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Combining Heat and Altitude Training to Enhance Temperate, Sea-Level Performance

Olivier Girard, Peter Peeling, Sébastien Racinais, and Julien D. Périard

Background: Repeated exposure to heat (ie, plasma volume expansion) or altitude (ie, increase in total hemoglobin mass), in conjunction with exercise, induces hematological adaptations that enhance endurance performance in each respective environment. Recently, combining heat and altitude training has become increasingly common for athletes preparing to compete in temperate, sea-level conditions. Purpose: To review the physiological adaptations to training interventions combining thermal and hypoxic stimuli and summarize the implications for temperate, sea-level performance. Current Evidence: To date, research on combining heat and hypoxia has employed 2 main approaches: simultaneously combining the stressors during training or concurrently training in the heat and sleeping at altitude, sometimes with additional training in hypoxia. When environmental stimuli are combined in a training session, improvements in aerobic fitness and time-trial performance in temperate, sea-level conditions are generally similar in magnitude to those observed with heat, or altitude, training alone. Similarly, training in the heat and sleeping at altitude does not appear to provide any additional hematological or nonhematological benefits for temperate; sea-level performance relative to training in hot, hypoxic, or control conditions. Conclusions: Current research regarding combined heat and altitude interventions does not seem to indicate that it enhances temperate, sea-level performance to a greater extent than “traditional” (heat or hypoxia alone) training approaches. A major challenge in implementing combined-stressor approaches lies in the uncertainty surrounding the prescription of dosing regimens (ie, exercise and environmental stress). The potential benefits of conducting heat and altitude exposure sequentially (ie, one after the other) warrants further investigation.

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Effects of In-Exercise Carbohydrate Supplementation on Prolonged High-Intensity Exercise Performance in Oral Contraceptive Users

Serene J.L. Lee, Fleur E.C.A. Van Rens, and Jeremiah J. Peiffer

Purpose: To examine the impact of oral contraceptive (OC) phases on performance, physiological, and subjective responses to prolonged, intensive exercise when carbohydrate (CHO) stores are reduced. Methods: Ten well-trained female cyclists using monophasic OC completed 4 identical trials (>150 min) under conditions of in-trial 60-g·h−1 CHO supplementation (CHO+) or placebo (CHO−) during the sugar- (SUG) and active-pill (ACT) phases of their OC cycle. Each trial comprised two 400-kcal time trials (TT) separated by 1 hour of submaximal cycling at first ventilatory threshold. Results: Change in completion time from TT1 to TT2 was minimized in CHO+ compared with CHO− (4.06 [2.55] vs 6.08 [5.33] min; P = .019, effect size = −0.36). An interaction effect of OC and CHO was observed for time to complete TT (P = .006), mean TT power (P = .002), mean TT heart rate (P = .002), and posttrial emotional balance (P = .020) and negative emotional state (P = .033). In ACT, mean TT power and heart rate were higher in CHO+ when compared with CHO−, resulting in faster TTs in CHO+ and improved posttrial emotional well-being. When CHO was not supplemented, TT power and heart rate were higher in SUG when compared with ACT, resulting in faster TTs in SUG and improved posttrial emotional balance. Conclusion: CHO depletion during ACT negatively influenced TT performance and emotional well-being when compared with SUG. Irrespective of OC pill phase, CHO supplementation should be prioritized to sustain performance and improve postexercise recovery–stress balance.

