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Exhaustive Intermittent Cycling Preferentially Decreases Explosive Over Maximal Voluntary Torque in the Knee Extensors, With No Difference Between Normoxia and Moderate to Severe Hypoxia

Olivier Girard and Sébastien Racinais

Purpose: To compare the effects of graded hypoxia during exhaustive intermittent cycling on subsequent rapid and maximal torque-production capacity. Methods: Fifteen well-trained cyclists repeated intermittent cycling bouts (15 s at 30% of anaerobic power reserve; rest = 45 s) until exhaustion at sea level (FiO2 ∼0.21/end-exercise arterial oxygen saturation ∼96%), moderate hypoxia (FiO2 ∼0.16/∼90%), and severe hypoxia (FiO2 ∼0.12/∼79%). Rapid (rate of torque development [RTD]) and maximal isometric torque-production capacities of the knee extensors were assessed at baseline (visit 1) and exhaustion (visits 2–4). Results: Exercise capacity decreased with hypoxia severity (39 [30], 22 [13], and 13 [6] cycle efforts in sea level, moderate hypoxia, and severe hypoxia, respectively; P = .002). Changes in maximal-voluntary-contraction torque between baseline and postexercise in all conditions were not statistically significant (pooled values: −2.6% [5.7%]; P = .162). Peak RTD measured postexercise was reduced below baseline in all conditions (–21.5% [5.1%]; P ≤ .015). Compared with baseline, absolute RTD values were lower at 0- to 30-millisecond (–35.1% [5.3%], P ≤ .020), 0- to 50-millisecond (–40.0% [3.9%], P ≤ .002), 0- to 100-millisecond (–30.7% [3.7%], P ≤ .001), and 0- to 200-millisecond (–18.1% [2.4%], P ≤ .004) time intervals in all conditions. Conclusions: Exhaustive intermittent cycling induces substantial yet comparable impairments in RTD of knee extensors between normoxia and moderate to severe hypoxia.

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Quantifying Training Demands of a 2-Week In-Season Squash Microcycle

Carl James, Aishwar Dhawan, Timothy Jones, and Olivier Girard

Purpose: To quantify the demands of specific on- and off-court sessions, using internal and external training load metrics, in elite squash. Methods: A total of 15 professional squash players (11 males and 4 females) wore a 100-Hz triaxial accelerometer/global positioning system unit and heart rate monitor during on-court “Group,” “Feeding,” “Ghosting,” “Matchplay,” and off-court “Conditioning” sessions across a 2-week in-season microcycle. Comparisons of absolute training load (total values) and relative intensity (per minute) were made between sessions for internal (session rating of perceived exertion, differential rating of perceived exertion, TRIMP) and external (Playerload, very high–intensity movements [>3.5 m·s−2]) metrics. Results: The Group sessions were the longest (79 [12] min), followed by Feeding (55 [15] min), Matchplay (46 [17] min), Conditioning (37 [9] min), and Ghosting (35 [6] min). Time >90% maximum heart rate was the lowest during Feeding (vs all others P < .05) but other sessions were not different (all P > .05). Relative Playerload during Conditioning (14.3 [3.3] arbitrary unit [a.u.] per min, all P < .05) was higher than Ghosting (7.5 [1.2] a.u./min) and Matchplay (6.9 [1.5] a.u./min), with no difference between these 2 sessions (P ≥ .999). Conditioning produced the highest Playerloads (519 [153] a.u., all P < .001), with the highest on-court Playerloads from Group (450 [94] a.u., all P < .001). The highest session rating of perceived exertion (all P < .001), Edward’s TRIMP (all P < .001), and TEAM-TRIMP (all P < .019) occurred during the Group sessions. Conclusions: Squash Matchplay does not systematically produce the highest training intensities and loads. Group sessions provide the highest training loads for many internal and external parameters and, therefore, play a central role within the training process. These findings facilitate planning or adjustment of intensity, volume, and frequency of sessions to achieve desirable physical outcomes.

