Postexercise cold-water immersion improves intermittent high-intensity exercise performance in normothermia

Avina McCarthy, James Mulligan, Mikel Egaña
Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 2016, 41 (11): 1163-1170
A brief cold water immersion between 2 continuous high-intensity exercise bouts improves the performance of the latter compared with passive recovery in the heat. We investigated if this effect is apparent in normothermic conditions (∼19 °C), employing an intermittent high-intensity exercise designed to reflect the work performed at the high-intensity domain in team sports. Fifteen young active men completed 2 exhaustive cycling protocols (Ex1 and Ex2: 12 min at 85% ventilatory threshold (VT) and then an intermittent exercise alternating 30-s at 40% peak power (Ppeak) and 30 s at 90% Ppeak to exhaustion) separated by 15 min of (i) passive rest, (ii) 5-min cold-water immersion at 8 °C, and (iii) 10-min cold-water immersion at 8 °C. Core temperature, heart rate, rates of perceived exertion, and oxygen uptake kinetics were not different during Ex1 among conditions. Time to failure during the intermittent exercise was significantly (P < 0.05) longer during Ex2 following the 5- and 10-min cold-water immersions (7.2 ± 3.5 min and 7.3 ± 3.3 min, respectively) compared with passive rest (5.8 ± 3.1 min). Core temperature, heart rate, and rates of perceived exertion were significantly (P < 0.05) lower during most periods of Ex2 after both cold-water immersions compared with passive rest. The time constant of phase II oxygen uptake response during the 85% VT bout of Ex2 was not different among the 3 conditions. A postexercise, 5- to 10-min cold-water immersion increases subsequent intermittent high-intensity exercise compared with passive rest in normothermia due, at least in part, to reductions in core temperature, circulatory strain, and effort perception.

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