Previous studies in endurance athletes have indicated that block periodization (BP) can be a good alternative to the more traditional organization of training despite the fact that the total volume and intensity of the training are similar. However, these studies usually last only 4–12 wk. The aim of the present single-case study was to investigate the consequences of 58 wk with systematic BP of low-intensity training (LIT), moderate-intensity training (MIT), and high-intensity interval training (HIT) including incorporation of heavy strength training. It is important that a maintenance stimulus on the nonprioritized training modalities was added in the different training blocks. Performance-related variables were tested regularly during the intervention. The studied cyclist started with a maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) of 73.8 mL · kg−1 · min−1, peak aerobic power (Wmax) of 6.14 W/kg, and a power output at 3 mmol/L blood lactate concentration (Power3la-) of 3.6 W/kg. Total training volume during the 58-wk intervention was 678 h, of which 452 h were LIT (67%), 124 h were MIT (18%), 69 h were HIT (10%), and 34 h were heavy strength training (5%). The weekly training volume had a large range depending on the focus of the training block. After the intervention the cyclist’s VO2max was 87 mL · kg−1 · min−1, Wmax was 7.35 W/kg, and Power3la- was 4.9 W/kg. This single case indicates that the present training program can be a good alternative to the more traditional organization of long-term training of endurance athletes. However, a general recommendation cannot be given based on this single-case study.
Bent R. Rønnestad and Joar Hansen
Ernst A. Hansen and Bent R. Rønnestad
The present article reviews effects of training at low imposed cadences in cycling. The authors performed a systematic literature search of MEDLINE and SPORTDiscus up to April 2016 to identify potentially relevant articles. Based on the titles and abstracts of the identified articles, a subset of articles was selected for evaluation. These articles constituted original-research articles on adaptation to training at different imposed cadences in cycling. Seven articles were selected for evaluation. With regard to the terminology in the present article, low cadences are those below the freely chosen cadence. The rate of 80 rpm can, eg, be considered a low cadence if effort is maximal. On the other hand, the cadence has to be lower than 80 rpm (eg, 40–70 rpm) to be considered low if cycling is performed at low power output. The reason is that the choice of cadence depends on power output. In conclusion, there is presently no strong evidence for a benefit of training at low cadences. It can tentatively be recommended to consider including training bouts of cycling at low cadence at moderate to maximal intensity. The reason for the restrained recommendation is that some of the selected studies indicate no clear performance-enhancing effect of training at low cadence or even indicate a superior effect from training at freely chosen cadence. Furthermore, the selected studies are considerably dissimilar with respect to, eg, participant characteristics and to the applied training regimens.
Bent R. Rønnestad, Tue Rømer, and Joar Hansen
Purpose: Accumulated time at a high percentage of peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak) is important for improving performance in endurance athletes. The present study compared the acute effect of a roller-ski skating session containing work intervals with a fast start followed by decreasing speed (DEC) with a traditional session where the work intervals had a constant speed (similar to the mean speed of DEC; TRAD) on physiological responses, rating of perceived exertion, and leg press peak power. Methods: A total of 11 well-trained cross-country skiers performed DEC and TRAD in a randomized order (5 × 5-min work intervals, 3-min relief). Each 5-minute work interval in the DEC protocol started with 1.5 minutes at 100% of maximal aerobic speed followed by 3.5 minutes at 85% of maximal aerobic speed, whereas the TRAD protocol had a constant speed at 90% of maximal aerobic speed. Results: DEC induced a higher VO2 than TRAD, measured as both peak and average of all work intervals during the session (98.2% [2.1%] vs 95.4% [3.1%] VO2peak, respectively, and 87.6% [1.9%] vs 86.1% [3.2%] VO2peak, respectively) with a lower mean rating of perceived exertion after DEC than TRAD (16.1 [1.0] vs 16.5 [0.7], respectively) (all P < .05). There were no differences between sessions for mean heart rate, blood lactate concentration, or leg press peak power. Conclusion: DEC induced a higher mean VO2 and a lower rating of perceived exertion than TRAD, despite similar mean speed, indicating that DEC can be a good strategy for interval sessions aiming to accumulate more time at a high percentage of VO2peak.
