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Does a 3-Minute All-Out Test Provide Suitable Measures of Exercise Intensity at the Maximal Lactate Steady State or Peak Oxygen Uptake for Well-Trained Runners?

Billy Sperlich, Christoph Zinner, David Trenk, and Hans-Christer Holmberg

Purpose:

To examine whether a 3-min all-out test can be used to obtain accurate values for the maximal lactate steady state (v MLSS) and/or peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) of well-trained runners.

Methods:

The 15 male volunteers (25 ± 5 y, 181 ± 6 cm, 76 ± 7 kg, VO2peak 69.3 ± 9.5 mL · kg−1 · min−1) performed a ramp test, a 3-min all-out test, and several submaximal 30-min runs at constant paces of v END (mean velocity during the last 30 s of the 3-min all-out test) itself and v END +0.2, +0.1, –0.1, –0.2, –0.3, or –0.4 m/s.

Results:

v MLSS and v END were correlated (r = .69, P = .004), although v MLSS was lower (mean difference: 0.26 ± 0.32 m/s, 95% CI –.44 to –.08 m/s, P = .007, effect size = 0.65). The VO2peak values derived from the ramp and 3-min all-out tests were not correlated (r = .41, P = .12), with a mean difference of 523 ± 1002 mL (95% CI –31 to 1077 mL).

Conclusion:

A 3-min all-out test does not provide a suitable measure of v MLSS or VO2peak for well-trained runners.

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A Novel Approach to Determining the Alactic Time Span in Connection with Assessment of the Maximal Rate of Lactate Accumulation in Elite Track Cyclists

Anna Katharina Dunst, Clemens Hesse, Andri Feldmann, and Hans Christer Holmberg

Purpose: Following short-term all-out exercise, the maximal rate of glycolysis is frequently assessed on the basis of the maximal rate of lactate accumulation in the blood. Since the end of the interval without significant accumulation (t alac) is 1 of 2 denominators in the calculation employed, accurate determination of this parameter is crucial. Although the very existence and definition of t alac, as well as the validity of its determination as time-to-peak power (t Ppeak), remain controversial, this parameter plays a key role in anaerobic diagnostics. Here, we describe a novel approach to determination of t alac and compare it to the current standard. Methods: Twelve elite track cyclists performed 3 maximal sprints (3, 8, and 12 s) and a high-rate, low-resistance pedaling test on an ergometer with monitoring of crank force and pedaling rate. Before and after each sprint, capillary blood samples were taken for determination of lactate accumulation. Fatigue-free force–velocity and power–velocity profiles were generated. t alac was determined as t Ppeak and as the time span up to the first systematic deviation from the force–velocity profile (t Ff). Results: Accumulation of lactate after the 3-second sprint was significant (0.58 [0.19] mmol L−1; P < .001, d = 1.982). t Ff was <3 seconds and t Ppeak was ≥3 seconds during all sprints (P < .001, d = − 2.111). Peak power output was lower than maximal power output (P < .001, d = −0.937). Blood lactate accumulation increased linearly with increasing duration of exercise (R 2 ≥ .99) and intercepted the x-axis at ∼t Ff. Conclusion: Definition of t alac as t Ppeak can lead to incorrect conclusions. We propose determination of t alac based on t Ff, the end of the fatigue-free state that may reflect the beginning of blood lactate accumulation.

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Does Upper-Body Compression Improve 3 × 3-Min Double-Poling Sprint Performance?

Billy Sperlich, Dennis-Peter Born, Christoph Zinner, Anna Hauser, and Hans-Christer Holmberg

Purpose:

To evaluate whether upper-body compression affects power output and selected metabolic, cardiorespiratory, hemodynamic, and perceptual responses during three 3-min sessions of double-poling (DP) sprint.

Method:

Ten well-trained male athletes (25 ± 4 y, 180 ± 4 cm, 74.6 ± 3.2 kg) performed such sprints on a DP ski ergometer with and without a long-sleeved compression garment.

Result:

Mean power output was not affected by such compression (216 ± 25 W in both cases; P = 1.00, effect size [ES] = 0.00), although blood lactate concentration was lowered (P < .05, ES = 0.50–1.02). Blood gases (ES = 0.07–0.50), oxygen uptake (ES = 0.04–0.28), production of carbon dioxide (ES = 0.01–0.46), heart rate (ES = 0.00–0.21), stroke volume (ES = 0.33–0.81), and cardiac output (ES = 0.20–0.91) were also all unaffected by upper-body compression (best P = 1.00). This was also the case for changes in the tissue saturation index (ES = 0.45–1.17) and total blood content of hemoglobin (ES = 0.09–0.85), as well as ratings of perceived exertion (ES = 0.15–0.88; best P = .96).

