Maximal incremental tests might not be the best solution to monitor changes in performance after high-volume, low-intensity training period as a rower spends only 20-30% of the time during the incremental tests at low intensities.
Therefore, if a training period was intended to stress the low intensity energy systems then the measurement validity would be higher if we test the athlete using similar intensities.
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Sports Scientist (PhD),
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Rowing Academy Scientist
TESTING FOR AEROBIC
Maximal incremental tests might not be the best solution to monitor changes in
performance after high-volume, low-intensity training period as a rower spends only 2030% of the time during the incremental tests at low intensities. Still, lots of coaches use
maximal incremental tests to test the performance of the athlete.
Therefore, if a training period was intended to stress the low intensity energy systems
then the measurement validity would be higher if we test the athlete using similar
intensities. Aerobic training has increased in recent decades in elite rowers and is the
most important type of training for them (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Changes in the distribution of training volume (h/week) between low intensity trainings and
high intensive trainings from 70s to 90s in elite Norwegian rowers (Fiskerstrand & Seiler, 2004).
The US national team, for example, has used different submaximal intensities for tracking
physiological changes in rowers during the annual training (Figure 2). The results clearly
show an improved lactate/workload relationship when the competition period advances.
Those constant submaximal intensity tests also give feedback about the capacity at a
certain workload. This is difficult to measure during incremental tests where we can only
measure different parameters at a certain intensity but we do not know how long we are
able to sustain the certain workload.
Figure 2. Changes of lactate and heart rate values in US male rowers throughout the
annual training year (Hagerman, 2000)
Biochemical testing during training intensity conditions should be preferred instead of
fasting (at rest) hormone test when studying biochemical adaptation of the low intensity
training. Rämson et al. (2009) indicated no change in fasting hormone concentrations
while a decrease in post-exercise concentrations of testosterone and cortisol were seen.
Figure 3. Fasting hormone changes (left panel) compared to exercise induced changes in male rowers
during high volume trainings and the following recovery period (Rämson et al. 2009).
The validity of the performance test is higher if targeted to the same energy system or
capacity that was used during the trainings. So, when training aerobic capacity, tests
specific to that intensity should be used.
Fiskerstrand A, Seiler KS. Training and performance characteristics among
Norwegian international rowers. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in
Sports 2004; 14: 303-310.
Hagerman FC. The physiology of competitive rowing. In: W. Garrett Jr., DT
Kirkendall, editors. Exercise and Sport Science. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Philadelphia 2000; 843-873.
Rämson R, Jürimäe J, Jürimäe T, Mäestu J. Behaviour of testosterone and cortisol
during an intensity controlled high volume training period measured by a training
task-specific test in male rowers. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
2009; 23: 645-651.
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More related reading
Metabolic requirements for energy in rowing (whitepaper)
Energy system contribution in 2000m rowing (research)
Testing for maximal aerobic power (whitepaper)
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