Is Recovery Optimized by Using a Cycle Ergometer Between Ski-Mountaineering Sprints?

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Bastien Krumm Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
REDs, Research & Expertise in anti-Doping sciences, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

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Frédéric Luisier Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

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Arnaud Rapillard Clinique romande de réadaptation, SUVACare, Sion, Switzerland

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Raphael Faiss Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
REDs, Research & Expertise in anti-Doping sciences, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

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Purpose: To optimize the recovery phase between heats in ski-mountaineering sprint competitions, this study investigated whether an active recovery protocol on an ergocycle could improve subsequent performance compared with a self-selected recovery strategy. Methods: Thirteen elite ski mountaineers (9 men and 4 women) performed 3 sprints with 2 different recovery conditions (Ergo vs Free) in a randomized order. The Ergo condition involved a 10-minute constant-intensity exercise on an ergocycle performed at 70% of maximum heart rate. For the Free condition, the athlete was asked to self-select modality. At the end of the third sprint, a passive recovery (seated) was prescribed for both protocols. Sprint performance (time) and physiological parameters (lactate concentration [La], heart rate [HR], and rating of perceived exertion [RPE]) were recorded from each sprint and recovery phase. Results: In the Ergo vs Free protocols, sprint times (177 [24] s vs 176 [23] s; P = .63), recovery average HR (70% [2.9%] vs 71% [5.2%] of maximal HR), and RPE (16.7 [1.5] vs 16.8 [1.5]; P = .81) were not significantly different. However, [La] decreased more after Ergo (−2.9 [1.8] mmol·L−1) and Free (−2.8 [1.8] mmol·L−1) conditions compared with passive recovery (−1.1 [1.6] mmol·L−1; P < .05). Conclusions: The use of an ergocycle between heat sprints in ski mountaineering does not provide additional benefits compared with a recovery strategy freely chosen by the athletes. However, active conditions provide a faster [La] reduction compared with passive recovery and seem to be a more suitable strategy between multiple-heat sprints.

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