained up to a critical work intensity, whereafter the oxygen uptake levels off, or even in some cases peaks over (Mitchell 1958)... ' . Additionally, recent research has suggested that there exists a continuum of different muscle fibre types (fast to slow twitch) with each possessing different contractile and metabolic properties (Barnard 1970). Each of the muscle fibre types 'Now at University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.

V. L. Katch and A. Weltman


Ergonomics 1979.22:325-332.

probably plays a dilTerent and dominant role in specific types of muscular work. Consequently, those who possess high anaerobic capabilities mayor may not possess high aerobic capabilities. Research on the specificity-generality of energy utilization is sparse, but in general seems supportive of a specificity position (Hermanson 1971, Hultman 1967, Karlsson 1970a, Karlsson 1971 a, Salt in 1971).If the specificity position is correct then there ought to be little or no relationship between the three energy systems or between performance scores that are representative of the dilTerent energy systems. The major purpose of this study is to report the relationship between performance estimates of anaerobic capability and the criterion measurement of aerobic power.

2. Methods 2.1. Aerobic Power Test. A continuous treadmill test modified after Taylor et al. (1955) was used to ascertain the VO,max of 16 healthy male subjects. The physical characteristics and VO,max of the subjects are presented in table I. Expired air exchange was monitored continuously throughout the test using open circuit spirometric techniques (Katch 1973a). Duplicate aliquot samples of F E0 2 and F EC0 2 were analysed via a Beckman OM-II O 2 and Godart Capnoqroph CO 2 analyser, respectively. The analysers were calibrated using the micro-Scholander technique before and after each test. A high-speed dry gas meter (Parkinson-Cowan CD 4) was used to measure minute-by-minute ventilation. For each subject Vo , was graphed us. time and the VO,max chosen as the peak value in the series of scores. Table I.

Physical characteristic and other data of subjects, N = 16 males.

Variable Age (y) Weight (kg) Height (em) Body density (g em - J) % Body fat Max VA, (I min-I) Max VO J (em? kg-I min -I) Leg volume (I) Peak anaerobic power output (kgm 65- 1 ) Anaerobic capacity (kgm 1205- 1 )

Mean 22·5 71'16 176·27 1·0734 11·55 4·39 61·69 9'89 414·5 4377-6

SE 0·53 2'13 2·25 0·0032 3·21 0·15



19 27 53-03 - 88·83 - 194·4 162'1 1,03931'0961 4-45 25'52 5'61 3·55 44·98 - 80·74 7·31 - 12·62



- 516'8





2.2. Anaerobic Capacity Test The characteristics of an anaerobic capacity test involve ensuring that the full duration of effort is performed for a few minutes or so at the highest possible rate of work. It is only speculative as to the time individuals can perform such exercise before the work-rate must decline to a level where the percentage of the energy production is supplied by aerobic means. Margaria has estimated this time, based on maximal lactic acid production, to be reached in approximately 40-60 s (Margaria 1964, 1966). Others have used tests of 40s to 4min duration. Any anaerobic work test will necessarily involve considerable energy production via aerobic means if the test duration exceeds a: I

Ergonomics 1979.22:325-332.

Interrelationships of (maerobic power output


few seconds. Nevertheless, a short duration performance test would still be considered anaerobic in nature so long as the work is above the level of anaerobiosis and the major percentage of the total energy production is achieved via anaerobic means. In a previous paper (Katch 1973 a) we showed that subjects could pedal a cycle ergometer at maximum speed against a very heavy frictional resistance (34 kp rev-I) for 75-120s before the work-rate declined to a level where the energy requirement of the work was nearly equal to the VO,max' In spite of the fact that the later portiC!nsof the test involved considerable aerobic involvement (as' evidenced by the Vo , data) individual differences in work output were considered anaerobic in nature. Cunningham and Faulkner (1969) reached the same conclusion for a performance test on the treadmill of I min duration. In light of the above we have chosen to use an all-out cycle ergometer ride for 120 s duration with a constant frictional resistance of 34 kp rev-I as the performance test representing anaerobic capacity. Performance on such a test results in highly reliable individual differences in subjects or different fitness levels (Katch 1973 a), and is only moderately influenced by such factors as body weight, leg volume, leg weight, or leg density (Katch 1974). In this test subjects attempt to pedal as many revolutions as possible during the 2 min time period. Prior to beginning and during the test subjects are not told of the exact duration or the test, only that it is very short and they are to concentrate on turning as many revolutions as possible. It is important that subjects do not know the exact duration or"the test since previous data indicated that when the end point or the test was known, subjects tended to pace themselves and not produce an initial all-out effort. The test is started with the pedals in a horizontal position with minimal friction. On the 'go' command subjects begin pedalling as fast as possible with the frictional resistance being immediately increased to the desired setting. It is necessary to start with minimal friction because of difficulties in overcoming inertial factors. The time delay from the 'go' command to the stabilization of the proper friction load was never longer than 1·5s and averaged I·Os. An electrical counter, activated by each pedal revolution made it possible to record each subject's work-rate curve. Strong verbal encouragement and coaxing was given to each subject throughout the test. Subjects were not allowed to lirt off the seat but were permitted to place their hands in any desired position. During the test expired air exchange was measured during each 20 s period using the technique described above. Anaerobic capacity was calculated as the cummulative total work output, in kgm, during the 2 min.

