Haegele, M., Zinner, C., Wahl, P., Sperlich, B., & Mester, J. (2009). Active or passive The influence of two different rest protocols on power output, lactate, and pH time-course and peak oxygen uptake during high intensity 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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"During past years much scientific effort has been undertaken to observe the effects of high intensity training (HIT) on endurance performance. Although many studies used varying intensities during the exercise bouts, much less data exists describing how the recovery periods between the intense bouts should be realized. To answer this question, the role of lactate and hence pH has to be considered, since the accumulating lactate during passive recovery is still often considered as major parameter causing muscle fatigue. Latest scientific research reports by contrast that lactate acts as energy reservoir and signal molecule."

This study compared the effects of two different rest protocols on power output and physiological parameters. Male endurance athletes (N = 12) completed two testing sessions on a cycle ergometer. Each session consisted of a 10-minute warm-up at 2 Watt/kg followed by 4 x 30 seconds of maximal sprints. The 10-minute recovery periods between the sprints were either active (cycling at 1.5 Watt/kg) or completely passive. Peak Power and Mean Power were measured for each sprint. During the recovery intervals, lactate concentrations were taken at 0, 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 minutes. Furthermore, pH was measured at 2, 6, and 9 minutes, while oxygen uptake (VO2peak) was observed during the whole training session.

The difference in mean power between the two recovery protocols reached statistical significance at the 3rd and 4th bout. Lactates were similar at 0, 1, 3, and 5 minutes after the first bout but the concentrations in active-recovery condition decreased significantly from 7 minutes on. pH differed significantly from 9 minutes after the second bout, showing higher values for the active recovery condition. There was no statistical difference for VO2peak during the bouts.

Implication. Active recovery sustained power output over four consecutive maximal bouts, implying that active recovery allows an athlete to perform more intense intervals in a row.

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