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LTAD - a critique
Demands of the game
Profile of players
Functional screening
Resistance training
Speed and agility training
Integrated game conditioning

HIT or traditional interval training

Frequency of HIT

To help understand the impact of repeated and consecutive high-intensity interval training units Navalta et al (2014) assessed blood markers in response to three consecutive days of intermittent run exercise to exhaustion. The subjects were not Rugby players but were healthy college-aged males and females (age = 26 ± 4 years; height = 170.2 ± 10 cm; body mass = 75 ± 18 kg). They completed an exertion test (maximal running speed and VO2max) and later performed three consecutive days of an intermittent run protocol to exhaustion (30 sec at maximal running speed and 30 sec at half of the maximal running speed). Blood was collected before exercise and immediately following exercise each day. When the absolute change from baseline was evaluated, a significant change in key blood cells was observed by completion of the third day. Significant changes were observed following two consecutive days in some key markers (lymphocytes) and the authors noted that given these blood marker responses, that a rest day be incorporated following two consecutive days of a high-intensity intermittent run exercise to minimise immune cell changes and reduce the potential for a reduced immune profile.

In summary then the findings of this study, like others, draw our attention to the potential negative responses of clustering several units of high-intensity interval training on consecutive days. Hennessy (2011) has also shown that when there is a high volume of high-intensity integrated conditioning during a playing week then recovery of speed and power is often compromised prior to match play. The principles of periodisation and training as noted in our Pre-Level 1 course are important in guiding the training load. In particular volume and overload as well as variety of training are key principles to use when prescribing the training load such that high-intensity training is properly planned within the training and playing programme.

Please note that a lymphocyte is any of 3 types of white blood cells. They include protective cells that fend off invading and damaging organisms. They are the main type of cell found in lymph. During studies that examine stress these cells are measured. When changes occur in these blood markers, as in the study of Navalta et al (2014), then the body is fighting or resisting stress. Allowing sufficient recovery between HIT units is important in restoring normal lymphocyte levels.