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Single Session Intermittent Heat Exposure With More Frequent and Shorter Cooling Breaks Facilitates Greater Training Intensity and Elicits Physiological Responses Comparable to Continuous Heat Exposure

Julian A.P. Ramos, Kagan J. Ducker, Hugh Riddell, Grant Landers, Olivier Girard, and Carly J. Brade

Purpose: To investigate the influence of shorter, more frequent rest breaks with per-cooling as an alternative heat-acclimation session on physiological, perceptual, and self-paced maximal cycling performance, compared with continuous heat exposure. Methods: Thirteen participants completed 1 continuous and 3 intermittent-heat-exposure (IHE) maximal self-paced cycling protocols in a random order in heat (36 °C, 80% relative humidity): 1 × 60-minute exercise (CON), 3 × 20-minute exercise with 7.5-minute rest between sets (IHE-20), 4 × 15-minute exercise with 5-minute rest between sets (IHE-15), and 6 × 10-minute exercise with 3-minute rest between sets (IHE-10). Mixed-method per-cooling (crushed-ice ingestion and cooling vest) was applied during rest periods of all IHE protocols. Results: Total distance completed was greater in IHE-10, IHE-15, and IHE-20 than in CON (+11%, +9%, and +8%, respectively), with no difference observed between IHE protocols. Total time spent above 38.5 °C core temperature was longer in CON compared with IHE-15 and IHE-20 (+62% and +78%, respectively) but similar to IHE-10 (+5%). Furthermore, a longer time above 38.5 °C core temperature occurred in IHE-10 versus IHE-15 and IHE-20 (+54% and +69%, respectively). Sweat loss did not differ between conditions. Conclusion: IHE with per-cooling may be a viable alternative heat-acclimation protocol in situations where training quality takes precedence over thermal stimulus or when both factors hold equal priority.

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Physiological Profiles of Male and Female CrossFit Athletes

Gommaar D’Hulst, Deni Hodžić, Rahel Leuenberger, Janik Arnet, Elena Westerhuis, Ralf Roth, Arno Schmidt-Trucksäss, Raphael Knaier, and Jonathan Wagner

Objective : To (1) establish extensive physiological profiles of highly trained CrossFit® athletes using gold-standard tests and (2) investigate which physiological markers best correlate with CrossFit Open performance. Methods : This study encompassed 60 participants (30 men and 30 women), all within the top 5% of the CrossFit Open, including 7 CrossFit semifinalists and 3 CrossFit Games finalists. Isokinetic dynamometers were employed to measure maximum isometric and isokinetic leg and trunk strength. Countermovement-jump height and maximum isometric midthigh-pull strength were assessed on a force plate. Peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) was measured by a cardiopulmonary exercise test, and critical power and W′ were evaluated during a 3-minute all-out test, both on a cycle ergometer. Results: Male and female athletes’ median (interquartile range) VO2peak was 4.64 (4.43, 4.80) and 3.21 (3.10, 3.29) L·min−1, critical power 314.5 (285.9, 343.6) and 221.3 (200.9, 238.9) W, and midthigh pull 3158 (2690, 3462) and 2035 (1728, 2347) N. Linear-regression analysis showed strong evidence for associations between different anthropometric variables and CrossFit Open performance in men and women, whereas for markers of cardiorespiratory fitness such as VO2peak, this was only true for women but not men. Conventional laboratory evaluations of strength, however, manifested minimal evidence for associations with CrossFit Open performance across both sexes. Conclusions : This study provides the first detailed insights into the physiology of high-performing CrossFit athletes and informs training optimization. Furthermore, the results emphasize the advantage of athletes with shorter limbs and suggest potential modifications to CrossFit Open workout designs to level the playing field for athletes across different anthropometric characteristics.

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Cardiorespiratory Markers Relate to Change-of-Direction Performance During Incremental Endurance Tests and Friendly Matches in Professional Male Handball Players

Leonard Achenbach, Christoph Zinner, Florian Zeman, and Matthias Obinger

Purpose: To compare the standard Yo-Yo intermittent recovery (IR) test and an agility Yo-Yo IR test with a higher number of change-of-direction movements to cardiorespiratory match performance. Methods: The study included 11 professional male handball players (age 24.5 [4.6] y) of a German second-league team. The performance parameters of the players of the seasons 2016–17 to 2018–19 were analyzed. The Yo-Yo IR test was compared to a Yo-Yo IR test with multiple multidirectional changes of direction in response to visual stimuli, which was conducted on a SpeedCourt (Yo-Yo SC IR). Peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) and maximum heart rate (HRmax) were measured. Between-methods differences of individual athletes were quantified with Bland–Altman plots. Results: HRmax was not statistically different during the Yo-Yo SC IR test compared to the Yo-Yo IR test (181 [10] vs 188 [8] beats·min−1; P = .16). Agreement between the 2 tests was moderate for HRmax and good for heart rates >180 beats·min−1. Mean average VO2peak was 51.7 (3.9) and 50.9 (2.8) mL·min–1·kg–1 for the Yo-Yo SC IR test and the Yo-Yo IR test (P = .693), respectively. Conclusions: A Yo-Yo test with multidirectional changes of direction in response to visual stimuli yielded good agreement with the frequently used linear running tests and can be used to assess players’ VO2peak. The HRmax achieved during this test should be used with caution.

