Influence of high-intensity interval training on adaptations in well-trained cyclists

Paul B Laursen, Cecilia M Shing, Jonathan M Peake, Jeff S Coombes, David G Jenkins
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2005, 19 (3): 527-33
The purpose of the present study was to examine the influence of 3 different high-intensity interval training regimens on the first and second ventilatory thresholds (VT(1) and VT(2)), anaerobic capacity (ANC), and plasma volume (PV) in well-trained endurance cyclists. Before and after 2 and 4 weeks of training, 38 well-trained cyclists (Vo(2)peak = 64.5 +/- 5.2 performed (a) a progressive cycle test to measure Vo(2)peak, peak power output (PPO), VT(1), and VT(2); (b) a time to exhaustion test (T(max)) at their Vo(2)peak power output (P(max)); and (c) a 40-km time-trial (TT(40)). Subjects were assigned to 1 of 4 training groups (group 1: n = 8, 8 x 60% T(max) at P(max), 1:2 work-recovery ratio; group 2: n = 9, 8 x 60% T(max) at P(max), recovery at 65% maximum heart rate; group 3: n = 10, 12 x 30 seconds at 175% PPO, 4.5-minute recovery; control group: n = 11). The TT(40) performance, Vo(2)peak, VT(1), VT(2), and ANC were all significantly increased in groups 1, 2, and 3 (p < 0.05) but not in the control group. However, PV did not change in response to the 4-week training program. Changes in TT(40) performance were modestly related to the changes in Vo(2)peak, VT(1), VT(2), and ANC (r = 0.41, 0.34, 0.42, and 0.40, respectively; all p < 0.05). In conclusion, the improvements in TT(40) performance were related to significant increases in Vo(2)peak, VT(1), VT(2), and ANC but were not accompanied by significant changes in PV. Thus, peripheral adaptations rather than central adaptations are likely responsible for the improved performances witnessed in well-trained endurance athletes following various forms of high-intensity interval training programs.

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