Monitoring Neuromuscular Fatigue in Team-Sport Athletes Using a Cycle-Ergometer Test

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose:

To compare a novel sprint test on a cycle ergometer with a countermovement-jump (CMJ) test for monitoring neuromuscular fatigue after Australian rules football match play.

Methods:

Twelve elite under-18 Australian rules football players (mean ± SD age 17.5 ± 0.6 y, stature 184.7 ± 8.8 cm, body mass 75.3 ± 7.8 kg) from an Australian Football League club’s Academy program performed a short sprint test on a cycle ergometer along with a single CMJ test 1 h prematch and 1, 24, and 48 h postmatch. The cycle-ergometer sprint test involved a standardized warm-up, a maximal 6-s sprint, a 1-min active recovery, and a 2nd maximal 6-s sprint, with the highest power output of the 2 sprints recorded as peak power (PP).

Results:

There were small to moderate differences between postmatch changes in cycle-ergometer PP and CMJ PP at 1 (ES = 0.49), 24 (ES = –0.85), and 48 h postmatch (ES = 0.44). There was a substantial reduction in cycle-ergometer PP at 24 h postmatch (ES = –0.40) compared with 1 h prematch.

Conclusions:

The cycle-ergometer sprint test described in this study offers a novel method of neuromuscular-fatigue monitoring in team-sport athletes and specifically quantifies the concentric component of the fatigue-induced decrement of force production in muscle, which may be overlooked by a CMJ test.

Wehbe and Gabbett are with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Dwyer is with the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Geelong, VIC, Australia. McLellan and Coad are with the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia. Address author correspondence to George Wehbe at gwehbe@lions.com.au.