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From Mentorship to Sponsorship in Sport Science

Iñigo Mujika and Peter Leo

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Individualizing Basketball-Specific Interval Training Using Anaerobic Speed Reserve: Effects on Physiological and Hormonal Adaptations

Chenhang Wang and Mingliang Ye

Purpose : We compared the adaptive responses to supramaximal high-intensity interval training (HIIT) individualized according to anaerobic speed reserve (ASR), the 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test (V IFT), and velocity associated with maximum oxygen uptake (MAS) to determine which approach facilitates more identical adaptations across athletes with different profiles. Methods : Thirty national-level basketball players (age = 28.4 [5] y; body mass = 88.9 [6.3] kg; height = 190 [4.8] cm) were randomly assigned to 3 training groups performing 2 sets of 4, 6, 8, 6, 8, and 10-minute runs (from first to sixth week, respectively), consisting of 15-second running at Δ%20ASR (MAS + 0.2 × ASR), 95%V IFT, and 120%MAS, with 15 seconds recovery between efforts and a 3-minute relief between sets. Results : All 3 interval interventions significantly (P < .05) enhanced maximum oxygen uptake ( V ˙ O 2 max ), oxygen pulse ( V ˙ O 2 / HR ), first and second ventilatory threshold (VT1 and VT2), cardiac output ( Q ˙ max ), stroke volume, peak and average power output, testosterone levels, and testosterone-to-cortisol ratio following the training period. Different values of interindividual variability (coefficient of variation) for the percentage changes of the measured variables were observed in response to HIITASR, HIITv IFT, and HIITMAS for V ˙ O 2 max (8.7%, 18.8%, 34.6%, respectively), V ˙ O 2 / HR (9.5%, 15.0%, 28.6%), VT1 (9.6%, 19.6%, 34.6%), VT2 (21.8%, 32.4%, 56.7%), Q ˙ max (8.2%, 16.9%, 28.8%), stroke volume (7.9%, 15.2%, 23.5%), peak power output (20%, 22%, 37.3%), average power output (21.1%, 21.3%, 32.5%), testosterone (52.9%, 61.6%, 59.9%), and testosterone-to-cortisol ratio (55.1%, 59.5%, 57.8%). Conclusions : Supramaximal HIIT performed at Δ%20ASR resulted in more uniform physiological adaptations than HIIT interventions prescribed using V IFT or MAS. Although hormonal changes do not follow this approach, all the approaches induced an anabolic effect.

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Why Should Athletes Brake Fast? Influence of Eccentric Velocity on Concentric Performance During Countermovement Jumps at Different Loads

Jose L. Hernández-Davó, Rafael Sabido, Manuel Omar-García, and Daniel Boullosa

Purpose: The aim of the present study was to analyze the effect of different eccentric tempos on eccentric kinetics and kinematics and the subsequent concentric performance when performing countermovement jumps against different loads. Methods: After 1-repetition-maximum assessment and 2 familiarization sessions, 13 well-trained participants performed, in randomized order, 12 sets (4 tempos × 3 loads) of 4 repetitions of the loaded countermovement-jump exercise. The eccentric tempos analyzed were 5 and 2 seconds, as fast as possible, and accelerated (ie, without pause between repetitions), while the loads used were 30%, 50%, and 70% of 1-repetition maximum. Several kinetic and kinematic variables during both phases were recorded by linking a linear position transducer to the barbell. Results: The eccentric work was greater in the accelerated condition despite no changes in the eccentric depth. The peak and mean propulsive velocities were greater in the as-fast-as-possible and accelerated conditions. Correlation analysis showed that, compared with the 5-second condition, the increased concentric performance in the accelerated condition was related to the difference in eccentric work performed in the last 100 milliseconds of the eccentric phase (r > .770). Conclusions: Contrary to current practices, the current study highlights the need for performing the eccentric phase of loaded countermovement jumps, a common exercise performed by athletes for both training and evaluation purposes, as fast as possible. This allows not only a greater eccentric work but also improved concentric performance.

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Effects of High-Intensity Inspiratory Muscle Warm-Up on High-Intensity Exercise Performance and Muscle Oxygenation

Jun Koizumi and Toshiyuki Ohya

Purpose: An inspiratory muscle warm-up (IMW) improves inspiratory muscle function, but the effects of high-intensity exercise are inconsistent. We aimed to determine the effects of high-intensity IMW on high-intensity exercise performance and muscle oxygenation. Methods: Ten healthy men (maximal oxygen uptake [ V ˙ O 2 max ] 52.2 [5.0] mL·kg–1·min–1) performed constant-load exercise to exhaustion on a cycle ergometer at V ˙ O 2 max under 2 IMW conditions: a placebo condition (PLA) and a high-intensity IMW condition (HIGH). The inspiratory loads were set at 15% and 80% of maximal inspiratory pressure, respectively. Maximal inspiratory pressure was measured before and after IMW. Oxyhemoglobin was measured in the vastus lateralis by near-infrared spectroscopy during exercise. Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) for a leg was measured after 1 and 2 minutes of exercise. Results: Exercise tolerance was significantly higher under HIGH than PLA (228 [49] s vs 218 [49] s, P = .003). Maximal inspiratory pressure was significantly increased by IMW under HIGH (from 125 [20] to 136 [25] cm H2O, P = .031). Oxyhemoglobin was significantly higher under HIGH than PLA at 80% of the total duration of exercise (P = .048). RPE for the leg was significantly lower under HIGH than PLA after 2 minutes of exercise (P = .019). Conclusions: Given that oxyhemoglobin is an index of local oxygen supply, the results of this study suggest that high-intensity IMW increases the oxygen supply to active limbs. It may also reflect a reduction in RPE in the leg. In addition, high-intensity IMW may improve exercise performance.

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Effects of Hypoxia Severity on Muscle Oxygenation Kinetics Using Statistical Parametric Mapping During Repeated Treadmill Sprints

Clint Hansen, Franck Brocherie, Grégoire P. Millet, and Olivier Girard

Purpose: We examined the effects of increasing hypoxia severity on oxygenation kinetics in the vastus lateralis muscle during repeated treadmill sprints, using statistical parametric mapping (SPM). Methods: Ten physically active males completed 8 sprints of 5 seconds each (recovery = 25 s) on a motorized sprint treadmill in normoxia (sea level; inspired oxygen fraction = 0.21), moderate hypoxia (inspired oxygen fraction = 0.17), and severe hypoxia (SH; inspired oxygen fraction = 0.13). Continuous assessment of tissue saturation index (TSI) in the vastus lateralis muscle was conducted using near-infrared spectroscopy. Subsequently, TSI data were averaged for the sprint–recovery cycle of all sprints and compared between conditions. Results: The SPM analysis revealed no discernible difference in TSI signal amplitude between conditions during the actual 5-second sprint phase. However, during the latter portion of the 25-second recovery phase, TSI values were lower in SH compared with both sea level (from 22 to 30 s; P = .003) and moderate hypoxia (from 16 to 30 s; P = .001). The mean distance covered at sea level (22.9 [1.0] m) was greater than for both moderate hypoxia (22.5 [1.2] m; P = .045) and SH (22.3 [1.4] m; P = .043). Conclusions: The application of SPM demonstrated that only SH reduced muscle oxygenation levels during the late portion of the passive (recovery) phase and not the active (sprint) phase during repeated treadmill sprints. These findings underscore the usefulness of SPM for assessing muscle oxygenation differences due to hypoxic exposure and the importance of the duration of the between-sprints recovery period.

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Training Regimen of an Elite Ultramarathon Runner: A Case Study of What Led Up to the 24-Hour World-Record Run

