European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 7, pp 1533–1545 | Cite as

Neuromuscular evaluation of arm-cycling repeated sprints under hypoxia and/or blood flow restriction

  • Arthur Peyrard
  • Sarah J. Willis
  • Nicolas Place
  • Grégoire P. Millet
  • Fabio Borrani
  • Thomas RuppEmail author
Original Article



This study aimed to determine the effects of hypoxia and/or blood flow restriction (BFR) on an arm-cycling repeated sprint ability test (aRSA) and its impact on elbow flexor neuromuscular function.


Fourteen volunteers performed an aRSA (10 s sprint/20 s recovery) to exhaustion in four randomized conditions: normoxia (NOR), normoxia plus BFR (NBFR), hypoxia (FiO2 = 0.13, HYP) and hypoxia plus BFR (HBFR). Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), resting twitch force (Db10), and electromyographic responses from the elbow flexors [biceps brachii (BB)] to electrical and transcranial magnetic stimulation were obtained to assess neuromuscular function. Main effects of hypoxia, BFR, and interaction were analyzed on delta values from pre- to post-exercise.


BFR and hypoxia decreased the number of sprints during aRSA with no significant cumulative effect (NOR 16 ± 8; NBFR 12 ± 4; HYP 10 ± 3 and HBFR 8 ± 3; P < 0.01). MVC decrease from pre- to post-exercise was comparable whatever the condition. M-wave amplitude (− 9.4 ± 1.9% vs. + 0.8 ± 2.0%, P < 0.01) and Db10 force (− 41.8 ± 4.7% vs. − 27.9 ± 4.5%, P < 0.01) were more altered after aRSA with BFR compared to without BFR. The exercise-induced increase in corticospinal excitability was significantly lower in hypoxic vs. normoxic conditions (e.g., BB motor evoked potential at 75% of MVC: − 2.4 ± 4.2% vs. + 16.0 ± 5.9%, respectively, P = 0.03).


BFR and hypoxia led to comparable aRSA performance impairments but with distinct fatigue etiology. BFR impaired the muscle excitation–contraction coupling whereas hypoxia predominantly affected corticospinal excitability indicating incapacity of the corticospinal pathway to adapt to fatigue as in normoxia.


Corticospinal excitability Transcranial magnetic stimulation Occlusion Neuromuscular fatigue BFR 



One-repetition maximum


Active motor threshold


Analysis of variance


Repeated arm-cycling sprint ability test


Biceps brachii


Blood flow restriction


Cervicomedullary motor evoked potential


Cortical silent period




Electrical muscle stimulation


Electrical nerve stimulation


Estimated resting twitch


Electronic supplementary material


Fraction of inspired oxygen


Gamma-aminobutyric acid


Hypoxia with BFR




Motor evoked potential


Amplitude of the muscle compound action potential


Messenger ribonucleic acid


Amplitude of the muscle compound action potential during maximal voluntary contraction


Maximal voluntary contraction


Muscle compound action potential


Normoxia with blood flow restriction


Near-infra-red spectroscopy


Neuromuscular function evaluation




Pre-frontal cortex


Maximal power


After repeated arm-cycling sprint ability test


Before repeated arm-cycling sprint ability test


Root mean square


Repeated sprint ability


Standard deviation


Short-interval intracortical inhibition


Superimposed twitch


Peripheral arterial oxygen saturation


Triceps brachii


Transcranial magnetic stimulation


Tissue saturation index


Time to exhaustion


Voluntary activation


Voluntary activation assessed with TMS


Partial eta-squared



Special thanks are given to the participants for their dedication, commitment, and cooperation with this study and to Naiandra Dittrich for her assistance during experimental set up and data acquisition.

Author contributions

GPM, FB, NP, and TR designed the study methodology. AP and SW collected the data and analyzed the results. AP, SW, and TR drafted the article. All authors reviewed and revised the work. All authors reviewed the final article and approved it for submission.


Funding was provided by University Savoie Mont Blanc and the French Conseil Savoie Mont Blanc.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

AP was supported by a doctoral research grant from University Savoie Mont Blanc and the French Conseil Savoie Mont Blanc. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

421_2019_4143_MOESM1_ESM.docx (45 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 45 kb)
421_2019_4143_MOESM2_ESM.docx (35 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 34 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur Peyrard
    • 1
  • Sarah J. Willis
    • 2
  • Nicolas Place
    • 2
  • Grégoire P. Millet
    • 2
  • Fabio Borrani
    • 2
  • Thomas Rupp
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratoire Interuniversitaire de Biologie de la Motricité (EA 7424 LIBM Chambéry)Université Savoie Mont BlancChambéryFrance
  2. 2.Faculty of Biology and Medicine, Institute of Sport Sciences (ISSUL)University of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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