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Purpose: To investigate whether including heat and altitude exposures during an elite team-sport training camp induces similar or greater performance benefits. Methods: The study assessed 56 elite male rugby players for maximal oxygen uptake, repeated-sprint cycling, and Yo-Yo intermittent recovery level 2 (Yo-Yo) before and after a 2-week training camp, which included 5 endurance and 5 repeated-sprint cycling sessions in addition to daily rugby training. Players were separated into 4 groups: (1) control (all sessions in temperate conditions at sea level), (2) heat training (endurance sessions in the heat), (3) altitude (repeated-sprint sessions and sleeping in hypoxia), and (4) combined heat and altitude (endurance in the heat, repeated sprints, and sleeping in hypoxia). Results: Training increased maximal oxygen uptake (4% [10%], P = .017), maximal aerobic power (9% [8%], P < .001), and repeated-sprint peak (5% [10%], P = .004) and average power (12% [14%], P < .001) independent of training conditions. Yo-Yo distance increased (16% [17%], P < .001) but not in the altitude group (P = .562). Training in heat lowered core temperature and increased sweat rate during a heat-response test (P < .05). Conclusion: A 2-week intensified training camp improved maximal oxygen uptake, repeated-sprint ability, and aerobic performance in elite rugby players. Adding heat and/or altitude did not further enhance physical performance, and altitude appears to have been detrimental to improving Yo-Yo.
Racinais, Périard, Cocking, Ihsan, Nichols, Townsend, Travers, Wilson, and Girard are with the Research and Scientific Support Dept, Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar. Racinais and Lacome are also with the Laboratory of Sport, Expertise and Performance (EA 7370), Research Dept, French Inst of Sport (INSEP), Paris, France. Périard is also with the Research Inst for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia. Piscione and Lacome are with the Research Dept, French Rugby Union (FFR), Marcoussis, France. Bourdon is with the Sport Science Dept, ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence, Doha, Qatar, and the Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA), University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia. Ihsan is also with the Human Potential Translational Research Program, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. Lacome is also with the Performance Dept, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. Townsend is also with the College of Health and Life Sciences, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Doha, Qatar. Wilson is also with the Inst of Sport, Exercise and Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom. Girard is also with the School of Human Sciences (Exercise and Sport Science), University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia.