Celebrating A Decade of Research
Published at 15 Jan 2020

As we welcome in 2020 and a new decade, Allsports looks back at some of the most significant sports-science highlights from the past ten years. What did we learn, and how has this shaped the recommendations for best-practice training, recovery, health and nutrition?



Hindsight is a wonderful thing and neatly summed up by an ancient Russian proverb: “Life must be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards.” Looking backwards provides perspective, which enables us to see the bigger picture. By understanding which strategies worked (and why) and which didn’t, we can hopefully make better choices as we go forwards into the future.

What did we learn?

So what did we learn in the twenty-teenies? Below are just a few highlights of research that represented a genuine change in our understanding of the (then) current thinking.

  • *Very high intensity intervals for endurance – a large body of research appeared showing that even very short (less than 30 seconds) interval sessions can produce significant gains in endurance performance. 
  • *Heavy-weight strength training is good for endurance – new research emerged showing that heavy weight training doesn’t just increase power and injury resilience, it also boosts steady-state endurance performance too. 
  • *Stiffen your muscles and tendons for performance – conventional thinking has always assumed that stiff muscles and tendon were detrimental for performance. But recent research showed the opposite is actually the case. 
  • *Antioxidants can harm adaptation – conventional thinking assumed that antioxidants were always an athlete’s best friend. But new research indicates that too much of the wrong sort can impair performance rather than enhance it. 
  • *Time-restricted eating – while it’s true that optimum and plentiful fuelling is the best strategy for racing, new research emerged showing that for best training adaptations (including weight management), periodic calorie intake restriction is a worthwhile strategy. 
  • *Muscle cramps are not down to muscles – another topic related to nutrition came from new research on the causes of muscle cramps and the benefits of correct fuelling to combat them.
  • *Vitamin D and performance – do you take care to monitor your vitamin D status and ensure your consume plenty? The recent research suggests that for both health and performance reasons, you most definitely should. 
  • *Ice baths for recovery – rapid recovery is essential for athletes and ice/cold-water immersion baths have become a popular tool to aid post-exercise recovery. There is a problem however, because new research has demonstrated that using cold to enhance recovery actually impairs muscle growth and training adaptation, meaning that athletes should be very selective as to when and how they use ice baths! Recovery nutrition is still king when it comes to faster recovery and enhanced performance.

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