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Do Hockey Players Need Aerobic Fitness? Relation Between Vo2max and Fatigue During High Intensity Intermittent Skating.

Do Hockey Players Need Aerobic Fitness? Relation Between Vo2max and Fatigue During High Intensity Intermittent Skating.

Carey DG, Drake MM, Pliego GJ, Raymond RL J Strength Cond Res. 2007 Aug;21(3):963-6.

Purpose: The primary objective of this study was to assess the relationship between aerobic capacity, as measured by the VO(2)max test, and recovery from high-intensity intermittent exercise.

Methods:
Eleven female collegiate hockey players agreed to participate. Subjects skated 5 1-lap intervals around the hockey rink at maximal intensity with a 30-second recovery period between skates. The VO(2)max test was performed on a motor-driven treadmill after a modified Bruce protocol. A fatigue index was calculated by measuring the total increase in skate time from trial 1 to trial 5. This fatigue index was then correlated to VO(2)max.

Results: This correlation coefficient (-0.422) was not significant (p > 0.05) and indicated that only 17.8% of the variance in VO(2)max could be explained by the fatigue index. It was concluded that ability to recover from high-intensity intermittent exercise is not related to aerobic capacity.

Conclusions:
Coaches and trainers probably do not need to include aerobic training in their practices, because the high-intensity interval training commonly seen in hockey training also improves aerobic capacity, as reflected in the high VO(2)max values of these subjects.

My Comments:

Another study looking at aerobic exercise and its possible conflict when added to a strength and conditioning program for athletes in a power sport. Consistent with other studies, stating that interval training can increase Vo2max, the authors have concluded that time spent in training may better be served by doing things that are more specific to the sport (IE, interval training specific to the work to rest ratio of hockey).

I do agree that interval training is helpful for sports performance and can benefit your athletes greatly. The big question really is; where does aerobic training fit into sports conditioning? Should it be used at all? I mean clearly, we are seeing studies showing that athletes are getting a tremendous bang for their buck performing interval work. Why would anyone spend time doing regular, moderate intensity, steady-state cardio? The answer to that lies in the amount of stress and fatigue that is gained by high intensity interval training and heavy resistance training. How many days a week can an athlete keep something like that up before burn out happens?

Part of the problem is that research is great for what it is. It gives us information that we can hopefully take and apply to a group of people we are working with. It suggests statistical significance and helps us to make conclusions about the training programs that we use with our athletes. I am all for being evidence based and I always try and seek out research to support the things that I do. However, there are limitations to research, the main one being, what happens in the lab and what happens in the gym are not always the same thing and the environments can sometimes be hard to recreate. As well, those that are conducting research are researchers and not necessarily the ones that are out working with athletes, so their interpretation of what works may not always be the best for your situation. As a coach you need to learn to read your athletes, and understand when to “push” and when to “hold back,” depending on the feedback that athlete is giving you that day about how they are feeling (verbally) and the feedback the athlete is giving you that day by observing how they are performing (visually) and then adjusting. Just something to think about. That said, research is extremely valuable and it is important to be evidenced based and not just work on conjecture or “something someone told you.” To many coaches read research (often times out of context from the population they are working with) and use it to support their ideas (even if it is out of context). When they are then called on their B.S., they like to say that what they do is “real world,” and that is all that is important. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You are either evidenced based or you are not. Only quoting research when it supports what you are saying (again even if it is out of context) and failing to recognize research that disagrees with you is silly.

I am going to continue talking about cardio over the next few entries and touch on ideas of aerobic training and how it can work in an overall program (when used properly). Also, I will be posting a very interesting study that just came across my desk regarding “the fat burning zone”……GASP!

Until next time!
Patrick