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Tip 160: Get in Anabolic with Short Sprint Intervals and Improve Conditioning

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 6:06 AM
Use short sprint intervals with very brief rest periods to get conditioned and trigger a potent anabolic response. With as little as five minutes of pain you’ll get a significant gain by adding sprints to your training program, whether you’re getting ready for peak performance in fall sports or simply want to improve conditioning and be more anabolic. New research on Iranian wrestlers in the preseason found that short sprints with very brief recovery improves both aerobic and anaerobic performance, while raising testosterone levels.

The researchers hoped to identify a training strategy for getting elite athletes in peak conditioning shape with just a short period of weekly training time. The participants performed two sprint sessions a week for four weeks in addition to their regular wrestling practice and weight training. The interval protocol took a total of four minutes and included six 35-meter sprints at maximum effort with 10-seconds rest.

After four weeks, participants significantly improved peak and mean power output on the Wingate Test, and improved maximal oxygen uptake by 5.4 percent. They also increased time to exhaustion on a graded exercise test from 356 to 471 seconds—a significant improvement that is likely due to decreased glycogen depletion and greater muscle buffering capacity.

After the four-week training period, total testosterone and the testosterone to cortisol ratio increased significantly—they were tested two days after the training period ended. Cortisol levels decreased by 12.6 percent, a small amount but still of import because it indicates that catabolic process were decreasing while anabolic response was boosted. The evidence is valuable because it clarifies the fact that in elite athletes who are already performing a high volume of intense training, sprint training doesn’t cause overtraining or excessive stress hormone response.

If you are using sprints to train for a long competitive season, researchers suggest doing four weeks of sprints in the preseason conditioning phase, and then during season for brief training segments , such as two weeks, in order to peak for competition. They note that the benefit of a higher volume of training can be further investigated in elite athletes. We do know that a greater volume of sprint training leads to ample fat loss from the abdominal area in the general population, but this is not generally the goal for elite athletes.

Farzad, B., Gharakhanlou, R., Agha-Alinejad, H., Curby, D., et al. Physiological and Performance Changes from the Addition of a Sprint Interval Program to Wrestling Training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. August 2011. Published Ahead of Print.

Trapp, E.G., Chisholm, D.J., Freund, J., Boutcher, S.H. The Effects of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise Training on Fat Loss and Fasting Insulin Levels of Young Women. International Journal of Obesity. 2008. 32(4), 684-691. 


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