Three km Track Time Trial Performance Changes after HIIT in Competitive Cross-Country Skiers

Anneke Winegarden, Constance Lebrun, Louis Passfield, Patricia Doyle-Baker


Background: Limited research surrounding sex differences in fatigue and performance after high intensity interval training (HIIT) exists in the field setting. While lab-based protocols provide a controlled environment, physiological mechanisms of fatigue and performance response in competitive athletes are best measured by time-trial (TT). Few studies, however, have investigated fatigue in TT performance while controlling for the menstrual cycle (MC). Objective: The study investigated the influence of sex and MC phase on 3km track TT performance after a HIIT session in Competitive Cross Country (XC) skiers. Methods: A quasi-experimental design was employed and athletes over the age of 16 years (30F, 9M), were recruited from across Canada and completed 3 days of testing/training: a 3km track TT on Day 1 and Day 3; and a HIIT session (4-8x, 800m) on Day 2. MC phase was verified by ovulation testing and salivary hormone samples; athletes were classified as either “Low Hormone” or “High Hormone” for analysis. Results: An overall improvement in performance from pre- to post-HIIT TTs occurred (p<0.01). No significant differences in TT performance after HIIT were observed between sexes (p=0.16) or MC phase (p=0.26). Conclusion: These results indicate that competitive XC skiers will likely experience an improvement in TT performance after a bout of HIIT. Coaches and athletes should plan their workouts prior to testing accordingly to maximize TT performance. These results also suggest that no special adjustments need to be considered for differences in performance after HIIT between sexes and MC phase, although further studies with a greater sample size and repeated testing are warranted.


High Intensity Interval Training, Sex Differences, Menstrual Cycle Phase, Cross-Country Skiers

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