2.3. Alwerobic Power-Output Test During short-term high intensity work the rate of ATP-PC splitting is higher than the rate of resynthesis so that a steady state cannot be attained. Moreover, there are data (Hultman 1967, Karlsson 1971 a, Salt in 1971) which suggest that during such work there is little or no production or lactic acid or appreciable increases in oxygen uptake. It has been assumed that such work is performed strictly via the splitting of the stored ATP-PC. The power of this energy system has been estimated by measuring the vertical component of the speed in subjects running at top speed up a normal staircase (Magaria et al. 1964, 1966). The vertical component or the velocity (ms- I) or the constant speed phase of the climb is identified with the mechanical power output (kgm kg- 1 s -I) as all the energy is being used to lift the body. It was suggested that the power was indicative of the phosphagen splitting mechanism. Preliminary experience with this test, however, has revealed that the scores are highly correlated (r;;;,: 0,90) to ERG.



V. L. Karch and A. Welt mall

Ergonomics 1979.22:325-332.

body weight (the power output is calculated as the vertical distance climbed x body weight/time) and correlate poorly with other external estimates of anaerobic work performance (unpublished observations). Consequently, we have decided to use another performance estimate of the ATP-PC system, one that does not have these limitations. It is possible to calculate a power output score in kgm time - 1 using the initial seconds of the anaerobic capacity test, described above. In the stair climbing test power output is calculated for a I s time period. even though the actual elapsed time of the test is only a fraction of a second. We have chosen to determine power output during a 6 s time interval. A 6 s duration was chosen as previous data (Karlsson 1970, Karlsson 1970a) indicated that the phosphagen energy system generates energy during this time, and also to allow for greater differentiation of individual differences. 2.4. Body Compositioll M easuremellts Total body volume was determined by hydrostatic weighing using modification of the procedures outline by Katch (1967). A minimum of 10-12 trials were made with an average of the last 2-3 trials being used as the true underwater weight score for each individual. Body density was calculated using corrections for residual lung volume (Wilmore 1969) and water temperature. Percent body fat was calculated from body density using the revised formula of Brozek et al. ((4·570/D b)-4·142). Right leg volume was measured using the water displacement technique (Katch 1973).The average of duplicate trails was used in all calculations. Test-retest reliability for body volume and leg volume exceeded r= 0·95 with standard errors of measurement of ±400cm 3 and ±50cm 3 , respectively.

3. Results and Discussion Table I presents the mean values. The peak power output was always achieved during the first 6 s time interval. Analysis of the data on a 3 s basis for the first 12s of the test revealed that in all but one case the peak power output was achieved during the 36s time interval, thereafter power output declined exponentially (see figure I). This short delay in attaining optimum power output is probably caused by the necessity for overcoming the inertial factors of the heavy resistance during establishment of the load rather than a delay in energy mobilization. This appears to be a necessary consequence using this test protocol. In pilot work we attempted to minimize this effect by having subjects begin with a reduced pedalling rate and on the 'go' command 'sprint' out. Results showed that even with this 'running start" peak power outputs were attained during the 3-6 s time interval. The range of power output scores compare favourably with data reported by Ayalon et al. (1974), and Inbar and Bar-Or (1975) who tested younger subjects. The power outputs for stair climbing reported by Margaria et al. (1964, 1966), however, are substantially greater than our cycling scores. Ayalon et al. (1974) reported a correlation of r = 0·77 between power output on the stair climbing test and on a similar cycling test to ours indicating that the two tests are. probably measuring similar energy production qualities. It is doubtful that the absolute magnitude of power output on a conventional bicycle ergometer can approach stair climbing values. Limitations in terms of maximal possible resistance, establishment of the resistance, and inability to maintain constant force on the pedals throughout a full pedal cycle probably results in

Interrelationships of anaerobic power output



~ icc ec .~



:p c














'" ;t "'



















Ergonomics 1979.22:325-332.


