Swimmers can train in hypoxia at sea level through voluntary hypoventilation

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2014 Jan 1:190:33-9. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2013.08.022. Epub 2013 Sep 4.


This study used an innovative technique of pulse oximetry to investigate whether swimmers can train under hypoxic conditions through voluntary hypoventilation (VH). Ten trained subjects performed a front crawl swimming series with normal breathing (NB), VH at high (VHhigh) and low pulmonary volume (VHlow). Arterial oxygen saturation was continuously measured via pulse oximetry (SpO2) with a waterproofed forehead sensor. Gas exchanges were recorded continuously and lactate concentration ([La]) was assessed at the end of each test. In VHlow, SpO2 fell down to 87% at the end of the series whereas it remained above 94% in VHhigh during most part of the series. Ventilation, oxygen uptake and end-tidal O2 pressure were lower in both VHhigh and VHlow than in NB. Compared to NB, [La] significantly increased in VHlow and decreased in VHhigh. This study demonstrated that swimmers can train under hypoxic conditions at sea level and can accentuate the glycolytic stimulus of their training if they perform VH at low but not high pulmonary volume.

Keywords: Arterial oxygen saturation; Breath holding; Hypoxemia; Swimming.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hypoventilation*
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Oximetry
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Pulmonary Ventilation / physiology*
  • Respiration*
  • Swimming / physiology*
  • Young Adult