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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.

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Samuel T. Howe, Phillip M. Bellinger, Matthew W. Driller, Cecilia M. Shing and James W. Fell

Beta-alanine may benefit short-duration, high-intensity exercise performance. The aim of this randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study was to examine the effects of beta-alanine supplementation on aspects of muscular performance in highly trained cyclists. Sixteen highly trained cyclists (mean ± SD; age = 24 ± 7 yr; mass = 70 ± 7kg; VO2max = 67 ± 4ml·kg−1·min–1) supplemented with either beta-alanine (n = 8, 65 mg·kg−1BM) or a placebo (n = 8; dextrose monohydrate) over 4 weeks. Pre- and postsupplementation cyclists performed a 4-minute maximal cycling test to measure average power and 30 reciprocal maximal isokinetic knee contractions at a fixed angular velocity of 180°·sec−1 to measure average power/repetition, total work done (TWD), and fatigue index (%). Blood pH, lactate (La) and bicarbonate (HCO3 -) concentrations were measured preand postisokinetic testing at baseline and following the supplementation period. Beta-alanine supplementation was 44% likely to increase average power output during the 4-minute cycling time trial when compared with the placebo, although this was not statistically significant (p = .25). Isokinetic average power/repetition was significantly increased post beta-alanine supplementation compared with placebo (beta-alanine: 6.8 ± 9.9W, placebo: –4.3 ± 9.5 W, p = .04, 85% likely benefit), while fatigue index was significantly reduced (p = .03, 95% likely benefit). TWD was 89% likely to be improved following beta-alanine supplementation; however, this was not statistically significant (p = .09). There were no significant differences in blood pH, lactate, and HCO3 between groups (p > .05). Four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation resulted in worthwhile changes in time-trial performance and short-duration muscular force production in highly trained cyclists.

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Weiliang Chung, Audrey Baguet, Tine Bex, David J. Bishop and Wim Derave

Muscle carnosine loading through chronic oral beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to be effective for short-duration, high-intensity exercise. This randomized, placebo-controlled study explored whether the ergogenic effect of beta-alanine supplementation is also present for longer duration exercise. Subjects (27 well-trained cyclists/triathletes) were supplemented with either beta-alanine or placebo (6.4 g/day) for 6 weeks. Time to completion and physiological variables for a 1-hr cycling time-trial were compared between preand postsupplementation. Muscle carnosine concentration was also assessed via proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy before and after supplementation. Following beta-alanine supplementation, muscle carnosine concentration was increased by 143 ± 151% (mean ± SD; p < .001) in the gastrocnemius and 161 ± 56% (p < .001) in the soleus. Postsupplementation time trial performance was significantly slower in the placebo group (60.6 ± 4.4–63.0 ± 5.4 min; p < .01) and trended toward a slower performance following beta-alanine supplementation (59.8 ± 2.8–61.7 ± 3.0 min; p = .069). We found an increase in lactate/proton concentration ratio following beta-alanine supplementation during the time-trial (209.0 ± 44.0 (beta-alanine) vs. 161.9 ± 54.4 (placebo); p < .05), indicating that a similar lactate concentration was accompanied by a lower degree of systemic acidosis, even though this acidosis was quite moderate (pH ranging from 7.30 to 7.40). In conclusion, chronic beta-alanine supplementation in well-trained cyclists had a very pronounced effect on muscle carnosine concentration and a moderate attenuating effect on the acidosis associated with lactate accumulation, yet without affecting 1-h time-trial performance under laboratory conditions.

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Dajo Sanders, Mathieu Heijboer, Ibrahim Akubat, Kenneth Meijer and Matthijs K. Hesselink

Purpose:

To assess if short-duration (5 to ~300 s) high-power performance can accurately be predicted using the anaerobic power reserve (APR) model in professional cyclists.

Methods:

Data from 4 professional cyclists from a World Tour cycling team were used. Using the maximal aerobic power, sprint peak power output, and an exponential constant describing the decrement in power over time, a power-duration relationship was established for each participant. To test the predictive accuracy of the model, several all-out field trials of different durations were performed by each cyclist. The power output achieved during the all-out trials was compared with the predicted power output by the APR model.

Results:

The power output predicted by the model showed very large to nearly perfect correlations to the actual power output obtained during the all-out trials for each cyclist (r = .88 ± .21, .92 ± .17, .95 ± .13, and .97 ± .09). Power output during the all-out trials remained within an average of 6.6% (53 W) of the predicted power output by the model.

Conclusions:

This preliminary pilot study presents 4 case studies on the applicability of the APR model in professional cyclists using a field-based approach. The decrement in all-out performance during high-intensity exercise seems to conform to a general relationship with a single exponential-decay model describing the decrement in power vs increasing duration. These results are in line with previous studies using the APR model to predict performance during brief all-out trials. Future research should evaluate the APR model with a larger sample size of elite cyclists.

