RESEARCH: studies reviewed this week - 11 May 2020 to 17 May 2020

TRAINING: Increasing Oxygen Uptake in Well-Trained Cross-Country Skiers During Work Intervals With a Fast Start

I always find it challenging to pace my hard intervals well especially the first few sessions during a focused block of work. Like almost everyone I think that I start too fast and fade towards the end especially in the first few. However, it seems that this may not be a bad strategy after all. This study suggests that it could improve VO2 Max greater than normal intervals by accumulating more time at VO2 Max.

[decreasing speed intervals] induced a higher mean VO2 and a lower rating of perceived exertion than [constant speed], despite similar mean speed, indicating that DEC can be a good strategy for interval sessions aiming to accumulate more time at a high percentage of VO2peak.

PRACTICAL TAKE-AWAY - pacing for VO2 Max intervals

  • Start your interval at 100% (for the first 60-90")
  • Continue through to the end of the interval at 85% (for the remaining 2-3.5')

SLEEP: Daytime naps can be used to supplement night-time sleep in athletes

This study was very simple and provided clearly useful results:

The total amount of sleep obtained in the three conditions was similar, i.e. 8.1 h (9 h + 0 h), 8.2 h (8 h + 1 h), and 8.0 h (7 h + 2 h). Daytime napping may be an effective strategy to supplement athletes' night-time sleep.

PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - add naps to your day if you can't get enough time to sleep at night.

TRAINING: Periodization Paradigms in the 21st Century: Evidence-Led or Tradition-Driven?

Planning training is often a complicated and daunting prospect. There are multiple different periodisation models and plans and there are many advocates for all different forms of planning (eg traditional vs reverse periodisation). This study aimed to understand how valid these different models are and how justifiable they are based on original scientific principles.

A concern with certain of these formative assumptions is that, although no longer scientifically justifiable, their shaping influence remains deeply embedded. In recent years substantial evidence has emerged demonstrating that training responses vary extensively, depending upon multiple underlying factors. Such findings challenge the appropriateness of applying generic methodologies, founded in overly simplistic rule-based decision making, to the planning problems posed by inherently complex biological systems.

In the end the recommendation is that:

The design of an efficient training process may be considered an exploratory, slowly evolving, meticulously documented, single-subject trial-and-error experiment.

PRACTICAL TAKE AWAY - training needs to be specific to the individual:

  • Understand the athlete, their experience, their goal, and their recent training.
  • Choose a training structure that incorporates all of these factors.
  • Adjust and edit the training structure so it is personalised and adapted to the characteristics of the athlete.
  • Record and evaluate the training and the approach as the athlete progresses through the plan.
  • Adjust training depending on the rate of response and adaptation rather than sticking to a plan.
  • Review and evaluate the performance post event to learn what worked for the individual athlete.

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