Upper Limb Circulatory Occlusion Improves Cycle Ergometer Time Trial Performance in Normoxia and Hypoxia

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S. Raj J. Trikha
Alissa A. Newman
Luke C. Hoskovec
Christopher Bell


Endurance, Ergogenic, Cycling


Introduction: The availability of blood and oxygen to exercising muscle is an important physiological determinant of endurance performance. This proof of concept study analyzed the ergogenic potential of a novel procedure: circulatory occlusion of inactive limbs. We hypothesized that upper limb circulatory occlusion would improve cycle ergometer performance and attenuate hypoxia-mediated decrements in endurance exercise.
Methods: 19 young, healthy adults (10 male, 9 female, age: 24±3 years, mean±SD) completed four randomly ordered stationary cycle ergometer 5 km time trials in normoxia (fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2)=0.21) and hypoxia (FiO2=0.15), with and without circulatory occlusion of the arms. Before each circulatory occlusion trial, participants held their arms above their head for 60 seconds, and automated blood pressure cuffs were rapidly inflated to 200 mmHg before participants lowered their arms.
Results: Time trial performances were: normoxia without occlusion 561.0±65.4 s; normoxia with occlusion 555.6±65.4 s; hypoxia without occlusion 594.6±65.4 s; hypoxia with occlusion 586.2±67.8 s. Statistical analysis revealed main effects of occlusion (faster with occlusion P=0.017), and inspired O2 (slower in hypoxia P<0.001), but no interaction (occlusion x FiO2 P=0.449).
Conclusion: These data provide support and proof of concept for an ergogenic effect of circulatory occlusion of inactive limbs during endurance exercise.

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