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Effects of Varying the Step Duration on the Determination of Lactate Thresholds in Elite Rowers

Pitre C. Bourdon, Sarah M. Woolford, and Jonathan D. Buckley

This study aimed to identify the minimum increment duration required to accurately assess 2 distinct lactate thresholds. A total of 21 elite rowers (12 women and 9 men) participated in this study, and each performed 8 or 9 rowing tests comprising 5 progressive incremental tests (3-, 4-, 5-, 7-, or 10-min steps) and at least three 30-min constant-intensity maximal lactate steady-state assessments. Power output (PO) at lactate threshold 1 was higher in the 3- and 4-min incremental tests. No other measures were different for lactate threshold 1. The PO at the second lactate threshold was different between most tests and was higher than the PO at maximal lactate steady state, except for the 10-min incremental test. Lactate threshold 2 oxygen consumption was higher in the 3-, 4-, and 5-min tests, but heart rate (HR) and rating of perceived exertion were not different between tests. Peak PO in the incremental tests was inversely related to the step durations (r 2 = .86, P ≤ .02). Peak oxygen consumption was higher in the shorter (≤5 min) than the longer (≥7 min) incremental tests, whereas peak HR was not different between tests. These data suggest that for the methods used in this study, incremental exercise tests with step durations ≤7 min overestimate maximal lactate steady-state exercise intensity, peak physiological values are best determined using incremental tests with step durations ≤4 min, and HR measures are not affected by step duration, and therefore, prescription of training HRs can be made using any of these tests.

Open access

Hashtag #TrainingLoad2016—Spreading the Word

Pitre C. Bourdon, Marco Cardinale, Warren Gregson, and N. Timothy Cable

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Physiological and Performance Responses to a Training Camp in the Heat in Professional Australian Football Players

Sebastien Racinais, Martin Buchheit, Johann Bilsborough, Pitre C. Bourdon, Justin Cordy, and Aaron J. Coutts

Purpose:

To examine the physiological and performance responses to a heat-acclimatization camp in highly trained professional team-sport athletes.

Methods:

Eighteen male Australian Rules Football players trained for 2 wk in hot ambient conditions (31–33°C, humidity 34–50%). Players performed a laboratory-based heat-response test (24-min walk + 24 min seated; 44°C), a YoYo Intermittent Recovery Level 2 Test (YoYoIR2; indoor, temperate environment, 23°C) and standardized training drills (STD; outdoor, hot environment, 32°C) at the beginning and end of the camp.

Results:

The heat-response test showed partial heat acclimatization (eg, a decrease in skin temperature, heart rate, and sweat sodium concentration, P < .05). In addition, plasma volume (PV, CO rebreathing, +2.68 [0.83; 4.53] mL/kg) and distance covered during both the YoYoIR2 (+311 [260; 361] m) and the STD (+45.6 [13.9; 77.4] m) increased postcamp (P < .01). None of the performance changes showed clear correlations with PV changes (r < .24), but the improvements in running STD distance in hot environment were correlated with changes in hematocrit during the heat-response test (r = –.52, 90%CI [–.77; –.12]). There was no clear correlation between the performance improvements in temperate and hot ambient conditions (r < .26).

Conclusion:

Running performance in both hot and temperate environments was improved after a football training camp in hot ambient conditions that stimulated heat acclimatization. However, physiological and performance responses were highly individual, and the absence of correlations between physical-performance improvements in hot and temperate environments suggests that their physiological basis might differ.

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Monitoring Accelerations With GPS in Football: Time to Slow Down?

