Consequences of Drafting on Human Locomotion: Benefits on Sports Performance
Jeanick Brisswalter and Christophe Hausswirth
Relationship Between Blood Flow and Performance Recovery: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study
Rachel Borne, Christophe Hausswirth, and François Bieuzen
To investigate the effect of different limb blood-flow levels on cycling-performance recovery, blood lactate concentration, and heart rate.
Thirty-three high-intensity intermittent-trained athletes completed two 30-s Wingate anaerobic test sessions, 3 × 30-s (WAnT 1–3) and 1 × 30-s (WAnT 4), on a cycling ergometer. WAnT 1–3 and WAnT 4 were separated by a randomly assigned 24-min recovery intervention selected from among blood-flow restriction, passive rest, placebo stimulation, or neuromuscular electrical-stimulation-induced blood flow. Calf arterial inflow was measured by venous occlusion plethysmography at regular intervals throughout the recovery period. Performance was measured in terms of peak and mean power output during WAnT 1 and WAnT 4.
After the recovery interventions, a large (r = .68 [90% CL .42; .83]) and very large (r = .72 (90% CL .49; .86]) positive correlation were observed between the change in calf arterial inflow and the change in mean and peak power output, respectively. Calf arterial inflow was significantly higher during the neuromuscular-electrical-stimulation recovery intervention than with the blood-flow-restriction, passive-rest, and placebo-stimulation interventions (P < .001). This corresponds to the only intervention that allowed performance recovery (P > .05). No recovery effect was linked to heart rate or blood lactate concentration levels.
For the first time, these data support the existence of a positive correlation between an increase in blood flow and performance recovery between bouts of high-intensity exercise. As a practical consideration, this effect can be obtained by using neuromuscular electrical stimulation-induced blood flow since this passive, simple strategy could be easily applied during short-term recovery.
Optimizing Heat Acclimation for Endurance Athletes: High- Versus Low-Intensity Training
Cyril Schmit, Rob Duffield, Christophe Hausswirth, Jeanick Brisswalter, and Yann Le Meur
Purpose: To determine the effect of high- versus low-intensity training in the heat and ensuing taper period in the heat on endurance performance. Methods: In total, 19 well-trained triathletes undertook 5 days of normal training and a 1-wk taper including either low- (heat acclimation [HA-L], n = 10) or high-intensity (HA-H, n = 9) training sessions in the heat (30°C, 50% relative humidity). A control group (n = 10) reproduced their usual training in thermoneutral conditions. Indoor 20-km cycling time trials (35°C, 50% relative humidity) were performed before (Pre) and after the main heat exposure (Mid) and after the taper (Post). Results: Power output remained stable in the control group from Pre to Mid (effect size: −0.10 [0.26]) and increased from Mid to Post (0.18 [0.22]). The HA-L group demonstrated a progressive increase in performance from Pre to Mid (0.62 [0.33]) and from Mid to Post (0.53 [0.30]), alongside typical physiological signs of HA (reduced core temperature and heart rate and increased body-mass loss). While the HA-H group presented similar adaptations, increased perceived fatigue and decreased performance at Mid (−0.35 [0.26]) were evidenced and reversed at Post (0.50 [0.20]). No difference in power output was reported at Post between the HA-H and control groups. Conclusion: HA-H can quickly induce functional overreaching in nonacclimatized endurance athletes. As it was associated with a weak subsequent performance supercompensation, coaches and athletes should pay particular attention to training monitoring during a final preparation in the heat and reduce training intensity when early signs of functional overreaching are identified.
Comparison of Between-Training-Sessions Recovery Strategies for World-Class BMX Pilots
Laurie-Anne Marquet, Christophe Hausswirth, Arnaud Hays, Fabrice Vettoretti, and Jeanick Brisswalter
To assess the impact of between-training-sessions recovery strategies (passive [PAS], active [ACT], cold-water immersion [CWI], and ingestion of a recovery drink [NUTR]) on maximal cycling performance, perceptions of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and fatigue in world-class BMX riders.
Eleven elite BMX athletes, members of the French national team (top country in the 2011 international ranking, 4 medals at the 2012 World Championships, top European country), participated in the study, which involved standardized training periods. Athletes performed 3 maximal-sprint power tests: the first day of the week before the training session and before and after training on the third day of the week (D3). The recovery strategy was randomly assigned to each participant on day 2 immediately after the last training period of the day. Perceptions of DOMS and general fatigue were recorded on D3.
After training on D3, the decrease in maximal-sprint power (Pmax) was significantly greater for PAS than with CWI (P = .02) and NUTR (P = .018). Similar results were found with ACT (vs CWI P = .044, and vs NUTR P = .042). Self-reported DOMS and fatigue were significantly greater after PAS than after other strategies.
