European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 114, Issue 8, pp 1555–1562 | Cite as

Effect of acute normobaric hypoxia on the ventilatory threshold

  • Carla A. Gallagher
  • Mark E. T. Willems
  • Mark P. Lewis
  • Stephen D. MyersEmail author
Original Article



This study investigated the response of the ventilatory threshold (VT) to acute normobaric hypoxia and compared the agreement between software-based algorithms which use automatic detection to identify the VT. Results were used to examine whether the VT can be used as a physiological parameter to prescribe and monitor exercise intensity in hypoxic exercise training programs.


Fourteen untrained individuals (7 women, 7 men; age 22 ± 2 years, \(\dot{V}\)O2peak 46 ± 7 mL kg−1 min−1) completed five identical graded exercise tests (randomized order) on a cycle ergometer to measure VT at sea-level (SL) and in response to four normobaric hypoxic conditions (FIO2: 0.185, 0.165, 0.142, 0.125) equivalent to 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 and 4,000 m. Data were analyzed using a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures.


The VT was similar across all conditions (SL = 1.98 ± 0.46, 1,000 m = 2.03 ± 0.61, 2,000 m = 2.27 ± 0.62, 3,000 m = 1.84 ± 0.50, 4,000 m = 2.29 ± 0.58 L min−1) for all algorithms used despite a reduction in arterial oxygen saturation at 3,000 (P ≤ 0.01) and 4,000 m (P ≤ 0.01) compared with SL values.


The VT appears to be a suitable physiological parameter for exercise prescription in normobaric hypoxia up to an altitude of 4,000 m.


Normobaric hypoxia Exercise prescription Cycle ergometry Ventilatory threshold Altitude 



Analysis of variance


Ambient inspiratory oxygen fractions


Graded exercise test


Hydrogen ion


Heart rate


Peak heart rate


Heart rate at ventilatory threshold


Respiratory compensation point


Relative humidity


Rating of perceived exertion


Standard deviation




Arterial oxygen saturation measured using infrared pulse oximetry


Ambient temperature


Rate of carbon dioxide production


Peak rate of ventilation


Oxygen consumption


Rate of oxygen consumption


Peak rate of oxygen consumption


Rate of oxygen consumption at ventilatory threshold


Peak power output


Ventilatory threshold


Power at ventilatory threshold



There were no external funding sources used in the preparation of this article. C A Gallagher is currently receiving financial support in the form of a bursary allowance from the University of Chichester.

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interests concerning the preparation of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carla A. Gallagher
    • 1
  • Mark E. T. Willems
    • 1
  • Mark P. Lewis
    • 2
  • Stephen D. Myers
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Sport and Exercise SciencesUniversity of ChichesterChichesterUK
  2. 2.Loughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK

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