Effects of acute hypoxia on the VO2 max of trained and untrained subjects

D Martin, J O'Kroy
Journal of Sports Sciences 1993, 11 (1): 37-42
The purpose of this study was to compare the responses of highly trained (TR) and untrained (UT) subjects' maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) while breathing a hypoxic gas mixture. Two groups of healthy volunteers were recruited: (1) trained subjects (n = 8), VO2 max = 67.2 +/- 4.0 ml kg-1 min-1; (2) untrained subjects (n = 8), VO2 max = 45.4 +/- 5.5 ml kg-1 min-1. Both groups were administered maximal cycle ergometer tests under hypoxic (13% O2, 87% N2) and normoxic conditions (21% O2, 79% N2). A pulse oximeter (Ohmeda 3700) was used to estimate arterial haemoglobin saturation (SpO2). The trained group had lower values for SpO2 at maximal exercise (TR = 67.0 +/- 7.1%; UT = 77.5 +/- 9.0%) and greater reductions in VO2 max while breathing the hypoxic gas mixture was linearly correlated with the subjects' normoxic VO2 max (ml kg-1 min-1: r = -0.91). These results indicate that highly trained subjects experience greater percent decrements in SpO2 and VO2 max while breathing a moderately hypoxic gas mixture compared to untrained subjects, and may explain some of the variable decrease observed when VO2 max is measured at simulated altitude.

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