For elite BMX riders, between training days, nutritional and/or CWI recovery strategies appear to be best for reducing muscle fatigue and increasing the capacity to withstand the training schedule.
Power Output and Pacing During International Cross-Country Mountain Bike Cycling
Cyril Granier, Chris R. Abbiss, Anaël Aubry, Yvon Vauchez, Sylvain Dorel, Christophe Hausswirth, and Yann Le Meur
Purpose: To characterize the physiological profiles of elite cross-country mountain-bike (XCO-MTB) cyclists and to examine their pacing and power-output (PO) distribution during international races. Methods: Over 2 competitive seasons, 8 male XCO-MTB cyclists (VO2max 79.9 [5.2] mL·min−1·kg−1, maximal aerobic power [MAP] 411  W and 6.3 [0.4] W·kg−1) regularly undertook incremental tests to assess their PO and heart rate (HR) at first and second ventilatory thresholds (VT1 and VT2) and at VO2max. During the same period, their PO, HR, speed, and cadence were recorded over 13 international races (total of 30 recorded files). Results: Mean PO, speed, cadence, and HR during the races were 283 (22) W (4.31 [0.32] W·kg−1, 68% [5%] MAP), 19.7 (2.1) km·h−1, 68 (8) rpm, and 172 (11) beats·min−1 (91% [2%] HRmax), respectively. The average times spent below 10% of MAP, between 10% of MAP and VT1, between VT1 and VT2, between VT2 and MAP, and above MAP were 25% (5%), 21% (4%), 13% (3%), 16% (3%), and 26% (5%), respectively. Both speed and PO decreased from the start loop to lap 1 before stabilizing until the end of the race. Conclusions: Elite off-road cyclists demonstrated typical values of world-class endurance cyclists with an excellent power-to-mass ratio. This study demonstrated that XCO-MTB races are performed at higher intensities than reported in previous research and are characterized by a fast start followed by an even pace.
Assessing Overreaching With Heart-Rate Recovery: What Is the Minimal Exercise Intensity Required?
Yann Le Meur, Martin Buchheit, Anaël Aubry, Aaron J Coutts, and Christophe Hausswirth
Faster heart-rate recovery (HRR) after high to maximal exercise (≥90% of maximal heart rate) has been reported in athletes suspected of functional overreaching (f-OR). This study investigated whether this response would also occur at lower exercise intensity.
Responses of HRR and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were compared during an incremental intermittent running protocol to exhaustion in 20 experienced male triathletes (8 control subjects and 13 overload subjects led to f-OR) before and immediately after an overload training period and after a 1-wk taper.
Both groups demonstrated an increase in HRR values immediately after the training period, but this change was very likely to almost certainly larger in the f-OR group at all running intensities (large to very large differences, eg, +16 ± 7 vs +3 ± 5 beats/min, in the f-OR and control groups at 11 km/h, respectively). The highest between-groups differences in changes in HRR were reported at 11 km/h (13 ± 4 beats/min) and 12 km/h (10 ± 6 beats/min). A concomitant increase in RPE at all intensities was reported only in the f-OR group (large to extremely large differences, +2.1 ± 1.5 to +0.7 ± 1.5 arbitrary units).
These findings confirm that faster HRR does not systematically predict better physical performance. However, when interpreted in the context of the athletes’ fatigue state and training phase, HRR after submaximal exercise may be more discriminant than HRR measures taken after maximal exercise for monitoring f-OR. These findings may be applied in practice by regularly assessing HRR after submaximal exercise (ie, warm-up) for monitoring endurance athletes’ responses to training.
Effect of Wearing Compression Stockings on Recovery After Mild Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage
François Bieuzen, Jeanick Brisswalter, Christopher Easthope, Fabrice Vercruyssen, Thierry Bernard, and Christophe Hausswirth
Compression garments are increasingly popular in long-distance running events where they are used to limit cumulative fatigue and symptoms associated with mild exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). However, the effective benefits remain unclear.
This study examined the effect of wearing compression stockings (CS) on EIMD indicators. Compression was applied during or after simulated trail races performed at competition pace in experienced off-road runners.
Eleven highly trained male runners participated in 3 simulated trail races (15.6 km: uphill section 6.6 km, average gradient 13%, and downhill section 9.0 km, average gradient –9%) in a randomized crossover trial. The effect of wearing CS while running or during recovery was tested and compared with a control condition (ie, run and recovery without CS; non- CS). Indicators of muscle function, muscle damage (creatine kinase; CK), inflammation (interleukin-6; IL-6), and perceived muscle soreness were recorded at baseline (1 h before warm-up) and 1, 24, and 48 h after the run.
