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Int J Sports Med. 2011 Dec;32(12):940-6. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1283189. Epub 2011 Nov 3.

Step length and individual anaerobic threshold assessment in swimming.

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Faculty of Sport, CIFI2D, University of Porto, Portugal.


Anaerobic threshold is widely used for diagnosis of swimming aerobic endurance but the precise incremental protocols step duration for its assessment is controversial. A physiological and biomechanical comparison between intermittent incremental protocols with different step lengths and a maximal lactate steady state (MLSS) test was conducted. 17 swimmers performed 7×200, 300 and 400 m (30 s and 24 h rest between steps and protocols) in front crawl until exhaustion and an MLSS test. The blood lactate concentration values ([La-]) at individual anaerobic threshold were 2.1±0.1, 2.2±0.2 and 1.8±0.1 mmol.l - 1 in the 200, 300 and 400 m protocols (with significant differences between 300 and 400 m tests), and 2.9±1.2 mmol.l - 1 at MLSS (higher than the incremental protocols); all these values are much lower than the traditional 4 mmol.l - 1 value. The velocities at individual anaerobic threshold obtained in incremental protocols were similar (and highly related) to the MLSS, being considerably lower than the velocity at 4 mmol.l - 1. Stroke rate increased and stroke length decreased throughout the different incremental protocols. It was concluded that it is valid to use intermittent incremental protocols of 200 and 300 m lengths to assess the swimming velocity corresponding to individual anaerobic threshold, the progressive protocols tend to underestimate the [La-] at anaerobic threshold assessed by the MLSS test, and swimmers increase velocity through stroke rate increases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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