Oxygen uptake ([Formula: see text]) kinetics has been reported to be influenced by the activity mode. However, only few studies have compared [Formula: see text]O2 kinetics between activities in the same subjects in which they were equally trained. Therefore, this study compared the [Formula: see text]O2 kinetics response to swimming, arm cranking, and cycling within the same group of subjects within the heavy exercise intensity domain. Ten trained male triathletes (age 23.2 ± 4.5 years; height 180.8 ± 8.3 cm; weight 72.3 ± 6.6 kg) completed an incremental test to exhaustion and a 6-min heavy constant-load test in the three exercise modes in random order. Gas exchange was measured by a breath-by-breath analyzer and the on-transient [Formula: see text]O2 kinetics was modeled using bi-exponential functions. [Formula: see text]O2peak was higher in cycling (65.6 ± 4.0 ml·kg-1·min-1) than in arm cranking or swimming (48.7 ± 8.0 and 53.0 ± 6.7 ml·kg-1·min-1; P < 0.01), but the [Formula: see text]O2 kinetics were slower in swimming (τ1 = 31.7 ± 6.2 s) than in arm cranking (19.3 ± 4.2 s; P = 0.001) and cycling (12.4 ± 3.7 s; P = 0.001). The amplitude of the primary component was lower in both arm cranking and swimming (21.9 ± 4.7 and 28.4 ± 5.1 ml·kg-1·min-1) compared with cycling (39.4 ± 4.1 ml·kg-1·min-1; P = 0.001). Although the gain of the primary component was higher in arm cranking compared with cycling (15.3 ± 4.2 and 10.7 ± 1.3 ml·min-1·W-1; P = 0.02), the slow component amplitude, in both absolute and relative terms, did not differ between exercise modes. The slower [Formula: see text]O2 kinetics during heavy-intensity swimming is exercise-mode dependent. Besides differences in muscle mass and greater type II muscle fibers recruitment, the horizontal position adopted and the involvement of trunk and lower-body stabilizing muscles could be additional mechanisms that explain the differences between exercise modalities.
Keywords: V̇O2 kinetics; exercise modes; gas exchange; modeling; triathletes.