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Intense workouts can improve performance - the research

Does intensity make a difference to your workouts? Recently, researchers looked at a group of highly trained competitive cyclists in order to examine this issue.

They had half the cyclists (the control group) continue with their regular high-mileage training program, while the other half (the experimental group) performed the following workout on 12 occasions over a five week period:

  • Three sets of 20 single-leg explosive jumps (repeated for each leg)
  • Alternating with three sets of 5 x 30 seconds high-resistance cycle sprints (60 to 70 RPM) with 30 seconds recovery.
These are both intense variations to a workout which should increase speed and power. The results?

When they re-tested the two groups over a 1 Km time trial, they found that the experimental group had improved dramatically when compared to the control group - their mean power was up almost 9%, peak power had increased by 7%, and their oxygen cost was 3% lower. These gains are thought to be as a result of improvements to both exercise efficiency, and the anaerobic threshold.

These are significant results in well-trained athletes, and clearly demonstrate how breaking out of the rut, adding explosive and high-resistance interval training workouts to your training program, can make a big difference to even the fittest among us.

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