From the lab (#1) - Interval training
In this post we examine a couple of research articles, from the lab, that are focussed on cycling. In these regular articles we look at the sports science/sports performance research that is being conducted on and with cyclists all aimed at improving their performance on the bike. Please make comment or ask questions relating to the topic or if you would like to see this blog cover a range of topics. I hope that you will enjoy interacting with this material.
Title: Effects of High-Intensity Training on Physiological and Hormonal Adaptions in Well-Trained Cyclists*
The paper examines the specific physiological adapations (changes) and hormonal responses during every 4th week of a 12-week high intensity training (HIT) program that compared three different training intervention. Sixty-three well trained cyclists completed two to three HIT sessions per week in addition to low intensity training of their own choice during the intervention. Group one (call INCREASING group) completed 4 x 16min in weeks 1-4, 4 x 8min in weeks 4-8 and 4 x 4min in weeks 9-12. Group two (call DECREASING group) completed the sessions in an opposite order as the INCREASING group and the final group (called MIXED) participated in mixed HIT sessions during each of the weeks.
Weekly training volume did not change significantly during the 3 differing cycles and were 9.8hrs/wk, 10 hrs/wk and 10.7 hrs/wk respectively.
Sports scientists took a range of measures during each of the 3 testing weeks (weeks 4, 8, 12) including:
1. Power output at 4 millimoles of blood lactate (4 millimoles is considered the breakpoint where blood lactate begins to increase as a result of increased exercise intensity);
2. VO2 peak (measure of maximal oxygen consumption); and,
3. Peak Power Output at VO2max.
So what did the scientists find?
Well not surprisingly all intervention groups improved their Power output at 4mmol, VO2 peak and Peak Power during the first four weeks of the training program intervention. But the rub is this....in these subjects for this study accumulating 2-3hrs/week performing 4 x 16min work bouts at best effort induces greater adaptions in Power output at 4mmol and VO2peak than accumulating 1hr/wk performing best efforts as 4 x 4min during early intervention period.
Some considerations for athletes
Based on these findings it would make sense that athletes integrate some HIT training in the vicinity of 4 x 16mins during early blocks of specific aerobic performance, in particular during early to mid build phases of your program.
In many ways these results also highlight the differences between the energy system requirements that are used during these different interval training sessions. Most athletes were able to comfortably complete their 4 x 16min effort below their lactate threshold therefore in their aerobic zone and therefore developing their aerobic base, whereas when subjects completed their 4 x 4min efforts, 15-20% of these sessions were completed above their 4mmol power output and were therefore utilising higher end aerobic system or in fact anaerobic systems (no oxygen present in their systems).
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* Sylta, O., Tonneson, E., Sandbakk, O., Hammarstrom, D., Danielsen, J., Skovereng, K., Ronnestad, B., and Seiler, S. (2017) Effects of High-Intensity Training on Physiological and Hormonal Adaptions in Well-Trained Cyclists. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 49(6):1137-1146.