The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research released this new study online today ahead of its print publication. “Energy System Contribution to Olympic Distances in Flat Water Kayaking (500 and 1,000 m) in Highly Trained Subjects” by Zouhal et. al. adds to the volume of evidence that short-duration, high-intensity athletic efforts require greater and earlier involvement of the aerobic system than previously characterized by commonly-accepted energy systems models.
In the study, seven elite male kayakers raced 500 m and 1,000 m on flat water under competition conditions. Here are the results:
The 500 m, where average total race time was 108 seconds, derived ~78% of its energy from the aerobic system and ~21% from the anaerobic system(s).
The 1,000 m, where average race time was 224 seconds, derived ~87% of its energy from the aerobic system and ~13% from the anaerobic system(s).
In both distances, the aerobic system reached the crossover point (i.e. provided more than 50% of the energy supplied) and continued to increase in dominance after approx. 30 seconds of race effort.
In both distances, by approximately 45-60 seconds of race effort, the aerobic system was responsible for ~90% or more of the energy supplied.
These findings are compatible with numerous similar studies in running, cyling, and swimming. Together, this body of evidence supports the notion that high-intensity training efforts can have great benefit for endurance athletes precisely because such efforts are highly (and mostly) aerobic at distances and durations much shorter than commonly understood.