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To examine the effectiveness of threshold and polarized models in the training organization of Chinese top-level sprint speed skaters using a 2-y quasi-experimental design.
Two years (2004–05 and 2005–06 seasons) of the Chinese national speed-skating team’s daily training load (N = 9; 5 men, 23.6 ± 1.7 y, weight 76.6 ± 4.1 kg, competitive experience 5.0 ± 0.8 y, 500-m time 35.45 ± 0.72 s, 1000-m time 71.18 ± 2.28 s; 4 women, 25.3 ± 6.8 y, 73.0 ± 8.5 kg, 6.3 ± 3.5 y, 37.81 ± 0.46 s, 75.70 ± 0.81 s) were collected and analyzed. Each season’s training load included overall duration (calculated in min and km), frequency (calculated by overall sessions), and training intensity (measured by ear blood lactate or estimated by heart rate), Their performances at national, World Cup, and Olympic competitions during the 2 seasons (2004–06), as well as lactate data measured 15 and 30 min after these competitions, were also collected and analyzed. Based on the lactate data (<2, 2–4, >4 mmol/L), training zones were classified as low, moderate, and high intensity.
The total durations and frequencies of the training load were similar across the seasons, but a threshold-training model distribution was used in 2004–05, and a polarized-training-load organization in 2005–06. Under the polarized-training model, or load organization, all speed skaters’ performance improved and their lactate after competition decreased considerably.
Training-intensity distribution based on a polarized-training model led to the success in top Chinese sprint speed skaters in the 2005–06 season.
Yu and Cao are with Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. Chen is with the Exercise Science Laboratory, Ningbo University, China. Zhu is with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL.