Maximum Strength, Relative Strength, and Strength Deficit: Relationships With Performance and Differences Between Elite Sprinters and Professional Rugby Union Players

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To test the relationships between maximum and relative strength (MS and RS), absolute and relative peak force (PF and RPF), and strength deficit (SDef), with sprint and jump performance, and to compare these mechanical variables between elite sprinters and professional rugby union players. Methods: Thirty-five male rugby union players and 30 male sprinters performed vertical jumps, 30-m sprint, and half-squat 1-repetition maximum (1RM), where these force-related parameters were collected. Pearson correlation coefficients were used to test the relationships between the variables. An independent t test and magnitude-based inferences compared the mechanical variables between sprinters and rugby players. Results: Almost certain significant differences were observed for jump and sprint performance between groups (P < .0001). The rugby union players demonstrated a likely significant higher MS (P = .03) but a very likely lower RS (P = .007) than the sprinters. No significant differences were observed for PF between them. The sprinters exhibited an almost certain significant higher RPF than the rugby players (P < .0001). Furthermore, the rugby players demonstrated almost certain to likely significant higher SDef from 40% to 70% 1RM (P < .05) compared with the sprinters. Overall, all strength-derived parameters were significantly related to functional performance. Conclusions: Elite sprinters present higher levels of RS and RPF, lower levels of SDef, and better sprint and jump performance than professional rugby players. Relative strength-derived values (RS and RPF) and SDef are significantly associated with speed–power measures and may be used as effective and practical indicators of athletic performance.

Loturco, Pereira, and Freitas are with the NAR—Nucleus of High Performance in Sport, São Paulo, Brazil, and the Dept of Human Movement Science, Federal University of São Paulo, Santos, Brazil. Loturco is also with the University of South Wales, Pontypridd, United Kingdom. Freitas is also with the UCAM Research Center for High Performance Sport—Catholic University of Murcia, UCAM, Murcia, Spain. Bishop is with the Faculty of Science and Technology, London Sport Inst, Middlesex University, London, United Kingdom. Pareja-Blanco is with the Dept of Sport, Physical and Athletic Performance Research Center, Pablo de Olavide University, Seville, Spain. McGuigan is with the Sports Performance Research Inst New Zealand (SPRINZ), Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand, and the School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia.

Loturco (irineu.loturco@terra.com.br) is corresponding author.
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