Purpose: There is debate as to which environmental intervention produces the most benefit for team sport athletes, particularly comparing heat and altitude. This quasi-experimental study aimed to compare blood volume (BV) responses with heat and altitude training camps in Australian footballers. Methods: The BV of 7 professional Australian footballers (91.8 [10.5] kg, 191.8 [10.1] cm) was measured throughout 3 consecutive spring/summer preseasons. During each preseason, players participated in altitude (year 1 and year 2) and heat (year 3) environmental training camps. Year 1 and year 2 altitude camps were in November/December in the United States, whereas the year 3 heat camp was in February/March in Australia after a full exposure to summer heat. BV, red cell volume, and plasma volume (PV) were measured at least 3 times during each preseason. Results: Red cell volume increased substantially following altitude in both year 1 (d = 0.67) and year 2 (d = 1.03), before returning to baseline 4 weeks postaltitude. Immediately following altitude, concurrent decreases in PV were observed during year 1 (d = −0.40) and year 2 (d = −0.98). With spring/summer training in year 3, BV and PV were substantially higher in January than temporally matched postaltitude measurements during year 1 (BV: d = −0.93, PV: d = −1.07) and year 2 (BV: d = −1.99, PV: d = −2.25), with year 3 total BV, red cell volume, and PV not changing further despite the 6-day heat intervention. Conclusions: We found greater BV after training throughout spring/summer conditions, compared with interrupting spring/summer exposure to train at altitude in the cold, with no additional benefits observed from a heat camp following spring/summer training.
Blake D. McLean, Kevin White, Christopher J. Gore, and Justin Kemp
Lance Ratcliff, Sareen S. Gropper, B. Douglas White, David M. Shannon, and Kevin W. Huggins
This study compared type of habitual exercise and meal form on diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT) in 29 men age 19–28 yr. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) and DIT response to solid-meal (bar) vs. liquid-meal (shake) ingestion were measured via indirect calorimetry; classifications were sedentary (n = 9), endurance trained (n = 11), or resistance trained (n = 9). Height, weight, and body composition (using bioelectrical impedance) were measured for each subject. Energy expenditure was determined before and every 30 min after meal consumption for 210 min. RMR was significantly (p = .045) higher in the endurance- and resistance-trained groups. However, when expressed per kilogram fat-free mass (FFM; relative RMR), differences were not significant. Both DIT (kcal/min) and relative DIT (kcal · min−1 · kg FFM−1) significantly increased with time (p < .0001) from RMR for each meal form. There was no significant exercise-group effect on DIT or relative DIT. There was a significant (p = .012) effect of meal form on DIT; shakes elicited a higher DIT. This significant difference was not found for relative DIT. There was a significant interaction between group and meal form for DIT (p = .008) and relative DIT (p < .0001). Shakes elicited a significantly greater DIT (p = .0002) and relative DIT (p = .0001) in the resistance-trained group. In the sedentary group, relative DIT from shakes was significantly lower than from bars (p = .019). In conclusion, habitual exercise appears to increase RMR, and meal form may impart changes in relative DIT depending on exercise status.
Blake D. McLean, David Buttifant, Christopher J. Gore, Kevin White, Carsten Liess, and Justin Kemp
Little research has been done on the physiological and performance effects of altitude training on team-sport athletes. Therefore, this study examined changes in 2000-m time-trial running performance (TT), hemoglobin mass (Hbmass), and intramuscular carnosine content of elite Australian Football (AF) players after a preseason altitude camp.
Thirty elite AF players completed 19 days of living and training at either moderate altitude (~2130 m; ALT, n = 21) or sea level (CON, n = 9). TT performance and Hbmass were assessed preintervention (PRE) and postintervention (POST1) in both groups and at 4 wk after returning to sea level (POST2) in ALT only.
Improvement in TT performance after altitude was likely 1.5% (± 4.8–90%CL) greater in ALT than in CON, with an individual responsiveness of 0.8%. Improvements in TT were maintained at POST2 in ALT. Hbmass after altitude was very likely increased in ALT compared with CON (2.8% ± 3.5%), with an individual responsiveness of 1.3%. Hbmass returned to baseline at POST2. Intramuscular carnosine did not change in either gastrocnemius or soleus from PRE to POST1.
A preseason altitude camp improved TT performance and Hbmass in elite AF players to a magnitude similar to that demonstrated by elite endurance athletes undertaking altitude training. The individual responsiveness of both TT and Hbmass was approximately half the group mean effect, indicating that most players gained benefit. The maintenance of running performance for 4 wk, despite Hbmass returning to baseline, suggests that altitude training is a valuable preparation for AF players leading into the competitive season.