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Al Haddad Hani, Paul B. Laursen, Ahmaidi Said and Buchheit Martin

Purpose:

To assess the effect of supramaximal intermittent exercise on long-term cardiac autonomic activity, inferred from heart rate variability (HRV).

Methods:

Eleven healthy males performed a series of two consecutive intermittent 15-s runs at 95% VIFT (i.e., speed reached at the end of the 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test) interspersed with 15 s of active recovery at 45% VIFT until exhaustion. Beat-to-beat intervals were recorded during two consecutive nights (habituation night and 1st night) before, 10 min before and immediately after exercise, as well as 12 h (2nd night) and 36 h (3rd night) after supramaximal intermittent exercise. The HRV indices were calculated from the last 5 min of resting and recovery periods, and the first 10 min of the first estimated slow wave sleep period.

Results:

Immediate post-supramaximal exercise vagal-related HRV indices were significantly lower than immediate pre-supramaximal exercise values (P < .001). Most vagal-related indices were lower during the 2nd night compared with the 1st night (eg, mean RR intervals, P = .03). Compared with the 2nd night, vagal-related HRV indices were significantly higher during the 3rd night. Variables were not different between the 1st and 3rd nights; however, we noted a tendency (adjusted effect size, aES) for an increased normalized high-frequency component (P = .06 and aES = 0.70) and a tendency toward a decreased low-frequency component (P = .06 and aES = 0.74).

Conclusion:

Results confirm the strong influence of exercise intensity on short- and long-term post exercise heart rate variability recovery and might help explain the high efficiency of supramaximal training for enhancing indices of cardiorespiratory fitness.

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Ed Maunder, Paul B. Laursen and Andrew E. Kilding

Purpose:

To compare the physiological and performance effects of ad libitum cold-fluid (CF) and ice-slurry (IS) ingestion on cycling time-trial (TT) performance in the heat.

Methods:

Seven well-trained male triathletes and cyclists completed 2 maximaleffort 40-km cycling TTs in hot (35°C) and humid (60% relative humidity) conditions. In randomized order, participants ingested CF or IS (initial temperatures 4°C and –1°C, respectively) ad libitum during exercise. At each 5-km interval, time elapsed, power output, rectal and skin temperature, heart rate, and perceptual measures were recorded. The actual CF and IS temperatures during the 40-km TT were determined post hoc.

Results:

Performance time (2.5% ± 2.6%, ES = 0.27) and mean power (–2.2% ± 3.2%, ES = –0.15) were likely worse in the IS trial. Differences in thermoregulatory and cardiovascular measures were largely unclear between trials, while feeling state was worse in the later stages of the IS trial (ES = –0.31 to –0.95). Fluid-ingestion volume was very likely lower in the IS trial (–29.7% ± 19.4%, ES = –0.97). The temperatures of CF and IS increased by 0.37°C/min and 0.02°C/min, respectively, over the mean TT duration.

Conclusions:

Ad libitum ingestion of CF resulted in improved 40-km cycling TT performance compared with IS. Participants chose greater fluid-ingestion rates in the CF trial than in the IS trial and had improved feeling state. These findings suggest that ad libitum CF ingestion is preferable to IS during cycling TTs under conditions of environmental heat stress.

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Gregory T. Levin, Paul B. Laursen and Chris R. Abbiss

Purpose:

To assess the reliability of a 5-min-stage graded exercise test (GXT) and determine the association between physiological attributes and performance over stochastic cycling trials of varying distance.

Methods:

Twenty-eight well-trained male cyclists performed 2 GXTs and either a 30-km (n = 17) or a 100-km stochastic cycling time trial (n = 9). Stochastic cycling trials included periods of high-intensity efforts for durations of 250 m, 1 km, or 4 km depending on the test being performing.

