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THE EFFECT OF TWO GENERIC AEROBIC INTERVAL

TRAINING METHODS ON LABORATORY AND FIELD TEST


PERFORMANCE IN SOCCER PLAYERS
JULIANO FERNANDES DA SILVA,1 FABIO YUZO NAKAMURA,2 LORIVAL JOSE CARMINATTI,3
NAIANDRA DITTRICH,1 TIAGO CETOLIN,1 AND LUIZ GUILHERME ANTONACCI GUGLIELMO1
1

Sports Center, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Physical effort Laboratory, Florianopolis, Brazil; 2Physical Education
Department, State University of Londrina, Londrina, Brazil; and 3Health Sciences and Sports Center, State University of
Santa Catarina, Human Performance Research Laboratory, Florianopolis, Brazil

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION

da Silva, JF, Nakamura, FY, Carminatti, LJ, Dittrich, N, Cetolin, T,


and Guglielmo, LGA. The effect of two generic aerobic
interval training methods on laboratory and field test performance in soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 29(6): 1666
1672, 2015The purpose of this study was to compare the
effects of 2 generic aerobic training models, based on peak
running velocity in Carminattis test (PVT-CAR) in U-20 elite
soccer players. Seventeen soccer players (age: 17.9 6 1.0
years; 178.6 6 5.0 cm; 73.6 6 6.6 kg; 11.1 6 1.3%) from
a team competing in a national junior league took part in the
study. The athletes performed a series of pre- and posttraining
tests (incremental test on a treadmill to determine the maximal
oxygen uptake [V_ O2max], velocity at maximal oxygen uptake
[vV_ O2], the lactate threshold [LT], and T-CAR). The interval
training models applied were with 1808 direction change
(T12:12; n = 9) and without direction change (T6:6; n = 8).
No significant interaction (time vs. group) was observed for the
majority of variables analyzed (p . 0.05), although significant
main effects in time were evident regarding peak treadmill
velocity (PVTREAD) (F = 56.3, p , 0.0001), vV_ O2max (F =
35.8, p , 0.0001), LT (F = 57.7, p , 0.0001), and PVT-CAR
(F = 52.9, p , 0.0001). Moreover, there was no significant
change in V_ O2max between pre and posttraining period (F =
4.26, p = 0.056) in both training groups. Thus, it can be concluded that the prescribed training with and without direction
change in the intensity of the PVT-CAR increases the PVTREAD,
the vV_ O2max, the LT, and the PVT-CAR similarly.

KEY WORDS high intensity, intermittent exercise, Carminattis


test, football

Address correspondence to Juliano F. da Silva, jufesi23@yahoo.com.br.


29(6)/16661672
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
2015 National Strength and Conditioning Association

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t is well accepted that high-level soccer players must


possess well-developed aerobic fitness characteristics
to perform the specific activities demanded by a competitive match (20,32). Players are often required to
undertake repeated high-intensity exercises (runs, shots, and
jumps) with short recovery intervals. Because of these specific demands, studies have been searching for training
methods that adequately develop the cardiorespiratory and
musculoskeletal fitness of soccer players (3,4,12,16), paying
special attention to defining volume, intensity, and training
models, that is, generic vs. game-based strategies (18).
Accordingly, high-intensity training (HIT) is currently
one of the most common choices of physical trainers (3,4)
because it has been shown to substantially improve fitness
and match performance in soccer players (16,18,24). Frequently, HIT sessions are performed in the severe intensity
domain (i.e., above the second ventilatory threshold, eliciting
a heart rate [HR] of greater than 85% of maximum
[HRmax]) (3,22), thus stressing the oxygen transport and
utilization systems.
Therefore, 3 training methods have been commonly
proposed comprising high-intensity efforts: small-sided
games (SSGs), generic aerobic training without ball
involvement (GAT), and generic aerobic training with
ball involvement (GATB) (12,21). In SSG, the choice of
the number of players, the presence of goalkeepers, the
technical level, the playing area, and game instructions
directly affect time-motion and physiological responses
(10,19). When adequately prescribed, SSG has been
shown to elicit similar levels of fitness improvements
compared with GAT (12). In GATB, players may develop
technical and tactical skills along with physical fitness
increments. Players motivation is thought to be higher
when the ball is used (27). However, the intensity in a
training session may not attain sufficient levels to improve
cardiorespiratory enhancements when technical and
tactical elements are incorporated (20). Nevertheless, the
traditional GAT is based on continuous test outcomes and

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has been widely used by physical trainers to prescribe and
control training intensities as well as obtain significant
results in a short period (3,23,31).
In soccer, more specific approaches should involve shuttle
runs, accelerations, decelerations, and changes of direction
(2). On the basis of this, we have recently proposed and
tested models of GAT (unpublished acute training data)
based on the peak velocity obtained in the intermittent Carminattis test (T-CAR) (6,14) for use with soccer players. The
peak running speed obtained in T-CAR (PVT-CAR) is associated with maximal oxygen uptake (V_ O2max), maximal aerobic speed, lactate threshold (LT), and repeated sprint ability
in soccer and futsal players (13,14). Based on PVT-CAR, it has
been demonstrated that it is possible to individually prescribe specific exercise-mode (i.e., intermittent highintensity shuttle or straight line running) training to soccer
players (8).
This is of practical interest, as it can be used to prescribe
training modes either in straight line or shuttle interval runs,
which is important as many fitness coaches prefer to
introduce the interval runs without a change of direction
to reduce myoarticular stress at the beginning of the
preseason period and include shuttle runs later, for more
peripherally based adaptations to the specific activities of
soccer players (2,11).
Preliminary unpublished results from our laboratory using
PVT-CAR for training prescription demonstrated that it is
allowed for the achievement of a high level of cardiorespiratory stress (.90% HRmax). Moreover, it provides the possibility of the entire team concurrently training at different
intensities and modes (straight line or shuttle interval runs),
using the same beeping system, but with individualized distances to be covered at each interval.
However, to date, no study has investigated the longitudinal effects elicited by different training models based on
PVT-CAR in soccer players, with special reference to the
inclusion or not of change of direction and varying interval
durations within the training sessions. Therefore, the main
purpose of this study was to compare the effects of 2 GAT
models prescribed in the preseason based on PVT-CAR in
U-20 elite soccer players.
The hypothesis of this study was that both training
models would induce a significant increase in the aerobic
indices measured in the laboratory (velocity at maximal
oxygen uptake [vV_ O2max], PV, and LT); however, the training model including the change of direction would induce
higher adaptation in specific indexes (e.g., PVT-CAR) than the
training mode using straight line runs.

METHODS
Experimental Approach to the Problem

Parallel-matched group design was used based on PVT-CAR,


with random group allocation per matched pair of players,
assuring that both groups displayed similar pretraining mean
performances in T-CAR. Before the commencement of the

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study, all subjects were tested on a number of performance


and physical characteristics. Players were previously habituated to the testing procedures used in this study by the
inclusion of the tests in the routines at their club. They were
allocated to either the T6:6 training group or T12:12 training
group. A control group was not used because of the specific
field-based environment in which the research was conducted, which has been previously reported as neither feasible nor appropriate for including controls (17,28). The study
was conducted over a 7-week period, which included
a 5-week training period. Training was implemented during
the preseason in addition to their normal training sessions.
Before and after the training period, players performed an
intermittent treadmill test and T-CAR (Figure 1).
Subjects

Twenty-four (n = 24) athletes were randomly assigned to


one of the 2 training groups. Seven of the 24 subjects
(29%) were lost or excluded from the analysis because of
injuries or by not attending 100% of the training sessions.
Thus, 17 (n = 17) soccer players (age 17.9 6 1.0 years;
178.6 6 5.0 cm; 73.6 6 6.6 kg; 11.1 6 1.3% body fat) from
a team competing in a national junior league took part in the
study. Written informed consent was received from all players and parents/guardians before the study commenced after
having been advised, both verbally and in writing, of the risks
and benefits involved in this study. All procedures were
approved by the Ethics Committee of the Federal University
of Santa Catarina, Brazil (711.384).
Training Programs

