Sprinting, Overtraining Your Cells, Durability: Rob Pickels & Trevor Connor Nerd Out on Recent Research

Nerd Lab! In this episode, Mr. Pickels nerds out with Coach Trevor Connor for a deep dive into new scientific research findings.

Endurance Performance Scientific Research with Rob Pickels

Rob Pickels is the Advanced Development Project Manager at PEARL iZUMi, but more importantly, he can out-nerd Trevor as you’ll hear in today’s deep-dive into some new scientific research in sports physiology. Even though the findings of one of these studies may not appear to directly apply to your weekly training plan, understanding the questions that have been asked by scientists can hopefully give you context into what is known and knowable by science as it relates to human performance. Trevor gives a brief overview of each study and then he and Rob point out key components of each study and translate the scientific jargon.

In case you missed it and enjoy this depth of conversation about research, we did a “Nerd-Lab” episode a while back, Fast Talk 155: Recent Research on Interval Types, Timing Effects on Performance, Health Benefits of Endurance, and Pacing Strategies.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Contribution in Sprints

First up is “The Aerobic and Anaerobic Contribution During Repeated 30-s Sprints in Elite Cyclists” by researchers Nicki Winfield Almquist, Øyvind Sandbakk, Bent R. Rønnestad, and Dionne Noordhof. Sometimes, because of the way a study is conducted, the findings are not very well applied to real-world training. Trevor points out some of these methods used which a training athlete would never use in their own workouts. It could be argued that science sometimes needs to ask and answer questions for itself that simply show the bounds of human potential.

Mitochondrial Impairment

Next, we try to understand more about mitochondrial impairment in a study titled “Excessive exercise training causes mitochondrial functional impairment and decreases glucose tolerance in healthy volunteers.”

Durability in Endurance Athletes

The final review of the day leaves Rob asking for more from scientists and friends of the podcast, Stephen Seiler and Ed Maunder in their Review article, “The Importance of ‘Durability’ in the Physiological Profiling of Endurance Athletes.” Rob asks the questions he wants answers to and looks for more valuable information.

Let’s make you fast!


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  • Almquist, N. W., Ettema, G., Hopker, J., Sandbakk, Ø., & Rønnestad, B. R. (2020). The Effect of 30-Second Sprints During Prolonged Exercise on Gross Efficiency, Electromyography, and Pedaling Technique in Elite Cyclists. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 15(4), 562–570. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2019-0367 
  • Almquist, N. W., Sandbakk, Ø., Rønnestad, B. R., & Noordhof, D. (2021). The Aerobic and Anaerobic Contribution During Repeated 30-s Sprints in Elite Cyclists. Frontiers in Physiology, 12, 692622. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.692622 
  • Flockhart, M., Nilsson, L. C., Tais, S., Ekblom, B., Apró, W., & Larsen, F. J. (2021). Excessive exercise training causes mitochondrial functional impairment and decreases glucose tolerance in healthy volunteers. Cell Metabolism. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2021.02.017 
  • Hawley, J. A., & Bishop, D. J. (2021). High-intensity exercise training — too much of a good thing? Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 17(7), 385–386. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1038/s41574-021-00500-6 
  • Hernando, B., Gil-Barrachina, M., Tomas-Bort, E., Martinez-Navarro, I., Collado-Boira, E., & Hernando, C. (2020). The effect of long-term ultra-endurance exercise and SOD2 genotype on telomere shortening with age. Journal of Applied Physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00570.2020 
  • Hopker, J. G., O’Grady, C., & Pageaux, B. (2017). Prolonged constant load cycling exercise is associated with reduced gross efficiency and increased muscle oxygen uptake. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 27(4), 408–417. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.12673 
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  • Maunder, E., Seiler, S., Mildenhall, M. J., Kilding, A. E., & Plews, D. J. (2021). The Importance of ‘Durability’ in the Physiological Profiling of Endurance Athletes. Sports Medicine, 1–10. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01459-0 
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  • Serresse, O., Lortie, G., Bouchard, C., & Boulay, M. (1988). Estimation of the Contribution of the Various Energy Systems During Maximal Work of Short Duration. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 09(06), 456–460. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2007-1025051 
  • Tiidus, P. M., Pushkarenko, J., & Houston, M. E. (1996). Lack of antioxidant adaptation to short-term aerobic training in human muscle. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 271(4), R832–R836. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.1996.271.4.r832 

Photo Credit: Aditya Wardhana on Unsplash

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