Faude, O., Schnittker, R., Müller, F., Schulte-Zurhausen, R., & Meyer, T. (2009). Similar effects of high-intensity intervals and continuous endurance runs during the preparation period in high level football. A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

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This study analyzed performance effects of continuous endurance runs versus high-intensity intervals during the preparation period in five high level youth football teams. Two teams (N = 22) were assigned to high-intensity training and three teams (N = 40) to continuous endurance training. Endurance training was conducted on average two times a week over a five-week preparation period. High-intensity training consisted of 2 x 12-15 repetitions of 15-30 second high-intensity runs (125-140% of maximal lactate steady state velocity). Continuous endurance runs consisted of 30-60 minutes at a pace of 80-95% maximum lactate steady state. Before and after the training period, several performance tests were conducted: a multi-stage exercise test to determine maximum lactate steady state, a straight sprint test (5 x 30 m), an agility test (20 m course involving six turns), and vertical jump tests (drop jump, countermovement jump).

Both groups significantly improved maximum lactate steady state as well as maximal velocity during the multi-stage exercise test. Straight sprint times did not change, but agility was slightly improved. Vertical jumping height significantly decreased. Drop jump contact time did not change No significant group interactions were observed.

Implication. Continuous endurance runs as well as high intensity intervals produce similar effects in high level youth football players. [The finding of this study is contrary to most investigations on this topic. It should be noted that it occurred as pre-season training. It is possible in low-fitness states, that any form of training could produce improvements. It might be that differences in training effects only occur once a good level of general fitness has been achieved.]

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