Two training programs were applied based on PVT-CAR. The


intensity used was 100% of PV with a different work to rest
ratio, that is, 2:1 during the test and 1:1 during the 2 training
programs. Four (4) sets of 4-minute bouts with 3-minute
intervals were used in both groups. In group 1 (T12:12),
during the 4 minutes, the athletes performed repeated bouts
of 10 3 12-second shuttle runs (with a direction change
every 6 seconds) separated by a 12-second recovery period.
The second model (T6:6) consisted of 20 3 6 seconds separated by a 6-second recovery period, and athletes did not
perform any direction changes.
After the sixth training session, the intensity was increased
by 3% from the PVT-CAR to maintain the expected relative
intensity. It is important to control the internal load to maintain an efficient training stimulus (29). As we observed a significant decrease in HR during the series at 100% of PV at the
end of the third week, the external load was increased by 3%
at the seventh session. The distance covered in the first
6 sessions (T6:62.245.0 6 85.8 m vs. T12:122.218.6 6
93 m; p . 0.05) and in the remaining training sessions
(T6:62,311.0 6 88.6 m vs. T12:122,284.4 6 95.3 m; p .
0.05) was similar for both groups.
Heart rate was monitored at 5-second intervals throughout the tests with a commercially available telemetry system
(Polar S610; Polar Electro Oy, Kempele, Finland). In sessions
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Effects of Training in Soccer

Figure 1. Study design.

1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, the HR of all athletes was recorded to


quantify the cardiovascular stress provided by training.
Intermittent Treadmill Test

An intermittent treadmill exercise test was performed on


a motorized treadmill (Imbramed Millennium Super, Porto
Alegre, Brazil). The treadmill inclination was set at a 1%
gradient with an initial velocity of 9.0 km$h21 and treadmill
velocity was then increased by 1.2 km$h21 every 3 minutes
until volitional exhaustion (14). There was a rest interval of
30 seconds between stages during which a 25-ml capillary
blood sample was taken from the earlobe for the analysis of
blood lactate concentration. The analysis of lactate was performed using an electrochemical analyzer (YSI 2700 STAT,
Yellow Springs, OH, USA). Lactate threshold was determined according to the procedures of Berg et al. (1,15). Peak
treadmill velocity (PVTREAD) was calculated according to
the procedures of Kuipers et al. (25) using the following
equation:

90 seconds in duration. The


initial running distance was
set at 15 m and was increased
by 1 m at each stage (90 seconds) (6). The test protocol
had an initial speed of
9 km$h21 over a running distance of 30 m (15 m out and
back). The stage length in a single direction was increased
progressively by 1 m every
set. Each stage consisted of 5
repetitions; between repetitions the participants performed a 6-second walk
between 2 lines set 2.5 m from the start line (14).
During the test, 68 athletes were evaluated simultaneously with a running pace dictated by prerecorded audio
cues (beeps) that determined the running speed to be performed between the start and finish lines. The test ended
when the participant failed to keep in time with the audio
cues for 2 successive repetitions (objective criteria) or
because of the perceived inability of the participant to maintain exercise intensity (subjective criteria). Peak running
velocity in Carminattis test was calculated from the distance
of the last set completed by the athlete divided by the time
to complete the stage repetition. In the case of an incomplete
set, peak velocity was interpolated using the equation:

Peak velocity v

 ns 
10

30:6;

where v is the velocity of the last fully completed stage and


ns is the number of repetitions completed in the partially



t
;
Peak velocity km$h21 v
180
where v is velocity of the last fully completed stage, t is time
(s) completed in a partially completed stage, and 180 is the
time (s) of a complete stage.
Each participant was verbally encouraged to deliver
maximum effort during the incremental test. Respiratory
gases were measured breath by breath during the incremental test using a precalibrated online metabolic system (Quark;
COSMED, Rome, Italy), and the data were reduced to 15second averages. The attainment of V_ O2max was defined
using the criteria proposed by Lacour et al. (26). The velocity at V_ O2max was considered the lowest speed where
V_ O2max occurred and was maintained for at least 1 minute.
Carminattis Test

Carminattis test requires participants to perform repeated


bouts of 5 3 12-second shuttle runs at progressively faster
speeds until volitional exhaustion. The 12-second bouts were
separated by 6-second recovery periods, making each stage

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Figure 2. Heart rate responses during the training sessions.


aSignificantly different than session 5 T6:6 (p # 0.05); bsignificantly
different than session 1 T12:12 (p # 0.05); csignificantly different than
session 7 T6:6 (p # 0.05).

