Monday, July 2, 2007

Snazzy Remix

I often tell people that my job is to say the same thing every day as if for the first time. At some point I have to trust that it will permeate even the most stubborn brands of denial. There are a few key concepts that will never change about fitness and yet it's those very concepts that make a lot of people push back. Though the conversation is sometimes compelling and it keeps me employed, ultimately weight loss is still a math problem and too much of any one thing will likely break you in some way. True and true.

Here's another catchy remix of one of my favorites, sung to a slightly different tune:

Cutting Back on Endurance Volume May Not Reduce Aerobic Capacity

Traditional endurance training models that emphasize very high volumes and moderate intensities, although practiced by nearly all elite, endurance athletes, are a primary factor in the high rate of chronic overuse injury in endurance sports. Consequently, research has sought alternative methods for optimizing endurance performance while reducing injury. Preliminary studies on high intensity resistance exercise and explosive or plyometric training have been promising.

One concern expressed by endurance athletes, is the effect that replacing endurance training volume with anaerobic training will have on maximal aerobic capacity; a determinant of endurance performance. A recent study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine may help quell this fear. The researchers determined that max VO2 is unaffected when up to 20% of endurance training volume is replaced by explosive training.

Twenty-five 16-18 year old distance runners participated in the 8-week study. The participants were divided into two groups, one replacing ~20% of total endurance training volume with power/explosive training. Total training volume was equivalent between groups. The researchers completed pre- and post-assessment of top speed during anaerobic running and 30-m speed, top speed of aerobic running, maximal oxygen uptake, running economy, concentric and isometric leg extension, rate of force production in leg extension, and quadriceps size.

The explosive training group experienced small but significant changes in neuromuscular performance and anaerobic measures, including increased rectus femoris size. Increases in lean body mass or muscle hypertrophy is not often found during training of endurance athletes.

Although measures of aerobic performance were not improved, the fact that there was no decline is an important finding. Supplementing endurance training, and reducing endurance volume, by integrating more explosive and resistance exercise may reduce injuries by increasing muscle strength/size, increasing neuromuscular performance and reducing repetitive stress of movement.

Mikkola, J. et al (2007) Concurrent Endurance and Explosive Type Strength Training Improves Neuromuscular and Anaerobic Characteristics in Young Distance Runners. International Journal of Sports Medicine.