TIME (s)

Figure I. The main body of the figure shows the successive power output scores versus time while the insert figure shows the VOl' VE and HR responses during the anaerobic cycling test. The horizontal dashed lines in the insert figure represent the treadmill determined maximum values. All plotted values are expressed as a rate per min. To obtain the actual values divide by 3. The curved lines are not fitted curves.

underestimating the true power output of individuals. Preliminary testing with a commercially designed isokinetic bicycle ergometer] have resulted in scores similar in magnitude to stair climbing values (F. Katch, personal communication). Also shown in table 1 are the anaerobic capacity scores calculated as the total cumulated work, in kgm, during the 2 min time period. To our knowledge, these are some of the highest reported work values for this type and duration of test. Analysis of the successive 6 s by 6 s power output scores (figure I) shows that by 42 and 72 s, slightly over 50 and 75% of the cumulated power output had been accomplished, respectively. Assuming the subjects were able to maintain, throughout the test, the rate of pedalling established during the first 6 s time period (12'2 rev min - t) the rate of pedalling during the last 6 s work interval (3'84 rev min - ') amounts to a 68'5% drop-oil Also shown in figure 1 are the mean VO,m ax ventilation and heart rate responses during the anaerobic test. While the HR levels ofT around 60s, the VO,m ax and VErnax take longer to reach asymptotic values. Since the initial work-rate declines to an asymptotic value where the energy demands are maintained via aerobic metabolism, the peak Vo , (expressed as a minute rate) attained during the last 20 s of the test should approach an individual's Vo,max.ln the present data the peak Vo , represents 85% (p= >0'05) of the

t Lumex, Inc., Cybex Division, Bay Shore, New York 11706, USA. z2

V. L. Kotch and A. Weltman


Ergonomics 1979.22:325-332.

treadmill determined VOlma> (figure 1).Since treadmill determined VOlmax is known to be 10-15% greater than bicycle determined values the peak Vo, on the anaerobic test probably represents closer to 94-99~ of the subject's bicycle ergometer VOlmax' These data indicate that a representative value of bicycle VOlmax can be attained using this allout anaerobic work protocol. Table 2 presents the intercorrelation matrix for the variables in this experiment. Figure 2 shows the scatter plot between the three energy system estimates. It was anticipated that the power output and total work scores would be weight independent. Apparently such is not the case. In fact, body weight accounts for as much as 50% of the variance in total work output (r =0,71). Leg volume and total body density account for slightly less than 35% of the variance in total work. These data are similar in magnitude to those reported earlier (Katch 1974) and suggest that heavier and bigger legged individuals have a decided advantage in producing more high intensity-short duration work. While this may seem obvious, it is difficult to reconcile these results with the data of Katch et al. (1974) who report very low correlations between leg strength, leg anthropometry and peak work-output on an isokinetic bicycle ergometer.

Table 2.

Variable I.

Vo 1mu

2. 3.


.(I-min -1)

v,,, (all-out test)

Peak power output (anaerobic power)

Intercorrelation matrix."




-0-47 (-0'57)" -0'34 0·02 (0'42)"




O'32 (0'27)" 0·71

0'19 0·38

0·23 0·04






0·13 0·22

0·20 0·27


4. Total all out work 5. 6.

(anaerobic capacity) Body weight Age

7. Leg volume H. Body density


001 0'16

0·01 -0,46 0·09

0'56 0·15 0·15 -0'52

',.;;.50. p; und anaerober Leistung. r=0,27 zwischen VO zm ll>; und anaerober Kapazitat, und r=0,42 zwischen anaerober Kapazitat und anaerober Leistung, Die Ergebnisse untersttitzen die Hypothese einer difTerenzierten Energiefreisetzung wah rend korperlicher Arbeit.

References A., INDAR. 0 .• and BAR-OR. 0., 1974, Relationship among measurements of explosive strength and anaerobic power. In R..C. NELSON and C. A. MOREHOUSE (Eds.), J111crlllUi01UlI Series 011 Sport Sciences, Vol. I, Biochemical IV. (Baltimore, U.S,A.: UNIVERSITY PRESS), BARNARD, R. J., EDGERTON, V. R., and PETER, J. B., 1970, Effectof exercise on skeletal muscle. I. Biochemical and histochemical properties, Joumul oj Applied Physiology, 28, 762-766. BERGSTR(jM, J., HARRIS, R. C., HOLTMAN, E., and NORDESJ(j, L. 0., 1971,Energy-rich phosphagens in dynamic and static work. In: Muscle Metabolism During Exercise, B. PERNOW and B. SALTIN (Eds.),(New York: PLENUM PRESS) pp.341-356.


