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Molly J. Murphy, Blake R. Rushing, Susan J. Sumner, and Anthony C. Hackney

Beta-alanine, caffeine, and nitrate are dietary supplements generally recognized by the sport and exercise science community as evidence-based ergogenic performance aids. Evidence supporting the efficacy of these supplements, however, is greatly skewed due to research being conducted primarily in men. The physiological differences between men and women, most notably in sex hormones and menstrual cycle fluctuations, make generalizing male data to the female athlete inappropriate, and potentially harmful to women. This narrative review outlines the studies conducted in women regarding the efficacy of beta-alanine, caffeine, and nitrate supplementation for performance enhancement. Only nine studies on beta-alanine, 15 on caffeine, and 10 on nitrate in healthy women under the age of 40 years conducted in normoxia conditions were identified as relevant to this research question. Evidence suggests that beta-alanine may lower the rate of perceived exertion and extend training bouts in women, leading to greater functional adaptations. Studies of caffeine in women suggest the physiological responder status and caffeine habituation may contribute to caffeine’s efficacy, with a potential plateau in the dose–response relationship of performance enhancement. Nitrate appears to vary in influence based on activity type and primary muscle group examined. However, the results summarized in the limited literature for each of these three supplements provide no consensus on dosage, timing, or efficacy for women. Furthermore, the literature lacks considerations for hormonal status and its role in metabolism. This gap in sex-based knowledge necessitates further research on these ergogenic supplements in women with greater considerations for the effects of hormonal status.

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James A. Betts

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Tahleya Eggers, Rebecca Cross, Dean Norris, Lachlan Wilmot, and Ric Lovell

Purpose: To assess the impact of microcycle (MC) structures on physical and technical performances in rugby league training and matches. Methods: Thirty-four professional rugby league players were monitored during all training sessions and matches across a single season wherein 2 different competition-phase MC structures were implemented. The first MC structure involved the first session on match day (MD) + 2 and the main stimulus delivered MD − 3, and the second structure delayed all sessions by 1 day (first session on MD + 3 and main session MD − 2; MC structure in the second half of the season). Physical output was quantified via relative total speed (in meters per minute), high-speed running (per minute; ≥4.0 m·s−1), and very-high-speed running (per minute; ≥5.5 m·s−1), measured using a global positioning system (10 Hz) in addition to accelerometer (100 Hz) metrics (PlayerLoad per minute and PlayerLoadslow per minute]) during training and matches. Technical performance (number of runs, meters gained, tackles made and missed) was recorded during matches. Generalized linear mixed models and equivalence tests were used to identify the impact of MC structure on physical and technical output. Results: Nonequivalent increases in meters per minute, high-speed running per minute, and PlayerLoad per minute were observed for the first training stimulus in MC structure in the second half of the season with no practical difference in midcycle sessions observed. The MC structure in the second half of the season structure resulted in increased high-speed running per minute and decreased PlayerLoadslow per minute during MD with no differences observed in technical performance. Conclusions: Delaying the first training stimulus of the MC allowed for greater training load accumulation without negative consequences in selected match running and technical performance measures. This increased MC load may support the maintenance of physical capacities across the in-season.

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Alejandro M. Rosales, Nathan A. Keck, Tim C. Shriver, Dale A. Schoeller, and Brent C. Ruby

Background: Previous data have demonstrated that Tour de France riders maintain total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) between 3.5 and 5.5 times the basal metabolic rate (×BMR). In contrast, TDEE for healthy male septuagenarians has been reported to average 1.3 to 2.0 ×BMR. Purpose: Measure the TDEE and water efflux during ultraendurance work in an older population during the cross-continent cycling Race Across America. Methods: A 4-man septuagenarian team (70 [1.6] y, 72.0 [5.1] kg) received an oral dose of doubly labeled water prior to completing the Race Across America (4817 km, 51,816 m of climbing) for TDEE calculation. Nude body weight measures were coupled with collected urine samples. Results: The race was completed in approximately 6.5 days (official time: 6 d, 13 h, and 13 min) with an average speed of 30.6 (0.7) km·h−1 (age-group course record). Body weight remained unchanged (prerace: 70.4 [5.8] kg, postrace: 70.0 [5.3] kg). TDEE was calculated over 3 race segments. TDEE varied between individual riders and segments throughout the continuous event (24.7 [4.2] MJ·24 h−1, 5900 [1015] kcals·24 h−1, 3.4 [0.5] ×BMR). Water efflux averaged 10.2 (0.8) L·24 h−1 resulting in a total turnover of 45.3 (3.9) L amounting to 1.5 (0.2) times initial total body water during the race. Conclusions: Highly active septuagenarians maintain body weight prerace to postrace, suggesting near energy balance when TDEE approaches 4 ×BMR. These values exceed twice those of previously observed healthy but less active septuagenarian men and are comparable to professional riders during portions of the Tour de France. Advanced age and high metabolic output are not mutually exclusive.