Results:

Maximal physiological attributes were found to be extremely reliable (maximal oxygen uptake [VO2max]: coefficient of variation [CV] 3.0%, intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] .911; peak power output [PPO]: CV 3.0%, ICC .913), but a greater variability was found in ventilatory thresholds and economy. All physiological variables measured during the GXT, except economy at 200 W, were correlated with 30-km cycling performance. Power output during the 250-m and 1-km efforts of the 30-km trial were correlated with VO2max, PPO, and the power output at the second ventilatory threshold (r = .58–.82). PPO was the only physiological attributed measured during the GXT to be correlated with performance during the 100-km cycling trial (r = .64).

Conclusions:

Many physiological variables from a reliable GXT were associated with performance over shorter (30-km) but not longer (100-km) stochastic cycling trials.

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Daniel J. Plews, Paul B. Laursen and Martin Buchheit

Purpose:

Heart-rate variability (HRV) is a popular tool for monitoring autonomic nervous system status and training adaptation in athletes. It is believed that increases in HRV indicate effective training adaptation, but these are not always apparent in elite athletes.

Methods:

Resting HRV was recorded in 4 elite rowers (rowers A, B, C, and D) over the 7-wk period before their success at the 2015 World Rowing Championships. The natural logarithm of the square root of the mean sum of the squared differences (Ln rMSSD) between R–R intervals, Ln rMSSD:R-R ratio trends, and the Ln-rMSSD–to–R-R-interval relationship were assessed for each championship-winning rower.

Results:

The time course of change in Ln rMSSD was athlete-dependent, with stagnation and decreases apparent. However, there were consistent substantial reductions in the Ln rMSSD:R-R ratio: rower A, baseline toward wk 5 (–2.35 ± 1.94); rower B, baseline to wk 4 and 5 (–0.41 ± 0.48 and –0.64 ± 0.65, respectively); rower C, baseline to wk 4 (–0.58 ± 0.66); and rower D, baseline to wk 4, 5, and 6 (–1.15 ± 0.91, –0.81 ± 0.74, and –1.43 ± 0.69, respectively).

Conclusions:

Reductions in Ln rMSSD concurrent with reductions in the Ln rMSSD:R-R ratio are indicative of parasympathetic saturation. Consequently, 3 of 4 rowers displayed substantial increases in parasympathetic activity despite having decreases in Ln rMSSD. These results confirm that a combination of indices should be used to monitor cardiac autonomic activity.

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Jack M. Burns, Jeremiah J. Peiffer, Chris R. Abbiss, Greig Watson, Angus Burnett and Paul B. Laursen

Purpose:

Manufacturers of uncoupled cycling cranks claim that their use will increase economy of motion and gross efficiency. Purportedly, this occurs by altering the muscle-recruitment patterns contributing to the resistive forces occurring during the recovery phase of the pedal stroke. Uncoupled cranks use an independent-clutch design by which each leg cycles independently of the other (ie, the cranks are not fixed together). However, research examining the efficacy of training with uncoupled cranks is equivocal. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of short-term training with uncoupled cranks on the performance-related variables economy of motion, gross efficiency, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), and muscle-activation patterns.

Methods:

Sixteen trained cyclists were matched-paired into either an uncoupled-crank or a normal-crank training group. Both groups performed 5 wk of training on their assigned cranks. Before and after training, participants completed a graded exercise test using normal cranks. Expired gases were collected to determine economy of motion, gross efficiency, and VO2max, while integrated electromyography (iEMG) was used to examine muscle-activation patterns of the vastus lateralis, biceps femoris, and gastrocnemius.

Results:

No significant changes between groups were observed for economy of motion, gross efficiency, VO2max, or iEMG in the uncoupled- or normal-crank group.

Conclusions:

Five weeks of training with uncoupled cycling cranks had no effect on economy of motion, gross efficiency, muscle recruitment, or VO2max compared with training on normal cranks.

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Jonathan Peake, Jeremiah J. Peiffer, Chris R. Abbiss, Kazunori Nosaka, Paul B. Laursen and Katsuhiko Suzuki

Purpose:

Heat stress might attenuate the effects of carbohydrate on immunoendocrine responses to exercise by increasing endogenous glucose production and reducing the rate of exogenous carbohydrate oxidation. The authors compared the efficacy of carbohydrate consumption on immune responses to exercise in temperate vs. hot conditions.