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Martin J. Turner and Alberto P. Avolio

International guidelines suggest limiting sodium intake to 86–100 mmol/day, but average intake exceeds 150 mmol/day. Participants in physical activities are, however, advised to increase sodium intake before, during and after exercise to ensure euhydration, replace sodium lost in sweat, speed rehydration and maintain performance. A similar range of health benefits is attributable to exercise and to reduction in sodium intake, including reductions in blood pressure (BP) and the increase of BP with age, reduced risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, and reduced risk of osteoporosis and dementia. Sweat typically contains 40–60 mmol/L of sodium, leading to approximately 20–90 mmol of sodium lost in one exercise session with sweat rates of 0.5–1.5 L/h. Reductions in sodium intake of 20–90 mmol/day have been associated with substantial health benefits. Homeostatic systems reduce sweat sodium as low as 3–10 mmol/L to prevent excessive sodium loss. “Salty sweaters” may be individuals with high sodium intake who perpetuate their “salty sweat” condition by continual replacement of sodium excreted in sweat. Studies of prolonged high intensity exercise in hot environments suggest that sodium supplementation is not necessary to prevent hyponatremia during exercise lasting up to 6 hr. We examine the novel hypothesis that sodium excreted in sweat during physical activity offsets a significant fraction of excess dietary sodium, and hence may contribute part of the health benefits of exercise. Replacing sodium lost in sweat during exercise may improve physical performance, but may attenuate the long-term health benefits of exercise.

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Tanja Oosthuyse, Matthew Carstens and Aletta M.E. Millen

Certain commercial carbohydrate replacement products include slowly absorbed carbohydrates such as isomaltulose. Few studies have investigated the metabolic effects of ingesting isomaltulose during exercise and none have evaluated exercise performance and gastrointestinal comfort. Nine male cyclists participated postprandially during three trials of 2-h steady-state (S-S) exercise (60% W max) followed by a 16 km time trial (TT) while ingesting 63 g∙h-1 of either, 0.8:1 fructose: maltodextrin (F:M) or isomaltulose (ISO) or placebo-flavored water (PL). Data were analyzed by magnitude-based inferences. During S-S exercise, ISO and PL similarly increased plasma nonesterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentration (mean change ISO versus F:M: 0.18, 90%CI ± 0.21 mmol∙L-1, 88% likelihood) and fat oxidation (10, 90%CI ± 9 g, 89% likelihood) while decreasing carbohydrate oxidation (-36, 90%CI ± 30.2 g, 91% likelihood) compared with F:M, despite equal elevations in blood glucose concentration with ISO and F:M. Rating of stomach cramps and bloating increased progressively with ISO (rating: 0-90 min S-S, weak; 120 min S-S, moderate; TT, strong) compared with F:M and PL (0-120 min S-S and TT, very weak). TT performance was substantially slower with ISO (mean change: 1.5, 90%CI ± 1.4 min, 94% likely harmful) compared with F:M. The metabolic response of ISO ingestion during moderate exercise to increase NEFA availability and fat oxidation despite elevating blood glucose concentration is anomalous for a carbohydrate supplement. However, ingesting isomaltulose at a continuous high frequency to meet the recommended carbohydrate replacement dose, results in severe gastrointestinal symptoms during prolonged or high intensity exercise and negatively affects exercise performance compared with fructose-maltodextrin supplementation.

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Rob Duffield, Johann Edge, Robert Merrells, Emma Hawke, Matt Barnes, David Simcock and Nicholas Gill

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to determine whether compression garments improve intermittent-sprint performance and aid performance or self-reported recovery from high-intensity efforts on consecutive days.

Methods:

Following familiarization, 14 male rugby players performed two randomized testing conditions (with or without garments) involving consecutive days of a simulated team sport exercise protocol, separated by 24 h of recovery within each condition and 2 weeks between conditions. Each day involved an 80-min high-intensity exercise circuit, with exercise performance determined by repeated 20-m sprints and peak power on a cart dynamometer (single-man scrum machine). Measures of nude mass, heart rate, skin and tympanic temperature, and blood lactate (La) were recorded throughout each day; also, creatine kinase (CK) and muscle soreness were recorded each day and 48 h following exercise.

Results:

No differences (P = .20 to 0.40) were present between conditions on either day of the exercise protocol for repeated 20-m sprint efforts or peak power on a cart dynamometer. Heart rate, tympanic temperature, and body mass did not significantly differ between conditions; however, skin temperature was higher under the compression garments. Although no differences (P = .50) in La or CK were present, participants felt reduced levels of perceived muscle soreness in the ensuing 48 h postexercise when wearing the garments (2.5 ± 1.7 vs 3.5 ± 2.1 for garment and control; P = .01).

Conclusions:

The use of compression garments did not improve or hamper simulated team-sport activity on consecutive days. Despite benefits of reduced self-reported muscle soreness when wearing garments during and following exercise each day, no improvements in performance or recovery were apparent.

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John Hough, Caroline Robertson and Michael Gleeson

Purpose:

This study examined the influence of 10 days of intensified training on salivary cortisol and testosterone responses to 30-min, high-intensity cycling (55/80) in a group of male elite triathletes.

