Over the last 10 years, there’s been a wide-spread emphasis on “high intensity interval training” to improve conditioning in team sport athletes.
Recently, there’s been more attention paid to the importance of repeat sprint ability (i.e. clustered maximum efforts with incomplete rest before longer periods of lower intensity activity or complete rest), either as the predominant characteristic of sport or as a key characteristic during critical moments of competition.
Unfortunately, a byproduct of these trends is that the benefits of aerobic training have been either largely overlooked or actively dismissed.
Short sprints rely heavily on the PCr (Phosphocreatine) system as an energy source. One of the major limiting factors to repeat sprint ability is the resynthesis of PCr, which is depleted from max efforts lasting more than few seconds (or short efforts repeated within condensed time periods…like a typical hockey shift).
Aerobic training is one of the primary methods of improving PCr resynthesis rates.
Below is a quote from a paper I reference often:
“High-intensity interval training (6–12·[2 minutes at ~100% VO2max:1minute rest]), can significantly improve PCr resynthesis during the first 60 seconds following high-intensity exercise. In contrast, no changes in the rate of PCr resynthesis have been reported following interval (8·[30 seconds at ~130% VO2max:90seconds rest]), or intermittent-sprint training (15·[6-second sprint: 1-minute jog recovery]), or training involving repeated, 30-second, all-out efforts (4–7·[30 seconds ‘all-out’: 3–4 minutes rest]).“
While the authors use “high-intensity interval training” to describe the 6-12 x 2:00/1:00 interval, this is not a method commonly used by those relying on high intensity conditioning (the later examples in the quote are more representative).
The point here is that even if your goal is SOLELY to support maximum speed efforts, aerobic training plays a KEY role in allowing the athlete to repeat those outputs.
Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.
To your success,
P.S. For comprehensive hockey training programs to improve your speed AND repeat sprint ability, check out: Speed Training for Hockey
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Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.