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The “Making” of World-Class Athletes Is Still a Case for Humble Admissions

Ralph Beneke

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The Relationships Between External and Internal Training Loads in Mixed Martial Arts

Christopher Kirk, Carl Langan-Evans, David R. Clark, and James P. Morton

Purpose: As a multidisciplined combat sport, relationships between external and internal training loads and intensities of mixed martial arts (MMA) have not been described. The aim of this study was to determine the external loads and intensities of MMA training categories and their relationship to internal loads and intensities. Methods: Twenty MMA athletes (age = 23.3 [5.3] y, mass = 72.1 [7.2] kg, stature = 171.5 [8.4] cm) were observed for 2 consecutive weeks. Internal load and intensity (session rating of perceived exertion [sRPE]) were calculated using the Foster RPE for the session overall (sRPE-training load [TL]) and segmented RPE (segRPE-TL) for each training category: warm-up, striking drills, wrestling drills, Brazilian jiujitsu (BJJ) drills, striking sparring, wrestling sparring, BJJ sparring, and MMA sparring. External load and intensity were measured via Catapult OptimEye S5 for the full duration of each session using accumulated Playerload (PLdACC) and PLdACC per minute (PLdACC·min−1). Differences in loads between categories and days were assessed via Bayesian analysis of variance (BF10 ≥ 3). Predictive relationships between internal and external variables were calculated using Bayesian regression. Results: Session overall sRPE-TL = 448.6 (191.1) arbitrary units (AU); PLdACC = 310.6 (112) AU. Category segRPE-TL range = 33.8 (22.6) AU (warm-up) to 122.8 (54.6) AU (BJJ drills). Category PLdACC range = 44 (36.3) AU (warm-up) to 125 (58.8) AU (MMA sparring). Neither sRPE-TL nor PLdACC changed between days. PLdACC was different between categories. Evidence for regressions was strong-decisive except for BJJ drills (BF10 = 7, moderate). R 2 range = .50 to .77, except for warm-up (R 2 = .17), BJJ drills (R 2 = .27), BJJ sparring (R 2 = .49), and session overall (R 2 = .13). Conclusions: While MMA training categories may be differentiated in terms of external load, overall session external load does not change within or between weeks. Resultant regression equations may be used to appropriately plan MMA technical/tactical training loads.

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The Validity of Perceptual Recovery Status on Monitoring Recovery During a High-Intensity Back-Squat Session

Nicholas A. Buoncristiani, Grant Malone, Whitley J. Stone, Scott Arnett, Mark A. Schafer, and Danilo V. Tolusso

Adaptations to resistance training and subsequent performance can be undermined by inadequate interset recovery. Methods typically used to monitor recovery were developed for longitudinal use, making them time-inefficient within singular exercise bouts. If valid, perceptual recovery status (PRS) may be used as an efficient and inexpensive assessment tool to monitor individual recovery. Purpose: The aim of this study was to assess the validity of PRS on monitoring recovery during a high-intensity back-squat session. Methods: Ten healthy men participated in the 2-session study (separated by at least 48 h). Session 1 included anthropometrics, PRS familiarization, and a 1-repetition-maximum back squat. Session 2 included a high-intensity protocol (5 sets of 5 repetitions; 5-min interset recovery; 85% of 1-repetition maximum). PRS was obtained before the first set and during the last 30 seconds of each 5-minute recovery; rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was also collected. A linear position transducer collected mean barbell velocity (MBV). Repeated-measures correlations assessed the common intraindividual relationships of PRS scores to intraset MBV and RPE, respectively. Results: A very large, positive correlation appeared between PRS and MBV (r [95% CI] = .778 [.613 to .878]; P < .0001). A large, negative correlation emerged between PRS and RPE (r [95% CI] = −.549 [−.737 to −.282]; P < .001). Conclusions: Results indicate that PRS can be a means for practitioners to monitor individualized recovery. PRS tracked well with RPE, strengthening its utility in a practitioner-based setting. Findings provide insight into the practicality of PRS for recovery monitoring. It could be used alongside other measures (eg, MBV and countermovement jump) to individually program and maintain performance.

