Sperlich, B., Haegele, M., Achtzehn, S., De Marees, M., & Mester, J. (2009). High intensity exercise in children: Results from different disciplines. A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

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"Recent studies of high-intensity training (HIT) in different endurance related sports with adult athletes document that HIT leads to similar or even the same physiology adaptations in respectively shorter exercise time compared to high-volume training (HVT). Current publications show positive effects on mitochondrial efficiency and lipid metabolism after HIT. Studies regarding HIT in children are rare."

This study compared HIT vs. HVT in two different disciplines with different metabolic demands on physiological and performance related parameters in children. Studies in swimming (N = 27, 9-12yrs) and soccer (N =19, 14 yrs) were conducted: In both studies, Ss were divided into two groups in order to compare the effects of HIT vs. HVT. In swimming, before and after the training intervention, maximal oxygen uptake and power output at 4 mmol/L lactate were assessed. All Ss performed a 2-km test, a 100-m test with logging of post-lactate kinetics as well as a 6 x 50 m interval-test in a 50 m pool. In soccer, before and after the mesocycle, maximal oxygen uptake was assessed. All Ss performed a 1-km run, as well as 20 m, 30 m and 40 m sprints. Jumping performance was measured in a drop and counter movement jump.

In swimming training, workload for HIT was set at ~93% of personal best time corresponding to average lactate values of 5.2 1.2 mmol/l Lactate. HVT was set at 83% of personal best time with average lactate values of 2.3 0.5 mmol/l Lactate. HIT training volume was set at 57 x 50m, 57 x 100m, 15 x 200m, and 3 x 300m intervals (total: 27.3 km, time per session 60 minutes). HVT training volume was: 89 x 100m, 62 x 200m, 53 x 300m, 19 x 400m, and 4 x 800m intervals (57.3km, time per session 90 minutes). No statistical differences were found for any physiological variable between the groups. Competition performance showed an increase of 14.3% for high-intensity training and 9% for high-volume training.

In soccer training, mean heart rate during HIT was 25.3% at 90-100% HRmax, 39.3% at 80-90% HRmax, 20.7% at 70-80% HRmax, 11.6% at 60-70% HRmax, and 3.2% <60% HRmax. For HVT heart rate was set at 0.8% at 90-100%, 27.0% at 80-90% HRmax, 42.5% at70-80 HRmax, 9.7% at 60-70 HRmax and 9.9% below 60% HRmax. Mean lactate values in HIT were 8.74 3.20 mmol/L and 2.17 1.09mmol/l. Oxygen uptake increased depending on recovery time.

Implication. High-volume training is not necessarily beneficial as a training strategy compared to high-intensity training in swimming and soccer in children aged 9-14 years. High-intensity training achieves similar effects compared to high-volume training but is achieved in less training time. Performance enhancing effects depend on time for recovery.

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