Jonathan Byrne, Sarah Lynch, and G. Monique Mokha

Purpose: Ultramarathon running has gained popularity over several decades. Although there has been considerable research on training for other running events, from the 100-m to the marathon at 26.2 miles (42.2 km), there is little evidence on best practices for ultramarathons, where distances potentially exceed 100 miles (160.9 km). Methods: In this case study, we examine the training regimen of an elite ultramarathon runner who broke 8 world records in 2021 and 2022, including the 24-hour run in which he ran 319.6 km in September 2022. Training data from December 28, 2020, to September 17, 2022, were collected from the Strava application database (recorded on Coros watch) and analyzed using Microsoft Excel and Tableau. Results: Our subject completed 5 training blocks, with volume per training block averaging 172.1 to 263 km/wk. Peak running volume per training block occurred on average 3.2 weeks out from races and reached a maximum of 378 km/wk. Recovery was emphasized the week following a race, with less running (19 km/wk) and more cross-training. Interval-type workouts (1- to 10-km repeats) were completed throughout training blocks. The average pace during the 24-hour world-record run was 4 minutes and 30 seconds per kilometer (4:30/km), closely matching the overall average training pace. Conclusions: These findings suggest that training for ultramarathon races should include high-volume running at varied paces and intensity with cross-training to avoid injuries. We hope that this evidence helps athletes understand how to prepare for these ultraendurance events.

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The Dose–Response in Elite Soccer: Preliminary Insights From Menstrual-Cycle Tracking During the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019

Dawn Scott, Georgie Bruinvels, Dean Norris, and Ric Lovell

Purpose: This preliminary study examined the influence of estimated menstrual-cycle (MC) phase on responses to soccer matches and training sessions in preparation for and during the FIFA (Fédération internationale de football association) Women’s World Cup 2019. Methods: Twenty outfield players representing a national team were tracked over a 45-day period. External (10-Hz global positioning system; total and distance covered at high-metabolic power [≥20 W·kg−1]) and internal load measures (minutes ≥80% heart-rate maximum, sessional ratings of perceived exertion) were collected during all training and matches, with single-item wellness measures (fatigue, soreness, sleep quality, and sleep duration) collected each morning prior to activity. MC phase was estimated individually via an algorithm, informed from pretournament survey responses and ongoing symptom reporting (FitrWoman). Model comparison statistics were used to determine the impact of estimated MC phase in nonhormonal contraceptive users (n = 16). Results: Sessional rating of perceived exertion responses to total distances ≥5 km were higher during the luteal phase (+0.6–1.0 au; P ≤ .0178) versus menstruation (phase 1), but no other observable dose–response trends were observed. Sleep, fatigue, and soreness ratings were not typically associated with MC phase, with the exception of exacerbated fatigue ratings in luteal versus follicular phase 48 hours postmatch (−0.73 au, P = .0275). Conclusions: Preliminary findings suggest that estimated MC phase may contribute to the understanding of the dose–response to soccer training and matches.

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Variability of External Load Measures During Soccer Match Play: Influence of Player Fitness or Pacing?

Alireza Rabbani, Giorgios Ermidis, Filipe Manuel Clemente, and Craig Twist

Purpose: The aims of this study were to examine the variability of selected external load metrics within 15-minute intervals during soccer match play and examine their relationship with players’ high-intensity intermittent fitness. Methods: A total of 18 male soccer players were monitored for their external load metrics during 26 matches, which included total distance, high-metabolic-load distance, and mechanical work (defined as the sum of accelerations and decelerations >3 m2). Additionally, players completed the 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test. Results: Total distance had lower coefficients of variation than high-metabolic-load distance and mechanical work (effect size [ES]: 5.2 to 6.4; very large). Within-player Δ-15min showed moderate to large decreases (ES: −0.7 to −1.6) and increases (ES: 0.9 to 1.8) in absolute and coefficient-of-variation values, respectively. Large relationships (r = .55 to .61) were observed between the Intermittent Fitness Test and 15-minmean and 15-minbest in all selected external load metrics. However, small to moderate (0.27 to 0.41) associations were observed between the Intermittent Fitness Test and Δ-15min in selected external load metrics. Conclusions: These findings suggest that players with relatively lower intermittent running capacity might show lower variability during matches, as evidenced by smaller reductions in high-intensity actions during the final 15 minutes. We attribute these observations to players’ possessing better pacing strategies.