Heart rate and post exercise blood pressure responses to breathing methods during high intensity weight lifting
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Introduction: The Valsalva manoeuvre is defined at a prolonged expiration of breath against a closed glottis to the end of increasing intra-thoracic and intra-abdominal pressure. It is used during high intensity weight lifting to increase effort production whilst lifting near maximal and maximal loads by providing increased spinal stability. It has several applications outside of resistance exercise, for example scuba-divers use the Valsalva manoeuvre to equalise pressure at depth whilst musicians utilise the manoeuvre during the blowing of wind instruments. It has been theorised that the execution of the Valsalva manoeuvre during near maximal bouts of resistance exercise may increase blood pressure to dangerously high levels. This study will explore the hypothesis that adopting differing breathing techniques may provide an effective intervention against the dangerous increases that accompany a VM during high intensity resistance exercise. The rationale behind finding out if these breathing methods provide a safer alternative than a VM during resistance exercise is that it has been shown, large increases in blood pressure have been associated with many cardiovascular diseases and cerebral injuries. Methods: 10 normotensive, non-smoking, healthy young men (mean age 21 ± 1) attended two separate visits to a local gym. Visit 1 consisted of a familiarisation session where the participants’ 1RM was tested on a supine bench press. Next began the training of the 3 breathing methods that were to be tested, exhalation during the concentric phase of the lift (BM1), Inhalation during the concentric phase of the lift (BM2) and the Valsalva manoeuvre. Visit 2 consisted of the actual data collection during the maximal resistance exercise bout. The variables that were to be measured was Heart rate during exercise and post exercise systolic and diastolic blood pressure for 10 minutes in 1 minute intervals. Results: During the maximal exercise bout HR increased more for BM1 and BM2 than for the VM. A significant increase in HR was observed between BM1/BM2 and the VM (P=0.000). However there was no significand difference in HR between BM1 and BM2 (P=1.000). After the maximal exercise bout post exercise SBP displayed a far greater increase for the VM than for either BM1 or BM2. The VM displayed a significant increase in SBP over BM1 and BM2 (P=0.000), BM2 also displayed a significant increase in SBP over BM1 (P=0.001). After the maximal exercise bout post exercise DBP displayed a greater ix increase for the VM than for BM1 but not for BM2. The VM displayed a significant increase in DBP over BM1 (P=0.00) however did not display a significant increase over BM2 (P=0.093). There was also no significant difference in DBP between BM1 and BM2 (P=0.079). The average increases in heart rate from rest (65 bpm) during exercise were 62 bpm, 61 bpm and 39 bpm for BM1, BM2 and the VM respectively. The average differences in blood pressure (systolic/diastolic) from rest (132/83 mmHg) were 7/-10 mmHg, 15/-5 mmHg and 34/1 mmHg for BM1, BM2 and the VM respectively Conclusion: The results from this study confirmed that during a bout of maximal resistance exercise the VM raises BP dramatically, specifically with regards to SBP. The study also shows that adopting different breathing methods during maximal resistance exercise provides an effective intervention against these dangerous increases in BP that could lead to severe injury. The results from this study did reveal however that the VM also elicits a far greater decrease in HR during a maximal bout of resistance exercise, suggesting that the intra-thoracic pressures generated during the execution of a VM when performing a 1RM bench press may provide a type of “buffer” against HR increase.
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