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Monday, May 2, 2011

"TRAIN LOW, PLAY GAME HIGH": A NOVEL TRAINING-NUTRIENT APPROACH?

A very nice review paper was recently published by Hawley and Burke (see below) which contributes to the understanding of “train low, compete high” training-nutrient approach. The hypothesis behind this concept is that training with low muscle glycogen may enhance endurance training adaptations to a greater extent than training with normal or elevated glycogen stores.

Current evidence suggests that starting endurance type training with low muscle glycogen and/or low exogenous carbohydrate availability promotes training adaptations (i.e., mitochondrial biogenesis) to a greater extent than when athletes train with normal or elevated glycogen levels. However, although a number of studies show beneficial changes in cellular "mechanistic" variables with this approach not all of them show clear improvements in sports performance.

Could this training-nutrient approach be applicable to football players?

There are at least 5 exercise-diet strategies to reduce carbohydrate availability before training and, according to the "train low, compete high" concept, maximize molecular adaptations to endurance training. One of them is the twice-a-day training every second day. Again, although a number of studies show beneficial changes in cellular "mechanistic" variables with this approach not all of them show clear improvements in sports performance.

Some more points to think before making a practical decision
1) There are limited data on high level athletes and no data, to my knowledge, on football players
2) We don't know how this strategies might affect the football-specific skills during training
3) training with low carbohydrate availability may be associated with reduced immune function and expose the palyer to an increased risk of illness and/or injury
4) another possibility when training sessions are undertaken with low carbohydrate availability is that athletes chose a lower intensity and this would negatively affect adaptations.

Despite these limitations, I think that "train low, compete high" strategies may become a time-efficient method for maintaining endurance training adaptations and performance.


For further reading
Hawley JA, Burke LM. Carbohydrate availability and training adaptation: effects on cell metabolism. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2010 Oct;38(4):152-60.

 

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