Bent R. Rønnestad, Joar Hansen, Thomas C. Bonne, and Carsten Lundby
Purpose: The present case report aimed to investigate the effects of exercise training in temperate ambient conditions while wearing a heat suit on hemoglobin mass (Hbmass). Methods: As part of their training regimens, 5 national-team members of endurance sports (3 males) performed ∼5 weekly heat suit exercise training sessions each lasting 50 minutes for a duration of ∼8 weeks. Two other male athletes acted as controls. After the initial 8-week period, 3 of the athletes continued for 2 to 4 months with ∼3 weekly heat sessions in an attempt to maintain acquired adaptations at a lower cost. Hbmass was assessed in duplicate before and after intervention and maintenance period based on automated carbon monoxide rebreathing. Results: Heat suit exercise training increased rectal temperature to a median value of 38.7°C (range 38.6°C–39.0°C), and during the initial ∼8 weeks of heat suit training, there was a median increase of 5% (range 1.4%–12.9%) in Hbmass, while the changes in the 2 control athletes were a decrease of 1.7% and an increase of 3.2%, respectively. Furthermore, during the maintenance period, the 3 athletes who continued with a reduced number of heat suit sessions experienced a change of 0.7%, 2.8%, and −1.1%, indicating that it is possible to maintain initial increases in Hbmass despite reducing the weekly number of heat suit sessions. Conclusions: The present case report illustrates that heat suit exercise training acutely raises rectal temperature and that following 8 weeks of such training Hbmass may increase in elite endurance athletes.
Ernst A. Hansen, Bent R. Rønnestad, Geir Vegge, and Truls Raastad
The authors tested whether heavy strength training, including hip-flexion exercise, would reduce the extent of the phase in the crank revolution where negative or retarding crank torque occurs. Negative torque normally occurs in the upstroke phase when the leg is lifted by flexing the hip. Eighteen well-trained cyclists either performed 12 wk of heavy strength training in addition to their usual endurance training (E+S; n = 10) or merely continued their usual endurance training during the intervention period (E; n = 8). The strength training consisted of 4 lower body exercises (3 × 4–10 repetition maximum) performed twice a week. E+S enhanced cycling performance by 7%, which was more than in E (P = .02). Performance was determined as average power output in a 5-min all-out trial performed subsequent to 185 min of submaximal cycling. The performance enhancement, which has been reported previously, was here shown to be accompanied by improved pedaling efficacy during the all-out cycling. Thus, E+S shortened the phase where negative crank torque occurs by ~16°, corresponding to ~14%, which was more than in E (P = .002). In conclusion, adding heavy strength training to usual endurance training in well-trained cyclists improves pedaling efficacy during 5-min all-out cycling performed after 185 min of cycling.
Bent R. Rønnestad, Gunnar Slettaløkken Falch, and Stian Ellefsen
Postactivation-potentiation exercise with added whole-body vibration (WBV) has been suggested as a potential way to acutely improve sprint performance. In cycling, there are many competitions and situations where sprinting abilities are important.
To investigate the effect of adding WBV to warm-up procedures on subsequent cycle sprint performance.
Eleven well-trained cyclists participated in the study. All cyclists performed a familiarization session before 2 separate test sessions in randomized order. Each session included a standardized warm-up followed by 1 of the following preconditioning exercises: 30 s of half-squats without WBV or 30 s of half-squats with WBV at 40 Hz. A 15-s Wingate sprint was performed 1 min after the preconditioning exercise.
Performing preconditioning exercise with WBV at 40 Hz resulted in superior peak power output compared with preconditioning exercise without WBV (1413 ± 257 W vs 1353 ± 213 W, P = .04) and a tendency toward superior mean power output during a 15-second all-out sprint (850 ± 119 W vs 828 ± 101 W, P = .08). Effect sizes showed a moderate practical effect of WBV vs no WBV on both peak and mean power output.
Preconditioning exercise performed with WBV at 40 Hz seems to have a positive effect on cycling sprint performance in young well-trained cyclists. This suggests that athletes can incorporate body-loaded squats with WBV in preparations to specific sprint training to improve the quality of the sprint training and also to improve sprint performance in relevant competitions.
Iñigo Mujika, Bent R. Rønnestad, and David T. Martin
Despite early and ongoing debate among athletes, coaches, and sport scientists, it is likely that resistance training for endurance cyclists can be tolerated, promotes desired adaptations that support training, and can directly improve performance. Lower-body heavy strength training performed in addition to endurance-cycling training can improve both short- and long-term endurance performance. Strength-maintenance training is essential to retain strength gains during the competition season. Competitive female cyclists with greater lower-body lean mass (LBLM) tend to have ~4–9% higher maximum mean power per kg LBLM over 1 s to 10 min. Such relationships enable optimal body composition to be modeled. Resistance training off the bike may be particularly useful for modifying LBLM, whereas more cycling-specific training strategies like eccentric cycling and single-leg cycling with a counterweight have not been thoughtfully investigated in well-trained cyclists. Potential mechanisms for improved endurance include postponed activation of less efficient type II muscle fibers, conversion of type IIX fibers into more fatigue-resistant IIa fibers, and increased muscle mass and rate of force development.
