Recent evidence indicates that muscle ischemia and activation of the muscle chemoreflex are the principal stimuli to sympathetic nerve activity (SNA) during isometric exercise. We postulated that physical training would decrease muscle chemoreflex stimulation during isometric exercise and thereby attenuate the SNA response to exercise. We investigated the effects of 6 wk of unilateral handgrip endurance training on the responses to isometric handgrip (IHG: 33% of maximal voluntary contraction maintained for 2 min). In eight normal subjects the right arm underwent exercise training and the left arm sham training. We measured muscle SNA (peroneal nerve), heart rate, and blood pressure during IHG before vs. after endurance training (right arm) and sham training (left arm). Maximum work to fatigue (an index of training efficacy) was increased by 1,146% in the endurance-trained arm and by only 40% in the sham-trained arm. During isometric exercise of the right arm, SNA increased by 111 +/- 27% (SE) before training and by only 38 +/- 9% after training (P less than 0.05). Endurance training did not significantly affect the heart rate and blood pressure responses to IHG. We also measured the SNA response to 2 min of forearm ischemia after IHG in five subjects. Endurance training also attenuated the SNA response to postexercise forearm ischemia (P = 0.057). Sham training did not significantly affect the SNA responses to IHG or forearm ischemia. We conclude that endurance training decreases muscle chemoreflex stimulation during isometric exercise and thereby attenuates the sympathetic nerve response to IHG.
- Copyright © 1992 the American Physiological Society