Effects of Including Sprints in One Weekly Low-Intensity Training Session During the Transition Period of Elite Cyclists
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of including 30-s sprints in one weekly low-intensity training (LIT) session during a 3-week transition period in elite cyclists. Sixteen male elite cyclists (maximal oxygen uptake, VO2max: 72 ± 5 ml·kg−1·min−1) reduced their training load by ~60% for 3 weeks from the end of competitive season and performed only LIT or included 30-s sprints (SPR) in one weekly LIT-session. Performance and physiological capacities were evaluated during a prolonged (~2.5 h) test-session, including a strength test, a submaximal blood lactate profile test, an incremental test to exhaustion to determine VO2max, 1 h continuous cycling including four maximal 30-s sprints, and a 20-min all-out test. In addition, mental recovery was evaluated using the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire (ARQ). The only significant between-group change during the transition period was an 8 ± 11% larger improvement in 30-s sprint performance in SPR compared to control (CON; SPR: 4 ± 5%, CON: −4 ± 5%, p = 0.01). Although not different from CON, SPR maintained 20-min all-out performance (−1 ± 5%, p = 0.37) and fractional utilization of VO2max (1.9 ± 6.1%-points, p = 0.18) during the 20-min all-out test, whereas corresponding declines were observed in CON (−3 ± 5%, p = 0.04, and −2.5 ± 2.9%- points, p = 0.02, respectively). Power output at 4 mmol·L−1 blood lactate concentration decreased similarly in SPR (−4 ± 4%, p = 0.02) and CON (−5 ± 5%, p = 0.01), while VO2max, maximal aerobic power (Wmax), and total burnout score were unaffected in both groups. Including sprints in one weekly LIT-session in the transition period improves sprint performance and maintains 20-min all-out power and fractional utilization of VO2max without compromising mental recovery. Inclusion of sprints in LIT-sessions may therefore be a plausible, time-efficient strategy during short periods of reduced training.