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Andrew M. Jones and Mark Burnley

The rate at which VO2 adjusts to the new energy demand following the onset of exercise strongly influences the magnitude of the “O2 defcit” incurred and thus the extent to which muscle and systemic homeostasis is perturbed. Moreover, during continuous high-intensity exercise, there is a progressive loss of muscle contractile efficiency, which is reflected in a “slow component” increase in VO2. The factors that dictate the characteristics of these fast and slow phases of the dynamic response of VO2 following a step change in energy turnover remain obscure. However, it is clear that these features of the VO2 kinetics have the potential to influence the rate of muscle fatigue development and, therefore, to affect sports performance. This commentary outlines the present state of knowledge on the characteristics of, and mechanistic bases to, the VO2 response to exercise of different intensities. Several interventions have been reported to speed the early VO2 kinetics and/or reduce the magnitude of the subsequent VO2 slow component, and the possibility that these might enhance exercise performance is discussed.

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Ben M. Krings, Timothy J. Peterson, Brandon D. Shepherd, Matthew J. McAllister and JohnEric W. Smith

The purpose of this investigation was to examine to the influence of carbohydrate ingestion (CHOI) and carbohydrate mouth rinse (CHOR) on acute repeat maximal sprint performance. Fourteen healthy males (age: 21.7 ± 1.8 years, mass: 82.3 ± 12.3 kg) completed a total of five 15-s maximal repeat sprints on a cycle ergometer against 0.075 kg ・ kg-1 body mass each separated by 4 min of active recovery. Subjects completed four experimental trials and were randomly assigned one of four treatments: (1) CHOI, (2) CHOR, (3) placebo mouth rinse (PLAR), (4) placebo ingestion (PLAI). Subjects rinsed or ingested six 50 mL 10% CHO solutions throughout each trial. Performance variables measured included rating of perceived exertion, peak heart rate, peak and mean power output, fatigue index, and total work. Significant treatment main effects were observed for mean power output (p = 0.026), total work (p = 0.020), fatigue index (p = 0.004), and heart rate (p = 0.013). Overall mean power output and total work were significantly greater with CHOI (659.3 ± 103.0 watts, 9849.8 ± 1598.8 joules) compared with CHOR (645.8 ± 99.7 watts, 9447.5 ± 1684.9 joules, p < .05). CHOI (15.3 ± 8.6 watts/s) significantly attenuated fatigue index compared with CHOR (17.7 ± 10.4 watts/s, p < .05). Based on our findings, CHOI was more likely to provide a beneficial performance effect compared with CHOR, PLAI, and PLAR. Athletes required to complete repeat bouts of high intensity exercise may benefit from CHOI.

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Kent W. Goben, Gary A. Sforzo and Patricia A. Frye

This study investigated the effect of varying exercise intensity on the thermic effect of food (TEF). Sixteen lean male subjects were matched for VO2max and randomly assigned to either a high or low intensity group for 30 min of treadmill exercise. Caloric expenditure was measured using indirect calorimetry at rest and at 30-min intervals OYer 3 hrs following each of three conditions: a 750-kcal liquid meal, high or low intensity exercise, and a 750-kcal liquid meal followed by high or low intensity exercise. Low intensity exercise enhanced the TEF during recovery at 60 and 90 min while high intensity enhanced it only at 180 min but depressed it at 30 min. Total metabolic expense for a 3-hr postmeal period was not differently affected by the two exercise intensities. Exercise following a meal had a synergistic effect on metabolism; however, this effect was delayed until 180 min postmeal when exercise intensity was high. The circulatory demands of high intensity exercise may have initially blunted the TEF, but ultimately the TEF measured over the 3-hr period was at least equal to that experienced following low intensity exercise.

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Anni Vanhatalo, Andrew M. Jones and Mark Burnley

The critical power (CP) is mathematically defined as the power-asymptote of the hyperbolic relationship between power output and time-to-exhaustion. Physiologically, the CP represents the boundary between the steady-state and nonsteady state exercise intensity domains and therefore may provide a more meaningful index of performance than other well-known landmarks of aerobic fitness such as the lactate threshold and the maximal O2 uptake. Despite the potential importance to sports performance, the CP is often misinterpreted as a purely mathematical construct which lacks physiological meaning and only in recent years has this concept begun to emerge as valid and useful technique for monitoring endurance fitness. This commentary defines the basic principles of the CP concept, outlines its importance to high-intensity exercise performance, and provides an overview of the current methods available for its assessment. Interventions including training, pacing and prior exercise can be used to alter the parameters of the power-time relationship. A future challenge lies in optimizing such interventions in order to positively affect the parameters of the power-time relationship and thereby enhance sports performance in specific events.

