Respiratory muscle fatigue has been demonstrated following short-term exercise to volitional fatigue, as well as following prolonged submaximal exercise. There is some suggestion that the respiratory muscles of 'athletic' individuals have superior strength and greater fatigue resistance but it is not known whether inspiratory muscle strength influences fatigueability of the inspiratory muscles. The present study examined this question in 24 moderately trained young men. Inspiratory muscle strength was measured at residual volume using a hand held Mouth Pressure Meter before and after an incremental, multistage shuttle run to volitional fatigue. Following the run, there was a significant fall in inspiratory mouth pressures (-10.5 +/- SD 8.2%; p < 0.001 Pre- vs Post Pipeak). The subjects with the weakest inspiratory muscles exhibited significantly greater fatigue than those with the strongest (-17.0 +/- SD 7.8% c.f. 6.8 +/- SD 4.4% for the 25th and 75th percentiles respectively p < 0.01). These data support existing evidence that the respiratory muscles fatigue following high intensity exercise. In addition, they provide new evidence that this phenomenon occurs in moderately trained young men and that the severity of the fatigue is related to the baseline strength of the inspiratory muscles.
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