Perceived muscle soreness was likely to be lower when participants wore CS during trail running compared with the control condition (1 h postrun, 82% chance; 24 h postrun, 80% chance). A likely or possibly beneficial effect of wearing CS during running was also found for isometric peak torque at 1 h postrun (70% chance) and 24 h postrun (60% chance) and throughout the recovery period on countermovement jump, compared with non-CS. Possible, trivial, or unclear differences were observed for CK and IL-6 between all conditions.
Wearing CS during simulated trail races mainly affects perceived leg soreness and muscle function. These benefits are visible very shortly after the start of the recovery period.
Effects of Postexercise Protein Intake on Muscle Mass and Strength During Resistance Training: Is There an Optimal Ratio Between Fast and Slow Proteins?
Marina Fabre, Christophe Hausswirth, Eve Tiollier, Odeline Molle, Julien Louis, Alexandre Durguerian, Nathalie Neveux, and Xavier Bigard
While effects of the two classes of proteins found in milk (i.e., soluble proteins, including whey, and casein) on muscle protein synthesis have been well investigated after a single bout of resistance exercise (RE), the combined effects of these two proteins on the muscle responses to resistance training (RT) have not yet been investigated. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the effects of protein supplementation varying by the ratio between milk soluble proteins (fast-digested protein) and casein (slow-digested protein) on the muscle to a 9-week RT program. In a double-blind protocol, 31 resistance-trained men, were assigned to 3 groups receiving a drink containing 20g of protein comprising either 100% of fast protein (FP(100), n = 10), 50% of fast and 50% of slow proteins (FP(50), n = 11) or 20% of fast protein and 80% of casein (FP(20), n = 10) at the end of training bouts. Body composition (DXA), and maximal strength in dynamic and isometric were analyzed before and after RT. Moreover, blood plasma aminoacidemia kinetic after RE was measured. The results showed a higher leucine bioavailability after ingestion of FP(100) and FP(50) drinks, when compared with FP(20) (p< .05). However, the RT-induced changes in lean body mass (p < .01), dynamic (p < .01), and isometric muscle strength (p < .05) increased similarly in all experimental groups. To conclude, compared with the FP(20) group, the higher rise in plasma amino acids following the ingestion of FP(100) and FP(50) did not lead to higher muscle long-term adaptations.
Pacing Adjustments Associated With Familiarization: Heat Versus Temperate Environments
Cyril Schmit, Rob Duffield, Christophe Hausswirth, Aaron J. Coutts, and Yann Le Meur
To describe the effect of the initial perceptual experience from heat familiarization on the pacing profile during a freepaced endurance time trial (TT) compared with temperate conditions.
Two groups of well-trained triathletes performed two 20-km TTs in either hot (35°C and 50% relative humidity [RH], n = 12) or temperate (21°C and 50% RH, n = 22) conditions, after standardization of training for each group before both trials. To ensure no physiological acclimation differences between conditions, the TTs for both groups were separated by 11 ± 4 d.
Performance improvement in the heat (11 ± 24 W) from the 1st to 2nd trial appeared comparable to that in temperate conditions (8 ± 14 W, P = .67). However, the specific alteration in pacing profile in the heat was markedly different than temperate conditions, with a change from “positive” to an “even” pacing strategy.
Altered perceptions of heat during heat familiarization, rather than physiological acclimatization per se, may mediate initial changes in pacing and TT performance in the heat. These results highlight the need for athletes without time for sufficient heat acclimatization to familiarize themselves with hot conditions to reduce the uncertainty from behavior-based outcomes that may impede performance.
Modification of Cycling Biomechanics during a Swim-to-Cycle Trial
Anne Delextrat, Véronique Tricot, Thierry Bernard, Fabrice Vercruyssen, Christophe Hausswirth, and Jeanick Brisswalter
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of drafting, i.e., swimming directly behind a competitor, on biomechanical adaptation during subsequent cycling. Eight well-trained male triathletes underwent three submaximal sessions in a counterbalanced order. These sessions comprised a 10-min ride on a bicycle ergometer at 75% of maximal aerobic power (MAP) at a freely chosen cadence. This exercise was preceded either by a 750-m swim performed alone at competition pace (SCA trial: swimming-cycling alone), a 750-m swim in a drafting position at the same pace as during SCA (SCD trial: swimming-cycling with drafting), or a cycling warm-up at 30% of MAP for the same duration as the SCA trial (CTRL trial). The results indicated that the decrease in metabolic load when swimming in a drafting position (SCD trial) was associated with a significantly lower pedal rate and significantly higher mean and peak resultant torques when compared to the SCA trial, p < 0.05. These results could be partly explained by the lower relative intensity during swimming in the SCD trial when compared with the SCA trial, involving a delayed manifestation of fatigue in the muscles of the lower limbs at the onset of cycling.