Adaptations in muscle oxidative capacity, fiber size, and oxygen supply capacity after repeated-sprint training in hypoxia combined with chronic hypoxic exposure

S. van der Zwaard, F. Brocherie, B. L. G. Kom, G. P. Millet, L. Deldicque, W. J. van der Laarse, O. Girard, R. T. Jaspers

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Abstract

In this study, we investigate adaptations in muscle oxidative capacity, fiber size and oxygen supply capacity in team-sport athletes after six repeated-sprint sessions in normobaric hypoxia or normoxia combined with 14 days of chronic normobaric hypoxic exposure. Lowland elite field hockey players resided at simulated altitude (14 h/day at 2,800 –3,000 m) and performed regular training plus six repeated-sprint sessions in normobaric hypoxia (3,000 m; LHTLH; n 6) or normoxia (0 m; LHTL; n 6) or lived at sea level with regular training only (LLTL; n 6). Muscle biopsies were obtained from the m. vastus lateralis before (pre), immediately after (post-1), and 3 wk after the intervention (post-2). Changes over time between groups were compared, including likelihood of the effect size (ES). Succinate dehydrogenase activity in LHTLH largely increased from pre to post-1 (~35%), likely more than LHTL and LLTL (ESs large-very large), and remained elevated in LHTLH at post-2 (~12%) vs. LHTL (ESs moderate-large). Fiber cross-sectional area remained fairly similar in LHTLH from pre to post-1 and post-2 but was increased at post-1 and post-2 in LHTL and LLTL (ES moderate-large). A unique observation was that LHTLH and LHTL, but not LLTL, improved their combination of fiber size and oxidative capacity. Small-to-moderate differences in oxygen supply capacity (i.e., myoglobin and capillarization) were observed between groups. In conclusion, elite team-sport athletes substantially increased their skeletal muscle oxidative capacity, while maintaining fiber size, after only 14 days of chronic hypoxic residence combined with six repeated-sprint training sessions in hypoxia. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Our novel findings show that elite team-sport athletes were able to substantially increase the skeletal muscle oxidative capacity in type I and II fibers (37 and 32%, respectively), while maintaining fiber size after only 14 days of chronic hypoxic residence combined with six repeated-sprint sessions in hypoxia. This increase in oxidative capacity was superior to groups performing chronic hypoxic residence with repeated sprints in normoxia and residence at sea level with regular training only.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1403-1412
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Volume124
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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