Effects of apnoea training on aerobic and anaerobic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Francisco DeAsís-Fernández*, Daniel Sereno, Tony Turner, Fernando Gonzalez-Mohino, Jose Maria Gonzalez Rave

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Trained breath-hold divers have shown physiological adaptations that might improve athletes’ aerobic and anaerobic performance.
Objective This study aimed to systematically review the scientific literature and perform a meta-analysis to assess the effects of voluntary apnoea training on markers of anaerobic and aerobic performance, such as blood lactate and VO2max.
Methods: A literature search on 3 databases (Web of Science, PubMed and SCOPUS) was conducted in March 2022. The inclusion criteria were (1) peer-reviewed journal publication; (2) clinical trials; (3) healthy humans; (4) effects of apnoea training; (5) variables included markers of aerobic or anaerobic performance, such as lactate and VO2max.
Results: 545 manuscripts were identified following database examination. Only 7 studies met the inclusion criteria and were, therefore, included in the meta-analysis. 126 participants were allocated to either voluntary apnoea training (ApT; n = 64) or normal breathing (NB; n = 63). Meta-analysis on the included studies demonstrated that ApT increased the peak blood lactate concentration more than NB (MD = 1.89 mmol*L-1 [95% CI 1.05, 2.73], z = 4.40, p < 0.0001). In contrast, there were no statistically significant effects of ApT on VO2max (MD = 0.89 ml*kg-1*min-1 [95% CI -1.23, 3.01], z = 0.82, p = 0.41).
Conclusions: ApT might be an alternative strategy to enhace anaerobic performance associated with increased maximum blood lactate; however, we did not find evidence of ApT effects on physiological aerobic markers, such as VO2max
Original languageEnglish
Article number964144
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalFrontiers in physiology
Early online date27 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • VO max
  • breath-hold
  • endurance
  • lactate
  • sports performance


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