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Fatigue And Exhaustion In Chronic Hypobaric Hypoxia: Influence Of Exercising Muscle Mass

B. Kayser, M. Narici, T. Binzoni, B. Grassi, P. Cerretelli

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Exhaustive dynamic exercise with large muscle groups in chronic hypobaric hypoxia may be limited by central (nervous) rather than peripheral (metabolic) fatigue. Six males [32 +/- 4 (SD) yr] at sea level (SL) and after 1-mo acclimatization at 5,050 m (HA) performed exhaustive dynamic forearm exercise at a constant absolute load, requiring regional maximum aerobic power at SL, and exhaustive cycle exercise at prevailing maximal O2 uptake (HA approximately equal to 80% SL). Exhaustion time (t(ex)), blood O2 saturation (SaO2), and heart rate (HR) were measured during each exercise bout. Before and after both arm and leg exercise, lactate concentration ([La]), PO2, PCO2, and pH were measured in arterialized blood samples. Integrated electromyogram activity (IEMG) and mean (MPF) and centroid (CPF) power frequencies of the EMG power spectrum during exercise were calculated for forearm flexors and vastus lateralis muscle. t(ex) for forearm exercise at the same absolute load was the same at SL and HA. Similar increases of IEMG (+214% at SL vs. +172% at HA) and decreases of CPF (-13% at SL vs. -16% at HA) and MPF (-22% at SL vs. -21% at HA) were observed. By contrast, at HA, for similar t(ex), leg exercise had to be performed at the same relative (i.e., prevailing maximal O2 uptake) but lower absolute load (approximately equal to 80% of SL).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)