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Pauline Clavel, Eve Tiollier, Cédric Leduc, Marina Fabre, Mathieu Lacome, and Martin Buchheit

Purpose: To assess the concurrent validity of a continuous blood-glucose-monitoring system (CGM) postbreakfast, preexercise, exercise, and postexercise, while assessing the impact of 2 different breakfasts on the observed level of validity. Methods: Eight nondiabetic recreational athletes (age = 30.8 [9.5] y; height = 173.6 [6.6] cm; body mass = 70.3 [8.1] kg) took part in the study. Blood glucose concentration was monitored every 10 minutes using both a CGM (FreeStyle Libre, Abbott, France) and finger-prick blood glucose measurements (FreeStyle Optimum) over 4 different periods (postbreakfast, preexercise, exercise, and postexercise). Two different breakfasts (carbohydrates [CHO] and protein oriented) over 2 days (2 × 2 d in total) were used. Statistical analyses included the Bland–Altman method, standardized mean bias (expressed in standardized units), median absolute relative difference, and the Clarke error grid analysis. Results: Overall, mean bias was trivial to small at postbreakfast (effect size ± 90% confidence limits: −0.12 ± 0.08), preexercise (−0.08 ± 0.08), and postexercise (0.25 ± 0.14), while moderate during exercise (0.66 ± 0.09). A higher median absolute relative difference was observed during exercise (13.6% vs 7%–9.5% for the other conditions). While there was no effect of the breakfast type on the median absolute relative difference results, error grid analysis revealed a higher value in zone D (ie, clinically unsafe zone) during exercise for CHO (10.5%) compared with protein (1.6%). Conclusion: The CGM device examined in this study can only be validly used at rest, after both a CHO and protein-rich breakfast. Using CGM to monitor blood glucose concentration during exercise is not recommended. Moreover, the accuracy decreased when CHO were consumed before exercise.

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Thomas Losnegard, Ola Kristoffer Tosterud, Kasper Kjeldsen, Øyvind Olstad, and Jan Kocbach

Purpose: To investigate whether skiers with a fast-start pacing pattern increase time-trial performance by use of a more even pacing strategy. Methods: Thirty-four skiers (∼17 y, 16 male) performed an individual 7.5 (3 × 2.5) km free-technique race on snow with a self-selected pacing strategy (day 1). Based on the starting pace the first ∼2 minutes (lap-1 first 600-m segment pace·7.5 km pace−1), subjects were ranked into 2 groups: an intervention group with the fastest start pace (INT, n = 17) and a control group with a more conservative pace (CON, n = 17). On day 2, INT were instructed to reduce their start pace based on their average laps-1-to-3 segment pace from day 1, while CON were instructed to maintain their day 1 strategy. Results: INT increased their time-trial performance more than CON from day 1 to day 2 (effect size; ES = 0.87, P < .05). From day 1 to day 2, INT slowed their start pace (mean ± 95% confidence interval; 7.7% ± 2.0%, ES = 2.00), with lowered heart rate (HR) (83% ± 2% to 81% ± 2% of HRmax) and 1 to 10 ratings of perceived exertion (5 ± 1 to 4 ± 1), but finished with a faster overall 7.5-km time (−1.9% ± 0.9%, ES = 0.99) (all P < .05). For CON, no change was found for starting pace (−0.7% ± 2.0%, P = .47), overall 7.5-km time (−0.2% ± 1.4%, ES = 0.02, P = .81), ratings of perceived exertion, or HR between days. No differences were found for end-ratings of perceived exertion (9 ± 1) or average HR between day 1 and 2 for either group. Conclusion: Skiers with a pronounced fast-start pattern benefit by using a more even pacing strategy to optimize time-trial distance skiing performance.