Thomas Losnegard, Sondre Skarli, Joar Hansen, Stian Roterud, Ida S. Svendsen, Bent R. Rønnestad, and Gøran Paulsen
Purpose: Rating of perceived exertion (RPE) is a widely used tool to assess subjective perception of effort during exercise. The authors investigated between-subject variation and effect of exercise mode and sex on Borg RPE (6–20) in relation to heart rate (HR), oxygen uptake (VO2), and capillary blood lactate concentrations. Methods: A total of 160 elite endurance athletes performed a submaximal and maximal test protocol either during cycling (n = 84, 37 women) or running (n = 76, 32 women). The submaximal test consisted of 4 to 7 progressive 5-minute steps within ∼50% to 85% of maximal VO2. For each step, steady-state HR, VO2, and capillary blood lactate concentrations were assessed and RPE reported. An incremental protocol to exhaustion was used to determine maximal VO2 and peak HR to provide relative (%) HR and VO2 values at submaximal work rates. Results: A strong relationship was found between RPE and %HR, %VO2, and capillary blood lactate concentrations (r = .80–.82, all Ps < .05). The between-subject coefficient of variation (SD/mean) for %HR and %VO2 decreased linearly with increased RPE, from ∼10% to 15% at RPE 8 to ∼5% at RPE 17. Compared with cycling, running induced a systematically higher %HR and %VO2 (∼2% and 5%, respectively, P < .05) with these differences being greater at lower intensities (RPE < 13). At the same RPE, women showed a trivial, but significantly higher %HR and %VO2 than men (<1%, P < .05). Conclusions: Among elite endurance athletes, exercise mode influenced RPE at a given %HR and %VO2, with greater differences at lower exercise intensities. Athletes should manage different tools to evaluate training based on intensity and duration of workouts.
Espen Tønnessen, Ida S. Svendsen, Bent R. Rønnestad, Jonny Hisdal, Thomas A. Haugen, and Stephen Seiler
One year of training data from 8 elite orienteers were divided into a transition phase (TP), general preparatory phase (GPP), specific preparatory phase (SPP), and competition phase (CP). Average weekly training volume and frequency, hours at different intensities (zones 1–3), cross-training, running, orienteering, interval training, continuous training, and competition were calculated. Training volume was higher in GPP than TP, SPP, and CP (14.9 vs 9.7, 11.5, and 10.6 h/wk, P < .05). Training frequency was higher in GPP than TP (10 vs 7.5 sessions/wk, P < .05). Zone 1 training was higher in GPP than TP, SPP, and CP (11.3 vs 7.1, 8.3, and 7.7 h/wk, P < .05). Zone 3 training was higher in SPP and CP than in TP and GPP (0.9 and 1.1 vs 1.6 and 1.5 h/wk, P < .05). Cross-training was higher in GPP than SPP and CP (4.3 vs 0.8 h/wk, P < .05). Interval training was higher in GPP than TP, SPP, and CP (0.7 vs 0.3 h/wk, P < .05). High-intensity continuous training was higher in GPP than CP (0.9 vs 0.4 h/wk, P < .05), while competition was higher in SPP and CP than in TP and GPP (1.3 and 1.5 vs 0.6 and 0.3 h/wk, P < .01). In conclusion, these champion endurance athletes achieved a progressive reduction in total training volume from GPP to CP via a shortening of each individual session while the number of training sessions remained unchanged. This decrease in training volume was primarily due to a reduction in the number of hours of low-intensity, non-sport-specific cross-training.
Nicki Winfield Almquist, Gertjan Ettema, James Hopker, Øyvind Sandbakk, and Bent R. Rønnestad
Background: Cycling competitions are often of long duration and include repeated high-intensity efforts. Purpose: To investigate the effect of repeated maximal sprints during 4 hours of low-intensity cycling on gross efficiency (GE), electromyography patterns, and pedaling technique compared with work-matched low-intensity cycling in elite cyclists. Methods: Twelve elite, male cyclists performed 4 hours of cycling at 50% of maximal oxygen uptake either with 3 sets of 3 × 30-second maximal sprints (E&S) during the first 3 hours or a work-matched cycling without sprints (E) in a randomized order. Oxygen uptake, electromyography, and pedaling technique were recorded throughout the exercises. Results: GE was reduced from start to the end of exercise in both conditions (E&S: 19.0 [0.2] vs 18.1 [0.2], E: 19.1% [0.2%] vs 18.1% [0.2%], both P = .001), with no difference in change between conditions (condition × time interaction, P = .8). Integrated electromyography increased from start to end of exercise in m. vastus lateralis and m. vastus medialis (m. vastus medialis: 9.9 [2.4], m. vastus lateralis: 8.5 [4.0] mV, main effect of time: P < .001 and P = .03, respectively) and E&S increased less than E in m. vastus medialis (mean difference −3.3 [1.5] mV, main effect of condition: P = .03, interaction, P = .06). The mechanical effectiveness only decreased in E&S (E&S: −2.2 [0.7], effect size = 0.24 vs E: −1.3 [0.8] percentage points: P = .04 and P = .8, respectively). The mean power output during each set of 3 × 30-second sprints in E&S did not differ (P = .6). Conclusions: GE decreases as a function of time during 4 hours of low-intensity cycling. However, the inclusion of maximal repeated sprinting does not affect the GE changes, and the ability to sprint is maintained throughout the entire session.