Methods:

Seven elite male triathletes (age 19 ± 1 y, V̇O2max 67.6 ± 4.5 mL · kg–1 · min–1) completed the study. Swim distances increased by 45%. Running and cycling training hours increased by 25% and 229%, respectively. REST-Q questionnaires assessed mood status before, during, and after the training period. Unstimulated saliva samples were collected before, after, and 30 min after a continuous, high-intensity exercise test. Salivary cortisol and testosterone concentrations were assessed.

Results:

Compared with pretraining, blunted exercise-induced salivary testosterone responses to the posttraining 55/80 were found (P = .004). The absolute response of salivary testosterone concentrations to the 55/80 decreased pretraining to posttraining from 114% to 85%. No changes were found in exercise-induced salivary cortisol concentration responses to the 55/80. REST-Q scores indicated no changes in the participants’ psychological stress–recovery levels over the training camp.

Conclusions:

The blunted exercise-induced salivary testosterone is likely due to decreased testicular testosterone production and/or secretion, possibly attributable to hypothalamic dysfunction or reduced testicular blood flow. REST-Q scores suggest that the triathletes coped well with training-load elevations, which could account for the finding of no change in the exercise-induced salivary cortisol concentration. Overall, these findings suggest that the 55/80 can detect altered exercise-induced salivary testosterone concentrations in an elite athletic population due to increased training stress. However, this alteration occurs independently of a perceived elevation of training stress.

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Marcus J. Callahan, Evelyn B. Parr, John A. Hawley and Louise M. Burke

When ingested alone, beetroot juice and sodium bicarbonate are ergogenic for high-intensity exercise performance. This study sought to determine the independent and combined effects of these supplements. Eight endurance trained (VO2max 65 mL·kg·min-1) male cyclists completed four × 4-km time trials (TT) in a doubleblind Latin square design supplementing with beetroot crystals (BC) for 3 days (15 g·day-1 + 15 g 1 h before TT, containing 300 mg nitrate per 15 g), bicarbonate (Bi 0.3 g·kg-1 body mass [BM] in 5 doses every 15 min from 2.5 h before TT); BC+Bi or placebo (PLA). Subjects completed TTs on a Velotron cycle ergometer under standardized laboratory conditions. Plasma nitrite concentrations were significantly elevated only in the BC+Bi trial before the TT (1520 ± 786 nmol·L-1) compared with baseline (665 ± 535 nmol·L-1, p = .02) and the Bi and PLA conditions (Bi: 593 ± 203 nmol·L-1, p < .01; PLA: 543 ± 369 nmol·L-1, p < .01). Plasma nitrite concentrations were not elevated in the BC trial before the TT (1102 ± 218 nmol·L-1) compared with baseline (975 ± 607 nmol·L-1, p > .05). Blood bicarbonate concentrations were increased in the BC+Bi and Bi trials before the TT (BC+Bi: 30.9 ± 2.8 mmol·L-1; Bi: 31.7 ± 1.1 mmol·L-1). There were no differences in mean power output (386–394 W) or the time taken to complete the TT (335.8–338.1 s) between any conditions. Under the conditions of this study, supplementation was not ergogenic for 4-km TT performance.

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Andrew E. Kilding, Claire Overton and Jonathan Gleave

Purpose:

To determine the effects of ingesting caffeine (CAFF) and sodium bicarbonate (SB), taken individually and simultaneously, on 3-km cycling time-trial (TT) performance.

Method:

Ten well-trained cyclists, age 24.2 ± 5.4 yr, participated in this acute-treatment, double-blind, crossover study that involved four 3-km cycling TTs performed on separate days. Before each TT, participants ingested either 3 mg/kg body mass (BM) of CAFF, 0.3 g · kg−1 · BM−1 of SB, a combination of the two (CAFF+SB), or a placebo (PLAC). They completed each 3-km TT on a laboratory-based cycle ergometer, during which physiological, perceptual, and performance measurements were determined. For statistical analysis, the minimal worthwhile difference was considered ~1% based on previous research.

Results:

Pretrial pH and HCO3 were higher in SB and CAFF+SB than in the CAFF and PLAC trials. Differences across treatments for perceived exertion and gastric discomfort were mostly unclear. Compared with PLAC, mean power output during the 3-km TT was higher in CAFF, SB, and CAFF+SB trials (2.4%, 2.6%, 2.7% respectively), resulting in faster performance times (–0.9, –1.2, –1.2% respectively). Effect sizes for all trials were small (0.21–0.24).

Conclusions:

When ingested individually, both CAFF and SB enhance high-intensity cycling TT performance in trained cyclists. However, the ergogenic effect of these 2 popular supplements was not additive, bringing into question the efficacy of coingesting the 2 supplements before short-duration high-intensity exercise. In this study there were no negative effects of combining CAFF and SB, 2 relatively inexpensive and safe supplements.