Methods:

Ten male cyclists exercised on 2 separate occasions in temperate (18.1 ± 0.4 °C, 58% ± 8% relative humidity) and on another 2 occasions in hot conditions (32.2 ± 0.7 °C, 55% ± 2% relative humidity). On each occasion, the cyclists exercised in a fed state for 90 min at ~60% VO2max and then completed a 16.1-km time trial. Every 15 min during the first 90 min of exercise, they consumed 0.24 g/kg body mass of a carbohydrate or placebo gel.

Results:

Neutrophil counts increased during exercise in all trials (p < .05) and were significantly lower (40%, p = .006) after the carbohydrate than after the placebo trial in 32 °C. The concentrations of serum interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, and IL-10 and plasma granulocyte-colony-stimulating factor, myeloperoxidase, and calprotectin also increased during exercise in all trials but did not differ significantly between the carbohydrate and placebo trials. Plasma norepinephrine concentration increased during exercise in all trials and was significantly higher (50%, p = .01) after the carbohydrate vs. the placebo trial in 32 °C.

Conclusion:

Carbohydrate ingestion attenuated neutrophil counts during exercise in hot conditions, whereas it had no effect on any other immune variables in either temperate or hot conditions.

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Katherine T. Oberlin-Brown, Rodney Siegel, Andrew E. Kilding and Paul B. Laursen

The oral presence of carbohydrate (CHO) and caffeine (CAF) may independently enhance exercise performance, but their influence on performance during prolonged exercise is less known.

Aim:

To determine the independent and combined effects of CHO and CAF administered in chewing gum during a cycling time trial (TT) after prolonged exercise.

Method:

Eleven male cyclists (32.2 ± 7.5 y, 74.3 ± 6.8 kg, 60.2 ± 4.0 mL · kg–1 · min1 V˙O2peak) performed 4 experimental trials consisting of 90-min constant-load cycling at 80% of their second ventilatory threshold (207 ± 30 W), followed immediately by a 20-km TT. Under double-blinded conditions, cyclists received placebo (PLA), CHO, CAF, or a combined CHO+CAF chewing gum at 0-, 5-, 10-, and 15-km points of the TT.

Results:

Overall TT performance was similar across experimental and PLA trials (%mean difference ± 90%CL 0.2% ± 2.0%, 0.4% ± 2.2%, 0.1% ± 1.8% for CHO, CAF, and CHO+CAF). Compared with PLA, mean power output tended to be higher in the first 2 quarters of the TT with CHO (1.6% ± 3.1% and 0.8% ± 2.0%) and was substantially improved in the last 2 quarters during CAF and CHO+CAF trials (4.2% ± 3.0% and 2.0% ± 1.8%). There were no differences in average heart rate (ES <0.2) and only small changes in blood glucose (ES 0.2), which were unrelated to performance. Blood lactate was substantially higher post-TT for CAF and CHO+CAF (ES >0.6).

Conclusion:

After prolonged constant-load cycling, the oral presence of CHO and CAF in chewing gum, independently or in combination, did not improve overall performance but did influence pacing.

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Daniel J. Plews, Paul B. Laursen, Andrew E. Kilding and Martin Buchheit

Purpose:

Elite endurance athletes may train in a polarized fashion, such that their training-intensity distribution preserves autonomic balance. However, field data supporting this are limited.

Methods:

The authors examined the relationship between heart-rate variability and training-intensity distribution in 9 elite rowers during the 26-wk build-up to the 2012 Olympic Games (2 won gold and 2 won bronze medals). Weekly averaged log-transformed square root of the mean sum of the squared differences between R-R intervals (Ln rMSSD) was examined, with respect to changes in total training time (TTT) and training time below the first lactate threshold (>LT1), above the second lactate threshold (LT2), and between LT1 and LT2 (LT1–LT2).

