Purpose: Accumulated time at a high percentage of peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak) is important for improving performance in endurance athletes. The present study compared the acute effect of a roller-ski skating session containing work intervals with a fast start followed by decreasing speed (DEC) with a traditional session where the work intervals had a constant speed (similar to the mean speed of DEC; TRAD) on physiological responses, rating of perceived exertion, and leg press peak power.
Methods: A total of 11 well-trained cross-country skiers performed DEC and TRAD in a randomized order (5 × 5-min work intervals, 3-min relief). Each 5-minute work interval in the DEC protocol started with 1.5 minutes at 100% of maximal aerobic speed followed by 3.5 minutes at 85% of maximal aerobic speed, whereas the TRAD protocol had a constant speed at 90% of maximal aerobic speed.
Results: DEC induced a higher VO2 than TRAD, measured as both peak and average of all work intervals during the session (98.2% [2.1%] vs 95.4% [3.1%] VO2peak, respectively, and 87.6% [1.9%] vs 86.1% [3.2%] VO2peak, respectively) with a lower mean rating of perceived exertion after DEC than TRAD (16.1 [1.0] vs 16.5 [0.7], respectively) (all P < .05). There were no differences between sessions for mean heart rate, blood lactate concentration, or leg press peak power.
Conclusion: DEC induced a higher mean VO2 and a lower rating of perceived exertion than TRAD, despite similar mean speed, indicating that DEC can be a good strategy for interval sessions aiming to accumulate more time at a high percentage of VO2peak.
Keywords: endurance training; high-intensity aerobic training; intense exercise; roller skiing.