Metabolism and Performance in Repeated Cycle Sprints: Active versus Passive Recovery

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Abstract

Purpose:

To compare active versus passive recovery on performance and metabolism during a test of repeated-sprint ability.

Methods:

Nine males performed four repeated-sprint cycle tests (six 4-s sprints, every 25 s) in a randomized, counterbalanced order: two tests with active recovery (~32% VO2max) and two with passive recovery. Muscle biopsies were taken during the four tests from the vastus lateralis pretest, immediately posttest, and following 21 s of recovery to determine phosphocreatine ([PCr]), creatine, and muscle lactate concentration ([MLa−]).

Results:

Active recovery resulted in a greater power decrement than passive recovery (7.4 ± 2.2 vs 5.6 ± 1.8%, P = 0.01) and lower final peak power (14.9 ± 1.5 vs 15.3 ± 1.5 W·kg−1, P = 0.02). However, there was no significant difference in work decrement or total work. The percent of resting [PCr] was lower and approached significance posttest (32.6 ± 10.6 vs 45.3 ± 18.6%; P = 0.06; effect size (ES) = 0.8) and following 21 s of recovery (54.6 ± 9.6 vs 71.7 ± 14.1%; P = 0.06; ES = 1.2) during active recovery. The [MLa−] was significantly higher posttest during active recovery (71.7 ± 12.3 vs 55.2 ± 15.7 mmol·kg−1 dm; P = 0.048; ES = 1.2); however, no significant differences were evident following 21 s of recovery (55.0 ± 11.3 vs 48.4 ± 16.7 mmol·kg−1 dm, P = 0.07; ES = 0.5).

Conclusions:

Despite no differences in the majority of performance measures, active recovery resulted in a significantly lower final peak power, a greater peak power decrement, a higher [MLa−], and a strong trend towards lower [PCr], suggesting a potential suboptimal effect of active recovery during repeated-sprint exercise.

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