Hey guys, did I have you at pizza? Well, I’ve collected 4 recent studies fitted for endurance athletes to aid you in performance, recovery, and health. All are pulled from the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise over the past few months. I’ll try to summarize 4-5 studies a month from a variety of journals but MSSE seems to be the most consistent with endurance related studies. After each short summary I’ll give you the “Bread and Butter” (or “coffee and butter” if you’re low carb) on how to apply it to training. Feel free to ask for a copy of the original study and I can get any of them to you. Enjoy!
EXERCISE FOLLOWING MENTAL WORK PREVENTED OVEREATING
Let’s start out here since it is the holiday season and we all can use help preventing the intake of excess calories. Researchers found that people who exercised after doing mental work ate fewer calories compared to those who did mental work and remained sedentary.
Thirty-eight undergrad students (they’ll do anything for pizza) were divided into two groups. They all completed a graduate-level entrance exam. Following the exam, one group was given 15 minutes to rest, while the other group performed 15 minutes of HIIT on a treadmill. Afterward, each student was offered all-you-can-eat pizza.
As a control, the week before they all spent 35 minutes relaxing, not engaging in any stimulating activities. Afterward, they were offered an all-you-can-eat lunch of pizza as well.
Those who took the exam and then rested for 15 minutes ate an average of 100 calories more than when they simply relaxed without performing mental work. This reinforces previous studies that suggest working our brains does expend energy and creates feelings of hunger. Students who exercised after the exam ate 25 calories less than when they simply relaxed for 35 minutes and then ate.
APPLICATION: Wisely timed short HIIT sessions can reduce hunger sensation. Try adding a quick (15-20 min) treadmill run, burpees, or other body weight circuit into your lunch break or after work in the evening. If done each work day this could contribute up to an additional 10 pounds of fat loss per year. Personally, I think this is the best way to incorporate some weight training into your routine by completing a circuit lifting session 2-3 days a week after work. Try it out!
CHO MOUTH RINSE AMELIORATES NEUROMUSCULAR RESPONSE WITH LOWER ENDOGENOUS CHO STORES
Ok, so you’re telling me you need to cut back more than just 100 calories a day. Here is another potential hack to help out even more and I find very interesting.
Researchers found that using carbohydrate mouth rinses (swish and spit like mouthwash) after depleting muscle glycogen through exercise and then undergoing an overnight fast significantly improved performance compared to water rinses. This was measured through an hour long workout session consisting of lower extremity weight lifting and a 20 km cycling time trial while monitoring muscle contractions through EMG, perceived effort, glucose and lactate levels, and heart rate.
Eight, healthy, active males were put through the one hour exercise 6 times in different scenarios. Two trials were performed in a FED state (eating two hours before), two trials performed in the FAST state (after a 12 hour fast), and finally two trials were performed in the DEP state (after an exercise depleting muscle glycogen protocol performed the evening before followed by a 12 hour fast). Each trial was performed twice, once while intermittently swishing water and once while swishing a tasteless carbohydrate solution. (Sorry, that was a lot of trials to keep up with.)
Both FED state trials had similar results with or without the carbohydrate solution. However, there was a significant improvement in performance on the 20 KM cycling effort swishing the carbohydrate solution during the FAST and DEP states. Swishing the carbohydrate solution reduced the 20 KM time trial by 3 minutes (From 48 to 45 mins), improved power output (from 120 to 140 watts), and stronger quad contraction by 20%, at a lower heart rate (144 vs 150 bpm).
APPLICATION: I’m sure by now we all have heard a lot about fasting, intermittent fasting, and more specifically fasting morning workouts in order to enhance weight loss. However, these sessions can be tough for most of us as we often feel a decline in performance, but I think this study points to a solution. Instead of struggling through the fasted morning session or relying on a caffeine boost to get through it (my hand is raised) try adding a carbohydrate solution and practice the swish and spit method (maybe not indoors or at the gym though) and see if your perceived effort declines with improvement in speed and/or power.
SLEEP EXTENSION BEFORE SLEEP LOSS: EFFECTS ON PERFORMANCE AND NEUROMUSCLUAR FUNCTION
Ever wonder if getting extra sleep the week before an event will improve your performance knowing the night before will leave you sleep deprived? Well, there is a new study which show that increasing sleep duration for around one week may improve cognitive and athletic performance during a subsequent sleep loss period. 6 participants (small study I know) spent 8 hours sleeping for 6 nights while another group spent the 6 nights sleeping up to 10 hours. Baseline motor and neuromuscular performance was tested upon waking after the 6th night and then again after 34-37 hours of continuous wakefulness. The results: perceived exertion was lower in the extended sleep group as well as an improved sustained contraction time to exhaustion compared to the traditional sleep group.
APPLICATION: This one is common sense but difficult to apply. However, maybe with some science backing your intentions of sleeping more the week leading up to your next big race will result in getting the needed rest and improving your performance. You may not be able to get 10 hours, but any increase in sleep time is likely to show improvement.
INDIVIDUAL ENDURANCE TRAINING PRESCRIPTIONS WITH HEART RATE VARIABILITY (HRV)
I truly believe HRV is one of the more important markers of endurance training. We can talk more about the specifics in the future if you are not sure what HRV is or how to include it into your training.
In this study, 40 recreational, endurance runners (hey, that sounds like most of us!) were divided into a traditional, predefined training group or a HRV guided group. An 8 week training block was completed with measurements of a 3K running performance before and after the block. The predefined group completed 2-3 moderate and HIT sessions per week (50 % HIT/Mod and 50% low intensity) while the HRV group completed the sessions based on HRV measured each morning and averaged over the past 7 days. If HRV was not optimized, then low-intensity training was completed until the 7 day average had improved at which time HIT/MOD sessions were continued. At the end of the training block, the HRV group completed, on average, 5 less Mod/HIT sessions (12.2 vs 17.7). Both groups had overall improvements in their 3K time but a moderate difference was seen with the HRV group showing greater benefit. Interestingly as well, there was 1 participant in the HRV group whose 3K time slowed versus 5 runners whose time slowed in the traditional group.
APPLICATION: If you haven’t started using HRV yet I would highly recommend it. Other studies have shown significant improvements in VO2Max (7% increase) and maximal running performance (6% increase). Not only will you see an improvement in your performance but also a decrease in the amount of intense training, feeling fresher, and avoiding burnout. This is just another way to individualize training which is right for you. All it takes is a HR monitor and any of the free apps. Monitor with your current training and rest periods to obtain a decent baseline and then work with your coach to fine tune your sessions to your needs.
There you have it guys! The first set of articles! Let me know what you think. Are the articles relevant and summaries simple to understand? Also, if you have any questions feel free to leave them and again I can provide a copy of the original study if requested.
“If you truly love life, don’t waste time, because time is what life is made of.”
To our health,