I was lucky enough to attend the premier of the movie ”Decade of Dominance” recently in Newport Beach, CA, which was a fantastic review of the run-up to Jamie’s historic 10th win at the Molokai2Oahu World Championships in Hawaii in 2011.
While describing Jamie’s commitment to SUP and Paddleboard training, his exercise physiologist mentioned that part of Jamie’s edge stems from a genetic advantage which allowed him to paddle harder, faster and longer than his competitors. It seems that although Jamie trains incredibly hard on both a stand up SUP and a paddleboard and has perfected his paddle skills, he is fortunate to be born with a very large left ventricular stroke volume of the heart.
In cardiovascular physiology, stroke volume (SV) is the volume of blood pumped from one ventricle of the heart with each beat. An average person’s SV is around 70ml while Lance Armstrong, an example of the pinnacle of endurance, has a SV around 200ml. During rest and exercise, your heart must continuously pump blood throughout your body. Of the numerous factors of cardiovascular strength, stroke volume represents the volume of blood pumped from one chamber of the heart during a single heart beat. A strong heart produces a greater stroke volume than a weak heart and pumps a greater volume of blood per minute. Regardless of your volume during rest, stroke volume must increase to meet the physiological demands of exercise.
Of course, not all of us are genetically gifted and therefore for stand up and paddleboard paddle athletes concerned about performance, should consider incorporating high-intensity interval training into their training regimen. High-intensity interval training has been demonstrated to increase VO2MAX, lactate threshold, stroke volume, as well as improve HDL (the good cholesterol). So in short high-intensity interval training holds huge benefits for you and your game.
Stroke volume is intimately related to cardiac output (cardiac output=stroke volume x heart rate) which is the volume of blood pumped by the heart in a minute. Higher cardiac output means that more oxygen can be delivered to active muscles. As you may have guessed, stroke volume and cardiac output are linked to VO2max.
Endurance athletes rely heavily on the body’s aerobic (oxygen consuming) abilities. As exercise intensity increases, so does oxygen consumption. As intensity increases there comes a point at which the intensity continues to rise without the associated rise in oxygen consumption. The plateau that occurs is defined as VO2max. This plateau is the maximum aerobic output for a given person at a given level of fitness. This is the rate limiting factor for endurance athletes.
For sprinting during starts, finishes or bridging gaps, the glycogen stored in the muscles are the primary sources of energy, and the byproduct of the rapid breakdown of glycogen is lactate (often incorrectly referred to as lactic acid). Although the role of lactic acid is currently in dispute, for the purposes of this discussion we will assume that the Lactate threshold (LT) is still highly relevant – it is the point at which the body can no longer remove (metabolize) lactate from the blood at a rate that matches lactate production.
OK so for us mere mortals what if we could find a way to increase both VO2max and LT? It turns out that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the answer to this problem. The results of a study performed in Norway in 2007 indicate that HIIT increased VO2max as well as SV by a significant amount. A 4×4 minute interval or running at 90-95% of your Maximum Heart Rate for 4 minutes with a 3 minute active recovery at 70% was significantly more effective than the 15/15 interval or 15 seconds of running at 90-95% and 15 seconds of active recovery , although the latter did increase both VO2max and SV too.
A subsequent study demonstrated that HDL (the good cholesterol) can be increased through interval training. While total cholesterol didn’t change, the overall cholesterol profile did shift.
Take a look at the training regimes of legend paddle trainers Mick Di Betta at DiBetta Training and Roch Frey at Multi Sports and North County Paddlers, I can tell you first hand that HII is being implemented across the board and has been for many years. If you haven’t already jumped on this amazingly effective method of training, this may be just the time to do it.
Aerobic high-intensity intervals improve VO2max more than moderate training. Medicine and science in sports and exercise (2007) vol. 39 (4) pp. 665-71
Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association (2009) vol. 23 (2) pp. 587-92
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