Preprint has been published in a journal as an article
DOI of the published article 10.3390/ijerph18136794
Preprint / Version 1

Investigating the effects of mental fatigue on resistance exercise performance


  • Denver Brown
  • Amanda Farias Zuniga
  • Daanish Mulla
  • Divya Mendonca
  • Peter Keir
  • Steve Bray



cognitive control exertion, ego depletion, electromyography, mental exertion, perceived exertion, physical performance, resistance training


Mental fatigue can impart negative effects on subsequent physical performance, although the mechanisms underlying these effects are not well understood. This study examined whether mental fatigue confers negative carryover effects on the performance of a set of biceps curls, while also investigating physiological and psychological mechanisms proposed to explain the predicted effect. A randomized, cross-over design was employed. On Visit 1, participants (N = 10) performed a barbell biceps curl one-repetition maximum (1RM) test. On Visits 2/3, participants performed 20 biceps curls at 50% of their 1RM, followed by their respective 10-minute experimental manipulation (high vs. low cognitive exertion), and then a second set of biceps curls to exhaustion. Ratings of perceived exertion and electromyography of the biceps brachii, triceps brachii, upper trapezius, thoracic erector spinae, and lumbar erector spinae were recorded during the physical task. The total number of repetitions completed was similar across the conditions. Results also failed to show between-condition differences for muscle activation and perceptions of exertion. Future research is needed to build an adequate knowledge base to determine whether there is an effect of mental fatigue on dynamic resistance-based task performance, and if so, identify the mechanisms explaining how and why.


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