Influence of oxygen uptake kinetics on physical performance in youth soccer
PURPOSE The present study examined whether a period of additional speed endurance training would improve intense intermittent exercise performance in highly trained soccer players during the season and whether the training changed aerobic metabolism and the level of oxidative enzymes in type I and type II muscle fibers. METHODS During the last 9 wk of the season, 13 semiprofessional soccer players performed additional speed endurance training sessions consisting of two to three sets of 8-10 repetitions of 30-m sprints with 10 s of passive recovery (SET). Before and after SET, subjects completed a double-step exercise protocol that included transitions from standing to moderate-intensity running (~75% HRmax), followed by transitions from moderate- to high-intensity running (~90% HRmax) in which pulmonary oxygen uptake (V˙O2) was determined. In addition, the yo-yo intermittent recovery test level 1 was performed, and a muscle biopsy was obtained at rest. RESULTS The yo-yo intermittent recovery test level 1 performance was 11.6% ± 6.4% (mean ± SD) better (2803 ± 330 vs 3127 ± 383 m, P < 0.05) after SET compared with before SET. In the transition from standing to moderate-intensity running, phase II pulmonary V˙O2 kinetics was 11.4% ± 16.5% faster (P < 0.05), and the running economy at this intensity was 2.3% ± 3.0% better (P < 0.05). These improvements were apparent despite the content of muscle proteins regulating oxidative metabolism (3-hydroxyacyl CoA dehydrogenase, COX IV, and OXPHOS), and capillarization was reduced (P < 0.05). The content of 3-hydroxyacyl CoA dehydrogenase and citrate synthase in type I and type II fibers did not change. CONCLUSION In highly trained soccer players, additional speed endurance training is associated with an improved ability to perform repeated high-intensity work. To what extent the training-induced changes in V˙O2 kinetics and mechanical efficiency in type I fibers caused the improvement in performance warrants further investigation.