What are the Latest Performance Training Trends?

Performance Trend Scales

Endurance sports such as running, cycling, swimming, and triathlon are constantly evolving, and new training trends and methods are emerging all the time. Here are some of the latest trends in endurance athlete training:

  1. Polarized training: This method involves a mix of high-intensity workouts and low-intensity, steady-state workouts. The idea is to spend the majority of training time at a low intensity to build a solid aerobic base, with short, high-intensity workouts to build speed and power.

The idea behind polarized training is that by spending the majority of training time at a low intensity, an athlete can build a strong aerobic base and improve endurance. The occasional high-intensity workouts, on the other hand, are designed to improve speed, power, and lactate threshold.

Studies have shown that polarized training can be an effective method for improving endurance performance in athletes, especially for those competing in longer-distance events such as marathons, cycling races, and triathlons. Polarized training is also thought to be less taxing on the body than high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which can lead to greater risk of injury and burnout.

To implement a polarized training program, an athlete might spend 80% of their training time in the low-intensity zone, with the remaining 20% dedicated to high-intensity training. The low-intensity workouts might include long, steady-state runs, rides or swims at a conversational pace, while the high-intensity workouts might include intervals or hill repeats at a near-maximal effort.

It's important to note that polarized training is not appropriate for everyone, and athletes should consult with a coach or sports physician before implementing any new training program.

2. Strength training: Endurance athletes are increasingly incorporating strength training into their workouts to improve power, speed, and injury prevention. Strength training can include exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, and plyometrics.

3. Mobility and flexibility training: To improve range of motion and prevent injury, endurance athletes are focusing more on mobility and flexibility training. This can include exercises such as yoga, foam rolling, and dynamic stretching.

Dynamic stretching or DS  is a form of stretching that involves moving through a range of motion to warm up the muscles and prepare the body for physical activity. Unlike static stretching, which involves holding a stretch for an extended period of time, dynamic stretching involves continuous movement through a series of stretches that mimic the movements of the activity or sport that the athlete is about to perform.

DS typically involves active movements that engage multiple muscle groups at once, such as walking lunges, high knees, butt kicks, and leg swings. These movements can help increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, improve joint mobility and flexibility, and activate the nervous system to prepare the body for physical exertion. It is often used as a warm-up before athletic events or workouts, as it has been shown to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. It can be particularly beneficial for activities that involve explosive movements, such as sprinting or jumping, as it helps to prime the muscles for maximal power output.

It's important to note that dynamic stretching should be tailored to the specific needs and abilities of the athlete. Athletes should start with low-intensity movements and gradually increase the intensity and range of motion as their muscles warm up. It's also important to avoid overstretching or bouncing during dynamic stretching, as this can increase the risk of injury.

4. Recovery techniques: Athletes are using a variety of recovery techniques; including nutrition periodization, to enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury. These can include methods such as cryotherapy, massage, compression therapy, and sauna sessions.

  • Nutrition periodization is a dietary strategy that involves adjusting nutritional intake to align with different phases of training or competition throughout the year. The idea behind nutrition periodization is that by tailoring nutrition to the specific needs of each training phase, athletes can optimize their performance and recovery.

Periodization typically involves dividing the training year into different phases, such as the off-season, pre-season, in-season, and post-season. Each phase has different training goals and demands, which can be supported through adjustments in nutrition.

For example, during the off-season, an athlete may focus on building strength and endurance through high-volume, low-intensity training. During this phase, they may require a higher calorie and protein intake to support muscle growth and recovery. In contrast, during the in-season, when the focus is on competition, the athlete may need to reduce calorie intake and focus on nutrient-dense foods to maintain optimal body composition and energy levels.

Nutrition periodization may also involve adjusting nutrient timing to align with training demands. For example, an athlete may consume carbohydrates before, during, and after training to support energy levels and glycogen replenishment, while consuming more protein in the evening to support muscle recovery and growth.

While nutrition periodization is commonly used among elite athletes, it can also be a useful strategy for recreational athletes or individuals looking to optimize their training and nutrition. It's important to work with a qualified sports dietitian or nutritionist to develop a personalized nutrition plan that is tailored to your individual needs and goals.

  • Cryotherapy is a therapeutic technique that involves exposing the body to extreme cold temperatures for a short period of time. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as whole-body cryotherapy, localized cryotherapy, or ice baths.
Whole-body cryotherapy involves exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures (-110°C to -140°C) for a short period of time (usually 2-4 minutes) in a specialized chamber. Localized cryotherapy involves applying cold to a specific area of the body, such as the legs or arms, using a localized device. Ice baths involve immersing the body in cold water for several minutes.
The theory behind cryotherapy is that exposing the body to extreme cold causes a vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels), which reduces inflammation and pain. This can help to speed up recovery after exercise, reduce muscle soreness, and improve athletic performance.
Cryotherapy has become increasingly popular among athletes, particularly in sports that involve a high degree of physical exertion, such as running, cycling, and football. However, the evidence for the benefits of cryotherapy is mixed, and more research is needed to determine its effectiveness.
While cryotherapy is generally considered safe for healthy individuals, it is not recommended for people with certain medical conditions, such as Raynaud's disease, cold urticaria, or cardiovascular disease. Ice baths are thought to produce several biochemical reactions in the body, some of which are still being studied and understood.

What to expect with cryotherapy 

Vasoconstriction: Exposure to cold temperatures can cause vasoconstriction, or the narrowing of blood vessels. This can help to reduce inflammation and swelling by decreasing blood flow to the affected area.

Reduced muscle damage: Ice baths may help to reduce muscle damage caused by exercise-induced microtrauma, by decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress in the muscles.

Increased blood flow and nutrient delivery: After exposure to cold, the body undergoes a process of vasodilation, in which the blood vessels dilate and blood flow increases. This can help to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, which can aid in recovery.

Activation of the immune system: Cold exposure may activate the immune system, which can help to support the body's natural healing and recovery processes.

Release of endorphins: Cold exposure may trigger the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers that can help to reduce pain and discomfort.

It's important to note that while ice baths may have potential benefits, the evidence for their effectiveness is mixed and more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind their effects. Additionally, ice baths may not be appropriate or safe for everyone, especially individuals with certain medical conditions or injuries. It's important to talk to a healthcare provider before trying ice baths, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions.

5.Technology and data analysis: Athletes are using a variety of tools and devices to track their performance and optimize their training. This includes GPS watches, heart rate monitors, power meters, and data analysis software.

6.Mind-body training: To improve mental toughness and focus, some athletes are incorporating mind-body practices such as meditation, visualization, and breathing exercises into their training.

Overall, the latest endurance athlete training trends focus on a combination of physical and mental preparation, including optimizing training intensity and volume, improving strength and flexibility, and enhancing recovery and performance tracking.