How To Integrate Cognitive Training With Physical Training.

Cognitive training can be easily integrated into any physical training session, in this article we will cover intermittent and concurrent methods.

How To Integrate Cognitive Training With Physical Training.

Cognitive training can be easily integrated into any physical training session, in this article we will cover intermittent and concurrent methods.

Intermittent

Performing cognitive tasks during rest periods during a physical training session. This is an easy integration as they are not doing anything in these rest periods anyway. Many time-poor athletes appreciate this option. Plus the additional workload can keep athletes more focused on the entire session.

Intermittent integration can be performed by

  • Performing cognitive tasks for 3 minutes between strength sets as active rest.
  • Performing cognitive tasks for 3 minutes between skill training as active rest.
  • Performing cognitive tasks for 3 minutes between high-intensity cardio sprints.

Concurrent

Performing cognitive training while engaging in cardiovascular training while maintaining a fixed heart rate zone. This is an extremely effective integration in terms of extending an athlete's mental capacity for mental and physical fatigue, as well as a time-saving option for busy athletes or teams who perform cardio sessions together.

Concurrent integration can be performed by

  • Combining Cognitive Training with cardiovascular training as a warm-up on the bike before starting your main training session.
  • Combining Cognitive Training with cardiovascular training as a cool down after finishing your main training session.
  • Combining Cognitive Training with HIT Training. You will need to perform your high-intensity sprint while performing the cognitive task.
  • Combining Cognitive Training with long-duration cardiovascular training as a stand-alone session.

Periodization

When integrating any cognitive training we strongly suggest that you follow a periodization model to ensure there is enough cognitive load on the athlete's brain. Without periodization, you won’t create enough cognitive stress, and training results will be minimal. However, too much cognitive overload can lead to under-recovery and mental fatigue. The challenge, therefore, lies in getting the balance right, so that you keep improving without exceeding the brain's capability to recover. Following trends in your athlete's cognitive and physiological measures will ensure that your programming is spot on.

The Principles of Cognitive Progressive Overload.
Progressive Overload is an important principle in cognitive training.
The Principles of Undulating Periodization and Cognitive Training.
Athletes need the ability to cognitively adapt and change depending on the situation. This is where undulating periodization can be useful.

Research

Concurrent brain endurance training improves endurance exercise performance.

  • Brain Endurance Training (BET) 32% - Improvement
  • Control 12% - Improvement

The effect of simultaneous physical and brain endurance training on fatigue and exercise tolerance inactive people.

  • Brain Endurance Training (BET) 176% - Improvement
  • Control 86% - Improvement

A randomized controlled trial of Brain Endurance Training (BET) to reduce fatigue during endurance exercise.

  • Brain Endurance Training (BET) 126% - Improvement
  • Control 42% - Improvement

Concurrent brain endurance training improves endurance exercise performance.

Mental fatigue impairs endurance exercise. Brain endurance training (BET) – engaging in cognitively fatiguing tasks during exercise - can develop resilience to mental fatigue and improve physical performance over physical training alone. The mechanism for this effect is unknown.

This experiment examines if BET enhances performance over physical training and investigates potential underlying physiological mechanisms.

Design

A mixed design randomised control trial.

Methods

Pre- and post-testing: 36 participants completed dynamic rhythmic muscular endurance handgrip tasks requiring generation of as much force as possible once a second for 300 s, performed under 3 counterbalanced conditions: following 600 s of a 2-back memory/attention task (subsequent); while performing a 2-back task (concurrent); and on its own (solo). Cardiac activity, electromyographic forearm activity, pre-frontal cerebral haemodynamics (near infrared spectroscopy), and force were recorded. Training: Participants (randomised to a Control or BET group) completed 24 (6 weeks) submaximal hand contractions sessions. The BET group also completed concurrent cognitive tasks (2-back, Stroop). Measures of motivation, physical and mental exertion and mental fatigue were collected throughout.

Results

Endurance performance, across the 3 tasks, improved more following BET (32%) than Control (12%) (p < 0.05). The better performance following BET occurred with a higher pre-frontal oxygenation during the post-training physical tasks over time relative to Control (p < 0.05).

Conclusions

Concurrent BET improved endurance performance over physical training alone. This was accompanied by a training-induced maintenance of pre-frontal oxygenation, suggestive of reduced mental effort during physical activity.

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The effect of simultaneous physical and brain endurance training on fatigue and exercise tolerance inactive people.

The results of the present study showed that performing brain and physical endurance exercises simultaneously increases the time to exhaustion more than physical endurance exercises. This significant increase in endurance performance was associated with a significant reduction in stone perception in the group of physical endurance training + brain endurance training during strenuous endurance activity. However, the heart rate index did not change significantly after these two interventions. In addition, the results of the present study showed that the time to exhaustion after 24 training sessions in both groups of physical endurance training + brain endurance training and physical endurance training, in the post-test, increased significantly compared to the pre-test; The change was 176% in the group of physical endurance training + brain endurance training and 86% in the group of physical endurance training.

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A randomized controlled trial of Brain Endurance Training (BET) to reduce fatigue during endurance exercise.

PURPOSE: Brain Endurance Training (BET) is a new training method that uses acute mental fatigue as a training stimulus to induce chronic reductions in fatigue during physical and/or cognitive tasks. The aim of this study was to test the efficacy of BET in alleviating fatigue during endurance exercise in healthy male adults. The hypotheses were that the combination of BET and standard endurance training increases endurance exercise performance and reduces rating of perceived exertion (RPE) more than standard endurance training alone.

METHODS: 35 healthy male volunteers were randomly assigned to two different training groups: BET and control. Both groups trained on a cycle ergometer for 60 min at 65% VO2max. Whilst cycling, the BET group performed a mentally fatiguing task on a computer. The control group was not involved in any mentally fatiguing task whilst cycling. Both groups trained three times a week for 12 weeks. VO2max and endurance exercise performance (time to exhaustion [TTE] test at 75% of current VO2max) were measured at baseline (pre-test), after six weeks of training (mid-test) and after 12 weeks of training (post-test). RPE was measured every minute during the TTE test. Data were analysed using mixed model ANOVAs. RESULTS: VO2max increased similarly in both groups from 40 ± 5 ml/kg/min to 52 ± 6 ml/kg/min (P < 0.01). However, TTE increased significantly more in the BET group (pre-test 28 ± 9 min; mid-test 39 ± 11 min; post-test 55 ± 17 min) than in the control group (pre-test 18 ± 5 min; mid-test 23 ± 7 min; post-test 28 ± 12 min) (p < 0.01). Analysis of covariance to adjust for the pre-test difference in TTE also revealed a larger improvement in the BET group (+126%) compared to the control group (+42%) (p< 0.01). RPE during the TTE was significantly lower in the BET group compared to the control group (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: The results of this study provide initial evidence that the combination of BET and standard endurance training is more effective than standard endurance training alone in alleviating fatigue during endurance exercise in healthy male adults.

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