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TABLE 1. Variable performance (mean 6 SD) of both groups before and after the training period.*
T6:6
Treadmill test

Pretraining

V_ O2max (ml$kg21$min21)
vV_ O2max (km$h21)
Peak velocity (km$h21)
LT (km$h21)
HR-LT %HRmax
T-CAR test
Peak velocity (km$h21)

59.1
16.5
16.9
13.5
91.4

6
6
6
6
6

T12:12
Posttraining

2.7
0.6
0.7
0.7
1.6

60.0
17.4
17.9
14.3
89.7

16.8 6 0.6

6
6
6
6
6

Pretraining

3.5
0.6
0.8
0.8
1.7

53.7
16.2
16.6
12.8
88.8

18.1 6 0.5

6
6
6
6
6

Posttraining

5.6
1.0
0.9
0.6
5.4

55.8
17.0
17.3
13.8
89.3

16.6 6 0.7

6
6
6
6
6

2.8
0.3
0.7
0.8
3.1

17.5 6 0.7

_ O2max = maximal oxygen uptake; vV_ O2max = velocity at maximal oxygen uptake; LT = lactate threshold; HR = heart rate; T-CAR =
*V
Carminattis test.
Significantly different than pretraining (p , 0.01).

completed stage. Heart rate was monitored at 5-second intervals throughout all the tests with a commercially available
telemetry system (PolarS610; Polar Electro Oy). The CV for
this test was 1.4% (14).
To guarantee that both tests were performed on the same
conditions, both tests (pre- and posttraining) were conducted in an outdoor natural grass field with similar
environmental conditions (temperature, 24278 C; relative
humidity, 5565%). All tests were performed at the same
time of the day (i.e., 09.0011.00 hours) to avoid the influence of circadian rhythms.

abilities. Outcomes were analyzed using a 2-factor


repeated-measures analysis of variance with 1 betweensubject factor (training type; T6:6 vs. T12:12) and 1
within-subject factor (period; pretraining vs. posttraining).
Effect size (ES) was calculated according to Cohen (9).
Values were considered trivial (,0.2), small (0.20.5),
moderate (0.50.8), and large (.0.8). The level of statistical significance was set at p # 0.05.

RESULTS
During the 5 weeks of training, players underwent 10
conditioning training sessions corresponding to 400 minutes
of aerobic fitness training (9.5% of total preseason training
time). Figure 2 shows the HR responses to the fitness training sessions during the study period. It was observed that
both groups presented a significant difference with relation
to the %HRmax in the fifth and seventh training session (p #
0.05). Moreover, the group T6:6 presented a significant difference between sessions 1 and 5 (p # 0.05).

Statistical Analyses

Analyses were carried out using SPSS for Windows (SPSS


v.13.5, Chicago, IL, USA). Descriptive statistics are reported as mean 6 SD values. A Shapiro-Wilk test was used
to verify the normality of the data. Before the commencement of the study, the experimental groups were compared using an independent samples t-test to ascertain
whether they were of similar performance and fitness

TABLE 2. Effect sizes and absolute change (T6:6; T12:12) for all variables measured.*
T6:6
Treadmill test
V_ O2max (ml$kg21$min21)
vV_ O2max (km$h21)
PVTREAD (km$h21)
LT (km$h21)
HR-LT
T-CAR test
Peak velocity (km$h21)

Absolute change (95% CI)


0.94
0.86
0.91
0.78
29.8

(21.8 to 3.7)
(0.36 to 1.4)
(0.5 to 1.3)
(0.37 to 1.2)
(215.3 to 24.2)

1.3 (0.7 to 1.7)

T12:12
ES
0.3
1.5
1.3
1.1
21.8

Descriptor
Small
Large
Large
Large
Large

2.4 Large

Absolute change
2.18
0.80
0.78
0.92
23.0

ES

(20.39 to 4.8)
0.5
(0.33 to 1.3)
1.0
(0.39 to 1.2)
0.9
(0.5 to 1.3)
1.4
(28.3 to 2.3) 20.6

0.86 (0.37 to 1.3)

Descriptor
Small
Large
Large
Large
Moderate

1.2 Large

_ O2max = maximal oxygen uptake; vV_ O2max = velocity at maximal oxygen uptake;
*ES = effect size; CI = confidence interval; V
PVTREAD = peak treadmill velocity; LT = lactate threshold; HR = heart rate; T-CAR = Carminattis test.

