Effect of Environmental Temperature on High-Intensity Intervals in Well-Trained Cyclists

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To examine the effect of environmental temperature (T A) on performance and physiological responses (eg, body temperature, cardiopulmonary measures) during a high-intensity aerobic interval session. It was hypothesized that power output would be highest in the 13°C condition and lower in the 5°C, 22°C, and 35°C conditions. Methods: Eleven well-trained cyclists randomly completed 4 interval sessions at 5°C, 13°C, 22°C, and 35°C (55% [13%] relative humidity), each involving five 4-min intervals interspersed with 5 min of recovery. During the intervals, power output, core temperature (T C), skin temperature, VO2, and heart rate were recorded. Results: Mean session power output for 13°C (366 [32] W) was not higher than 5°C (363 [32] W; P = 1.00, effect size = 0.085), 22°C (364 [36] W; P = 1.00, effect size = 0.061), or 35°C (352 [31] W; P = .129, effect size = 0.441). The 5th interval of the 35°C condition had a lower power output compared with all other T A. T C was higher in 22°C compared with both 5°C and 13°C (P = .001). VO2 was not significantly different across T A (P = .187). Heart rate was higher in the 4th and 5th intervals of 35°C compared with 5°C and 13°C. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that while mean power outputs for intervals are similar across T A, hot T A (≥35°C) reduces interval power output later in a training session. Well-trained cyclists performing maximal high-intensity aerobic intervals can achieve near-optimal power output over a broader range of T A than previous literature would indicate.

Boynton, Menaspà, and Abbiss are with the Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research, School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, WA, Australia. Danner is with the Dept of Sport Science, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany. Peiffer is with the College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA, Australia.

Boynton (j.boynton@ecu.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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