This purpose of this post is to give a brief overview, not a critique, of a piece of recent research that you might find relevant to your sport. I’ve tried to translate it as neatly as possible and explain any technical phrases. On this occasion, the paper is a piece by Paton, Hopkins & Cook (full reference below) on the effects of low v high cadence interval training on cycling performance.
Eighteen male cyclists with at least 3 years competitive experience participated in the study. It took place during the competitive season during which all cyclists were racing at least once a week in endurance road or mountain biking events lasting longer than an hour.
The training sessions undertaken by the cyclists ran parallel to their normal training and consisted of 30 minutes of supervised intervals in the lab; sessions were arranged for similar times during the day to prevent diurnal variation, cyclists maintained their normal diets and didn’t take any performance enhancing supplements during the 4 weeks (e.g. caffeine). Training sessions were made up of 3 sets of 20 single leg jumps alternated with 3 sets of 5×30 second maximal sprints on the bike with 30 seconds recovery between each repetition. Depending on the training group, the intervals were done at cadences of either 60-70 per minute or 110-120 per minute. Rest between each jump and bike set were 2 minutes and the training, of course, came after a thorough warm up.
The main finding from the study was a 6-11% increase in performance by the low cadence group compared with the 2-3% increase in the high cadence group. The ranges are dependent upon the test variable. The testing showed that interval training at a low cadence produces greater gains than similar intervals at a higher cadence in cycling endurance performance tests. The low cadence improvements were put down to the higher pedal forces that look to be linked to testosterone increases and maybe better maximal oxygen uptake.
Paton, C.D., Hopkins, W.G. & Cook, C. (2009). The effect of low vs high cadence interval training on cycling performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(6) pp. 1758-1763.
It was almost unbelievable when the story broke. To order your driver to purposefully crash his car is an idea so bereft of any respect for him as a person that you could not help but think that it was made up. Therefore I think that Flavio Briatore’s indefinite FIA ban is entirely justified, a view not shared by the formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.
I heard an interview with Alex Zanardi this week, he is an ex-formula 1 driver that is now driving in the World Touring Car Championship in an adapted car and was talking about potentially competing in London 2012 in hand cycling. He is doing these thing because he has no legs. He lost them as a result of a crash in 2001. No doubt this was at the forefront of Briatore’s mind when he asked Nelson Piquet Jnr to ditch his car into the wall in Singapore last year. Suppose Piquet suffered a similar injury or even died; a very possible scenario given the massive forces involved. Was it worth the risk for more points for his teammate?
Nelson Piquet did have the option to say no but this isn’t the first time in recent weeks an athlete has given into demands from those above. The ‘bloodgate’ scandal in rugby union over the summer also highlighted the power that bosses can have over their charges. It’s right that malfunctions in their moral compasses have been harshly dealt with, hopefully it will help to reduce the pressure that professional athlete’s are experiencing to win at all costs and reduce the temptation for those in charge to apply that pressure.
The Guinness premiership rugby season started last week with a bang and with all the adverse press the sport has received over the summer could’ve done without the early dismissal of George Robson for a headbutt after 45 seconds of the second game. Aside from the controversy about which much has already been written we’ve been treated to an intense and highly competitive 2 rounds of competition. Some stand out performances from Shane Geraghty and Ryan Lamb for their respective new sides have been amongst the highlights.
The other point of notice is just how close most of the matches have been with 7 from 12 games ending with the teams separated by 5 points or less. This highlights just how small the margin for error is at the top level. Steve Meehan, the Bath coach, rued his first weekend 24-5 loss stating 14 points of those scored by Gloucester were due to interceptions; errors by his side. For me, it shows the importance of building reactionary or decision making scenarios into conditioning activity. Perhaps James Simpson-Daniel and Nicky Robinson were sharper at reading the game than their Bath counterparts under fatigue and this led to their scores.
Better conditioning or not, it demonstrates just how slim the differences between teams are and how attention to detail in training can effect the result. It is a great example of how, by working closely with technical coaches during the needs analysis, the strength and conditioning coach can design a program that is much more match relevant.