Purpose: The mean power output (MPO) from a 60-min time trial (TT)—also known as functional threshold power, or FTP—is a standard measure of cycling performance; however, shorter performance tests are desirable to reduce the burden of performance testing. The authors sought to determine the reliability of 4- and 20-min TTs and the extent to which these short TTs were associated with 60-min MPO. Methods: Trained male cyclists (n = 8; age = 25  y; = 71  mL/kg/min) performed two 4-min TTs, two 20-min TTs, and one 60-min TT. Critical power (CP) was estimated from 4- and 20-min TTs. The typical error of the mean (TEM) and intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) were calculated to assess reliability, and R 2 values were calculated to assess relationships with 60-min MPO. Results: Pairs of 4-min TTs (mean: 417 [SD: 45] W vs 412  W, P = .25; TEM = 8.1 W; ICC = .98), 20-min TTs (342  W vs 344  W, P = .41; TEM = 4.6 W; ICC = .99), and CP estimates (323  W vs 328  W, P = .25; TEM = 6.5; ICC = .98) were reliable. The 4-min MPO (R 2 = .95), 20-min MPO (R 2 = .92), estimated CP (R 2 = .82), and combination of the 4- and 20-min MPO (adjusted R 2 = .98) were strongly associated with the 60-min MPO (309  W). Conclusion: The 4- and 20-min TTs appear useful for assessing performance in trained, if not elite, cyclists.
Martin J. MacInnis, Aaron C.Q. Thomas and Stuart M. Phillips
Andrew J.R. Cochran, Frank Myslik, Martin J. MacInnis, Michael E. Percival, David Bishop, Mark A. Tarnopolsky and Martin J. Gibala
Commencing some training sessions with reduced carbohydrate (CHO) availability has been shown to enhance skeletal muscle adaptations, but the effect on exercise performance is less clear. We examined whether restricting CHO intake between twice daily sessions of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) augments improvements in exercise performance and mitochondrial content. Eighteen active but not highly trained subjects (peak oxygen uptake [VO2peak] = 44 ± 9 ml/kg/min), matched for age, sex, and fitness, were randomly allocated to two groups. On each of 6 days over 2 weeks, subjects completed two training sessions, each consisting of 5 × 4-min cycling intervals (60% of peak power), interspersed by 2 min of recovery. Subjects ingested either 195 g of CHO (HI-HI group: ~2.3 g/kg) or 17 g of CHO (HI-LO group: ~0.3 g/kg) during the 3-hr period between sessions. The training-induced improvement in 250-kJ time trial performance was greater (p = .02) in the HI-LO group (211 ± 66 W to 244 ± 75 W) compared with the HI-HI group (203 ± 53 W to 219 ± 60 W); however, the increases in mitochondrial content was similar between groups, as reflected by similar increases in citrate synthase maximal activity, citrate synthase protein content and cytochrome c oxidase subunit IV protein content (p > .05 for interaction terms). This is the first study to show that a short-term “train low, compete high” intervention can improve whole-body exercise capacity. Further research is needed to determine whether this type of manipulation can also enhance performance in highly-trained subjects.
Andrew J.R. Cochran, Michael E. Percival, Sara Thompson, Jenna B. Gillen, Martin J. MacInnis, Murray A. Potter, Mark A. Tarnopolsky and Martin J. Gibala
Sprint interval training (SIT), repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise, improves skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and exercise performance. β-alanine (β-ALA) supplementation has been shown to enhance exercise performance, which led us to hypothesize that chronic β-ALA supplementation would augment work capacity during SIT and augment training-induced adaptations in skeletal muscle and performance. Twenty-four active but untrained men (23 ± 2 yr; VO2peak = 50 ± 6 mL·kg−1·min−1) ingested 3.2 g/day of β-ALA or a placebo (PLA) for a total of 10 weeks (n = 12 per group). Following 4 weeks of baseline supplementation, participants completed a 6-week SIT intervention. Each of 3 weekly sessions consisted of 4–6 Wingate tests, i.e., 30-s bouts of maximal cycling, interspersed with 4 min of recovery. Before and after the 6-week SIT program, participants completed a 250-kJ time trial and a repeated sprint test. Biopsies (v. lateralis) revealed that skeletal muscle carnosine content increased by 33% and 52%, respectively, after 4 and 10 weeks of β-ALA supplementation, but was unchanged in PLA. Total work performed during each training session was similar across treatments. SIT increased markers of mitochondrial content, including cytochome c oxidase (40%) and β-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase maximal activities (19%), as well as VO2peak (9%), repeated-sprint capacity (5%), and 250-kJ time trial performance (13%), but there were no differences between treatments for any measure (p < .01, main effects for time; p > .05, interaction effects). The training stimulus may have overwhelmed any potential influence of β-ALA, or the supplementation protocol was insufficient to alter the variables to a detectable extent.
Kristin E. MacLeod, Sean F. Nugent, Susan I. Barr, Michael S. Koehle, Benjamin C. Sporer and Martin J. MacInnis
Beetroot juice (BR) has been shown to lower the oxygen cost of exercise in normoxia and may have similar effects in hypoxia. We investigated the effect of BR on steady-state exercise economy and 10-km time trial (TT) performance in normoxia and moderate hypoxia (simulated altitude: ~2500 m). Eleven trained male cyclists (VO2peak ≥ 60 ml·kg-1·min-1) completed four exercise trials. Two hours before exercise, subjects consumed 70 mL BR (~6 mmol nitrate) or placebo (nitrate-depleted BR) in a randomized, double-blind manner. Subjects then completed a 15-min self-selected cycling warm-up, a 15-min steady-state exercise bout at 50% maximum power output, and a 10-km time trial (TT) in either normoxia or hypoxia. Environmental conditions were randomized and single-blind. BR supplementation increased plasma nitrate concentration and fraction of exhaled nitric oxide relative to PL (p < .05 for both comparisons). Economy at 50% power output was similar in hypoxic and normoxic conditions (p > .05), but mean power output was greater in the normoxic TT relative to the hypoxic TT (p < .05). BR did not affect economy, steady-state SpO2, mean power output, or 10-km TT completion time relative to placebo in either normoxia or hypoxia (p > .05 in all comparisons). In conclusion, BR did not lower the oxygen cost of steady-state exercise or improve exercise performance in normoxia or hypoxia in a small sample of well-trained male cyclists.