HIGH-INTENSITY TRAINING IS THE ONLY AVENUE FOR IMPROVING PHYSIOLOGICAL BASES OF PERFORMANCE IN HIGHLY-TRAINED ATHLETES

Helgerud, J. (2009). Aerobic high-intensity intervals improve maximal oxygen uptake more than moderate training. A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

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"It is important to know how different training intensities influence adaptations in physiological parameters when selecting the best training regimen for a specific sport or for improving fitness in the general community. Cardio-respiratory endurance has long been recognized as one of the fundamental components of physical fitness. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) is probably the single most important factor determining success in aerobic endurance sports. At maximal exercise, the majority of evidence points to a VO2max that is limited by oxygen supply, and cardiac output seems to be the major factor in determining oxygen delivery (Wagner, 2000).

Improvement in VO2max is directly related to the intensity, duration, and frequency of training. However, there are few studies where training protocols of different intensities have been matched for work and frequency. The aim of this presentation is to compare training methods of different intensities matched for energy consumption. Up to the level of maximum aerobic velocity, the intensity of training seems to determinate the training response. Intensity and volume of training are, thus, not interchangeable (Helgerud et al., 2007). The changes in VO2max correspond to changes in stroke volume of the heart, indicating a close link between the two.

While significant improvements in endurance performance and corresponding physiological markers are evident following submaximal endurance training in sedentary and recreationally active groups, an additional increase in submaximal training (i.e., volume) in highly trained individuals does not appear to further enhance either endurance performance or associated physiological variables (Laursen et al., 2005). . . .

Implication. It seems that, for athletes who are already trained, improvements in endurance performance can be achieved only through high-intensity interval training. Understanding and communicating these new developments in physiological research is probably the least of the problems in terms of changing existing training practices. The challenge is to ensure that this information is acted upon by coaches and athletes."

References

Helgerud, J., H°ydal, K., Wang, E., et al. (2007). Aerobic high-intensity intervals improve VO2max more than moderate training. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 39, 665-671.

Laursen, P. B., Shing, C. M., Peake, J. M., et al. (2005). Influence of high-intensity interval training on adaptations in well-trained cyclists. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19, 527-533.

Wagner, P. D. (2000). New ideas on limitations to VO2max. Exercise and Sport Science Review, 28, 10-14.

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