Martin Buchheit, Hani Al Haddad, Ben M. Simpson, Dino Palazzi, Pitre C. Bourdon, Valter Di Salvo, and Alberto Mendez-Villanueva

The aims of the current study were to examine the magnitude of between-GPS-models differences in commonly reported running-based measures in football, examine between-units variability, and assess the effect of software updates on these measures. Fifty identical-brand GPS units (15 SPI-proX and 35 SPIproX2, 15 Hz, GPSports, Canberra, Australia) were attached to a custom-made plastic sled towed by a player performing simulated match running activities. GPS data collected during training sessions over 4 wk from 4 professional football players (N = 53 files) were also analyzed before and after 2 manufacturersupplied software updates. There were substantial differences between the different models (eg, standardized difference for the number of acceleration >4 m/s2 = 2.1; 90% confidence limits [1.4, 2.7], with 100% chance of a true difference). Between-units variations ranged from 1% (maximal speed) to 56% (number of deceleration >4 m/s2). Some GPS units measured 2–6 times more acceleration/deceleration occurrences than others. Software updates did not substantially affect the distance covered at different speeds or peak speed reached, but 1 of the updates led to large and small decreases in the occurrence of accelerations (–1.24; –1.32, –1.15) and decelerations (–0.45; –0.48, –0.41), respectively. Practitioners are advised to apply care when comparing data collected with different models or units or when updating their software. The metrics of accelerations and decelerations show the most variability in GPS monitoring and must be interpreted cautiously.

Open access

Monitoring Athlete Training Loads: Consensus Statement

Pitre C. Bourdon, Marco Cardinale, Andrew Murray, Paul Gastin, Michael Kellmann, Matthew C. Varley, Tim J. Gabbett, Aaron J. Coutts, Darren J. Burgess, Warren Gregson, and N. Timothy Cable

Monitoring the load placed on athletes in both training and competition has become a very hot topic in sport science. Both scientists and coaches routinely monitor training loads using multidisciplinary approaches, and the pursuit of the best methodologies to capture and interpret data has produced an exponential increase in empirical and applied research. Indeed, the field has developed with such speed in recent years that it has given rise to industries aimed at developing new and novel paradigms to allow us to precisely quantify the internal and external loads placed on athletes and to help protect them from injury and ill health. In February 2016, a conference on “Monitoring Athlete Training Loads—The Hows and the Whys” was convened in Doha, Qatar, which brought together experts from around the world to share their applied research and contemporary practices in this rapidly growing field and also to investigate where it may branch to in the future. This consensus statement brings together the key findings and recommendations from this conference in a shared conceptual framework for use by coaches, sport-science and -medicine staff, and other related professionals who have an interest in monitoring athlete training loads and serves to provide an outline on what athlete-load monitoring is and how it is being applied in research and practice, why load monitoring is important and what the underlying rationale and prospective goals of monitoring are, and where athlete-load monitoring is heading in the future.

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Intensified Training Supersedes the Impact of Heat and/or Altitude for Increasing Performance in Elite Rugby Union Players

Sebastien Racinais, Julien D. Périard, Julien Piscione, Pitre C. Bourdon, Scott Cocking, Mohammed Ihsan, Mathieu Lacome, David Nichols, Nathan Townsend, Gavin Travers, Mathew G. Wilson, and Olivier Girard

Purpose: To investigate whether including heat and altitude exposures during an elite team-sport training camp induces similar or greater performance benefits. Methods: The study assessed 56 elite male rugby players for maximal oxygen uptake, repeated-sprint cycling, and Yo-Yo intermittent recovery level 2 (Yo-Yo) before and after a 2-week training camp, which included 5 endurance and 5 repeated-sprint cycling sessions in addition to daily rugby training. Players were separated into 4 groups: (1) control (all sessions in temperate conditions at sea level), (2) heat training (endurance sessions in the heat), (3) altitude (repeated-sprint sessions and sleeping in hypoxia), and (4) combined heat and altitude (endurance in the heat, repeated sprints, and sleeping in hypoxia). Results: Training increased maximal oxygen uptake (4% [10%], P = .017), maximal aerobic power (9% [8%], P < .001), and repeated-sprint peak (5% [10%], P = .004) and average power (12% [14%], P < .001) independent of training conditions. Yo-Yo distance increased (16% [17%], P < .001) but not in the altitude group (P = .562). Training in heat lowered core temperature and increased sweat rate during a heat-response test (P < .05). Conclusion: A 2-week intensified training camp improved maximal oxygen uptake, repeated-sprint ability, and aerobic performance in elite rugby players. Adding heat and/or altitude did not further enhance physical performance, and altitude appears to have been detrimental to improving Yo-Yo.