Physiological and Anthropometric Progression in an International Oarsman: A 15-Year Case Study

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance

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Jan Bourgois
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Adelheid Steyaert
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Jan Boone
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Purpose:

In this case study, a world-class rower was followed over a period of 15 y in which he evolved from junior to professional athlete.

Methods:

An incremental exercise test and a 2000-m ergometer test were performed each year in the peak period of the season starting at the age of 16 y. In addition, the training logs of 1 y each as a junior and a senior rower were recorded and analyzed.

Results:

Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), maximal power output (Pmax), and power output at 4 mmol/L blood lactate concentration increased until the age of 27 and then stabilized at 30 y at 6.0 ± 0.2 L/min, 536 ± 15 W, and 404 ± 22 W, respectively. At the age of 27–28 y the rower also had a career-best 2000-m ergometer test (5′58″) and on-water performance with a 4th place at the Olympic Games (2008) in Beijing and World Championships (2009). At the age of 23 y, the rower trained a total of 6091 km in 48 wk. Of the total training time, 15.4% consisted of general training practices, 23.4% resistance training, and 61.2% specific rowing training.

Conclusion:

The on-water performance in the World Championships and Olympic Games corresponded closely to the evolution in the rower’s physiological profile and 2000-m ergometer performance. The long-term build-up program resulted in an increase in the physiological parameters up to the age of 27 y and resulted in a 4th position at the 2008 Olympic Games at a body mass of only 86 kg.

Bourgois and Boone are with the Dept of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. Steyaert is with the Center of Sports Medicine, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium. Address author correspondence to Jan Bourgois at jan.bourgois@ugent.be.

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