Interval training program optimization in highly trained endurance cyclists.

Laursen PB, Shing CM, Peake JM, Coombes JS, Jenkins DG.

Human Performance Laboratory, School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002 Nov;34(11):1801-7 PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of three different high-intensity interval training (HIT) regimens on endurance performance in highly trained endurance athletes. METHODS: Before, and after 2 and 4 wk of training, 38 cyclists and triathletes (mean +/- SD; age = 25 +/- 6 yr; mass = 75 +/- 7 kg; VO(2peak) = 64.5 +/- 5.2 mL x kg(-1) min(-1)) performed: 1) a progressive cycle test to measure peak oxygen consumption (VO(2peak)) and peak aerobic power output (PPO), 2) a time to exhaustion test (T(max)) at their VO(2peak) power output (P(max)), as well as 3) a 40-km time-trial (TT(40)). Subjects were matched and assigned to one of four training groups (G(2), N = 8, 8 x 60% T(max) at P(max), 1:2 work:recovery ratio; G(2), N = 9, 8 x 60% T(max) at P(max), recovery at 65% HR(max); G(3), N = 10, 12 x 30 s at 175% PPO, 4.5-min recovery; G(CON), N = 11). In addition to G(1), G(2), and G(3) performing HIT twice per week, all athletes maintained their regular low-intensity training throughout the experimental period. RESULTS: All HIT groups improved TT(40) performance (+4.4 to +5.8%) and PPO (+3.0 to +6.2%) significantly more than G(CON) (-0.9 to +1.1%; P < 0.05). Furthermore, G(1) (+5.4%) and G(2) (+8.1%) improved their VO(2peak) significantly more than G(CON) (+1.0%; P < 0.05). CONCLUSION: The present study has shown that when HIT incorporates P(max) as the interval intensity and 60% of T(max) as the interval duration, already highly trained cyclists can significantly improve their 40-km time trial performance. Moreover, the present data confirm prior research, in that repeated supramaximal HIT can significantly improve 40-km time trial performance.

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