Biochemical and Metabolic Limitations to Athletic Performance

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The biochemical and metabolic limits of athletic endurance performance can essentially be boiled down to three factors:
• The ability to match oxygen requirement to mitochondrial respiration in a temporally and spatially specific manner.
• The ability to prevent accumulation of by-products of anaerobic and aerobic respiration which are detrimental to performance.
• The ability to efficiently metabolize readily available fuels or metabolites.
Athletes have an improved ability to efficiently and rapidly mobilize fuel from readily available fuel sources in addition to more complex storage depots such as lipid droplets. Furthermore, athletes can effectively match oxygen to areas that require this molecule as a final electron acceptor during aerobic respiration. These metabolic processes dramatically increase during exercise in order to meet a relatively huge demand for ATP. This increase in metabolism, and the process of sarcomere contraction, increases the build-up of by-products and metabolites. The ability to prevent or withstand the build-up of these by-products is also enhanced in elite athletes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook on Biochemistry of Exercise
EditorsPeter Tiidus, Rebecca MacPherson, Paul LeBlanc, Andrea Josse
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-003-12383-5
ISBN (Print)798-0-367-22383-0
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


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