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Analysis of Sprint Ski Mountaineering Performance

Alessandro Fornasiero, Simone Fornoni, Alexa Callovini, Beatrice Todesco, Aldo Savoldelli, Federico Schena, Hans-Christer Holmberg, Barbara Pellegrini, and Lorenzo Bortolan

Ski mountaineering sprint competitions are short individual races involving 3 uphill sections (U), 3 transitions (T), and a final descent. To date, relatively little is known about this novel Olympic discipline, and here we examined (1) the contribution of the time spent on U, T, and final descent to overall finishing time and (2) the potential relationships with final ranking. During the different rounds of 2 International Ski Mountaineering Federation World Cup sprint competitions, male and female ski mountaineers were video recorded. Correlation and multiple linear regression analyses were used to investigate the impact of U, T, and final descent on the best overall finishing time. Linear-mixed model analysis was applied to explore potential interactions between section times, rounds, and final ranking. Overall, U (r = .90–.97) and T (r = .57–.89) were closely correlated with the best overall finishing time (all P < .05). U explained approximately 80% to 90% of the variation in the best finishing time for both sexes, with U + T explaining approximately 95% to 98% of this variation. In each successive round, the ski mountaineers eliminated were all slower on U than the Top 3 (all P < .05). The fastest skiers increased their performance on U in the later rounds of the competitions, while those eliminated showed a tendency toward a decrease. Our findings reveal that world-class sprint ski mountaineers conduct transitions optimally and perform effectively uphill. Training for such competitions should aim to improve short supramaximal uphill performance (∼1.5–2.5 min), ensuring that this does not decline with multiple efforts. These insights into ski mountaineering sprint performance are of considerable value in connection with training for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

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A Methodological Comparison of Protocols and Analytical Techniques to Assess the Outcome Measures of Submaximal Fitness Tests

Tzlil Shushan, Ric Lovell, Shaun J. McLaren, Steve Barrett, Martin Buchheit, Tannath J. Scott, and Dean Norris

Background: Submaximal fitness test (SMFT) outcome measures are frequently collected with a wide array of technologies and methodological approaches. Purpose: To examine the test–retest reliability of various SMFT outcome measures derived from different protocols and analytical techniques. Methods: Twenty-six semiprofessional adult soccer players performed 3 SMFT protocols, including 2 continuous (3 min, 11 and 12.8 km·h−1) and 1 intermittent (4 × 50 m, 18 km·h−1) twice, each separated by 7 days. Heart-rate (HR) indices (exercise HR, HR recovery) and scapula-mounted (PlayerLoad vector magnitude) and foot-mounted (flight time and contact time, stride length) microelectrical mechanical system–derived variables were collected using different time frames and analytical approaches adopted in the literature and practice. Absolute reliability was quantified as the group mean difference, typical error of measurement, also expressed as the coefficient of variation (where appropriate) and standardized units (ie, d). Intraclass correlation coefficient was used to quantify relative reliability. Results: The highest degrees of reliability were evident for exercise HR (typical error: 1.0%–1.6% points), the vertical component of PlayerLoad (expressed in arbitrary units; coefficient of variation: 5.5%–7.0%), and contact time (coefficient of variation: 1.5%–3.0%). These estimates were not influenced by SMFT protocol or analytical approach. All other measures displayed poorer reliability and/or were different between protocols and analytical methods. Conclusions: SMFT protocols impact the test–retest reliability of various outcome measures; however, exercise HR, vertical PlayerLoad, and contact time (derived from foot-mounted micro-electrical mechanical systems) appear to have stable measurement properties to assist the assessment of aerobic capacity and lower-limb neuromuscular status, respectively.