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Eric T. Trexler and Abbie E. Smith-Ryan

Nutritional supplementation is a common practice among athletes, with creatine and caffeine among the most commonly used ergogenic aids. Hundreds of studies have investigated the ergogenic potential of creatine supplementation, with consistent improvements in strength and power reported for exercise bouts of short duration (≤30 s) and high intensity. Caffeine has been shown to improve endurance exercise performance, but results are mixed in the context of strength and sprint performance. Further, there is conflicting evidence from studies comparing the ergogenic effects of coffee and caffeine anhydrous supplementation. Previous research has identified independent mechanisms by which creatine and caffeine may improve strength and sprint performance, leading to the formulation of multi-ingredient supplements containing both ingredients. Although scarce, research has suggested that caffeine ingestion may blunt the ergogenic effect of creatine. While a pharmacokinetic interaction is unlikely, authors have suggested that this effect may be explained by opposing effects on muscle relaxation time or gastrointestinal side effects from simultaneous consumption. The current review aims to evaluate the ergogenic potential of creatine and caffeine in the context of high-intensity exercise. Research directly comparing coffee and caffeine anhydrous is discussed, along with previous studies evaluating the concurrent supplementation of creatine and caffeine.

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Mitch D. VanBruggen, Anthony C. Hackney, Robert G. McMurray and Kristin S. Ondrak

Purpose:

The effect of exercise intensity on the tracking of serum and salivary cortisol responses was examined in 12 endurance-trained males (maximal oxygen uptake [VO2max] = 58.2 ± 6.4 mL/kg/min).

Methods:

Subjects rested for 30 min (control) and exercised on a cycle ergometer for 30 min at 40% (low), 60% (moderate), and 80% (high intensity) of VO2max on separate days. Serum and saliva samples were collected pretrial, immediately posttrial, and 30 min into the recovery period from each trial.

Results:

Cortisol responses increased significantly for both serum (40.4%; P = .001) and saliva (170.6%; P = .007) only in response to high-intensity exercise. Peak saliva cortisol occurred at 30 min of recovery, whereas peak serum was at the immediate posttrial sampling time point. The association between serum and saliva cortisol across all trials was examined using concordance correlation (Rc) analysis, which accounts for repeated measures. The overall correlation between serum and saliva cortisol levels in all matched samples was significant (Rc = 0.728; P = .001). The scatter plot revealed that salivary cortisol responses tracked closely to those of serum at lower concentrations, but not as well at higher concentrations.

Conclusions:

Findings suggest salivary measurements of cortisol closely mirror those in the serum and that peak salivary concentrations do not occur until at least 30 min into the recovery from intense exercise.

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Charles S. Urwin, Dan B. Dwyer and Amelia J. Carr

Sodium citrate induces alkalosis and can provide a performance benefit in high-intensity exercise. Previous investigations have been inconsistent in the ingestion protocols used, in particular the dose and timing of ingestion before the onset of exercise. The primary aim of the current study was to quantify blood pH, blood bicarbonate concentration and gastrointestinal symptoms after ingestion of three doses of sodium citrate (500 mg⋅kg-1, 700 mg⋅kg-1 and 900 mg⋅kg-1). Thirteen participants completed four experimental sessions, each consisting of a different dose of sodium citrate or a taste-matched placebo solution. Blood pH and blood bicarbonate concentration were measured at 30-min intervals via analysis of capillary blood samples. Gastrointestinal symptoms were also monitored at 30-min intervals. Statistical significance was accepted at a level of p < .05. Both measures of alkalosis were significantly greater after ingestion of sodium citrate compared with placebo (p < .001). No significant differences in alkalosis were found between the three sodium citrate doses (p > .05). Peak alkalosis following sodium citrate ingestion ranged from 180 to 212 min after ingestion. Gastrointestinal symptoms were significantly higher after sodium citrate ingestion compared with placebo (p < .001), while the 900 mg.kg-1 dose elicited significantly greater gastrointestinal distress than 500 mg⋅kg-1 (p = .004). It is recommended that a dose of 500 mg⋅kg-1 of sodium citrate should be ingested at least 3 hr before exercise, to achieve peak alkalosis and to minimize gastrointestinal symptoms before and during exercise.

