Sandbakk, O., Welde, B., & Holmberg, H. C. (2009). Endurance training and sprint performance in elite junior cross-country skiers. 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 investigated the importance of aerobic capacity in sprint performance. The effects of a major change in training stimuli due to increased emphasis on high-speed moderate intensive endurance training upon sprint performance, maximal O2-uptake (VO2max) and O2-uptake at the ventilatory threshold (VO2VT) were also examined. Elite junior cross-country skiers (M = 10; F = 5) participated in the study. After an eight-week baseline training period, Ss performed a freestyle 1.5 km sprint time-trial on roller skis. In addition, VO2max and VO2VT were measured in the laboratory. An eight-week intervention training period followed baseline. Ss were split into a control group (N = 8) and an intervention group (N = 7). The intervention group increased their training at intensities near the ventilatory threshold, emphasizing level and mixed terrain in order to induce more high-speed training. The control group continued their traditional polarized training model with 70-80% slow distance training and the remainder as high-intensity interval training. After the intervention training period, the sprint time-trial and tests on VO2max and VO2VT were performed again.

Close relationships were found between VO2max (r = -0.79) and VO2VT (r = -0.67) and sprint performance. The intervention group significantly improved sprint performance by ~4.5, VO2max by ~3.9, and VO2VT by ~9.9 from pre- to post-test. No significant changes were found in the control group.

Implication. The authors suggest an association between sprint performance and aerobic capacity. However, they recognize that the improvements in the intervention group were potentially related to the major change in training stimuli [a greater amount of faster work] and simply demonstrate the effects of training at increased, although still moderate intensities, as well as the importance of training periodization. It is suggested that much of the improvements were due to the greater speed of training demands rather than effects of the exercise intensity.

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