Trunk muscle fatigue and its negative relationship with running economy (RE) is frequently recognized by practitioners but lacks evidence-based support. Thus, this three-armed randomized controlled crossover pilot trial (RCT) examined the effects of trunk and upper body fatigue protocols on RE, trunk muscle isometric rate of force production, and lactate response in runners. Seven well-trained runners (2 males and 5 females) randomly underwent control (CON), trunk fatigue (TRK), and upper body fatigue (UPR) protocols on three different lab visits. Both workload-matched fatigue protocols—consisting of 24 min of a circuit weight routine—elicited comparable rates of perceived exertion, heart rate responses, and lactate accumulations. As expected, core muscle strength assessed with isometric testing immediately before and after both fatigue protocols, decreased notably. RE (VO2
/kg bodyweight averaged for 1 min) was determined during a 15 min individual anaerobic threshold (IAT) run at 4, 9 and 14 min. The IAT (13.9 to 15.8 km/h) was determined on lab visit one using an incremental treadmill running protocol to volitional exhaustion. RE differed, although not significantly, between CON and both fatigue protocols by 0.75 (4th min) to 1.5 ml/min/kg (9th and 14th min) bodyweight (Time × Mode Interaction: p
= 0.2, np2
= 0.40) with a moderate to large effect size. Despite no signficance, the largest RE differences were observed between TRK and CON (and underscored by the moderate to large effect size). This preliminary pilot RCT revealed that both UPR and TRK conditions might adversely impact running economy at a high intensity, steady state running pace. Future studies should elucidate if these findings are replicable in large scale trials and, in turn, whether periodized core training can beneficially preserve RE.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited