Intensified Training Supersedes the Impact of Heat and/or Altitude for Increasing Performance in Elite Rugby Union Players

Sebastien Racinais, Julien D Périard, Julien Piscione, Pitre C. Bourdon, Scott Cocking, Mohammed Ihsan, Mathieu Lacome, David S. Nichols, Nathan E. Townsend, Gavin J. S. Travers, Mathew Wilson, Olivier Girard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

PURPOSE: To investigate whether including heat and altitude exposures during an elite team-sport training camp induces similar or greater performance benefits.

METHODS: The study assessed 56 elite male rugby players for maximal oxygen uptake, repeated-sprint cycling, and Yo-Yo intermittent recovery level 2 (Yo-Yo) before and after a 2-week training camp, which included 5 endurance and 5 repeated-sprint cycling sessions in addition to daily rugby training. Players were separated into 4 groups: (1) control (all sessions in temperate conditions at sea level), (2) heat training (endurance sessions in the heat), (3) altitude (repeated-sprint sessions and sleeping in hypoxia), and (4) combined heat and altitude (endurance in the heat, repeated sprints, and sleeping in hypoxia).

RESULTS: Training increased maximal oxygen uptake (4% [10%], P = .017), maximal aerobic power (9% [8%], P < .001), and repeated-sprint peak (5% [10%], P = .004) and average power (12% [14%], P < .001) independent of training conditions. Yo-Yo distance increased (16% [17%], P < .001) but not in the altitude group (P = .562). Training in heat lowered core temperature and increased sweat rate during a heat-response test (P < .05).

CONCLUSION: A 2-week intensified training camp improved maximal oxygen uptake, repeated-sprint ability, and aerobic performance in elite rugby players. Adding heat and/or altitude did not further enhance physical performance, and altitude appears to have been detrimental to improving Yo-Yo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Mar 2021

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