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Performance, Metabolic, and Neuromuscular Consequences of Repeated Wingates in Hypoxia and Normoxia: A Pilot Study

Naoya Takei, Jacky Soo, Hideo Hatta, and Olivier Girard

Background : Compared with normoxia, repeated short (5–10 s) sprints (>10 efforts) with incomplete recovery (≤30 s) in hypoxia likely cause substantial performance reduction accompanied by larger metabolic disturbances and magnitude of neuromuscular fatigue. However, the effects of hypoxia on performance of repeated long (30 s) “all-out” efforts with near complete recovery (4.5 min) and resulting metabolic and neuromuscular adjustments remain unclear. Purpose : The intention was to compare acute performance, metabolic, and neuromuscular responses across repeated Wingates between hypoxia and normoxia. Methods : On separate visits, 6 male participants performed 4 × 30-second Wingate efforts with 4.5-minute recovery in either hypoxia (fraction of inspired oxygen: 0.145) or normoxia. Responses to exercise (muscle and arterial oxygenation trends, heart rate, and blood lactate concentration) and the integrity of neuromuscular function in the knee extensors were assessed for each exercise bout. Results : Mean (P = .80) and peak (P = .92) power outputs, muscle oxygenation (P = .88), blood lactate concentration (P = .72), and perceptual responses (all Ps > .05) were not different between conditions. Arterial oxygen saturation was significantly lower, and heart rate higher, in hypoxia versus normoxia (P < .001). Maximal voluntary contraction force and peripheral fatigue indices (peak twitch force and doublets at low and high frequencies) decreased across efforts (all Ps < .001) irrespective of conditions (all Ps > .05). Conclusion : Despite heightened arterial hypoxemia and cardiovascular solicitation, hypoxic exposure during 4 repeated 30-second Wingate efforts had no effect on performance and accompanying metabolic and neuromuscular adjustments.

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No Influence of Acute Moderate Normobaric Hypoxia on Performance and Blood Lactate Concentration Responses to Repeated Wingates

Naoya Takei, Katsuyuki Kakinoki, Olivier Girard, and Hideo Hatta

Background: Training in hypoxia versus normoxia often induces larger physiological adaptations, while this does not always translate into additional performance benefits. A possible explanation is a reduced oxygen flux, negatively affecting training intensity and/or volume (decreasing training stimulus). Repeated Wingates (RW) in normoxia is an efficient training strategy for improving both physiological parameters and exercise capacity. However, it remains unclear whether the addition of hypoxia has a detrimental effect on RW performance. Purpose: To test the hypothesis that acute moderate hypoxia exposure has no detrimental effect on RW, while both metabolic and perceptual responses would be slightly higher. Methods: On separate days, 7 male university sprinters performed 3 × 30-s Wingate efforts with 4.5-min passive recovery in either hypoxia (FiO2: 0.145) or normoxia (FiO2: 0.209). Arterial oxygen saturation was assessed before the first Wingate effort, while blood lactate concentration and ratings of perceived exertion were measured after each bout. Results: Mean (P = .92) and peak (P = .63) power outputs, total work (P = .98), and the percentage decrement score (P = .25) were similar between conditions. Arterial oxygen saturation was significantly lower in hypoxia versus normoxia (92.0% [2.8%] vs 98.1% [0.4%], P < .01), whereas blood lactate concentration (P = .78) and ratings of perceived exertion (P = .51) did not differ between conditions. Conclusion: In sprinters, acute exposure to moderate hypoxia had no detrimental effect on RW performance and associated metabolic and perceptual responses.

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Psychophysiological Responses to Repeated-Sprint Training in Normobaric Hypoxia and Normoxia

Franck Brocherie, Grégoire P. Millet, and Olivier Girard


To compare psychophysiological responses to 6 repeated-sprint sessions in normobaric hypoxia (RSH) and normoxia (RSN) in team-sport athletes during a 2-wk “live high–train low” training camp.


While residing under normobaric hypoxia (≥14 h/d, FiO2 14.5–14.2%), 23 lowland elite field hockey players performed, in addition to their usual training, 6 sessions (4 × 5 × 5-s maximal sprints, 25-s passive recovery, 5 min rest) under either RSH (FiO2 ~14.5%) or RSN (FiO2 21%). Sprint 1 and 5 times, physiological strain (heart rate [HR], arterial oxyhemoglobin saturation [SpO2]), and perceptual responses (overall peripheral discomfort, difficulty breathing, and lower-limb discomfort) were monitored.


