Critical Speed as a Measure of Aerobic Fitness for Male Rugby Union Players

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To compare critical speed (CS) derived from all-out testing (AOT) for linear and shuttle running with metrics from a graded exercise test, the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test  Level 1 (YYIR1), and estimation of an 800-m-shuttle time trial. Methods: Twelve male rugby players completed a graded exercise test, the YYIR1, a linear AOT, shuttle AOTs of 25 and 50 m, and an 800-m-shuttle time trial consisting of 32 × 25-m shuttles. Results: Strong linear correlations were observed between maximum oxygen uptake (V˙O2max) and CS (m·s−1) derived from the linear AOT (3.68 [0.62], r = .90, P < .01) and 50-m-shuttle AOT (3.19 [0.26], r = .83, P < .01). Conversely, V˙O2max showed lower correlations with speeds evoking CS from 25-m AOT (2.86 [0.18], r = .42, P = .18) and YYIR1 (4.36 [0.11], r = .55, P = .07). The 800-m time trial (213.58 [15.84] s) was best predicted using parameters from the 25-m AOT (r = .93, SEE = 6.60 s, P < .001). Conclusions: The AOT is a valuable method of assessing performance-specific fitness, with CS from linear and 50-m-shuttle AOTs being strong predictors of V˙O2max, rivaling metrics from the graded exercise test. The YYIR1 offered limited utility compared with the AOT method.

Kramer and Du Randt are with the Human Movement Science Dept, and Watson, the Psychology Dept, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Pettitt is with the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, UT.

Kramer (mark.kramer@mandela.ac.za) is corresponding author.
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