"Interval Training - Sport-Specific
"Rehabilitation: CB ATHLETIC Rehabilitation
- INTERVAL TRAINING: SPORT-SPECIFIC CONDITIONING
many sports, a high level of aerobic fitness is necessary
for optimal performance because it promotes endurance and
assists recovery in "stop-and-go" type sports
such as ice hockey. To improve aerobic fitness, coaches
have traditionally prescribed long and tedious sessions
of continuous sub-maximal exercise for athletes, regardless
of their sport-specific metabolic demands.
team sports are not characterized by continuous sub-maximal
movement speeds BUT/ rather these sports demand periods
of high-intensity effort interspersed with maximal bursts
of speed and periods of almost complete inactivity. Take
soccer for example, a player may move at a moderate speed
for minutes while following the play and then will be forced
to sprint at their maximal pace for the ball. After that,
the player could be faced with a stoppage in play of up
to a minute due to various factors.
the endless possibilities, is long-duration, moderate-intensity
aerobic training the best method of conditioning these types
of athletes? In my opinion it is not. What then are the
alternatives? Let us consider "aerobic interval (AI)
training" as a more beneficial manner at increasing
the aerobic fitness and sport-specific muscular endurance
of an athlete in a "stop-and-go" team sport.
interval training provides a more sport-specific training
intensity, a greater training stimulus that can be applied
to the muscles used in the specific activities, and may
also be an advanced training method for endurance training
athletes looking to overcome a plateau in their aerobic
intensity level of this training technique is much higher
than the intensity level commonly associated with aerobic
training. The exercise stimulus may in fact be very damaging
to the muscle in its initial attempts and can result in
muscle soreness in the days following the training session.
prior to beginning a "full-blown" training regimen
of AI's, the athlete should develop general muscular strength
and endurance and perform a short "lead-in" program
of general aerobic exercise (2 weeks; 3 sessions per week;
20 minutes; high-intensity; sport-specific activity).
initial (first week; 2 sessions) AI training sessions should
be conservative in training volume (3-5 intervals) to accustom
the muscles and joints to the intensity. As well, a thorough
and specific warm-up should be performed as well as pre-
and post-exercise flexibility routines.
training involves alternating bouts of exercise with recovery
periods. A sport-specific mode of exercises is performed
for a short duration (2-5 minutes) and followed by an equal
length rest interval. High-intensity work is the key factor
in this type of training. By incorporating rest intervals,
the athlete can work at a much higher (and more sport-specific)
power output in comparison to traditional aerobic training.
the intensity of the exercise bout is definitely the trickiest
component of the training prescription. The "work"
pace should elicit the individual's maximal heart rate by
the end of the exercise bout. For example, if a 20-year
old athlete (max HR = ~200) ran a 3-minute interval then
their 10-second heart rate count should be ~ 33 beats (33
x 6 = 198) at the end of exercise. An example distance for
a 3-minute running interval would be ~ 800m. Basically,
the athlete wants to pick a training intensity that they
believe they could hold constant for up to 10-minutes.
picking the intensity can be very subjective unless the
facility has "high-tech" training equipment. As
the AI intensity should correspond to about 95-100% of the
individual's VO2 max, if the athlete has access to high-tech
training technology then a more accurate training prescription
may be allowed.
an adequate and complete rest interval is paramount! The
rest interval must be of an extremely low-intensity so that
sufficient recovery will occur and the next work interval
can again be performed at a high power output. Do not sacrifice
the quality of rest because this will only reduce the benefit
of AI training. A reduced recovery will prevent lactate
clearance (lactate = muscle fatigue), phosphate energy (CP
& ATP) recovery, and improvements in aerobic metabolism.
Remember this is not continuous training!
athletes that have traditionally trained with only long-slow
distance workouts may have difficulty with this concept
at the outset of the program, however these athletes will
soon become more comfortable in taking a full-length recovery
~ 2-minutes of maximal exercise the contribution of the
anaerobic & aerobic energy systems are nearly equal
and at 5-minutes the contribution is 30% anaerobic &
70% aerobic. Therefore, the high-intensity, short-duration
nature of AI allows sport-specific demands to be applied.