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David Paul, Kevin A. Jacobs, Raymond J. Geor and Kenneth W. Hinchcliff

To determine the effect of macronutrient composition of pre-exercise meals on exercise metabolism and performance, 8 trained men exercised for 30 min above lactate threshold (30LT), followed by a 20-km time trial (TT). Approximately 3.5 h before exercise, subjects consumed a carbohydrate meal (C; 3 g carbohydrate/kg), an isoenergetic fat meal (F; 1.3 g fat/kg), or a placebo meal (P; no energy content) on 3 separate occasions in randomized order. Treatments had no effect on carbohydrate oxidation during exercise, but C decreased whole-body fat oxidation during the last 5 min of 30LT and TT, respectively (3.2 ± 1.6 and 4.8 ± 2.1 mmol · kg−1 · min−1, p < .05) when compared to F (13.3 ± 1.6 and 16.5 ± 2.7 mmol · kg−1 · min−1) and P (15.9 ± 2.7 and 17.0 ± 3.2 mmol · kg−1 · min−1). Glucose rate of appearance (Ra) and disappearance (Rd), and muscle glycogen utilization were not significantly different among treatments during exercise. TT performances were similar for C, F, and P (32.7 ± 0.5 vs. 33.1 ± 1.1 and 33.0 ± 0.8 min, p > .05). We conclude that the consumption of a pre-exercise meal has minor effects on fat oxidation during high-intensity exercise, and no effect on carbohydrate oxidation or TT performance.

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Mark D. Haub, Jeffrey A. Potteiger, Dennis J. Jacobsen, Karen L. Nau, Lawrence A. Magee and Matthew J. Comeau

We investigated the effects of carbohydrate ingestion on glycogen replenishment and subsequent short duration, high intensity exercise performance. During Session 1, aerobic power was determined and each subject (N = 6) was familiarized with the 100-kJ cycling test (lOOKJ-Test). During the treatment sessions, the subjects performed a lOOKJ-Test (Ride-1), then consumed 0.7 g ⋅ kg body mass-1 of maltodextrin (CHO) or placebo (PLC), rested 60 min, and then performed a second lOOKJ-Test (Ride-2). Muscle tissue was collected before (Pre-1) and after Ride-1 (Post-1), and before (Pre-2) and after Ride-2 (Post-2), and analyzed for glycogen concentration. Both treatments yielded a significant increase in glycogen levels following the 60-min recovery, but there was no difference between treatments. Time to complete the lOOKJ-Test increased significantly for PLC, but not for CHO. These data indicate that the decrease in performance during Ride-2 in PLC was not the result of a difference in glycogen concentration.

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Kellie R. Pritchard-Peschek, David G. Jenkins, Mark A. Osborne and Gary J. Slater

The aim of the current study was to investigate the effect of 180 mg of pseudoephedrine (PSE) on cycling time-trial (TT) performance. Six well-trained male cyclists and triathletes (age 33 ± 2 yr, mass 81 ± 8 kg, height 182.0 ± 6.7 cm, VO2max 56.8 ± 6.8 ml ⋅ kg−1 ⋅ min−1; M ± SD) underwent 2 performance trials in which they completed a 25-min variable-intensity (50–90% maximal aerobic power) warm-up, followed by a cycling TT in which they completed a fixed amount of work (7 kJ/kg body mass) in the shortest possible time. Sixty minutes before the start of exercise, they orally ingested 180 mg of PSE or a cornstarch placebo (PLA) in a randomized, crossover, double-blind manner. Venous blood was sampled immediately pre- and postexercise for the analysis of pH plus lactate, glucose, and norepinephrine (NE). PSE improved cycling TT performance by 5.1% (95% CI 0–10%) compared with PLA (28:58.9 ± 4:26.5 and 30:31.7 ± 4:36.7 min, respectively). There was a significant Treatment × Time interaction (p = .04) for NE, with NE increasing during the PSE trial only. Similarly, blood glucose also showed a trend (p = .06) for increased levels postexercise in the PSE trial. The ingestion of 180 mg of PSE 60 min before the onset of high-intensity exercise improved cycling TT performance in well-trained athletes. It is possible that changes in metabolism or an increase in central nervous system stimulation is responsible for the observed ergogenic effect of PSE.