During the 1st session, HR increased across sets (P < .001) independently of the conditions, while SpO2 was globally lower (P < .001) for RSH (averaged value: 91.9% ± 1.2%) vs RSN (96.9% ± 0.6%). Thereafter, SpO2 and HR remained similar across sessions for each condition. While 1st-sprint time remained similar, last-sprint time and fatigue index significantly decreased across sets (P < .01) and sessions (P < .05) but not between conditions. Ratings of overall perceived discomfort, difficulty breathing, and lower-limb discomfort were higher (P < .05) in RSH vs RSN at the 1st session. During subsequent sessions, values for overall perceived discomfort (time [P < .001] and condition [P < .05] effects), difficulty breathing (time effect; P < .001), and lower-limb discomfort (condition [P < .001] and interaction [P < .05] effects) decreased to a larger extent in RSH vs RSN.


Despite higher hypoxia-induced physiological and perceptual strain during the 1st session, perceptual responses improved thereafter in RSH so as not to differ from RSN. This indicates an effective acclimation and tolerance to this innovative training.

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Neuromechanical Consequences of Eccentric Load Reduction During the Performance of Weighted Jump Squats

Qian Zhang, Liang Zhang, Bing Yan, and Olivier Girard

Purpose: To quantify the acute effects of a spectrum of eccentric load reductions on neuromechanical adjustments during the performance of weighted jump squats (WJSs). Methods: On separate days, 16 well-trained participants performed WJS trials with various eccentric load reductions (0% [body mass only], 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% [standard WJS] of concentric load) with a mechanical braking unit, while concentric load was set at 30% of peak isometric squat force in all trials. A force platform and a motion-capture system were used to assess neuromuscular performance. Results: Peak power output was 6.2% (4.7%) higher when load was reduced by 50% versus 0% (55.4 [7.8] vs 51.9 [7.6] W/kg; P = .001). Compared with no braking (0.326 [0.059] m), jump height was ∼13% to 17% higher for all eccentric load reduction conditions (all P < .001). Vertical ground reaction forces were progressively lower for 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% loading conditions (–22.1% [14.6%], –32.3% [10.8%], –42.0% [13.2%], and –46.1% [14.7%]; all P ≤ .001) in reference to body mass only. Conclusion: Eccentric load reduction is advantageous compared with traditional isoinertial loading for improving both jump height and peak power output during the concentric portion of maximal-effort WJS. This practice also decreases mechanical constraints in the lower extremities, which may become beneficial for load-compromised individuals.

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A Comparison of Match Load Between Padel and Singles and Doubles Tennis

Cameron Armstrong, Machar Reid, Callum Beale, and Olivier Girard

Purpose: To quantify match load associated with padel and compare responses with both singles and doubles tennis. Methods: On separate days, 12 participants (7 men and 5 women) played 60-minute padel (PADEL), singles tennis (SINGLES), and doubles tennis (DOUBLES) simulated games. Participants wore a 10-Hz GPS/100-Hz triaxial accelerometer unit and heart-rate monitor. Exercise-related sensations and blood lactate concentration were monitored every 20 minutes. Match-play characteristics (temporal structure) and shot selection were derived from video analysis. Vertical jump ability was assessed before and after each game. Results: Heart rate, exercise-related sensations (overall perceived exertion and limb discomfort), and physical load (total distance covered, PlayerLoad, acceleration density and load) for SINGLES were higher compared with DOUBLES and PADEL (all P ≤ .05). Blood lactate concentrations remained low (1–2 mmol·L−1) and did not differ between conditions. Effective playing time (P < .001) was lower in SINGLES and DOUBLES compared with PADEL. The number of forehands (P = .002) and backhands (P < .001) was greater for SINGLES than for DOUBLES and PADEL. The number of volleys/smashes and lobs (P < .05) was greater for PADEL compared with SINGLES and DOUBLES. Performance for squat, countermovement, and multirebound jumps was similarly reduced below baseline after match play (P < .05), independent of condition. Conclusion: Padel imposes a unique match load on players that is different from singles tennis and more closely resembles that of doubles tennis. Cardiovascular stimulation and physical load are highest in singles tennis, while padel sees players hit a larger variety of shots with higher effective playing percentages.

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Intrasession and Intersession Reliability of Running Mechanics During Treadmill Sprints

Olivier Girard, Franck Brocherie, Jean-Benoit Morin, and Grégoire P. Millet


To determine the intrasession and intersession (ie, within- and between-days) reliability in treadmill sprinting-performance outcomes and associated running mechanics.


