High-intensity exercise can result in up to a 1,000-fold increase in the rate of ATP demand compared to that at rest (Newsholme et al., 1983). To sustain muscle contraction, ATP needs to be regenerated at a rate complementary to ATP demand. Three energy systems function to replenish ATP in muscle: (1) Phosphagen, (2) Glycolytic, and (3) Mitochondrial Respiration. The three systems differ in the substrates used, products, maximal rate of ATP regeneration, capacity of ATP regeneration, and their associated contributions to fatigue. In this exercise context, fatigue is best defined as a decreasing force production during muscle contraction despite constant or increasing effort. The replenishment of ATP during intense exercise is the result of a coordinated metabolic response in which all energy systems contribute to different degrees based on an interaction between the intensity and duration of the exercise, and consequently the proportional contribution of the different skeletal muscle motor units. Such relative contributions also determine to a large extent the involvement of specific metabolic and central nervous system events that contribute to fatigue. The purpose of this paper is to provide a contemporary explanation of the muscle metabolic response to different exercise intensities and durations, with emphasis given to recent improvements in understanding and research methodology.
Baker, J. S., Clare McCormick, M., & Robergs, R. (2010). Interaction among skeletal muscle metabolic energy systems during intense exercise. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2010, 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1155/2010/905612