Intensified Endurance Training and Effects on Mitochondrial Function

As we have discussed at length in the past, some of the fundamental physiological adaptations sought by endurance athletes through training occur in the mitochondria. A textbook will tell you that the mitochondria are the ‘aerobic powerhouses’ of cells; the sites of aerobic metabolism, and therefore metabolically where an endurance athlete makes their money. It has long been known that significant mitochondrial remodelling occurs in response to exercise (4), with increased size, number, and functionality of mitochondria observed following endurance training (5). This mitochondrial remodelling, and subsequent useful increase in the mitochondrial respiratory capacity, typically occurs as a result of mitochondrial biogenesis – the building of nice new mitochondria – and mitophagy – the break-down of damaged existing mitochondria.

A couple of recent studies have reported quite startling findings; namely, that short periods of very intense training actually...

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Antioxidants and endurance performance: A supplement worth trying?

In endurance sport, there are a huge number of supplements that are purported to enhance performance, recovery, and adaptation, with very few of these actually living up to the hype. As scientists, we tend to be very sceptical of supplements and their claims, and prefer to wait for a body of literature to emerge supporting the use of a particular supplement. However, as practitioners and athletes, we also know that waiting for the scientific literature to catch-up sometimes risks leaving you missing out on a performance aid that your competitors may have taken advantage of. In this blog, we are going to talk about antioxidant supplementation, which might be one of the most discussed supplementation regimens in endurance sport.

So, what are antioxidants? To understand antioxidants, you first have to understand reactive oxygen species or ROS. ROS accumulates in muscle during high-intensity exercise, and ROS appears to have a fatiguing effect on muscle, possibly through effects on...

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Recovery from a Zwift race: A physiological perspective

Dr Dan Plews & Ed Maunder

We, as endurance athletes in the world of the COVID-19, indoor-training dominated world, are perhaps more than ever having to make day-to-day decisions on how and when we should train, and how and when we should race. Many of us have had our A and B races canceled this year, or have had to shift our training environment indoors, and, almost inevitably, onto Zwift. Zwift is an awesome tool for keeping us motivated and occupied from within the confines of our indoor pain caves, and Zwift racing is an exciting means of keeping those competitive juices flowing while the finish line in Kona seems further and further away. 

Imagine an athlete setting up on their trainer for an after-work spin on a Friday. They have a swim and some intervals planned on the bike for Saturday, followed by a long endurance ride on Sunday and an 8-km run-off-the-bike. They see that there’s a Zwift race starting in 20 min they fancy having a crack at. Should they do it?...

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