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Effects of Training in Soccer


The HR peak values reached in the field (T-CAR), and
laboratory presented no significant difference in either the
pre- or posttraining periods. Moreover, they were moderately to highly correlated in the pretraining (r = 0.77, p ,
0.01) and posttraining (r = 0.67, p , 0.01) periods.
No significant interaction (time vs. group) was observed
for the majority of variables analyzed (p . 0.05), although
significant main effects in time (Table 1) were evident
regarding PVTREAD (F = 56.3, p , 0.0001), vV_ O2max (F =
35.8, p , 0.0001), LT (F = 57.7, p , 0.0001), and PVT-CAR
(F = 52.9, p , 0.0001). Additionally, the ES showed a large
increase for both groups in vV_ O2max, PVTREAD, LT, and
PVT-CAR (Table 2).
No significant interaction effect was found (time and
group) for HR at the LT intensity (Table 2).
Moreover, there were no significant changes in either
group for V_ O2max between the pre- and posttraining periods
(F = 4.26, p = 0.056).

DISCUSSION
The main purpose of this study was to compare the effects of
2 GAT training models prescribed from the PVT-CAR. The
results showed that both training modes (straight line and
shuttle run) similarly improved the LT, vV_ O2max, PVTREAD,
and the performance in T-CAR in soccer athletes. Thus, the
main hypothesis of this study was not confirmed because the
training model with direction change did not result in
greater improvements in the T-CAR performance.
A significant increase in V_ O2max values was not found.
However, it has been shown that because of the intermittent
nature of soccer, V_ O2max is not indicated as the best measure for verifying performance improvement in soccer players (18,22,24). The most significant changes found in this
study took place in PVT-CAR, PVTREAD, vV_ O2max, and LT.
These results provide further evidence that the PVT-CAR is an
important index for monitoring changes in a players ability
to perform intense intermittent exercise. Moreover, results
confirm the importance of choosing specific performance
tests for monitoring high-performance athletes.
In this study, the increase in PVT-CAR was 7.7% in T6:6
and 5.4% in T12:12. In terms of the distance covered, the
increases correspond to 18.7% in T6:6 and 14.1% in T12:12.
Recently, Buchheit and Rabbani (5) assumed that the Yo-Yo
Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (Yo-YoIR1distance covered) and the 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test (30-15IFTfinal
speed) would evaluate slightly different physical capacities.
However, their sensitivity to training (8-week intervention)
was almost certainly similar, despite differences in relative
changes of performance in each test. The improvement
observed in the Yo-Yo IR1 was 35% (distance), whereas
a 7% (velocity) change in 30-15IFT was reported. This demonstrates that depending on the variable analyzed (distance
or speed), the percentage increase may be different and that
T-CAR has similar sensitivity to other popular field tests
already established in the literature. This result has impor-

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tant practical applications, considering the high reliability of


