Sounds counter-intuitive, but those training rides that wipe you out can also pick you up and make you faster. – By Selene Yeager
You know those times when your energy is deflating faster than a tyre that’s rolling over a field of glass? You may be tempted to take it easy, but what you might need most is a good hard ride.
Yep, sounds paradoxical, but a new study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reports that all-out sprint intervals may help you beat fatigue and feel more energised than a steady, moderate spin. You can thank the blast of oxygen through your noggin for the boost.
In the study, the researchers had 15 cyclists perform either a series of high-intensity sprints punctuated with bouts of recovery, or a more moderate steady-speed cycling session of similar total wattage. Meanwhile, the researchers measured the riders’ ratings of fatigue and energy as well as brain oxygen flow. Though the cyclists banging out the sprints fatigued more – i.e. their power output dropped – during the session than the steady-speed riders, they enjoyed a rebound of increased energy above and beyond that of their moderately pedalling peers once they recovered, which the researchers say is likely because of a more robust influx of oxygen-rich blood coursing through their brain.
Try it yourself.
Warm up for 10 to 15 minutes; then shift into a fairly hard gear and blast out a full-throttle 30-second sprint. Downshift and spin nice and easy for four minutes. Repeat three more times. Cool down and enjoy the energy boost.
Bonus: These high intensity interval sessions also help you get fit really fast.