Nerd Lab: Are All High-Intensity Intervals Created Equal?

Physiologist Rob Pickels nerds out with Trevor Connor on four recent studies that span a wide range of topics, from the benefits of percussive massagers for strength work to the impact of pregnancy on elite runners. Tune in to find out more.

high intensity runner in the mountains

In this week’s show, exercise physiologist Rob Pickels and Coach Trevor Connor pick some interesting new studies and discuss what they mean. The four studies include a comparison of six weeks of different high-intensity interval sessions, insights into the benefits of percussive massage on strength work, what are exerkines, and the impact of pregnancy on elite runners. Though the findings of these studies may not always directly apply to your weekly training plan, we boil down the most important messages and help explain what you can take from this research to be a healthier and stronger athlete.  

Comparing Six Weeks of Different High-Intensity Interval Sessions

We have frequently discussed on the show whether all high-intensity interval protocols are the same or if they produce different results. This interesting study titled Effects of 6 Weeks of Different High-Intensity Interval and Moderate Continuous Training on Aerobic and Anaerobic Performance explores this question from a team sports perspective.  

The study found that there were differences between short very high-intensity intervals and longer VO2max style intervals. However, that wasn’t the only interesting takeaway from this packed study. Listen in to find out more.

Does Percussive Massage Help Strength Work?

Imagine you’re in the gym and you notice an athlete in the corner stopping between sets to pull out a percussive massager to work their muscles before doing their next set. You might think they’re a little weird, but the question is: Are they on to something?  A recent study, Acute Effects of a Percussive Massage Treatment on Movement Velocity During Resistance Training, addresses that question. If you can handle people looking at you a little funny, this research might motivate you to change your own routine.  

What Are Exerkines and Why Are They Important?

The term exerkines was only coined in 2016, but the idea has become so important that a large consortium of scientists are scheduled to meet this year and will be making it the focus of their meeting. Many of those participants just released the review,  Exerkines in Health, Resilience, and Disease. The term simply refers to the signaling molecules in our body that are released due to exercise and have an impact on our health. This impact is proving to be highly varied and important, as it’s affecting everything from diabetes to heart disease, bone health and gut functioning. As athletes, exerkines may be one of the most important things in your body that you’ve never heard of. 

What is the Impact of Pregnancy on High-Level Runners?

Rob surprises the team with a study that was published last month, Impact of Pregnancy in 42 Elite to World-Class Runners on Training and Performance. This study explores not only the impact while female athletes are pregnant, but how quickly these high-level athletes can return to their previous level, and any potential long-term effects of pregnancy. 

For a full list of references used in this episode, click here.

Episode Transcript

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