Validated Predictions of Metabolic Energy Consumption for Submaximal Effort Movement

George A. Tsianos, Lisa N. MacFadden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Physical performance emerges from complex interactions among many physiological systems that are largely driven by the metabolic energy demanded. Quantifying metabolic demand is an essential step for revealing the many mechanisms of physical performance decrement, but accurate predictive models do not exist. The goal of this study was to investigate if a recently developed model of muscle energetics and force could be extended to reproduce the kinematics, kinetics, and metabolic demand of submaximal effort movement. Upright dynamic knee extension against various levels of ergometer load was simulated. Task energetics were estimated by combining the model of muscle contraction with validated models of lower limb musculotendon paths and segment dynamics. A genetic algorithm was used to compute the muscle excitations that reproduced the movement with the lowest energetic cost, which was determined to be an appropriate criterion for this task. Model predictions of oxygen uptake rate (VO2) were well within experimental variability for the range over which the model parameters were confidently known. The model's accurate estimates of metabolic demand make it useful for assessing the likelihood and severity of physical performance decrement for a given task as well as investigating underlying physiologic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1004911
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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