Effects of High-Intensity Training on Physiological and Hormonal Adaptions in Well-Trained Cyclists

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PurposeInvestigate development of specific performance adaptions and hormonal responses every fourth week during a 12-wk high-intensity training (HIT) period in groups with different interval-training prescriptions.MethodsSixty-three well-trained cyclists performing a 12-wk intervention consisting of two to three HIT sessions per week in addition to ad libitum low-intensity training. Groups were matched for total training load, but increasing HIT (INC) group (n = 23) performed interval-sessions as 4 × 16 min in weeks 1–4, 4 × 8 min in weeks 5–8, and 4 × 4 min in weeks 9–12. Decreasing HIT (DEC) group (n = 20) performed interval sessions in the opposite order as INC, and mixed HIT (MIX) group (n = 20) performed all interval-sessions in a mixed distribution during 12 wk. Cycling-tests and measures of resting blood hormones were conducted pre, weeks 4, 8, and 12.ResultsINC and MIX achieved >70% of total change in workload eliciting 4 mmol·L−1 [la] (Power4mM) and V˙O2peak during weeks 1–4, versus only 34%–38% in DEC. INC induced larger improvement versus DEC during weeks 1–4 in Power4mM (effect size, 0.7) and V˙O2peak (effect size, 0.8). All groups increased similarly in peak power output during weeks 1–4 (64%–89% of total change). All groups’ pooled, total and free testosterone and free testosterone/cortisol ratio decreased by 22% ± 15%, 13% ± 23%, and 14% ± 31% (all P < 0.05), and insulin-like growth factor-1 increased by 10% ± 14% (P < 0.05) during weeks 1–4.ConclusionsMost of progression in Power4mM, V˙O2peak and peak power output was achieved during weeks 1–4 in INC and MIX, and accompanied by changes in resting blood hormones consistent with increased but compensable stress load. In these well-trained subjects, accumulating 2–3 h·wk−1 performing 4 × 16 min work bouts at best effort induces greater adaptions in Power4mM and V˙O2peak than accumulating ~1 h·wk−1 performing best effort intervals as 4 × 4 min.

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