Optimal active recovery intensity in Standardbreds after submaximal work

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Reasons for performing study:

A retrospective study concerning spontaneous active recovery intensity, i.e. at a freely chosen speed, after a submaximal exercise in trotters showed that the mean intensity demanded by trainers corresponds to 40-50% of maximal heart rate (max HR; unpublished data). However, in human athletes, optimal active recovery intensity was found to be about 60-70% of max HR. Is the spontaneous recovery optimal after a submaximal exercise in trotters?


To compare different recovery intensities and define the most efficient one.


Thirty-seven trotters performed a standardised exercise test on the track. Horses were randomly divided into 4 groups of recovery: passive recovery (n = 10), 10 min walk recovery (n = 10,100 m/min), 10 min slow trot recovery (n = 9, 250 m/min) and 10 min fast trot recovery (n = 8, 420 m/min). Before, during and 1 h after exercise, speed, heart rate, blood lactate concentration were measured as well as respiratory frequency and rectal temperature. Creatine kinase (CK) was measured 1, 3 and 5 h after exercise.


Walk, slow trot and fast trot recovery corresponded respectively to 45-50%, 55-60% and 65-70% of max HR. Heart rate and blood lactate concentration were significantly lower after the 10 sec recovery with increasing intensity of recovery.


The most efficient intensity of recovery was the 10 min fast trot recovery (65-70% max HR) as this type of recovery allows the optimal blood lactate disappearance.

Potential relevance:

Considering the usual habits of trainers or drivers, recovery intensity after trot races should be increased in intensity to optimise its efficiency.

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