T-CAR (CV = 1.4%) (14). Moreover, considering the high
ES and the significant changes found in both groups, it is
possible to affirm that the increase found has high potential
benefits to the athletes. These results agree with other studies (18) that showed that indices determined in intermittent
field tests are more sensitive to training in soccer players
than the traditional V_ O2max. In addition, an advantage of
T-CAR is the possibility of individualizing the training prescription based on the PV.
The improvement in T-CAR performance was not
dependent on the training model (T12:12 shuttle run vs.
T6:6 straight line). This result demonstrates that training
conducted with a change of direction (1 turn every 12
seconds) at 100% of PVT-CAR with a volume of 40 changes of
direction per session has no more efficacy than intermittent
training in a straight line for the development of aerobic
indices in soccer players.
Another important finding of this study is related to the
similar increase (ES .1.0; large) found in LT for both training
groups. This demonstrates that, despite the high-intensity
shuttle run intermittent training (1808) requiring additional
muscular actions for decelerations/accelerations, thereby
inducing a higher glycolytic contribution, higher blood lactate
concentration and rating of perceived exertion values compared with the classic straight line interval training (11), the
change of direction training did not induce a greater peripheral adaptation in the T12:12 group compared with the T6:6.
Hill-Haas et al. (18) demonstrated that 7 weeks of SSG training during the preseason could increase the performance in
the Yo-Yo IR1, whereas aerobic capacity as measured by
treadmill time to exhaustion remained unchanged. On the
contrary, the results of this study demonstrated that 5 weeks
of training including change of direction or straight line intermittent running in junior soccer players during the preseason
period significantly improved both the aerobic capacity (LT)
and specific indices of field performance (PVT-CAR).
The vV_ O2max was another important parameter that
increased after the training period (Table 1). The 5.5% (T6:
T6) and 4.9% (T12:12) improvements in the vV_ O2max are
similar to those reported by Dellal et al. (12) in the final
speed reached in the Vameval test after a 6-week training
period of high intensity training. This increase observed in
the PVTREAD in the T6:6 group was 5.9%, whereas in the
T12:12 was 4.2%. These results provide further evidence that
the vV_ O2max and PVTREAD measured in a laboratory are
sensitive indices for monitoring changes in players ability
to perform high-intensity exercise.
The results of this study showed that the training session
intensity was between 85 and 95% of maximal HR (Figure
2). Previous studies have compared different training methods (16,18,23,30) and shown that time spent at higher HR is
important for improving aerobic fitness in soccer players
(7,16,21). In this study, the HR responses were similar in
almost all the training sessions, with the exception of the

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fifth session in T6:6. This corroborates with the findings of
Dellal et al. (11) for whom HR responses were similar during
the 15-second to 15-second and the 10-second to 10-second
intervals in both straight line and shuttle run forms of running. However, most of these studies used HR for training
load prescription, although it is difficult to the athlete control
or adjust exercise intensity during an interval, especially for
athletes running at high speed, where viewing HR from
a watch is difficult (3). Intermittent shuttle run field tests
were first proposed because of their logical criterion and
concurrent validity and later addressed for direct validity.
However, despite the superior ecologic validity of the shuttle
run tests, continuous progressive running tests are undertaken by professional soccer fitness coaches with the aim
of collecting meaningful information for developing GAT.
This demonstrates the importance of our study that verified
the training effect in soccer players using velocity attained at
exhaustion during an intermittent shuttle field-specific test.
The authors are aware that a limitation of this study was
not having a control group, thus it is not possible to ensure
that positive changes in aerobic fitness were only elicited by
the applied training or were influenced by other factors.
However, the use of controls is difficult when dealing with
professional soccer clubs and players.
In summary, this study showed that the prescription of
both training models based on PVT-CAR (i.e., intermittent
high-intensity shuttle or straight line running) at 100% of
PVT-CAR contributes to improving the LT, vV_ O2max, and
the performance parameters in the T-CAR test in soccer
players. Besides being a suitable tool for evaluating the ability
of the athlete to perform high-intensity intermittent exercise,
the T-CAR protocol can also be used for developing individualized GAT. However, using training drills with changes
of direction does not seem to further improve performance
in the T-CAR compared with training without adding
changes of direction.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
In light of the findings of this study, PVT-CAR can be considered as a valid tool for aerobic fitness training prescription
in soccer. In this regard, this study provided evidence that
PVT-CAR-derived drills can be successfully implemented as
training either considering in-line or shuttle running drills.
Moreover, running bouts of 45 minutes with 3 minutes of
passive or active recovery may result successful in preparing
elite-level soccer players to cope with match high-intensity
demands using PVT-CAR.
Furthermore, studies are needed to investigate the
effects of other training models (different percentage of
the PVT-CAR) and should also be applied in different populations as soccer referees and female soccer players.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This study was carried out with the financial support of
Coordination of Superior Level Staff Improvement (CAPES).

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