Conclusion:

The authors conclude that the performance of well-trained athletes during 3 × 3-min DP sprints will not be enhanced by upper-body compression.

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Muscle Oxygenation Asymmetry in Ice Speed Skaters: Not Compensated by Compression

Dennis-Peter Born, Christoph Zinner, Britta Herlitz, Katharina Richter, Hans-Christer Holmberg, and Billy Sperlich

Purpose:

The current investigation assessed tissue oxygenation and local blood volume in both vastus lateralis muscles during 3000-m race simulations in elite speed skaters on ice and the effects of leg compression on physiological, perceptual, and performance measures.

Methods:

Ten (6 female) elite ice speed skaters completed 2 on-ice trials with and without leg compression. Tissue oxygenation and local blood volume in both vastus lateralis muscles were assessed with near-infrared spectroscopy. Continuous measures of oxygen uptake, ventilation, heart rate, and velocity were conducted throughout the race simulations, as well as blood lactate concentration and ratings of perceived exertion before and after the trials. In addition, lap times were assessed.

Results:

The investigation of tissue oxygenation in both vastus lateralis muscles revealed an asymmetry (P < .00; effect size = 1.81) throughout the 3000-m race simulation. The application of leg compression did not affect oxygenation asymmetry (smallest P = .99; largest effect size = 0.31) or local blood volume (P = .33; 0.95). Lap times (P = .88; 0.43), velocity (P = .24; 0.84), oxygen uptake (P = .79; 0.10), ventilation (P = .11; 0.59), heart rate (P = .21; 0.89), blood lactate concentration (P = .82; 0.59), and ratings of perceived exertion (P = .19; 1.01) were also unaffected by the different types of clothing.

Conclusion:

Elite ice speed skaters show an asymmetry in tissue oxygenation of both vastus lateralis muscles during 3000-m events remaining during the long gliding phases along the straight sections of the track. Based on the data, the authors conclude that there are no performance-enhancing benefits from wearing leg compression under a normal racing suit.

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Salivary Cortisol, Heart Rate, and Blood Lactate Responses During Elite Downhill Mountain Bike Racing

Billy Sperlich, Silvia Achtzehn, Mirijam Buhr, Christoph Zinner, Stefan Zelle, and Hans-Christer Holmberg

Purpose:

This study aimed to quantify the intensity profile of elite downhill mountain bike races during competitions.

Methods:

Seventeen male downhill racers (22 ± 5 y; 185.1 ± 5.3 cm; 68.0 ± 3.9 kg; VO2peak: 59.4 ± 4.1 mL·min·kg−1) participated in the International German Downhill Championships in 2010. The racers’ peak oxygen uptake and heart rate (HR) at 2 and 4 mmol·L−1 blood lactate (HR2 and HR4), were assessed during an incremental laboratory step test (100 W, increase 40 W every 5 min). During the races, the HR was recorded and pre- and postrace blood lactate concentrations as well as salivary cortisol levels were obtained.

Results:

During the race, the absolute time spent in the “easy” intensity zone was 23.3 ± 6.8 s, 24.2 ± 12.8 s (HR2–HR4) in the “moderate” zone, and 151.6 ± 18.3 s (>HR4) in the “hard” zone. Eighty percent of the entire race was accomplished at intensities >90% HRpeak. Blood lactate concentrations postrace were higher than those obtained after the qualification heat (8.0 ± 2.5 mmol·L−1 vs 6.7 ± 1.8 mmol·L−1, P < .01). Salivary levels of cortisol before the competition and the qualification heat were twice as high as at resting state (P < .01).

Conclusions:

This study shows that mountain bike downhill races are conducted at high heart rates and levels of blood lactate as well as increased concentration of salivary cortisol as marker for psycho-physiological stress.

