A new decade beckons: what have we learnt?


As we prepare to welcome in 2020 and a new decade, Peak Performance 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.

The same is true in sports science. With 30 years of providing the most up-to-date, cutting edge sports science and best practice for athletes under its belt, Peak Performance will not only be looking forwards to the new sports science breakthroughs of the 2020s, but will try and place this new knowledge in the context of what we already know – a vital part of being able to provide our readers – that’s you – with the very best practice recommendations.

What did we learn?

So what did we learn in the twenty-teenies? Well, with over 120 issues and 500 new articles published, we can’t even begin to sum it up all here. However, below are just a few highlights of research that represented a genuine change in our understanding of the (then) current thinking. Simply click on the highlighted link to learn more – why the research was important and what it meant for best practice recommendations. Enjoy, and we’ll see you in the new decade!

  • *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. Read more here.
  • *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. Read more here.
  • *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. Read more here.
  • *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. Read more here.
  • *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. Read more here.
  • *Muscle cramps are not down to muscles – another topic related to nutrition came from new research on the causes of muscle cramps. It turns out that muscle cramping is NOT due to fuelling deficiencies of electrolyte imbalances in muscles. So what it is that drives cramping and how can athletes prevent it? Read more here.
  • *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. Read more here.
  • *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! Read more here.

Remember – knowledge is power, and Peak Performance is here to arm you with the latest and most important training and nutrition knowledge you’ll need in 2020 and beyond! Click here to find out more about the benefits of a Peak Performance subscription.

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