Leg- vs arm-cycling repeated sprints with blood flow restriction and systemic hypoxia
The aim was to compare changes in peripheral and cerebral oxygenation, as well as metabolic and performance responses during conditions of blood flow restriction (BFR, bilateral vascular occlusion at 0% vs. 45% of resting pulse elimination pressure) and systemic hypoxia (~ 400 m, FIO2 20.9% vs. ~ 3800 m normobaric hypoxia, FIO2 13.1 ± 0.1%) during repeated sprint tests to exhaustion (RST) between leg- and arm-cycling exercises.
Seven participants (26.6 ± 2.9 years old; 74.0 ± 13.1 kg; 1.76 ± 0.09 m) performed four sessions of RST (10-s maximal sprints with 20-s recovery until exhaustion) during both leg and arm cycling to measure power output and metabolic equivalents as well as oxygenation (near-infrared spectroscopy) of the muscle tissue and prefrontal cortex.
Mean power output was lower in arms than legs (316 ± 118 vs. 543 ± 127 W; p < 0.001) and there were no differences between conditions for a given limb. Arms demonstrated greater changes in concentration of deoxyhemoglobin (∆[HHb], − 9.1 ± 6.1 vs. − 6.5 ± 5.6 μm) and total hemoglobin concentration (∆[tHb], 15.0 ± 10.8 vs. 11.9 ± 7.9 μm), as well as the absolute maximum tissue saturation index (TSI, 62.0 ± 8.3 vs. 59.3 ± 8.1%) than legs, respectively (p < 0.001), demonstrating a greater capacity for oxygen extraction. Further, there were greater changes in tissue blood volume [tHb] during BFR only compared to all other conditions (p < 0.01 for all).
The combination of BFR and/or hypoxia led to increased changes in [HHb] and [tHb] likely due to greater vascular resistance, to which arms were more responsive than legs.
KeywordsOcclusion BFR Perfusion pressure Blood volume Altitude
American College of Sports Medicine
Blood flow restriction
Respiratory exchange ratio
Rate of perceived exertion
Repeated sprint ability test to exhaustion
Percent decrement in RST
Highest mean power of either of the first two sprints in RST
Pulse oxygen saturation
Tissue saturation index
Maximal oxygen uptake
Delta change over time
The authors would like to thank all participants for their efforts, patience, and cooperation with this study.
SJW, FB, and GPM conceived and designed research. SJW conducted experiments. SJW and FB analyzed data. SJW, FB, and GPM wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- American College of Sports Medicine (2014) ACSM's guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
- Pernow B, Saltin B, Wahren J, Cronestrand R, Ekestroom S (1975) Leg blood flow and muscle metabolism in occlusive arterial disease of the leg before and after reconstructive surgery. Clin Sci Mol Med 49:265–275Google Scholar
- Physiology CSfE (2002) PAR-Q & YOUGoogle Scholar
- Pinheiro J. BD, DebRoy S., Sarkar D., and R Core Team (2017) nlme: Linear and Nonlinear Mixed Effects Models. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=nlme. Accessed Aug 2017