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Reliability of Three Landmine-Punch-Throw Variations and Their Load–Velocity Relationships Performed With the Dominant and Nondominant Hands

Dan Omcirk, Tomas Vetrovsky, Cian O’Dea, Alan Ruddock, Daniel Wilson, Jan Maleček, Jan Padecky, Martin Tino Janikov, and James J. Tufano

Purpose: This study assessed the reliability and load–velocity profiles of 3 different landmine-punch-throw variations (seated without trunk rotation, seated with trunk rotation, and standing whole body) with different loads (20, 22.5, and 25.0 kg), all with the dominant hand and nondominant hand. Methods: In a quasi-randomized order, 14 boxers (24.1 [4.3] y, 72.6 [10.1] kg) performed 3 repetitions of each variation with their dominant hand and their nondominant hand, with maximal effort and 3 minutes of interset rest. Peak velocity was measured via the GymAware Power Tool (Kinetic Performance Technologies). The interclass correlation coefficients and their 95% CIs were used to determine the intrasession reliability of each variation × load × hand combination. Additionally, a 2 (hand) × 3 (variation) repeated-measures analysis of variance assessed the load–velocity profile slope, and a 3 (variation) × 2 (hand) × 3 (load) repeated-measures analysis of variance assessed the peak velocity of each variation. Results: Most variations were highly reliable (intraclass correlation coefficient > .91), with the nondominant hand being as reliable or more reliable than the dominant hand. Very strong linear relationships were observed for the group average for each variation (R 2 ≥ .96). However, there was no variation × hand interaction for the slope, and there was no main effect for variation or hand. Additionally, there was no interaction for the peak velocity, but there were main effects for variation, hand, and load (P < .01). Conclusion: Each variation was reliable and can be used to create upper-body ballistic unilateral load–velocity profiles. However, as with other research on load–velocity profile, individual data allowed for more accurate profiling than group average data.

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The Role of Musculoskeletal Training During Return to Performance Following Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport

Richard C. Blagrove, Katherine Brooke-Wavell, Carolyn R. Plateau, Carolyn Nahman, Amal Hassan, and Trent Stellingwerff

Background: Relative energy deficiency in sport (REDs) is a condition that is associated with negative health and performance outcomes in athletes. Insufficient energy intake relative to exercise energy expenditure, resulting in low energy availability, is the underlying cause, which triggers numerous adverse physiological consequences including several associated with musculoskeletal (MSK) health and neuromuscular performance. Purpose: This commentary aims to (1) discuss the health and performance implications of REDs on the skeletal and neuromuscular systems and (2) examine the role that MSK training (ie, strength and plyometric training) during treatment and return to performance following REDs might have on health and performance in athletes, with practical guidelines provided. Conclusions: REDs is associated with decreases in markers of bone health, lean body mass, maximal and explosive strength, and muscle work capacity. Restoration of optimal energy availability, mainly through an increase in energy intake, is the primary goal during the initial treatment of REDs with a return to performance managed by a multidisciplinary team of specialists. MSK training is an effective nonpharmacological component of treatment for REDs, which offers multiple long-term health and performance benefits, assuming the energy needs of athletes are met as part of their recovery. Supervised, prescribed, and gradually progressive MSK training should include a combination of resistance training and high-impact plyometric-based exercise to promote MSK adaptations, with an initial focus on achieving movement competency. Progressing MSK training exercises to higher intensities will have the greatest effects on bone health and strength performance in the long term.

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Volume 19 (2024): Issue 6 (Jun 2024)

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A Biopsychosocial Framework for Sport Science: “A Jack of All Trades Is Oftentimes Better Than a Master of One”

Kerry McGawley

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Effects of Different Conditioning Activities on the Sprint Performance of Elite Sprinters: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis

Irineu Loturco, Lucas A. Pereira, Túlio B.M.A. Moura, Michael R. McGuigan, and Daniel Boullosa

