Beneke, R., Hutler, M., Leithauser, R. M., & Boning, D. (2009). Respiratory alkalosis enhances sprint performance. ACSM 56th Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington, Presentation Number 2022.

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"Glycolysis dominates energy provision in long sprint events like 200 to 400 m running, 50 m swimming, 500 m speed skating or short term flat out testing like the Wingate Anaerobic Test (WAnT). High glycolytic rates lead to the accumulation of lactate and a drop in pH with an impeding effect on glycolytic key enzymes. After bicarbonate ingestions an increase in minimum power has been reported in the WAnT. However, many athletes are reluctant to use this legal ergogenic aid because it is ingested 2 to 3 hours pre exercise and may also cause performance detrimental side effects like severe gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea."

This study examined the effect of a controlled hyperventilation-induced hypocapnic alkalosis on Wingate Anaerobic Test performance and metabolism. Males (N = 10) performed a Wingate Anaerobic Test after a standardized preparation without or with hyperventilation in a randomized order. Mechanical power, blood lactate concentration and acid base status and oxygen uptake were analyzed.

Hyperventilation decreased pCO2 and increased pH before the Wingate Anaerobic Test. Average mechanical power, maximum blood lactate concentration, and the increase in pCO2 during the Wingate Anaerobic Test were higher, minimum pH was unchanged, and oxygen uptake during the Wingate Anaerobic Test was lower in the hyperventilation condition than in the standardized (control) condition.

Implication. Controlled hyperventilation-induced hypocapnic alkalosis increased Wingate Anaerobic Test performance based on an increase in glycolytic energy, which is higher than a corresponding decrease in aerobic energy. Hyperventilation should be performed before any high-intensity short-duration anaerobic activity [the most serious athletes know that already].

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