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Erratum. Match Running Performance in Australian Football Is Related to Muscle Fiber Typology

International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance

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Specialize Early and Select Late: Performance Trajectories of World-Class Finalists and International- and National-Class Swimmers

Dennis-Peter Born, Glenn Björklund, Jenny Lorentzen, Thomas Stöggl, and Michael Romann

Purpose: To investigate performance progression from early-junior to peak performance age and compare variety in race distances and swimming strokes between swimmers of various performance levels. Methods: Using a longitudinal data analysis and between-groups comparisons 306,165 annual best times of male swimmers (N = 3897) were used to establish a ranking based on annual best times at peak performance age. Individual performance trajectories were retrospectively analyzed to compare distance and stroke variety. Performances of world-class finalists and international- and national-class swimmers (swimming points: 886 [30], 793 [28], and 698 [28], respectively) were compared across 5 age groups—13–14, 15–16, 17–18, 19–20, and 21+ years—using a 2-way analysis of variance with repeated measures. Results: World-class finalists are not significantly faster than international-class swimmers up to the 17- to 18-year age group (F 2|774 = 65, P < .001, η p 2 = .14 ) but specialize in short- or long-distance races at a younger age. World-class breaststroke finalists show faster breaststroke times compared to their performance in other swimming strokes from an early age (P < .05), while world-class freestyle and individual medley finalists show less significant differences to their performance in other swimming strokes. Conclusions: While federation officials should aim for late talent selection, that is, not before the 17- to 18-year age group, coaches should aim to identify swimmers’ preferred race distances early on. However, the required stroke variety seems to be specific for each swimming stroke. Breaststroke swimmers could aim for early and strong specialization, while freestyle and individual medley swimmers could maintain large and very large stroke variety, respectively.

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Volume 18 (2023): Issue 12 (Dec 2023)

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Shifting the Energy Toward Los Angeles: Comparing the Energetic Contribution and Pacing Approach Between 2000- and 1500-m Maximal Ergometer Rowing

Daniel J. Astridge, Peter Peeling, Paul S.R. Goods, Olivier Girard, Sophie P. Watts, Myles C. Dennis, and Martyn J. Binnie

Purpose: To compare the energetic contribution and pacing in 2000- and 1500-m maximal rowing-ergometer performances. Methods: On separate visits (>48 h apart, random order), 18 trained junior (16.7 [0.4] y) male rowers completed 3 trials: a 7 × 4-minute graded exercise test, a 2000-m time trial (TT2000), and a 1500-m TT (TT1500). Respiratory gases were continuously measured throughout each trial. The submaximal power-to-oxygen-consumption relationship from the graded exercise test was used to determine the accumulated oxygen deficit for each TT. Differences in mean power output (MPO), relative anaerobic contribution, percentage of peak oxygen uptake, pacing index, maximum heart rate, rating of perceived exertion, and blood lactate concentration were assessed using linear mixed modeling. Results: Compared to TT2000 (324 [24] W), MPO was 5.2% (3.3%) higher in TT1500 (341 [29 W]; P < .001, η p 2 = .70 ). There was a 4.9% (3.3%) increase (P < .001, η p 2 = .71 ) in anaerobic contribution from 17.3% (3.3%) (TT2000) to 22.2% (4.3%) (TT1500). Compared to TT1500, maximum heart rate, rating of perceived exertion, and blood lactate concentration were all greater (P < .05) in TT2000. The pacing index was not different between trials. Percentage increase in MPO from TT2000 to TT1500 was negatively associated with pacing variance in TT1500 (R 2 = .269, P = .027). Conclusions: Maximal ergometer performance over 1500 m requires a significantly greater anaerobic contribution compared with 2000 m. Junior male athletes adopt a consistent pacing strategy across both distances. However, those who experienced greater percentage increases in MPO over the shorter test adopted a more even pacing strategy. To prepare for 1500-m performance, greater emphasis should be placed on developing capacity for work in the severe domain and completing race simulations with a more even pacing strategy.

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Bringing on the Next Generation of Sport Scientists: The Benefits of Work-Integrated Learning

David B. Pyne