Purpose: Postactivation performance enhancement (PAPE), which refers to the phenomena associated with the attainment of enhanced performance in sport-specific tasks after a conditioning activity, is an important objective of warming-up practices in many sports. This is even more relevant for sprinters, as potential increases in sprinting speed will directly influence their competitive results. This systematic review with meta-analysis evaluated the effects of different PAPE protocols (ie, using plyometrics, strength-power exercises, and resisted/assisted sprints) on the sprinting performance (ie, sprint time or sprint speed) of competitive sprinters. Methods: Initially, 1205 records published until last December 18 were identified, using the following databases: PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, and Clarivate Web of Science. After removing duplicates and screening titles and abstracts, 14 high-quality studies met the inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis. Results: Overall, there were no significant changes in sprint performance after implementing various types of conditioning activities (standardized mean difference [SMD] = 0.16 [95% CI, −0.02 to 0.33]; Z = 1.78; P = .08; I 2 = 0%). In addition, when comparing prechanges and postchanges between experimental, control, and other conditions, no significant differences were found in sprint speed or time across all studies (SMD = 0.09 [95% CI, −0.10 to 0.28]; Z = 0.92; P = .36; I = 0%). Conclusions: Results revealed that different types of conditioning activities may not be capable of acutely enhancing the sprint speed of competitive sprinters. This aligns with previous observations indicating that sprinting is a highly stable physical capacity, a phenomenon that is even more consistent among elite sprinters. Coaches and sport scientists should collaborate to develop more efficient PAPE protocols for these highly specialized athletes, with special attention to study design and individualization, while considering their effects on acceleration versus top speed.

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Velocity–Load Jump Testing Predicts Acceleration Performance in Elite Speed Skaters: But Does Movement Specificity Matter?

Matthew Zukowski, Walter Herzog, and Matthew J. Jordan

Purpose: In this study, we compared the influence of movement specificity during velocity–load jump testing to predict on-ice acceleration performance in elite speed skaters. Methods: Elite long-track speed skaters (N = 27) performed velocity–load testing with 3 external loads during unilateral horizontal jumping, lateral jumping, and bilateral vertical countermovement jumping. For the unilateral tests, external load conditions were set to 10 N, 7.5% and 15% of external load relative to body weight. For the countermovement jumping, load conditions were body weight and 30% and 60% of external load relative to body weight. On-ice performance measures were obtained during maximal 50-m accelerations from a standing start, including maximal skating speed, maximal acceleration capacity, and maximum horizontal power. The 100-m split time from a 500-m race was also obtained. Regularized regression models were used to identify the most important predictors of on-ice acceleration performance. In addition to regularized regression coefficients, Pearson correlation coefficients (r) were calculated for all variables retained by the model to assess interrelationships between single predictors and on-ice performance measures. Results: The countermovement jump with 30% of body mass demonstrated the strongest association with maximal skating speed, maximum horizontal power, and 100-m time (regularized regression coefficient = .16−.49, r = .84−.97, P < .001). Horizontal jump with 15% of body mass was the strongest predictor of maximal acceleration capacity performance (regularized regression coefficient = .08, r = .83, P < .001). Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that mechanical specificity rather than movement specificity was more relevant for predicting on-ice acceleration performance.

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Comparative Effects of Advanced Footwear Technology in Track Spikes and Road-Racing Shoes on Running Economy

Dustin P. Joubert, Garrett M. Oehlert, Eric J. Jones, and Geoffrey T. Burns

Purpose: Determine the effects of advanced footwear technology (AFT) in track spikes and road-racing shoes on running economy (RE). Methods: Four racing shoes (3 AFT and 1 control) and 3 track spikes (2 AFT and 1 control) were tested in 9 male distance runners on 2 visits. Shoes were tested in a random sequence over 5-minute trials on visit 1 (7 trials at 16 km·h−1; 5-min rest between trials) and in the reverse/mirrored order on visit 2. Metabolic data were collected and averaged across visits. Results: There were significant differences across footwear conditions for oxygen consumption (F = 13.046; P < .001) and energy expenditure (F = 14.710; P < .001). Oxygen consumption (in milliliters per kilogram per minute) in both the first AFT spike (49.1 [1.7]; P < .001; d z  = 2.1) and the other AFT spike (49.3 [1.7]; P < .001; d z  = 1.7) was significantly lower than the control spike (50.2 [1.6]), which represented a 2.1% (1.0%) and 1.8% (1.0%) improvement in RE, respectively, for the AFT spikes. When comparing the subjects’ most economic shoe by oxygen consumption (49.0 [1.5]) against their most economic spike (49.0 [1.8]), there were no statistical differences (P = .82). Similar statistical conclusions were made when comparing energy expenditure (in watts per kilogram). Conclusions: AFT track spikes improved RE ∼2% relative to a traditional spike. Despite their heavier mass, AFT shoes resulted in similar RE as AFT spikes. This could make the AFT shoe an attractive option for longer track races, particularly in National Collegiate Athletic Association and high school athletics, where there are no stack-height rules.