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 ten sets of 10 s maximal pedaling on a cycle ergometer with a 60 s recovery between sets under control (spontaneous breathing) and hyperventilation conditions in a crossover, counter-balanced manner. Pedaling load (kp) was set at 0.075 x body mass. Peak and mean power outputs were documented for each set to compare performance decrements over 10 sets between conditions. Hyperventilation (60 breaths/min and PETCO2 maintained at 20-25 mmHg) was performed 30 s before each sprint set. This intervention successfully increased blood pH by 0.03-0.07 but lowered PCO2 by 1.2-8.4 mmHg 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 x 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.
Copyright (C) 2013 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.