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Cross-Country Skiing and Postexercise Heart-Rate Recovery

Laurent Mourot, Nicolas Fabre, Erik Andersson, Sarah Willis, Martin Buchheit, and Hans-Christer Holmberg

Postexercise heart-rate (HR) recovery (HRR) indices have been associated with running and cycling endurance-exercise performance. The current study was designed (1) to test whether such a relationship also exists in the case of cross-country skiing (XCS) and (2) to determine whether the magnitude of any such relationship is related to the intensity of exercise before obtaining HRR indices. Ten elite male cross-country skiers (mean ± SD; 28.2 ± 5.4 y, 181 ± 8 cm, 77.9 ± 9.4 kg, 69.5 ± 4.3 mL · min−1 · kg−1 maximal oxygen uptake [VO2max]) performed 2 sessions of roller-skiing on a treadmill: a 2 × 3-km time trial and the same 6-km at an imposed submaximal speed followed by a final 800-m time trial. VO2 and HR were monitored continuously, while HRR and blood lactate (BLa) were assessed during 2 min immediately after each 6-km and the 800-m time trial. The 6-km time-trial time was largely negatively correlated with VO2max and BLa. On the contrary, there was no clear correlation between the 800-m time-trial time and VO2, HR, or BLa. In addition, in no case was any clear correlation between any of the HRR indices and performance time or VO2max observed. These findings confirm that XCS performance is largely correlated with VO2max and the ability to tolerate high levels of BLa; however, postexercise HRR showed no clear association with performance. The homogeneity of the group of athletes involved and the contribution of the arms and upper body to the exercise preceding determination of HRR may explain this absence of a relationship.

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Analysis of Sprint Ski Mountaineering Performance

Alessandro Fornasiero, Simone Fornoni, Alexa Callovini, Beatrice Todesco, Aldo Savoldelli, Federico Schena, Hans-Christer Holmberg, Barbara Pellegrini, and Lorenzo Bortolan

Ski mountaineering sprint competitions are short individual races involving 3 uphill sections (U), 3 transitions (T), and a final descent. To date, relatively little is known about this novel Olympic discipline, and here we examined (1) the contribution of the time spent on U, T, and final descent to overall finishing time and (2) the potential relationships with final ranking. During the different rounds of 2 International Ski Mountaineering Federation World Cup sprint competitions, male and female ski mountaineers were video recorded. Correlation and multiple linear regression analyses were used to investigate the impact of U, T, and final descent on the best overall finishing time. Linear-mixed model analysis was applied to explore potential interactions between section times, rounds, and final ranking. Overall, U (r = .90–.97) and T (r = .57–.89) were closely correlated with the best overall finishing time (all P < .05). U explained approximately 80% to 90% of the variation in the best finishing time for both sexes, with U + T explaining approximately 95% to 98% of this variation. In each successive round, the ski mountaineers eliminated were all slower on U than the Top 3 (all P < .05). The fastest skiers increased their performance on U in the later rounds of the competitions, while those eliminated showed a tendency toward a decrease. Our findings reveal that world-class sprint ski mountaineers conduct transitions optimally and perform effectively uphill. Training for such competitions should aim to improve short supramaximal uphill performance (∼1.5–2.5 min), ensuring that this does not decline with multiple efforts. These insights into ski mountaineering sprint performance are of considerable value in connection with training for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

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The Evolution of World-Class Endurance Training: The Scientist’s View on Current and Future Trends

Øyvind Sandbakk, David B. Pyne, Kerry McGawley, Carl Foster, Rune Kjøsen Talsnes, Guro Strøm Solli, Grégoire P. Millet, Stephen Seiler, Paul B. Laursen, Thomas Haugen, Espen Tønnessen, Randy Wilber, Teun van Erp, Trent Stellingwerff, Hans-Christer Holmberg, and Silvana Bucher Sandbakk

Background: Elite sport is continuously evolving. World records keep falling and athletes from a longer list of countries are involved. Purpose: This commentary was designed to provide insights into present and future trends associated with world-class endurance training based on the perspectives, experience, and knowledge of an expert panel of 25 applied sport scientists. Results: The key drivers of development observed in the past 10–15 years were related to (1) more accessible scientific knowledge for coaches and athletes combined with (2) better integration of practical and scientific exchange across multidisciplinary perspectives within professionalized elite athlete support structures, as well as (3) utilization of new technological advances. Based on these perspectives, we discerned and exemplified the main trends in the practice of endurance sports into the following categories: better understanding of sport-specific demands; improved competition execution; larger, more specific, and more precise training loads; improved training quality; and a more professional and healthier lifestyle. The main areas expected to drive future improvements were associated with more extensive use of advanced technology for monitoring and prescribing training and recovery, more precise use of environmental and nutritional interventions, better understanding of athlete–equipment interactions, and greater emphasis on preventing injuries and illnesses. Conclusions: These expert insights can serve as a platform and inspiration to develop new hypotheses and ideas, encourage future collaboration between researchers and sport practitioners, and, perhaps most important, stimulate curiosity and further collaborative studies about the training, physiology, and performance of endurance athletes.