Inspiratory resistive loading improves cycling capacity: a placebo controlled trial

A D Gething, M Williams, B Davies
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2004, 38 (6): 730-6

BACKGROUND: Respiratory muscle training has been shown to improve both its strength and endurance. The effect of these improvements on whole-body exercise performance remains controversial.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of a 10 week inspiratory resistive loading (IRL) intervention on respiratory muscle performance and whole-body exercise endurance.

METHODS: Fifteen apparently healthy subjects (10 men, 5 women) were randomly allocated to one of three groups. One group underwent IRL set at 80% of maximum inspiratory pressure with ever decreasing work/rest ratios until task failure, for three days a week for 10 weeks (IRL group). A second placebo group performed the same training procedure but with a minimal resistance (PLA group). IRL and placebo training were performed at rest. The remaining five control subjects performed no IRL during the 10 week study period (CON group). Cycling endurance capacity at 75% VO(2)peak was measured before and after the intervention.

RESULTS: After the 10 week IRL intervention, respiratory muscle strength (maximum inspiratory pressure) and endurance (sum of sustained maximum inspiratory pressure) had significantly improved (by 34% and 38% respectively). An increase in diaphragm thickness was also observed. These improvements translated into a 36% increase in cycling time to exhaustion at 75% VO(2)peak. During cycling trials, heart rate, ventilation, and rating of perceived exertion were attenuated in the IRL group. No changes were observed for the PLA or CON group either in the time to exhaustion or cardiorespiratory response to the same intensity of exercise.

CONCLUSION: Ten weeks of IRL attenuated the heart rate, ventilatory, and perceptual response to constant workload exercise, and improved the cycling time to exhaustion. Familiarisation was not a factor and the placebo effect was minimal.

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