Results:

After substantial increases in training time in a particular training zone or load, standardized changes in Ln rMSSD were +0.13 (unclear) for TTT, +0.20 (51% chance increase) for time >LT1, –0.02 (trivial) for time LT1–LT2, and –0.20 (53% chance decrease) for time >LT2. Correlations (±90% confidence limits) for Ln rMSSD were small vs TTT (r = .37 ± .80), moderate vs time >LT1 (r = .43 ± .10), unclear vs LT1–LT2 (r = .01 ± .17), and small vs >LT2 (r = –.22 ± .50).

Conclusion:

These data provide supportive rationale for the polarized model of training, showing that training phases with increased time spent at high intensity suppress parasympathetic activity, while low-intensity training preserves and increases it. As such, periodized low-intensity training may be beneficial for optimal training programming.

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Joseph A. McQuillan, Deborah K. Dulson, Paul B. Laursen and Andrew E. Kilding

We aimed to compare the effects of two different dosing durations of dietary nitrate (NO3 -) supplementation on 1 and 4 km cycling time-trial performance in highly trained cyclists. In a double-blind crossover-design, nine highly trained cyclists ingested 140ml of NO3 --rich beetroot juice containing ~8.0mmol [NO3 -], or placebo, for seven days. Participants completed a range of laboratory-based trials to quantify physiological and perceptual responses and cycling performance: time-trials on day 3 and 6 (4km) and on day 4 and 7 (1km) of the supplementation period. Relative to placebo, effects following 3- and 4-days of NO3 - supplementation were unclear for 4 (-0.8; 95% CL, ± 2.8%, p = .54) and likely harmful for 1km (-1.9; ± 2.5% CL, p = .17) time-trial mean power. Effects following 6- and 7-days of NO3 - supplementation resulted in unclear effects for 4 (0.1; ± 2.2% CL, p = .93) and 1km (-0.9; ± 2.6%CL, p = .51) time-trial mean power. Relative to placebo, effects for 40, 50, and 60% peak power output were unclear for economy at days 3 and 6 of NO3 - supplementation (p > .05). Dietary NO3 - supplementation appears to be detrimental to 1km time-trial performance in highly trained cyclists after 4-days. While, extending NO3 - dosing to ≥ 6-days reduced the magnitude of harm in both distances, overall performance in short duration cycling time-trials did not improve relative to placebo.

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Paul B. Laursen, Greig Watson, Chris R. Abbiss, Bradley A. Wall and Kazunori Nosaka

Purpose:

To monitor the hydration, core temperature, and speed (pace) of a triathlete performing an Ironman triathlon.

Methods:

A 35-year-old experienced male triathlete participated in the Western Australian Ironman triathlon on December 1, 2006. The participant was monitored for blood Na+ concentration before the race (PRE), at the transitions (T1 and T2), halfway through the run (R21), and after the race (POST; 2hPOST). Core body temperature (T ; pill telemetry) was recorded continuously, and running speed (s3 stride sensor) was measured during the run.

Results:

The participant completed the race in 11 h 38 min, in hot conditions (26.6 ± 5.8°C; 42 ± 19% rel. humidity). His Tc increased from 37.0 to 38.6°C during the 57-min swim, and averaged 38.4°C during the 335-min bike (33.5 km·h-1). After running at 12.4 km·h-1 for 50 min in the heat (33.1°C), T increased to 39.4°C, before slowing to 10.0 km·h-1 for 20 min. T decreased to 38.9°C until he experienced severe leg cramps, after which speed diminished to 6 km·h-1 and T fell to 38.0°C. The athlete’s blood Na+ was constant from PRE to T2 (139-140 mEq·L-1, but fell to 131 mEq·L-1 at R21, 133 mEq·L-1 at POST, and 128 mEq·L-1at 2hPOST The athlete consumed 9.25 L of fuid from PRE to T2, 6.25 L from T2 to POST, and lost 2% of his body mass, indicating sweat losses greater than 15.5 L.

Conclusion:

This athlete slowed during the run phase following attainment of a critically high T and experienced an unusually rapid reduction in blood Na+ that preceded cramping, despite presenting with signs of dehydration.