In healthy individuals at rest and while performing moderate-intensity exercise, systemic blood flow is distributed to tissues relative to their metabolic oxygen demands. During sustained high-intensity exercise, competition for oxygen delivery arises between locomotor and respiratory muscles, and the heightened metabolic work of breathing, therefore, contributes to limited skeletal muscle oxygenation and contractility. Intriguingly, this does not appear to be the case for intermittent-sprint work. This chapter presents new evidence, based on inspiratory muscle mechanical loading and hypoxic gas breathing, to support that the respiratory system of healthy men is capable of accommodating the oxygen needs of both locomotor and respiratory muscles when work is interspersed with short recovery periods. Only when moderate hypoxemia is induced, substantial oxygen competition arises in favour of the respiratory muscles. These findings extend our understanding of the relationship between mechanical and metabolic limits of varied exercise modes.
Part of the book: Respiratory Physiology