Athletes who participate in aerobic endurance sports, such as running, cycling, and cross-country skiing, use different training modalities to improve athletic performance. Peak performance in aerobic endurance sports has been shown to require a high level of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max). However, in the previously mentionedsports disciplines, the effort of the competition is characterized by a variable intensity, repeatedly reaching the maximum level of intensity. Therefore, it is increasingly important to develop not only aerobic capacity but also anaerobic capacity.
The results of a study have recently been published (Hebisz P, Hebisz R, 2021; Int J Environ Res Public Health 18-Jun; doi: 10.3390 / ijerph18126547) with the aim to investigate the effect of two different concepts in a training program on muscle thickness and anaerobic power in trained cyclists.
Twenty-six mountain bike cyclists participated and were divided into an experimental group (E), which performed a polarized training, comprising speed interval training (SIT), high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and aerobic endurance exercise training (ET), and a control group (C), who performed HIIT and ET. The experiment was carried out over the course of 9 weeks. Laboratory tests were performed immediately before and after the experimental period, including an ultrasound measurement of the thickness of the quadriceps femoris muscle and a speed interval test protocol (SITP). During the SITP, the cyclists performed 4 repetitions maximum, 30 s each, with a rest period of 90 s between repetitions. SITP was performed to measure maximum and mean anaerobic power.
The results showed that, as a result of the applied training program, the muscle thickness decreased, and the average anaerobic power increased in the experimental group. In contrast, no significant changes were observed in the control group.
The authors concluded that a decrease in muscle thickness with a concomitant increase in mean anaerobic power resulting from the polarized training program is beneficial in mountain biking.
JL. Chicharro (PhD) Opinion:
Current training programs in practically any sport discipline include different stimulus modalities in order to cover as much as possible the most beneficial adaptations in improving performance.
The combination of these training modalities, such as SIT, HIIT, extensive aerobic, strength, etc., must be carefully planned for the effects to be synergistic. In this application of multiple differentiated stimuli, the polarized training scheme takes on great importance throughout the season.