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Step Frequency Training Improves Running Economy in Well-Trained Female Runners

Quinn, Timothy J.1; Dempsey, Shauna L.1; LaRoche, Dain P.1; Mackenzie, Allison M.2; Cook, Summer B.1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 11, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003206
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Quinn, TJ, Dempsey, SL, LaRoche, DP, Mackenzie, AM, and Cook, SB. Step frequency training improves running economy in well-trained female runners. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000–000, 2019—The purpose was to determine whether a short training program (15 minutes for 10 days) to increase step frequency to 180 steps per min would elicit improvements in running economy (RE). Experimental (n = 11) and control (n = 11) female subjects reported to the laboratory for 12 consecutive days and completed 2 RE tests at 3.4 and 3.8 m·s−1 (day 1 and 12), followed by a maximal oxygen uptake test (day 1 only), and experimental subjects completed a 10-day training program to increase step frequency (days 2–11). Control subjects completed the same runs without step frequency training. The training program consisted of running at 180 steps per minutes for 15 minutes at a self-selected velocity. A repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance was used to test for differences. Oxygen consumption was significantly lower at each testing velocity for experimental but not control after the 10-day training program. The average drop in oxygen consumption across both speeds was approximately 11.0% (p < 0.05; mean ηp2 = 0.28). These lower oxygen consumptions were achieved at greater (7.0%) self-selected step frequencies (p < 0.01; mean ηp2 = 0.78), shorter (3.7%) step lengths (p < 0.05; mean ηp2 = 0.74), and lower (5.1%) heart rates (p < 0.05; mean ηp2 = 0.31) for experimental but not control. Training to run at a faster step cadence may be a viable technique to improve RE.

1Robert Kertzer Exercise Physiology Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH; and

2Manchester Community College, Manchester, CT

Address correspondence to Dr. Timothy J. Quinn, tjq@unh.edu.

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.