Athletic Performance Improved By Sprint Intervals


Back in high school and briefly in college, I was a 134 lb wrestler. I wasn’t very good in high school, which means that I am literally the only 33 year old male living in the entire United States who has ever sucked at a high school sport – at least based on conversations I’ve had with former high school athletes, I’m pretty sure that nobody sucked at any high school sport except me. I was good enough to wrestle briefly at community college, until I transferred out to University of Maryland, where I wouldn’t have been good enough to mop the mats. But I digress…

We put in a lot of running, sometimes around the school itself, sometimes around the entire town (yea, wrestling is a winter sport and New Jersey is cold as hell in January). But we really didn’t do too many sprints, just distance running. And that’s a shame because, as I’ve previously reported, sprint training is superior to distance running for improving endurance. And it appears that this doesn’t just apply to endurance, nor to athletes who run as part of their sport, but highly trained wrestlers also. In the following study, positive performance gains were realized from 6 x 35m sprints performed with 10s of recovery between efforts, a mere two times per week:

J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Aug 16. [Epub ahead of print]
Physiological and Performance Changes From The Addition of a Sprint Interval Program to Wrestling Training.

Farzad B, Gharakhanlou R, Agha-Alinejad H, Curby DG, Bayati M, Bahraminejad M, Mäestu J.

Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, School of Humanity Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran; 2Overtime School of Wrestling, Naperville, Illinois; 3Physical Fitness Assessment and Improvement Center, National Olympic and Paralympic Academy, Tehran, Iran; and 4Institute of Sport Pedagogy and Coaching Sciences, Centre of Behavioural and Health Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.

Farzad, B, Gharakhanlou, R, Agha-Alinejad, H, Curby, DG, Bayati, M, Bahraminejad, M, and Mäestu, J. Physiological and performance changes from the addition of a sprint-interval program to wrestling training. J Strength Cond Res 25(9): 2392-2399, 2011-Increasing the level of physical fitness for competition is the primary goal of any conditioning program for wrestlers. Wrestlers often need to peak for competitions several times over an annual training cycle. Additionally, the scheduling of these competitions does not always match an ideal periodization plan and may require a modified training program to achieve a high level of competitive fitness in a short-time frame. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of 4 weeks of sprint-interval training (SIT) program, on selected aerobic and anaerobic performance indices, and hormonal and hematological adaptations, when added to the traditional Iranian training of wrestlers in their preseason phase. Fifteen trained wrestlers were assigned to either an experimental (EXP) or a control (CON) group. Both groups followed a traditional preparation phase consisting of learning and drilling technique, live wrestling and weight training for 4 weeks. In addition, the EXP group performed a running-based SIT protocol. The SIT consisted of 6 35-m sprints at maximum effort with a 10-second recovery between each sprint. The SIT protocol was performed in 2 sessions per week, for the 4 weeks of the study. Before and after the 4-week training program, pre and posttesting was performed on each subject on the following: a graded exercise test (GXT) to determine &OV0312;o2max, the velocity associated with &OV0312;o2max (ν&OV0312;o2max), maximal ventilation, and peak oxygen pulse; a time to exhaustion test (Tmax) at their ν&OV0312;O2max; and 4 successive Wingate tests with a 4-minute recovery between each trial for the determination of peak and mean power output (PPO, MPO). Resting blood samples were also collected at the beginning of each pre and posttesting period, before and after the 4-week training program. The EXP group showed significant improvements in &OV0312;O2max (+5.4%), peak oxygen pulse (+7.7%) and Tmax (+32.2%) compared with pretesting. The EXP group produced significant increases in PPO and MPO during the Wingate testing compared with pretesting (p < 0.05). After the 4-week training program, total testosterone and the total testosterone/cortisol ratio increased significantly in the EXP group, whereas cortisol tended to decrease (p = 0.06). The current findings indicate that the addition of an SIT program with short recovery can improve both aerobic and anaerobic performances in trained wrestlers during the preseason phase. The hormonal changes seen suggest training-induced anabolic adaptations.

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