After familiarization, 13 male recreational sportsmen (team- and racket-sport background) performed three 5-s sprints on an instrumented treadmill with 2 min recovery on 3 different days, 5–7 d apart. Intrasession (comparison of the 3 sprints of the first session) and intersession (comparison of the average of the 3 sprints across days) reliability of performance, kinetics, kinematics, and spring-mass variables were assessed by intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and coefficients of variation (CV%).


Intrasession reliability was high (ICC > .94 and CV < 8%). Intersession reliability was good for performance indices (.83 < ICC < .89 and CV < 10%, yet with larger variability for mean velocity than for distance covered or propulsive power) and kinetic parameters (ICC > .94 and CV < 5%, yet with larger variability for mean horizontal forces than for mean vertical forces) and ranged from good to high for all kinematic (.88 < ICC < .95 and CV ≤ 3.5%) and spring-mass variables (.86 < ICC < .99 and CV ≤ 6.5%). Compared with intrasession, minimal detectable differences were on average twice larger for intersession designs, except for sprint kinetics.


Instrumented treadmill sprint offers a reliable method of assessing running mechanics during single sprints either within the same session or between days.

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“Living High-Training Low” for Olympic Medal Performance: What Have We Learned 25 Years After Implementation?

Olivier Girard, Benjamin D. Levine, Robert F. Chapman, and Randall Wilber

Background: Altitude training is often regarded as an indispensable tool for the success of elite endurance athletes. Historically, altitude training emerged as a key strategy to prepare for the 1968 Olympics, held at 2300 m in Mexico City, and was limited to the “Live High-Train High” method for endurance athletes aiming for performance gains through improved oxygen transport. This “classical” intervention was modified in 1997 by the “Live High-Train Low” (LHTL) model wherein athletes supplemented acclimatization to chronic hypoxia with high-intensity training at low altitude. Purpose: This review discusses important considerations for successful implementation of LHTL camps in elite athletes based on experiences, both published and unpublished, of the authors. Approach : The originality of our approach is to discuss 10 key “lessons learned,” since the seminal work by Levine and Stray-Gundersen was published in 1997, and focusing on (1) optimal dose, (2) individual responses, (3) iron status, (4) training-load monitoring, (5) wellness and well-being monitoring, (6) timing of the intervention, (7) use of natural versus simulated hypoxia, (8) robustness of adaptative mechanisms versus performance benefits, (9) application for a broad range of athletes, and (10) combination of methods. Successful LHTL strategies implemented by Team USA athletes for podium performance at Olympic Games and/or World Championships are presented. Conclusions : The evolution of the LHTL model represents an essential framework for sport science, in which field-driven questions about performance led to critical scientific investigation and subsequent practical implementation of a unique approach to altitude training.

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Effects of Active Preconditioning With Local and Systemic Hypoxia on Submaximal Cycling

Olivier Girard, Romain Leuenberger, Sarah J. Willis, Fabio Borrani, and Grégoire P. Millet

Purpose : The authors compared the effects of active preconditioning with local and systemic hypoxia during submaximal cycling. Methods : On separate visits, 14 active participants completed 4 trials. Each visit was composed of 1 preconditioning phase followed, after 40 minutes of rest, by 3 × 6-minute cycling bouts (intensity = 85% of critical power; rest = 6 min). The preconditioning phase consisted of 4 × 5-minute cycling bouts at 1.5 W·kg−1 (rest = 5 min) in 4 conditions: control (no occlusion and normoxia), blood flow restriction (60% of total occlusion), HYP (systemic hypoxia; inspired fraction of oxygen = 13.6%), and blood flow restriction + HYP (local and systemic hypoxia combined). Results : During the preconditioning phase, there were main effects of both systemic (all P < .014) and local hypoxia (all P ≤ .001) on heart rate, arterial oxygen saturation, leg discomfort, difficulty of breathing, and blood lactate concentration. Cardiorespiratory variables, gross efficiency, energy cost, and energy expenditure during the last minute of 6-minute cycling bouts did not differ between conditions (all P > .105). Conclusion : Local and systemic hypoxic stimuli, or a combination of both, during active preconditioning did not improve physiological responses such as cycling efficiency during subsequent submaximal cycling.