A sprint-trained, endurance-trained, and untrained group of cyclists were compared on a number of physiological measures.

The total capacities of the three energy systems in the body increase in very specific ways, depending upon the training stimuli that are experienced. Sprint training results in the development of significantly larger anaerobic energy resources than does endurance training. [The problem here is the definition of "sprint training." In the last Bulletin, Number 9, this was described, along with appropriate coach-understandable parameters, as training levels AN-1 and AN-2.]

Sprint training also increased the amount of energy released at 30 and 60 sec in a 5 min maximum ride. Not only did sprint-trained athletes use their anaerobic energy in higher amounts, they also took the longest time to access all their capacity. Specific sprint training will allow swimmers to take races out harder and faster without having to worry about falling off the pace too soon. If enough energy remains within the anaerobic system, the last part of a race will also be enhanced. On the other hand, endurance-trained swimmers will have to be cautious about how hard they go out in race. [This is perhaps a reason why some swimmers like to negatively-split a race. They have a super adapted aerobic system for endurance but an underdeveloped anaerobic system for race starts and finishes.]

The type of training given to swimmers will determine the percentage of maximum anaerobic energy delivery. Sprint training produces the highest level.

The larger the anaerobic energy reserves, the more effective the energy breakdown. This results in less accumulation of lactic acid. Sprint training produces this effect. In practical terms, it means that swimmers will be able to go faster while holding down their lactate values.

High anaerobic capacity is enabled by a well developed aerobic system. It facilitates recovery between repetitions of sprint training, recovery between training sessions, and supports a higher volume of sprint training. Thus, before embarking on sprint training, a solid endurance base is required.

Implication. It is not new to advocate that sprint training is a necessary ingredient for advancing performances. However, the way correct sprint training should be conducted has not been clearly delineated until recently. Specific programs need to be prepared to produce specific training effects. [In general, the following parameters need to be followed:

Sprint training adaptations detrain rapidly with inactivity or pure endurance training. Research produced elsewhere suggests that some pace-specific sprint training should be conducted daily when sprinting capacities need to be maintained. This should not worry a coach because anaerobic and aerobic capacities can be trained in the same training session. Both capacities can be developed independently. Programming joint development allows a greater variety of training stimuli to be included in each session.]

Return to Table of Contents for ICAR 1991-92 Report.