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A multi-disciplinary approach to alternative training methods for endurance athletes and their relationship with performance


Ní Chéilleachair, Niamh;

Institution: University of Limerick
Subject Keywords: endurance athletes; performance; training;

The physiological determinants most closely associated with successful endurance
performance are factors primarily related to oxygen uptake including V̇O02max, economy of movement and lactate threshold. As a consequence, endurance athletes typically spend
extended periods of training utilising modalities designed to improve aerobic capacity.
Despite this, successful endurance performance in sports such as rowing requires not only
a high aerobic capacity but also muscular strength and anaerobic power necessary for
attacking, pace changing and final sprints. Through a multi-disciplinary approach, the aim
of this research was to investigate the impact of alternative methods of training on welltrained
endurance athletes in order to maximise training adaptations of the key
biomechanical and physiological determinants associated with endurance performance.
The effect of maximal stretch shortening cycle (SSC) fatigue on the biomechanical
performance of both well-trained endurance and strength trained athletes was investigated.
Maximal SSC fatigue had an immediate, debilitating effect on the performance of
subsequent SSC activities for both strength and endurance athletes. This effect was realised
through reductions in performance outcome and the biomechanical performance of the
jump indicating that the effectiveness of the SSC was significantly reduced resulting in a
decrease in performance. During recovery an enhancement above baseline values was
observed for both groups of athletes. This enhancement may be attributable to a post
activation potentiation (PAP) effect, leading to an acute improvement in performance as a
result of prior muscle activation, whereby subsequent SSC activities can be performed with
a more effective SSC.
To successfully prescribe training for well-trained endurance athletes an in-depth
knowledge of the specific demands of the sport is pertinent and therefore the physiological
determinants of 2000 m rowing ergometer performance were also investigated. The main
finding was that WV̇O2max was the strongest correlate of performance and was the variable
with the most influence on performance. It has been suggested that in well-trained athletes,
additional increases in aerobic training may not result in any further improvement in
endurance performance or associated physiological variables and therefore the effect of
high intensity interval training (HIIT) on well-trained rowers was investigated. The results
revealed that eight weeks of HIIT performed at 100% peak power output was a more
effective means than traditional, long, slow distance training to elicit improvements in
̇V̇O2max and power output associated with lactate threshold. HIIT also resulted in a
significant improvement in 2000 m time trial improvement, although this improvement was
not significantly greater than that observed with traditional training.
In summary, the findings of this thesis indicate that well-trained endurance athletes
have the potential to elicit a similar PAP effect to that observed in strength trained athletes
following maximal SSC fatigue. HIIT was also identified as an effective modality to
optimise the development of aerobic characteristics and enhance rowing performance. In
conclusion, this research adds to the existing body of research by showing that, compared
to traditional training modalities adopted, alternative training methods such as maximal
SSC activities and HIIT may further enhance biomechanical and physiological function and
performance in well-training endurance athletes.

Suggested citation:

Ní Chéilleachair, Niamh; . () A multi-disciplinary approach to alternative training methods for endurance athletes and their relationship with performance [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 21st September 2019].


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