EPE Research: Florida and the First Training Week

During the last week in May I had the privilege of attending the annual conference of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in Orlando, Florida with Dr. McKenzie and Dr. Laird from our research team, along with my roommate for the trip, biomechanist, and avid Disney fan,  Mr. Petrie.  Dr. McKenzie and I presented a poster about our research from last summer.  We hope everyone at the conference enjoyed their lesson about the most physiologically beneficial method for walking on an inclined treadmill.  Some of the key points I learned are listed below:

  • The ACSM annual meeting covers a broad range of topics and features a number of sessions on the basic sciences
  • The conference itself is CRAZY with numerous sessions taking place at the same time and people dipping in and out of sessions at will.
  • For better health, focus on being active, not on weight or waist circumference
  • If you’re having trouble getting motivated to workout, make the activity a means to an end, rather the end itself (this includes taking stairs over elevators, standing more often, using your body as a mode of transportation- more than just your right foot, etc.)

During my week in Florida, the rest of the group faithfully finished all of the pre-testing such that we were able to stay on schedule and begin the training portion of our study this past week.  For the training portion of the study, participants were matched and subsequently randomized into two different training groups operating under the following conditions:

  • Standard training group- 3 min. at 60-65% maximum heart rate (max. HR), 27 min at 75-80% max. HR, 2 min. 60-65% max. HR
  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) group- 3 min. at 60-65% max HR followed by four bouts of alternating 4 min. at 90-95% max. HR and 3 min. at 60-65% max. HR

Both protocols are designed such that total work is the same.  In both protocols, individuals arrive to the lab four times a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday) to perform their training task for the day.  The beauty of using heart rate to measure intensity is that it accounts for days when the participant is feeling “off” and it adjusts the intensity as fitness level increases.  Already, we have noticed drastic differences in the ways that participants respond to the training load.  Most of the participants in the standard training protocol appear to have adjusted fairly well; while only about half of the participants in the HIIT protocol appear to have adjusted, the other half are in visible distress throughout most of their training sessions.  During one training session, a participant, having difficulty coping with the training, emphatically told me “I hate you Matt!”

Here’s to hoping we make it through another week of training visibly distressed HIIT participants.

-Matt Peterson (HIIT team)

EPE Research: Keep Climbing!

“You can’t fool me. There is no top of the hill!”

A participant attempted to relay this to the researchers through his mask while running at a percent grade on the treadmill during his VO2max test. Of course, his words could not be understood during the test, so we had to wait until the conclusion of the test to know that Dr. McCole failed to fool him.

This not only served as the comedic relief for the week, but verbalized our realization that there is always more to do in the research field. As the six student-researchers become more familiar and deeply engrossed in the study, each of us has moments where we think of all the possibilities for data collection and analysis in just a single study. Some of us even Endurance runspend our free time pondering new studies to explore different components related to ours.

Last week wrapped up the pre-training portion of the study where we obtained participants’ body composition and physical fitness level via underwater weighing, a VO2max test, and an endurance run on the treadmill. Dr. McKenzie, Dr. Laird, and Matt ventured to Orlando for the national ACSM conference last week, so Dr. McCole and the five gals held down the fort.

While they were gone we…

  • Conducted a majority of the endurance runs. This test consists of a three minute warm up period before setting the treadmill at the speed determined to elicit their VO2max and having the participant run for as long as possible without any sort of time cues. This involved creating an individualized regression equation from the participant’s VO2max test. Let us tell you from experience, running without a grasp on time is difficult.
  • Made a snack drawer! Filled with anything from fruit snacks to crackers or nuts, this drawer has become our/mostly Kerrin’s saving grace when blood sugar runs low over the course of our days. In research, it can be the little things that keep you motivated.
  • Started a new secondary study! For those individuals who felt so inclined as to run more than one VO2max test, we are now going to have data for a reliability study on the equipment used during our research.
  • Continued our research by reading articles related to our chosen topics and have begun to prepare for our senior capstone projects. As rising seniors, it’s exciting to be starting our work and getting a jump start on the school year, but incredibly terrifying all at the same time.
  • Learned how to be quick on our feet. Conducting research on human subjects is tough work! Our schedule is determined by each individual’s schedule and changes from day to day. As researchers, we must be flexible and think creatively in order to meet the subjects’, researchers’, and study’s needs.
  • Don’t worry, even after two weeks we all still love each other! Glad to have the full team back in action, increasing physical fitness one day at a time :)

This week marks the beginning of the three-week training programs! Participants have been randomized into either the high-intensity interval or the standard training groups, both running 31-minute training sessions four days per week. The excitement of training is just so high that you’ll have to tune in next time for the scoop!

Thanks for reading! HIIT Team signing off!

EPE Research: Keep Breathing!

“Keep breathing!”

Dr. McCole rolls his eyes, convinced that telling someone to breathe won’t help them run any further. Emma defends her statement, arguing that it encourages deeper breathing and increased oxygen supply. Kerrin wavers between stances, seeing the redundancy of an obvious statement but unable to disprove Emma’s theory. Matt starts using scientific terms that no one is prepared to comprehend at this early hour. Kaitlyn and Allison continue to encourage the participant. Alicia laughs…. And Dr. McKenzie and Dr. Laird ignore us all, discussing the training protocol we will start on June 2nd.

Sydney Flores -VO2This is what EPE summer research has revolved around this first week. Six students and three professors collaborating to explore the differences between high-intensity interval training and traditional aerobic training over a three-week training program.

These first two weeks make up our pre-testing phase of research in which we recruit participants and create a performance baseline comprised of a questionnaire/health history, underwater weighing for body composition, VO2max testing on a treadmill, and an endurance run at the established VO2max.

This week has taught us a few key things:

  • We love working as a team! It didn’t take long to discover that this self-proclaimed “HIIT team” has great cohesiveness, camaraderie, and chemistry. This wouldn’t be nearly as fun without each other.
  • On the first day, “crash course” is a real thing. You feel as if you just learned an entire semester’s worth of information. From compiling literature reviews to learning each test procedure, our brains were thoroughly saturated at the end of the first day.
  • Our learning curves are huge! We’ve gotten very good at things we do not usually do very quickly, including: taking blood pressure at rest and directly following exercise, taking small blood samples for lactate measures, running various programs on the computers for the different tests, and speaking professionally to participants in the study.
  • Dr. McKenzie loves running multiple VO2max tests… Just kidding!

Breathing is an essential part of HIIT Team’s first week of research. Whether it’s making sure enough air is blown out in underwater weighing, getting your maximal oxygen intake in each of the two run tests, or the research team taking a deep breath over the course of our long days, we just keep breathing!

We’re looking forward to next week, where we will continue pre-testing and begin placing participants into the different training programs! Tune in next week to read about the end of the pre-testing phase!

Thanks for reading! HIIT Team signing off!