A Sprinter Enjoying Passive Recovery Between Repetitions

A Sprinter Enjoying Passive Recovery Between Repetitions

Track - Passive Versus Active Recovery During Sprint Practice

Dick Moss

Sprinters spend a lot of time recovering between practice repetitions. That's because it takes time for the nervous system and anaerobic alactate system - the mainstays of pure sprinters - to recover.

But it doesn't seem right for 100m sprinters to just lounge around waiting for their next repetition - especially when their distance running counterparts are pounding out the laps and jogging between repetitions. So many coaches have their sprinters perform an active recovery that might include jogging, or exercises like pushups or crunches.

However-and this will make your sprinters happy-Australian research has shown that passive, not active, recovery is best when athletes are performing full-out sprints.

The Study
While the study involved cyclists, the results should also apply to athletes running sprints. The study involved nine cyclists who performed six sets of four second full-out sprints every 25 seconds. The recoveries were either a passive recovery or an active recovery at 32% of maximum aerobic power. Muscle biopsies were taken, and a number of physical and performance measures were taken before and after each exercise session.

It was found that the subjects who used an active recovery did not recover as well. Compared to the passive-recovery subjects, their power was significantly less as the repetitions progressed, and they experienced a significantly lower maximal power output on the final sprint.

In addition, their muscle lactate levels were significantly higher after the exercise sessions.

Researchers concluded that the decreased overall performance was a result of phosphocreatine levels not being replenished as rapidly during an active recovery.

As a result, if maximum speed is the goal during a workout, athletes should choose a passive rather than active recovery to minimize muscle lactate levels and maximize power.

Reference: Spencer M, Bishop D, Dawson B, Goodman C, Duffi eld R. (2006). Metabolism and performance in repeated cycle sprints: Active versus passive recovery. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, August 2006. http://www.ms-se.com


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