No additional benefits of block- over evenly-distributed high-intensity interval training within a polarized microcycle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Introduction: The current study aimed to investigate the responses to block- versus evenly-distributed high-intensity interval training (HIT) within a polarized microcycle. Methods: Twenty well-trained junior cross-country skiers (10 males, age 17.6 ± 1.5 and 10 females, age 17.3 ± 1.5) completed two, 3-week periods of training (EVEN and BLOCK) in a randomized, crossover-design study. In EVEN, 3 HIT sessions (5 × 4-min of diagonal-stride roller-skiing) were completed at a maximal sustainable intensity each week while low-intensity training (LIT) was distributed evenly around the HIT. In BLOCK, the same 9 HIT sessions were completed in the second week while only LIT was completed in the first and third weeks. Heart rate (HR), session ratings of perceived exertion (sRPE), and perceived recovery (pREC) were recorded for all HIT and LIT sessions, while distance covered was recorded for each HIT interval. The recovery-stress questionnaire for athletes (RESTQ-Sport) was completed weekly. Before and after EVEN and BLOCK, resting saliva and muscle samples were collected and an incremental test and 600-m time-trial (TT) were completed. Results: Pre- to post-testing revealed no significant differences between EVEN and BLOCK for changes in resting salivary cortisol, testosterone, or IgA, or for changes in muscle capillary density, fiber area, fiber composition, enzyme activity (CS, HAD, and PFK) or the protein content of VEGF or PGC-1α. Neither were any differences observed in the changes in skiing economy, V.O2max or 600-m time-trial performance between interventions. These findings were coupled with no significant differences between EVEN and BLOCK for distance covered during HIT, summated HR zone scores, total sRPE training load, overall pREC or overall recovery-stress state. However, 600-m TT performance improved from pre- to post-training, irrespective of intervention (P = 0.003), and a number of hormonal and muscle biopsy markers were also significantly altered post-training (P < 0.05). Discussion: The current study shows that well-trained junior cross-country skiers are able to complete 9 HIT sessions within 1 week without compromising total work done and without experiencing greater stress or reduced recovery over a 3-week polarized microcycle. However, the findings do not support block-distributed HIT as a superior method to a more even distribution of HIT in terms of enhancing physiological or performance adaptions.

Details

Authors
  • Kerry McGawley
  • Elisabeth Juudas
  • Zuzanna Kazior
  • Kristoffer Ström
  • Eva Blomstrand
  • Ola Hansson
  • Hans Christer Holmberg
Organisations
External organisations
  • Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences
  • Mid Sweden University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Sport and Fitness Sciences

Keywords

  • Cross-country skiing, Endurance, Junior athletes, Muscle, Periodization, Recovery, Stress, Training load
Original languageEnglish
Article number413
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Volume8
Issue numberJUN
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun 13
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes