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The Limits of Human Athletic Performance

R. J. Maughan

Ann Transplant 2005; 10(4): 52-54

ID: 498563


For each individual, there is a limit to the capacity to perform exercise. The limitation, however, depends on the nature of the task and is also influenced by a number of other factors. Muscle strength is determined largely by muscle mass, specifically muscle cross-sectional area, but is also influenced by neural drive and biomechanical factors. Endurance performance depends on both cardiovascular capacity and the metabolic characteristics of the skeletal muscles. These factors are determined in part by genetic endowment: the elite sprinter has a high proportion of Type 2 muscle fibres while the leg muscles of the successful marathon runner are composes mainly of Type I fibres. Whatever the genetic potential, expression of this depends on the intensity, duration and frequency of the applied training stimulus, diet and other factors. The limitation may also depend on environmental factors, such as altitude and temperature.

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