Aim: The present study investigated the effects of hyperthermia on intermittent exercise and repeated sprint performance.
Methods: Seven men completed 40 min of intermittent cycling comprising of 15 s exercise (306 +/- 22 W) and 15 s rest periods (0 W) followed by 5 x 15 s maximal sprints on a cycle ergometer in normal (approximately 20 degrees C, control) and hot (40 degrees C, hyperthermia) environments.
Results: Completion of the intermittent protocol in the heat elevated core and muscle temperatures (39.5 +/- 0.2 degrees C; 40.2 +/- 0.4 degrees C), heart rate (178 +/- 11 beats min(-1)), rating of perceived exertion (RPE) (18 +/- 1) and noradrenaline (38.9 +/- 13.2 micromol l(-1)) (all P < 0.05). During the first sprint (n = 6), both peak and mean power output were similar across the environmental conditions. However, mean power over the last four sprints declined to a larger extent during hyperthermia compared with the control trial (P < 0.05). Consequently, average mean power output during the five sprints was lower in hyperthermia (558.0 +/- 146.9 W) compared with control (617.5 +/- 122.6 W; P < 0.05). Power output during the repeated sprints was reduced by hyperthermia despite an elevated muscle temperature that should promote sprint performance. Venous plasma potassium concentrations (H; 5.3 +/- 0.8 mmol l(-1) vs. C; 6.3 +/- 1.0 mmol l(-1), P = 0.06) and muscle lactate levels (H; 76.6 +/- 24.3 mmol kg(-1) dry weight vs. C; 108.8 +/- 20.1 mmol kg(-1) dry weight) were lower following the hyperthermic sprints compared to control.
Conclusion: Although an elevated muscle temperature is expected to promote sprint performance, power output during the repeated sprints was reduced by hyperthermia. The impaired performance does not seem to relate to the accumulation of recognized metabolic fatigue agents and we, therefore, suggest that it may relate to the influence of high core temperature on the function of the central nervous system.