Vogt, M., Breil, F., Weber, S., Weisskopf, R., Schlegel, C. H., & Hoppeler, H. (2009). Effects of block periodization of high-intensity interval training sessions on VO2max in subelite and elite athletes. A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

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According to the alternative concept of block periodization, this study tested the effects of 7-14 days of high-intensity interval training blocks in endurance trained athletes, elite cross-country skiers, and junior and world class alpine skiers.

Study 1: Endurance-trained Ss (N = 7) performed 18 sessions of 4 x 4-minutes of interval training on a cycle ergometer at 90-95% of HRmax in 14 days. Increased VO2max was positively correlated to training intensity (r = 0.81).

Study 2: During the summer preparation period, elite cross-country skiers (N = 9) performed three 5-day high-intensity interval training blocks separated by 4-week base training periods. Athletes were advised to execute all sessions at intensities above individual ventilatory threshold 2. VO2max increased by ~6.4%.

Study 3: Junior alpine skiers (M = 9; F = 4) performed 12 cycle ergometer and three obstacle-runs of 4 x 4-minute interval training sessions at 90-95% of HRmax over 11 days. VO2max and ski-specific field test scores increased in male skiers but not in female skiers.

Study 4: World class alpine skiers (N = 3) performed 8-10 interval training sessions at 90-95% of HRmax in 14 days, followed by a 14-day low-intensity (<75% HRmax) high-volume (700 km) training period. All athletes improved in VO2max and maximal power output.

Implication. With a mean duration of only 13 days, high-intensity interval block training is very efficient in improving VO2max and performance. It should be considered that this adaptive response might be influenced by differences in training intensity (study 1) as well as gender (study 3). Persistent fatigue after the intensity block may be an issue.

[There is a suggestion in this article along with a previous one that sprinters need shorter blocks of training than do more aerobically inclined athletes to attain peak performance.]

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