Physiological and perceptual responses to sprint interval exercise using arm versus leg cycling ergometry



Astorino TA, Pierce S, Piva MB, Metcalfe RS & Vollaard NBJ (2024) Physiological and perceptual responses to sprint interval exercise using arm versus leg cycling ergometry. Sports Medicine and Health Science.

Increases in power output and maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) occur in response to sprint interval exercise (SIE), but common use of “all-out” intensities presents a barrier for many adults. Furthermore, lower-body SIE is not feasible for all adults. We compared physiological and perceptual responses to supramaximal, but “non-all-out” SIE between leg and arm cycling exercise. Twenty-four active adults (mean ± SD age: [25 ± 7] y; cycling VO2max: [39 ± 7] mL·kg−1·min−1) performed incremental exercise using leg (LCE) and arm cycle ergometry (ACE) to determine VO2max and maximal work capacity (Wmax). Subsequently, they performed four 20 s (s) bouts of SIE at 130 % Wmax on the LCE or ACE at cadence = 120–130 rev/min, with 2 min (min) recovery between intervals. Gas exchange data, heart rate (HR), blood lactate concentration (BLa), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and affective valence were acquired. Data showed significantly lower (p < 0.001) absolute mean ([1.24 ± 0.31] L·min−1 vs. [1.59 ± 0.34] L·min−1; d = 1.08) and peak VO2 ([1.79 ± 0.48] L·min−1 vs. [2.10 ± 0.44] L·min−1; d = 0.70) with ACE versus LCE. However, ACE elicited significantly higher (p < 0.001) relative mean ([62 % ± 9 %] VO2max vs. [57 % ± 7 %] VO2max, d = 0.63) and peak VO2 ([88 % ± 10 %] VO2max vs. [75 % ± 10 %] VO2max, d = 1.33). Post-exercise BLa was significantly higher ([7.0 ± 1.7] mM vs. [5.7 ± 1.5] mM, p = 0.024, d = 0.83) for LCE versus ACE. There was no significant effect of modality on RPE or affective valence (p > 0.42), and lowest affective valence recorded (2.0 ± 1.8) was considered “good to fairly good”. Data show that non “all-out” ACE elicits lower absolute but higher relative HR and VO2 compared to LCE. Less aversive perceptual responses could make this non-all-out modality feasible for inactive adults.

High intensity interval training; Upper body exercise; Peak power output; Oxygen uptake; Blood lactate concentration

Sports Medicine and Health Science

StatusIn Press
Publication date online28/02/2024
Date accepted by journal26/01/2024
PublisherElsevier BV

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Dr Niels Vollaard

Dr Niels Vollaard

Lecturer in Health and Exercise Science, Sport

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