The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of training with intermittent breath holding (IBH) on respiratory parameters, arterial oxygen saturation (SpO2) and performance. Twenty-eight fin-swimming athletes were randomly divided into two groups and followed the same training for 16 weeks. About 40% of the distance of each session was performed with self-selected breathing frequency (SBF group) or IBH (IBH group). Performance time of 50 and 400 m at maximum intensity was recorded and forced expired volume in 1 s (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), peak expiratory flow (PEF) and SpO2 were measured before and after the 50 m test at baseline and post-training. Posttraining, the respiratory parameters were increased in the IBH but remained unchanged in the SBF group (FEV1: 17 ±15% vs. -1 ±11%; FVC: 22 ±13% vs. 1 ±10%; PEF: 9 ±14% vs. -4 ±15%; p<0.05). Pre compared to post-training SpO2 was unchanged at baseline and decreased post-training following the 50 m test in both groups (p<0.05). The reduction was higher in the IBH compared to the SBF group (p<0.05). Performance in the 50 and 400 m tests improved in both groups, however, the improvement was greater in the IBH compared to the SBF group in both 50 and 400 m tests (p<0.05). The use of IBH is likely to enhance the load on the respiratory muscles, thus, contributing to improvement of the respiratory parameters. Decreased SpO2 after IBH is likely due to adaptation to hypoventilation. IBH favours performance improvement at 50 and 400 m fin-swimming.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.