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Training the inspiratory muscles improves running performance when carrying a 25 kg thoracic load in a backpack

journal contribution
posted on 09.10.2015 by Mark Faghy, Peter I. Brown
Load carriage (LC) exercise in physically demanding occupations is typically characterised by periods of low-intensity steady-state exercise and short duration, high-intensity exercise while carrying an external mass in a backpack; this form of exercise is also known as LC exercise. This induces inspiratory muscle fatigue and reduces whole-body performance. Accordingly we investigated the effect of inspiratory muscle training (IMT, 50% maximal inspiratory muscle pressure (PImax) twice daily for six week) upon running time-trial performance with thoracic LC. Nineteen healthy males formed a pressure threshold IMT (n = 10) or placebo control group (PLA; n = 9) and performed 60 min LC exercise (6.5 km h–1) followed by a 2.4 km running time trial (LCTT) either side of a double-blind six week intervention. Prior to the intervention, PImax was reduced relative to baseline, post-LC and post-LCTT in both groups (pooled data: 13 ± 7% and 16 ± 8%, respectively, p < .05) and similar changes were observed post-PLA. Post-IMT only, resting PImax increased +31% (p < .05) and relative to pre-IMT was greater post-LC (+19%) and post-LCTT (+18%, p < .05), however, the relative reduction in PImax at each time point was unchanged (13 ± 11% and 17 ± 9%, respectively, p > .05). In IMT only, heart rate and perceptual responses were reduced post-LC (p < .05). Time-trial performance was unchanged post-PLA and improved 8 ± 4% after IMT (p < .05). In summary, when wearing a 25 kg backpack, IMT attenuated the cardiovascular and perceptual responses to steady-state exercise and improved high-intensity time-trial performance which we attribute in part to reduced relative work intensity of the inspiratory muscles due to improved inspiratory muscle strength. These findings have real-world implications for occupational contexts.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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European Journal of Sport Science




1 - 11 (10)


FAGHY, M.A. and BROWN, P.I., 2015. Training the inspiratory muscles improves running performance when carrying a 25 kg thoracic load in a backpack. European Journal of Sport Science. Published online: 14 Aug 2015. DOI:10.1080/17461391.2015.1071878


Taylor & Francis © 2015 European College of Sport Science


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