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Thiago Ferreira Dias Kanthack, Aymeric Guillot, Ismael Simon, and Franck Di Rienzo

Purpose: Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art emphasizing ground combat with multiple ramifications to self-defense and military training. Some Brazilian jiu-jitsu athletes prefer fighting on their back (Guardadors), while others preferentially adopt a standing or kneeling position (Passadors). Whether the combat scenario leading to adopt a preferential or nonpreferential combat style influences the combat outcomes remains unexplored. Methods: In a counterbalanced design, 13 athletes performed simulated combats from either a congruent or incongruent scenario with regard to their preferred combat style. We collected combat scores from the official ranking system and measured upper- and lower-limb explosive performance before and after the combats, as well as the rating of perceived exertion and blood lactate concentrations to index fatigability. Results: Passadors had greater grip strength than Guardadors (Rp2 = .23, P = .03), whereas Guardadors showed higher lower-limb performance (Rp2 = .16, P = .05). When forced to combat as Passadors, Guardadors exhibited greater grip-strength impairment and a greater increase in perceived exertion (Rp2 = .12, P = .04; Rp2 = .15, P = .05, respectively). They also had higher blood lactate concentrations (Rp2 = .19, P = .02). Conclusion: Guardadors exhibited greater fatigability after fighting from an incongruent combat situation compared to Passadors, presumably due to greater difficulties to adjust to the loss of initiative when restricted to a primarily defensive role. Future studies should examine how combat style congruency might affect performance and influence recovery strategies during high-level competitive events.

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Pedro L. Valenzuela, Xabier Muriel, Teun van Erp, Manuel Mateo-March, Alexis Gandia-Soriano, Mikel Zabala, Robert P. Lamberts, Alejandro Lucia, David Barranco-Gil, and Jesús G. Pallarés

Purpose: To present normative data for the record power profile of male professional cyclists attending to team categories and riding typologies. Methods: Power output data registered from 4 professional teams during 8 years (N = 144 cyclists, 129,262 files, and 1062 total seasons [7 (5) per cyclist] corresponding to both training and competition sessions) were analyzed. Cyclists were categorized as ProTeam (n = 46) or WorldTour (n = 98) and as all-rounders (n = 65), time trialists (n = 11), climbers (n = 50), sprinters (n = 11), or general classification contenders (n = 7). The record power profile was computed as the highest maximum mean power (MMP) value attained for different durations (1 s to 240 min) in both relative (W·kg−1) and absolute units (W). Results: Significant differences between ProTeam and WorldTour were found for both relative (P = .002) and absolute MMP values (P = .006), with WT showing lower relative, but not absolute, MMP values at shorter durations (30–60 s). However, higher relative and absolute MMP values were recorded for very short- (1 s) and long-duration efforts (60 and 240 min for relative MMP values and ≥5 min for absolute ones). Differences were also found regarding cyclists’ typologies for both relative and absolute MMP values (P < .001 for both), with sprinters presenting the highest relative and absolute MMP values for short-duration efforts (5–30 s) and general classification contenders presenting the highest relative MMP values for longer efforts (1–240 min). Conclusions: The present results––obtained from the largest cohort of professional cyclists assessed to date—could be used to assess cyclists’ capabilities and indicate that the record power profile can differ between cyclists’ categories and typologies.

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Luca Ruggiero, Samantha E. Pritchard, John Warmenhoven, Tavis Bruce, Kerry MacDonald, Marc Klimstra, and Chris J. McNeil

Purpose: In volleyball, jump execution is critical for the match outcome. Game-play-related neuromuscular impairments may manifest as decreased jump height (JH) or increased jump total duration, both of which are pivotal for performance. To investigate changes in JH and kinetics with game play, the authors conducted a prospective exploratory analysis using minimal-effect testing (MET) and equivalence testing with the 2 one-sided tests procedure, univariate, and bivariate functional principal component analysis, respectively. Methods: Twelve male varsity athletes completed 3-set matches on 2 consecutive days. Countermovement jumps were performed on a force platform immediately prematch and postmatch on days 1 and 2 and once on days 3 and 4. Results: Across sessions, JH was equivalent (P < .022, equivalence test), while total duration reported inconclusive changes (P > .227). After match 2, MET indicated that relative force at zero velocity (P = .036) decreased, while braking duration (P = .040) and time to peak force (P = .048) increased compared with baseline. With the first and second functional principal components, these alterations, together with decreased relative braking rate of force development (P = .092), were already evident after match 1. On day 4, MET indicated that relative peak force (P = .049), relative force at zero velocity (P = .023), and relative braking rate of force development (P = .021) decreased, whereas braking duration (P = .025) increased from baseline. Conclusions: Impairments in jump kinetics were evident from variables related to the countermovement-jump braking phase, while JH was equivalent. In addition to these experimental findings, the present research provides information for the choice of sample size and smallest effect size of interest when using MET and 1- and 2-dimensional analyses for countermovement-jump height and kinetics.