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Palm Cooling Delays Fatigue during High-Intensity Bench Press Exercise


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: August 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 8 - p 1557-1565
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181d34a53
Applied Sciences

ABSTRACT Local cooling can induce an ergogenic effect during a short-term intense exercise. One proposed method of personal cooling involves heat extraction from the palm.

Purpose: In this study, we hypothesized that local palm cooling (PC) during rest intervals between progressive weight training sets will increase total repetitions and exercise volume in resistance-trained subjects exercising in a thermoneutral (TN) environment.

Methods: Sixteen male subjects (mean ± SD; age = 26 ± 6 yr, height = 178 ± 7 cm, body mass = 81.5 ± 11.3 kg, one-repetition maximum (1RM) bench press = 123.5 ± 12.6 kg, weight training experience = 10 ± 6 yr) performed four sets of 85% 1RM bench press exercise to fatigue, with 3-min rest intervals. Exercise trials were performed in a counterbalanced order for 3 d, separated by at least 3 d: TN, palm heating (PH), and PC. Heating and cooling were applied by placing the hand in a device called the rapid thermal exchanger, set to 45°C for heating or 10°C for cooling. This device heats or cools the palm while negative pressure (−35 to −45 mm Hg) is applied around the hand.

Results: Total exercise volume during the four PC sets (2480 ± 636 kg) was significantly higher than that during TN (1972 ± 632 kg) and PH sets (2156 ± 668 kg, P < 0.01). The RMS of the surface EMG with PC exercise was higher (P < 0.01), whereas esophageal temperature (P < 0.05) and RPE (P < 0.05) were lower during PC compared with TN and PH.

Conclusions: PC from 35°C to 20°C temporarily overrides fatigue mechanism(s) during intense intermittent resistance exercise. The mechanisms for this ergogenic function remain unknown.

1Department of Health, Exercise & Sports Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; 2School of Biomedical and Health Science, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, AUSTRALIA; and 3Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, NM

Address for correspondence: Young Sub Kwon, Ph.D., Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Department of Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences, University of New Mexico, MSC 04 2610, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001; E-mail:

Submitted for publication September 2009.

Accepted for publication January 2010.

©2010The American College of Sports Medicine