Training at such a high-intensity recruits the fast-twitch
muscle fibers. These fibers are predominantly responsible
for anaerobic performance, BUT/ by improving the aerobic
system of these fibers, they will be able to recover quicker
and be ready to contribute to sprint-performance with less
adaptations in the body will be occurring predominantly
at the muscle level. The muscle fibers will increase their
ability to extract and use oxygen, BUT/ the improvements
on oxygen delivery (heart and lung adaptations) may be minimal.
The athlete will also improve their ability to tolerate
lactate (lactic acid buildup in the muscle and blood) and
will be ready to start ANAEROBIC INTERVAL training in the
intervals match precisely the demands of the sport. For example, a hockey ANAEROBIC interval would be maximal exercise
for 30-45 seconds followed by 1-3 minutes of recovery. ANAEROBIC
INTERVAL training prescription needs to be addressed in
an article of its own, perhaps in the near future...
INTERVAL training prescription
2-3 minutes & equal recovery
progress to 10-12 intervals
@ 95-100% VO2max; don't go TOO hard! (8-10 min pace)
~ maxHR at end of interval
should be available at all times throughout the training
session to help combat dehydration. Unfortunately many athletes
may not feel comfortable consuming a high-volume of water
OR sports drink while undergoing this intensity of training.
To compensate, ensure adequate pre-hydration (make it a
habit to drink sufficient fluids daily) and excess post-exercise
fluid intake. The athlete should use AI to train the body
to consume fluids during rest intervals of competition.
Remember the importance of being well hydrated (dehydration
can cause a reduction in endurance).
legs will feel like JELLO upon completion of this workout
for the first time! The muscle glycogen (carbohydrate energy)
stores will be extremely depleted and muscle fatigue will
be high also due to lactate accumulation. Therefore, take
caution in the scheduling of the remainder of your training
day and the following day because of reduced neuromuscular
coordination and fatigue. However, full recovery should
occur within 24-48 hours. Make sure to consume a high-carbohydrate
snack immediately after exercise and to maintain a diet
with sufficient carbohydrate foods and fluids.
AI training should occur in a sport-specific manner. The
intensity and duration of the intervals should increase
in specificity as the pre-season draws closer. Therefore,
AI's train the body to perform repeated intervals of high-power
outputs with the end result being an increase in sport performance.
- REHABILITATION TRAINING PHILOSOPHY
sets are superior for the rehabilitation of injuries. While
I am in agreement that multiple sets are the optimal training
scheme for advanced lifters seeking increased strength and
muscle size, rehabilitation programs will benefit as much
from a single set of an exercise as they would from multiple
sets of the same exercise. The main problem is that multiple
set training prescriptions are just "too much too soon"
for many injuries.
rehabilitation around inflamed joints, single sets are optimal
because they reduce the amount of exercise-induced irritation
(i.e. swelling). An excessive training volume may result
in further degeneration of tissues and will eventually require
greater periods of more extreme rehabilitation techniques.
As the client improves strength and reduces inflammation
then multiple sets may be warranted.
health care professional in charge of the rehabilitation
process (i.e. physical therapist OR athletic trainer) must
be aware of the responses of muscle and connective tissue
to resistance training.
it must be communicated to endurance athletes that high-volume
endurance training may be contraindicated when a lower body
joint is involved in the rehabilitation process. Time will
be better off spent with training the core (lower-back,
abdominal complex) area OR other areas of the body for sport-specific
athletes must realize that rest & recovery for the injury
is essential because the nature of their training methods
(chronic use of the same muscle and joint actions) easily
promotes overtraining injuries. In fact, an athlete attempting
to train with an injury may have to compensate by changing
the biomechanics of their movement.
have seen too many athletes develop additional injuries
in previously healthy muscles and joints because they have
been running OR cycling with poor form due to a present
injury. SLOW DOWN! Recuperate and rehabilitate and then
get back to your training. You will NOT lose all fitness
and in fact you may even benefit from the extra recovery
time. Be patient and follow proper recovery principles to
get back to good health.