Sperlich, B. (2011). Hyperoxic recovery: A potential tool for improving performance? Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 43(5). Supplement abstract 3035.

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This investigation tested the hypothesis that hyperoxic-breathing [normally breathing pure oxygen] during recovery enhances peak and mean power during repeated intervals of high-intensity leg and arm exercises. Two studies were conducted.

Study 1

Elite male swimmers (N = 11; ~21 years) inhaled either hyperoxic or normoxic air during six-minute recovery periods between five sessions of high-intensity bench swimming (40 maximal "butterfly" strokes). During this performance, peak and mean power were recorded on a swim bench (FES). The partial pressure of oxygen, oxygen saturation, [H+], pH, base excess, and lactate concentration were measured.

Peak and mean power with hyperoxia during recovery was significantly higher than with normoxia throughout the third, fourth, and fifth intervals. The partial pressure of oxygen and oxygen saturation were significantly elevated after each interval with hyperoxia. There were no differences in blood lactate, pH, hydrogen ions, or base excess with either recovery-oxygen mixture.

Study 2

Well-trained male cyclists (N = 10; ~25 years) inhaled either hypoxic or normoxic air during six minutes of recovery after 5 x 30-seconds of high-intensity all-out interval cycling.

Peak and mean power did not differ between the two oxygen conditions. The partial pressure of oxygen was approximately 4.2 times higher after inhaling hyperoxia in comparison to normoxia, while blood lactate, blood pH, hydrogen ion presence, and base excess after sprinting were not influenced by hyperoxia.

Implication. Exposure to hyperoxia during recovery enhances peak and mean power of elite swimmers performing short-duration high-intensity exercise. Exposure to hyperoxia during recovery does not affect peak and mean power for cyclists performing high-intensity cycle intervals. One could speculate that hyperoxic recovery from high-intensity intervals may be more beneficial in arm rather than leg activities.

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