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Christina Åsan Grasaas, Gertjan Ettema, Ann Magdalen Hegge, Knut Skovereng, and Øyvind Sandbakk

This study investigated changes in technique and efficiency after high-intensity exercise to exhaustion in elite cross-country skiers. Twelve elite male skiers completed 4 min submaximal exercise before and after a high-intensity incremental test to exhaustion with the G3 skating technique on a 5% inclined roller-ski treadmill. Kinematics and kinetics were monitored by instrumented roller skis, work rate was calculated as power against roller friction and gravity, aerobic metabolic cost was determined from gas exchange, and blood lactate values indicated the anaerobic contribution. Gross efficiency was the work rate divided by aerobic metabolic rate. A recovery period of 10 min between the incremental test and the posttest was included to allow the metabolic values to return to baseline. Changes in neuromuscular fatigue in upper and lower limbs before and after the incremental test were indicated by peak power in concentric bench press and squat-jump height. From pretest to posttest, cycle length decreased and cycle rate increased by approximately 5% (P < 0.001), whereas the amount of ski forces did not change significantly. Oxygen uptake increased by 4%, and gross efficiency decreased from 15.5% ± 0.7% to 15.2% ± 0.5% from pretest to posttest (both P < .02). Correspondingly, blood lactate concentration increased from 2.4 ± 1.0 to 6.2 ± 2.5 mmol/L (P < .001). Bench-press and squat-jump performance remained unaltered. Elite cross-country skiers demonstrated a less efficient technique and shorter cycle length during submaximal roller-ski skating after high-intensity exercise. However, there were no changes in ski forces or peak power in the upper and lower limbs that could explain these differences.

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Øyvind Sandbakk, Matt Spencer, Gertjan Ettema, Silvana Bucher Sandbakk, Knut Skovereng, and Boye Welde

Purpose:

To investigate performance and the associated physiological and biomechanical responses during upper-body repeated-sprint work.

Methods:

Twelve male ice sledge hockey players from the Norwegian national team performed eight 30-m sprints with start every 30 s and an active recovery between sprints. Time was captured every 10 m by photocells, cycle length and rate were determined by video analyses, and heart rate and blood lactate concentration were measured by conventional methods.

Results:

The percentage sprint decrement was 7% over the 8 trials, with significant reductions in performance from the previous trial already on the second trial (all P < .05). Furthermore, cycle rate was reduced by 9% over the 8 trials (P < .05). Similar changes in performance and kinematic patterns were evident for all 10-m phases of the sprints. Heart rate gradually increased to 94% of maximal (178 ± 10 beats/min) over the 8 trials, and the mean reduction in heart rate was 7 ± 2 beats/min during the 22–24 s of active recovery for all trials (all P < .05). The blood lactate concentration increased to the athletes’ maximal levels over the 8 sprints (P < .05).

Conclusions:

This is the first study to investigate performance, physiological, and biomechanical aspects of self-propelled upperbody repeated-sprint work. The observed sprint decrement over the 8 trials was associated with reductions in cycle rates and high physiological demands. However, no kinematic and physiological characteristics were significantly correlated to repeated-sprint ability or the sprint decrement.

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Madison Taylor, Nicki Almquist, Bent Rønnestad, Arnt Erik Tjønna, Morten Kristoffersen, Matt Spencer, Øyvind Sandbakk, and Knut Skovereng

Purpose: To investigate the effects of including repeated sprints in a weekly low-intensity (LIT) session during a 3-week transition period on cycling performance 6 weeks into the subsequent preparatory period (PREP) in elite cyclists. Methods: Eleven elite male cyclists (age = 22.0 [3.8] y, body mass = 73.0 [5.8] kg, height = 186 [7] cm, maximal oxygen uptake [VO2max] = 5469 [384] mL·min−1) reduced their training load by 64% and performed only LIT sessions (CON, n = 6) or included 3 sets of 3 × 30-second maximal sprints in a weekly LIT session (SPR, n = 5) during a 3-week transition period. There was no difference in the reduction in training load during the transition period between groups. Physiological and performance measures were compared between the end of the competitive period and 6 weeks into the PREP. Results: SPR demonstrated a 7.3% (7.2%) improvement in mean power output during a 20-minute all-out test at PREP, which was greater than CON (−1.3% [4.6%]) (P = .048). SPR had a corresponding 7.0% (3.6%) improvement in average VO2 during the 20-minute all-out test, which was larger than the 0.7% (6.0%) change in CON (P = .042). No change in VO2max, gross efficiency, or power output at blood lactate concentration of 4 mmol·L−1 from competitive period to PREP occurred in either group. Conclusion: Including sprints in a weekly LIT session during the transition period of elite cyclists provided a performance advantage 6 weeks into the subsequent PREP, which coincided with a higher performance VO2.