Glycogen availability and skeletal muscle adaptations with endurance and resistance exercise

Knuiman, Pim; Hopman, Maria T.E.; Mensink, Marco


It is well established that glycogen depletion affects endurance exercise performance negatively. Moreover, numerous studies have demonstrated that post-exercise carbohydrate ingestion improves exercise recovery by increasing glycogen resynthesis. However, recent research into the effects of glycogen availability sheds new light on the role of the widely accepted energy source for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) resynthesis during endurance exercise. Indeed, several studies showed that endurance training with low glycogen availability leads to similar and sometimes even better adaptations and performance compared to performing endurance training sessions with replenished glycogen stores. In the case of resistance exercise, a few studies have been performed on the role of glycogen availability on the early post-exercise anabolic response. However, the effects of low glycogen availability on phenotypic adaptations and performance following prolonged resistance exercise remains unclear to date. This review summarizes the current knowledge about the effects of glycogen availability on skeletal muscle adaptations for both endurance and resistance exercise. Furthermore, it describes the role of glycogen availability when both exercise modes are performed concurrently.