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Sprint running & burpees: comparison of acute physiological and neuromuscular effects of two high intensity interval training protocols

      The burpee is a popular conditioning exercise, however there is a limited understanding of the internal load burpee protocols place on the body. This study compared the acute physiological and neuromuscular fatigue, to two high intensity interval training (HIIT) protocols, a sprint running and a burpee protocol. Twenty-four (35.7 ± 8.6 years, VO2peak = 48.4 ± 5.2 mL.kg-l.min-1) moderately conditioned recreational athletes completed both protocols one week apart, with a duration of 15 minutes each. Specific work to rest ratios, and active/passive recovery periods were used to keep the participant at a maximal effort. Protocols were assessed with responses in heart rate (HR), blood lactate concentration (BLa) and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) compared during the protocols. Neuromuscular function was assessed via an instrumented countermovement jump (CMJ) and bench throw (BT) movement over 3 time points (pre, post, 24hr post). Over 4 rounds, mean HR (burpee 170.45 ± 1.95 bpm vs. sprint 170.54 ± 2.07 bpm; p = 0.906) and BLa (14.62 ? 3.70 mmol-L-1, sprint 11.90 ? 3.53 mmol-L-1) increased over time for both protocols and was also perceived to be more difficult (RPE burpee 17.48 ± 1.24 vs. RPE sprint 16.14 ± 2.01; p < 0.001). Both protocols caused a drop in mean peak power immediately post workout, with recovery within 24 hours. The burpee protocol induced greater fatigue in the upper body (BT mean power loss (sprint 7.91% vs. burpee 14.95%), BT mean bar height loss (sprint 6.67% vs. burpee 19.06%)). The physiological responses indicated a higher glycolytic load and perception of effort for the burpee protocol, and acute neuromuscular fatigue values indicate a greater load on upper body fitness from the burpee protocol than the sprint running protocol. Burpees can be used for anaerobic conditioning and for sports that require upper and lower body power to weight integration to produce a maximal effort. The burpee could prove to be an advantageous addition to a modern strength and conditioning program.
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