It’s time for another rant:
First, watch Mike Boyle’s video in which he says Aerobic base training is useless:
The problem with this guy’s view:
VO2max is NOT the measure for aerobic performance or capacity. I’ll post later on why his reasoning for intervals improving VO2max is faulty. I’ve got a whole paper on that coming up, so we’ll leave that for next week…
Studies demonstrate that his so called “interval training” produces better results when preceded by a period of aerobic training. Or in regular terms, having a base of general aerobic work enhances the benefits from interval training.
He also underestimates/ignores the aerobic component of most sports. Even intermittent sports like basketball or hockey have a large aerobic component. Yes, doing interval training is necessary for these sports because it is going to be pretty specific. The problem is that there is this infatuation with specificity. As track coaches, we know it’s important, but it has to be supported. You wouldn’t have a miler run a mile as fast as he could most days or even do only intervals at mile pace. The same thing applies in intermittent sports. You need some general aerobic conditioning to support the interval training. Research clearly shows that performance in intermittent tests/sports is significantly related to aerobic capacity and something that is basically the velocity at VO2max.
Also, consider what impacts the ability to repeadetly go hard for let’s say 60seconds and then rest for a couple minutes? Well if you’ve ever done miler type training, you know the ability to recover between bouts is crucial. The ability to drop the heart rate, clear lactate and H+, use lactate as a fuel source, restore Creatine Phosphate, etc. all significantly impact the ability to do the next interval fast. What impacts all of these mechanisms? the aerobic system. Research has shown that Creatine Phosphate replenishment is strongly tied to the aerobic system.
Similarly, if we look at recovery in terms of Excess post oxygen consumption. The larger EPOC, the longer it takes to “pay it back” or recover. What minimizes EPOC, a quicker VO2 response, which happens due to aerobic training.
You could go on and on with how endurance training increases lactate removal, or how aerobic capacity has been shown to be significantly related to a decrease in speed during all out interval training.
We know that interval training and longer training can impact the same endurance adaptations (i.e. mitochondrial oxidative capacity, improved fat oxidation and glucose transport). However, what is largely ignored is they do it through different signalling pathways. Laursen wrote a wonderful paper on this that has yet to be published, which I’ll hopefully discuss later when it is.
The problem with Boyle’s stance is that he takes an absolute stance. And his central premise is that VO2max=aerobic performance which it does not. Read one of my blogs below for a brief glimpse into that reasoning. There is a trend in strength/sprint training people to think that interval training is equal to endurance training in terms of aerobic performance. THe problem is that this is largely based on VO2max only. Which is complete crap. As I said earlier, more on this later in the week, so you’ll have to trust me till then.
(Note: There aren’t really FT-b fibers in humans, but since everyone uses it, for this rant I’ll use it)
The guy doesn’t understand muscle fiber changes. Even if all you did was sprint training, you would still get a shift in fiber type towards more intermediate FT-a fibers. That’s right, FT-b fibers would shift to more “aerobic” FT-a fibers. Does that mean force decreases? Not necessarily because other factors change along with that.
The conversion of Ft-a fibers or intermediate fibers to ST fibers is EXTREMELY hard. It takes a long freaking time. In animal models the only way this change occurs, even with chronic all day stimulation for months, is if damage the muscle fibers. The change from FT-a to ST is extremely tough and takes years of consistent aerobic work. It’s one of the reasons why endurance athletes (marathoners in particular) are able to hold on to peak fitness in later ages than power athletes.
This fear of conversion also is rooted in the idea that fiber changes are everything. They are not. There are many different ways to classify fibers and the characteristics of each fiber are not as defined as some people make them out to be. Certain aspects of the muscle fiber are going to change before other do. Fiber type percentage is but one variable out of many that affect the power of that muscle.
The problem is that because it has been measured so often, we focus a ton on it. So it has created this whole fear of conversion. Is too much aerobic training good for a sprint/power athlete? No. If all they did was run 30min a day, I’d say, yes you might be concerned with some changes that might decrease power. However, that’s not how any sprint/power athlete trains, ever.
Let me ask you track guys to use your brain. Do you get scared of fiber type conversions when you have your distance runners do hill sprints once or twice per week? No, because it’s surrounded by enough endurance work that it doesn’t matter. Now, if all you did was sprints every day, then yes, that might be of concern. But who actually trains like that?
And on that subject he quotes Charlie Francis who he says is the greatest sprint coach in history….except that all his athletes took drugs. That should be your warning sign right there. How did his athletes become world class? They took more drugs than anyone else and it showed in how crappy they performed off them (ala Ben Johnson). Maybe Charlie Francis should have done some easy 20-30min runs or aerobic 800’s like Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell and that group then they could have progressed cleanly.
And lastly, he hates on Cross Country. Now is cross country something that should be done for sprint athletes? No, it’s too much of one stimulus. But it didn’t seem to hurt Kerron Clement or Bershawn Jackson too much running CC in HS…
Be very wary of coaches who take absolute stances. You see this with many sprint coaches and strength coaches now a days. They are terrified of fiber type conversions, when in reality it is just a gross simplification of the process. Fiber changes are very complex.