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High-intensity Interval Training - Performance and Iron Status in Athletes

By Dr. John Wilkinson

Prolonged intense aerobic training has been well documented to result in iron deficiency with and without anemia. Much less is known about the effects of High Intensity Interval Training (HIT) on iron status in athletes. The purpose of this presentation is to review the results of 3 different HIT studies on performance, recovery and iron status in competitive cyclists and in elite competitive swimmers. The studies demonstrated that 3-6 wks of HIT training can compromise whole body iron stores in competitive athletes. However, in each case the serum ferritin decreases were not critically low enough to effect sport performance or to induce iron deficiency anemia. HIT training appears to modulate iron status in swimmers and cyclists, but the metabolic, nutritional and training-induced physiological mechanisms, require further investigation.

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