Neuromuscular and perceptual responses during repeated cycling sprints—usefulness of a “hypoxic to normoxic” recovery approach

Abstract

Purpose

We investigated the consequence of varying hypoxia severity during an initial set of repeated cycling sprints on performance, neuromuscular fatigability, and exercise-related sensations during a subsequent set of repeated sprints in normoxia.

Methods

Nine active males performed ten 4-s sprints (recovery = 30 s) at sea level (SL; FiO2 ~ 0.21), moderate (MH; FiO2 ~ 0.17) or severe normobaric hypoxia (SH; FiO2 ~ 0.13). This was followed, after 8 min of passive recovery, by five 4-s sprints (recovery = 30 s) in normoxia.

Results

Mean power decrement during Sprint 10 was exacerbated in SH compared to SL and MH (− 34 ± 12%, − 22 ± 13%, − 25 ± 14%, respectively, p < 0.05). Sprint performance during Sprint 11 recovered to that of Sprint 1 in all conditions (p = 0.267). All exercise-related sensations at Sprint 11 recovered significantly compared to Sprint 1, with no difference for Set 2 (p > 0.05). Ratings of overall perceived discomfort, difficulty breathing, and limb discomfort were exacerbated during Set 1 in SH versus SL (p < 0.05). Compared to SL, the averaged MPO value for Set 2 was 5.5 ± 3.0% (p = 0.003) lower in SH. Maximal voluntary force and twitch torque decreased similarly in all conditions immediately after Set 1 (p < 0.05), without further alterations after Set 2. Peripheral and cortical voluntary activation values did not change (p > 0.05).

Conclusion

Exercise-related sensations, rather than neuromuscular function integrity, may play a pivotal role in influencing performance of repeated sprints and its recovery.

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Abbreviations

Db:

Doublet

EMG:

Electromyography

FiO2 :

Fraction of inspired oxygen

MH:

Moderate hypoxia

MPO:

Mean power output

MVC:

Maximal voluntary contraction

PMN:

Peripheral motor nerve

RMS:

Root mean square

RSA:

Repeated-sprint ability

SL:

Sea level

SH:

Severe hypoxia

SpO2 :

Arterial oxygen saturation

TMS:

Transcranial magnetic stimulation

VA:

Voluntary activation

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank all the subjects for their participation in this study.

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Authors

Contributions

OG, RC, DB and FB conceived and designed research. RC and OG conducted experiments. JS and OG analysed the data. JS and OG wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Olivier Girard.

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The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.

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Communicated by Guido Ferretti.

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Soo, J., Billaut, F., Bishop, D.J. et al. Neuromuscular and perceptual responses during repeated cycling sprints—usefulness of a “hypoxic to normoxic” recovery approach. Eur J Appl Physiol 120, 883–896 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-020-04327-3

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Keywords

  • Repeated-sprint ability
  • Exercise-related sensations
  • Hypoxia
  • Neuromuscular fatigue
  • Recovery