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Martin P. Hoff

As a believer in the theory of evolution and Darwinism I believe that the natural tightness of human skin has developed in the most optimal manner. I.e. if tighter skin (than we currently have) really could have enabled humans to run faster and perform at a higher level (including recovery) - thus increasing their survivability - then this would, in fact, have become the human standard of skin tightness. I find therefore the logic that our skin could benefit athletic performance by being tightened/compressed more to be in breach with fundamental evolutionary theory.

But then again, with Paris-Roubaix around the corner, keep in mind that most top cyclists have some bizarre superstitious token with them on this race - be it a rabbit’s foot or a religious relic or what not. Top athletes are willing to believe most anything regardless of factual support. :-)

By the way: I don't even know if I would call these "studies"... 14 athletes is lightyears from being able to give any statistical significance on the results.

Joseph C

Joe, is it possible in the block periodization study that the group that did 5 hard workouts basically tapered for 3 weeks after those workouts? Wouldn't their form be much higher than the cyclists who continued doing twice the hard workouts each week during the last 3 weeks?

I don't know how much fatigue plays a role in VO2max and power testing, but I would assume that it has some effect.

Sam Webster

Lower limb compression enabling the musculovenous pump is derived from muscular contraction within a deep fascia. The skin is not involved.


In the periodization study, are the +/- figures the outliers, or are those statistical margins of error? If the latter, then the results are equivocal.

And count me "in" on compression for recovery. By adding compression tights after long rides on Saturday and after long runs on Sunday, I'm now able to do a high-intensity ride on Mondays. I used to spend Monday on my keister lamenting my heavy legs, but now I make it to Weds. before needing a rest day.

Meanwhile, if evolution determined all of our optimal running gear, women would have evolved with built-in sports bras and I would have evolved a fuel belt and water holster. Just sayin'.

Joe Friel

Joseph C--Yes, that's certainly a possible explanation. Good point. Of course, it could also be that 2 interval workouts per week would be a taper also, depending on what the traditional periodization group was doing prior to the 4 week period. But good observation nonetheless.

Joe Friel

DS--Yes, those are high and low outliers.


Here is another article on

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2012 Nov 8. doi: 10.1111/sms.12016. [Epub ahead of print]
Effects of 12 weeks of block periodization on performance and performance indices in well-trained cyclists.

Joe Friel



Hi Joe - whats the your definition of an 'advanced athlete' and a 'moderately trained athlete'. Thanks

Joe Friel

RichieRich--Yes, the terms I use are intentionally vague because it's so hard to define athletes when there are age, gender and sport variables. But I suppose if I was forced to I'd say an "advanced athlete" is someone who trains at least 6 days a week at a relatively high volume (varies by sport) and has done for years. A "novice" is someone who is brand new to the sport and has just started training with lots of inconsistency. "Moderately trained" is between these two extremes.

George Coffey

Did the study mention exactly what comprised the "high intensity" interval? Short, intense with longer rest periods, 3x3 at V02max or longer intervals near threshold with short rests. Seems like this would make a difference. Also, the way this study was set up - 4 equal weeks vs 1 hard and 3 less intense weeks - seems like it could be adapted quite well with a traditional periodization 4 week block except that the first week of each block could be geared toward extra hard workouts in a single ability. Sort of the best of both worlds.



You raise a good point about the placebo effect. From what I have seen the vast majority of sports "science" research fails to control for this adequately.

Nor does it control for the related "experimenter effect". Indeed as a test subject in a published study I have personal experience of the person carrying out the test telling me what their theory was and the results they expected.

As a result I remain pretty sceptical about the value of much of this research. I would be more impressed if sports "science" could agree and adhere to some standard protocols for how experiments are conducted.


Hi Joe - a question regarding recovery compression (ie wearing compression when at rest rather than wearing whilst training/racing) - logic suggests that wearing recovery compression whilst sleeping at night would be a good thing given the body is in a state of repair from the days efforts - is there any evidence to suggest this is a good idea... or not? Thanks

Joe Friel

George Coffey --They essentially defined HIT as workouts done above lactate threshold. Just so happens they did another follow up study which I'm currently reading. Will write about it including intensity explanation soon.

Joe Friel

RichieRich - No, I've not seen anything at all on when it's worn during a recovery. Although the subjects in the first study wore it for 24hrs after the first 40k TT which would include while sleeping I assume.

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