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Intermittent Hypoxic Exposure Does Not Improve Endurance Performance at Altitude

BEIDLEMAN, BETH A.; MUZA, STEPHEN R.; FULCO, CHARLES S.; JONES, JULI E.; LAMMI, ERIC; STAAB, JANET E.; CYMERMAN, ALLEN

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: June 2009 - Volume 41 - Issue 6 - pp 1317-1325
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181954601
Applied Sciences

Purpose: This study examined the effect of 1 wk of normobaric intermittent hypoxic exposure (IHE) combined with exercise training on endurance performance at a 4300-m altitude (HA).

Methods: Seventeen male lowlanders were divided into an IHE (n = 11) or SHAM (n = 6) group. Each completed cycle endurance testing consisting of two 20-min steady state (SS) exercise bouts (at 40% and 60% V˙O2peak) followed by a 10-min break and then a 720-kJ cycle time trial at HA before IHE or SHAM treatment (Pre-T). IHE treatment consisted of a 2-h rest at a PO2 of 90 mm Hg followed by two 25-min bouts of exercise at ∼80% of peak HR at a PO2 of 110 mm Hg for 1 wk in a hypoxia room. SHAM treatment was identical except that the PO2 was 148 mm Hg for both rest and exercise. After IHE or SHAM treatment (Post-T), all completed a second cycle endurance test at HA. HR, arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2), and RPE were obtained from the 10th to the 15th minute during the two SS exercise bouts and every 5 min during the time trial.

Results: Seven volunteers in the IHE group could not finish the 720-kJ time trial either at Pre-T or at Post-T. Time trial analysis was limited, therefore, to the time to reach 360 kJ (halfway point) for all volunteers. From Pre-T to Post-T, there was no improvement in time trial performance (min ± SE) in the IHE (62.0 ± 4.8 to 63.7 ± 5.2) or SHAM (60.9 ± 6.3 to 54.2 ± 6.8) group. There was no change from Pre-T to Post-T in HR, SaO2, and RPE during the two SS exercise bouts or time trial in either group.

Conclusions: One week of IHE combined with exercise training does not improve endurance performance at a 4300-m altitude in male lowlanders.

Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA

Address for correspondence: Beth A. Beidleman, Sc.D., Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA 01760; E-mail: beth.beidleman@us.army.mil.

Submitted for publication July 2008.

Accepted for publication November 2008.

©2009The American College of Sports Medicine