Hyperventilation as a Strategy for Improved Repeated Sprint Performance

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Sakamoto, A, Naito, H, and Chow, C-M. Hyperventilation as a strategy for improved repeated sprint performance. J Strength Cond Res 28(4): 1119–1126, 2014—Repeated high-intensity sprints incur substantial anaerobic metabolic challenges and create an acidic muscle milieu that is unfavorable for subsequent performance. Hyperventilation, resulting in respiratory alkalosis, acts as a compensatory mechanism for metabolic acidosis. This study tested the hypothesis that hyperventilation performed during recovery intervals would attenuate performance decrement in repeated sprint pedaling. Thirteen male university athletes performed 10 sets of 10-second maximal pedaling on a cycle ergometer with a 60-second recovery between sets under control (spontaneous breathing) and hyperventilation conditions in a crossover counter-balanced manner. Pedaling load was set at 0.075 × body mass. Peak and mean power outputs were documented for each set to compare performance decrements for 10 sets between conditions. Hyperventilation (60 breaths per minute and end-tidal partial pressure of CO2 maintained at 20–25 mm Hg) was performed 30 seconds before each sprint set. This intervention successfully increased blood pH by 0.03–0.07 but lowered PCO2 by 1.2–8.4 mm Hg throughout exercise (p < 0.001). The peak and mean power outputs, and blood [La] accumulation were not significantly different between the conditions. However, a significant condition × time interaction existed for peak power (p = 0.035) and mean power (p = 0.023), demonstrating an attenuation in power decrement in later sprint sets with hyperventilation. In conclusion, hyperventilation implemented during recovery intervals of repeated sprint pedaling attenuated performance decrements in later exercise bouts that was associated with substantial metabolic acidosis. The practical implication is that hyperventilation may have a strategic role for enhancing training effectiveness and may give an edge in performance outcomes.

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