Ergonomics 1979.22:325-332.


Interrelationships of anaerobic power output

CUNNINGHAM, D., and FAULKNER, J., 1969, The effect of training on aerobic and anaerobic metabolism during a short exhaustive run, Medicine and Science in Sports, 1, 65-69. ",PRAMPERO, P. E., 1971, The alactic oxygen debt: It's power, capacity and efficiency. In: Muscle Metabolism Durinq Exercise, 8. PERNOW and B. SALTIN, (Eds.) (New York: PLENUM PRF.5S,) pp. 371-382. HERMANSON, L., 1971, Lactate production during exercise. In: Muscle Metabolism During Exercise, B. PERNOW and 8. SALTIN, (Eds.), (New York: PLENUM PRESS), p.401-408. HULTMAN. E., 1967, Studies on muscle metabolism and active phosphate in man with special reference to exercise and diet, Scandinavian Journal of Clinical Investigation, 19, 56-66. INDAR, 0., AYALON, A., and BAR-OR, 0., 1974, Relationship between tests of anaerobic capacity and power, Israel Journal of Medical Sciences, 10, 290. INBAR, 0., and BAR-OR,0.,1975, The effects of intermitted warm-up on 7-9 year-old boys, European Journal of Applied Physiology, 34, 81-89. KARL.~SON. J., 1971, Pyruvate and lactate ratios in muscle tissue and blood during exercise in man, Acta Physioloqicu Scandinaoicu, Supplement 358. KARLSSON, J., 1971 a, Muscle ATP, CP, and lactate in submaximal and maximal exercise. In: Muscle Metabolism Durinq Exercise, 8. PERNOW and 8. SALTIN, (Eds.), (New York: PLENUM PRESS), pp. 383393. KARLSSON, J., DtAMANT, B., and SALTlN, 8., 1970a, Muscle metabolites during submaximal and maximal . exercise in man, ScatulillQv;an Journal of Clinical lnvestiqution. 27, l. KARU;SON, J., and SALTlN, B., 1970, Lactate, ATP and CP in working muscles during exhaustive exercise in man, Journal of Applied Physiology, 29, 259-602. KATCH, F., MICHAEL, E. D., and HORYATH,S. M., 1967, Estimation of body volume by underwater weighting: description of a simple method, Journal of Applied Physiology, 23, 811-813. KATCH, F. I., McARI)LC, W. D., and PECHAR, G. S., 1974, Relationships of maximal leg force and leg composition to treadmill bicycle ergometer maximum oxygen uptake, Medicine and Sciencein Sports, 6,38-43. KATC", V. L., 1973 a, Kinetics of oxygen uptake and recovery for supramaximal work of short duration, l nternationai Zeitschrift fuer anqew. Arbeitsphysiology, 31, 197-207. KATCH, V. L., 1974, Body weight, leg volume. leg weight and leg density as determiners of short duration work performance on the bicycle ergometer, Medicine and Science in Sports, 6, 267-270. KATCH, V., MICHAEL, E. D., and AMUCHIE, F., 1973, The use of body weight and girth measurements in predicting segmental leg volume of females, Human Biology, 45, 293-303. MARGARIA, R., AGHEMO, P., and ROVELLI, E., 1966., Measurement of muscular power (anaerobic) in man, Journal of Physiology, 21, 1662-1664. MARGARIA, R., CERRETELLt, R. P., and MANGILI, F., 1964, Balance and kinetics of anaerobic energy release during strenuous exercise in man, Journal of Applied Physiology, 19, 623-628. SALTlN, 8., KARLSSON, J., 1971, Muscle glycogen utilization during work of different intensities. In: Muscle Metabolism During Exercise, B. PERNOW and B. SALTIN. (Eds.), (New York: PLENUM PRESS), pp.289300. TAYLOR, H. L., BUSKIRK, E. R., and HENSCHEL, A., 1955, Maximal oxygen intake as an objective measure of cardiorespiratory performance, Journal of Applied Physiology, 8, 73-80. WILMORE,J. H., 1969, A simplified method for the determination of residual lung volume, Journal of Applied Physiology, 27, 96--100. Manuscript received 16 January 197R. Revised manuscript received 31 May 1978.

Interrelationship between anaerobic power output, anaerobic capacity and aerobic power.

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