Effects of low volume, high intensity training on performance
in competitive swimmers: a systematic review
Nugent, F1., Comyns, T1., Burrows, E2.
& Warrignton, G1.
Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, University of
School of Human Health and Performance, Dublin City University2
Swimming coaches are widely acknowledged to place a
strong emphasis on developing a swimmer’s aerobic capacity through the use of low
intensity, high volume training (HVT). The relevance of HVT to the
physiological requirements of many swimming events has been questioned (Aspenes
and Karlson, 2012) as 81% of Olympic level events are less than 140 seconds in
duration. HVT has been linked to increased risk of shoulder injury (Sein et
al., 2010), overtraining syndrome (Raglin et al., 2000) and early
specialisation (Myer et al., 2015) in competitive swimmers. Low volume,
high-intensity training (HIT) might allow for a reduction in HVT. The purpose of this systematic review was to determine the effects of HIT on physiological
performance and swimming performance in competitive swimmers.
The methodology followed the PRISMA-P protocol (Shamseer
et al., 2015). A search of relevant databases and conference proceedings was
performed. Studies were eligible if they met the inclusion criteria outlined in
Table 1. Quality assessment of the eligible studies was performed using the
Physiotherapy Evidence Database Scale (PEDro) (Maher et al., 2003).
swimmers (≥ 10 years old, ≥ 3 years of training, competing at a minimum of
consisted of HIT for ≥4 weeks.
groups training program had to involve a higher training distance/duration
measures of physiological performance (Lacsubmax, Lacmax,
VO2peak) and swimming performance.
experimental study designs
indicate that of the 538 studies retrieved, 7 studies met the inclusion
criteria. The 7 studies received a PEDro score ranging
from 2 to 6 out of 10 points. Six out of the 7 studies found that HIT resulted
in significant improvements in physiological performance; 4 found that HIT
resulted in significant improvements in swimming performance, whilst none of
the 7 studies resulted in a reduction in performance.
Only 3 out of 7 studies were randomised controlled
trails thus reducing the quality of evidence available. However, 2 studies were
longitudinal interventions of 1 year and 4 years duration.
Current evidence suggests that HIT interventions
can improve performance in competitive swimmers in events from 50 to 2000m.
However due to the low number of studies that were eligible for review, further
research is required.
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Myer, G.D., Jayanthi,
N., Difiori, J.P., Faigenbaum, A.D., Kiefer, A.W., Logerstedt, D. and Micheli,
Shamseer, L., Moher,
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This research is part-funded by the National
Aquatic Centre Swimming Club