Jun 30, 2009

Cut out the endurance?

There was an interesting study highlighted in the NY Times this past weekend (thanks to Colin for telling me about it).

In short, the lab of Dr Gibala performed a series of experiments where one group of individuals were asked to ride a stationary bike at a steady pace for approx 5hrs/ week whilst another group performed a series of 30second intervals for a total of 6minutes maximum effort/ week. After two weeks the fitness gains in an endurance test were equivalent between the two groups. Therefore this indicates that long steady rides may be unnecessary to improve endurance fitness. This might be particularly relevant for a cycling race such as Little 500 which doesn't require a rider to adapt to long periods in the saddle. Food for thought for sure.


AH said...

Yes but... these studies were performed on untrained individuals and I assert that *any* training regimen would have elicited a favorable response. Show me a study using highly trained athletes and then maybe we'll have something to talk about.

But really, haven't crit riders and cyclocrossers been doing these workouts for decades? 20-30sec on/off is descibed in the Coggan and Allen text as an effective workout. Interpreting this study as "I can be race-fit in just 6min a day" is flawed, however. If you translate this workout to the road with a solid warmup and colldown you're looking at a ride time of close to an hour anyway.

I've read a nuber of anectodal accounts (and have personal experience) that such training regimens can help your top-end but solely relying on these short workouts will seriously undercut your endurance. Everything has its place.

Here are some interesting essays on the topic:
Endurance Revisited
There's No Such Things as a Free Lunch

Tom said...

File this one under: “You can’t get a baby in one month by getting 9 women pregnant”.

Realize that the headline ends in a question mark, not an exclamation point. When you read the article, make sure that you read the comments afterward. They discuss a study done in Japan by Dr. Tabata and also CrossFit. They provide more information that the article does. Comment #71 on this page: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/can-you-get-fit-in-six-minutes-a-week/?em&apage=3#comments is the one that provides significant insight.

But if someone thinks training a Little 500 team, 6 minutes at a time is the formula for victory, they will be in for a big surprise on race day. And not a pleasant one.


AH said...

Tom said: File this one under: “You can’t get a baby in one month by getting 9 women pregnant”.

But wouldn't you love to try? ;-)