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Jožef Šimenko and Vedran Hadžić

Purpose: This study investigates bilateral performance with the Special Judo Fitness Test (SJFT) and its associations with competition performance (CP) and competition volume (CV) in judo. Methods: The SJFT compared movement patterns of the dominant (D) and nondominant (ND) sides on a sample of 27 youth judoka. Repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to determine differences in SJFT execution to the D and ND side, and for associations, the Pearson correlation was used (P < .05). Results: The total number of throws is significantly higher on the D side, with better performance in the final SJFT index. The CP showed positive correlations with the D side of SJFT executions in the second part of SJFT (P = .042) and the total number of throws (P = .036). On the ND side, the CP showed a positive correlation with the second part of the SJFT (P = .014), a negative correlation with the third part of the SJFT (P = .035), and a positive correlation in the total number of throws (P = .027). CV shows significant correlations with all parameters of the SJFT in the D and ND sides, with stronger correlations on the ND side. Conclusions: The study presents significantly better performance in judokas’ D side in SJFT. Associations between CP and CV with the SJFT were significant in connection to both body sides. It highlights the importance of bilateral movement development and good execution of the throwing techniques for the D and ND body sides of youth judoka to achieve greater CP all year round.

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Felipe Guimarães Teixeira, Paulo Tadeu Cardozo Ribeiro Rosa, Roger Gomes Tavares Mello, and Jurandir Nadal

Purpose: The study aimed to identify the variables that differentiate judo athletes at national and regional levels. Multivariable analysis was applied to biomechanical, anthropometric, and Special Judo Fitness Test (SJFT) data. Method: Forty-two male judo athletes from 2 competitive groups (14 national and 28 state levels) performed the following measurements and tests: (1) skinfold thickness, (2) circumference, (3) bone width, (4) longitudinal length, (5) stabilometric tests, (6) dynamometric tests, and (7) SJFT. The variables with significant differences in the Wilcoxon rank-sum test were used in stepwise logistic regression to select those that better separate the groups. The authors considered models with a maximum of 3 variables to avoid overfitting. They used 7-fold cross validation to calculate optimism-corrected measures of model performance. Results: The 3 variables that best differentiated the groups were the epicondylar humerus width, the total number of throws on the SJFT, and the stabilometric mean velocity of the center of pressure in the mediolateral direction. The area under the receiver-operating-characteristic curve for the model (based on 7-fold cross validation) was 0.95. Conclusion: This study suggests that a reduced set of anthropometric, biomechanical, and SJFT variables can differentiate judo athlete’s levels.

Open access

Alannah K.A. McKay, Trent Stellingwerff, Ella S. Smith, David T. Martin, Iñigo Mujika, Vicky L. Goosey-Tolfrey, Jeremy Sheppard, and Louise M. Burke

Throughout the sport-science and sports-medicine literature, the term “elite” subjects might be one of the most overused and ill-defined terms. Currently, there is no common perspective or terminology to characterize the caliber and training status of an individual or cohort. This paper presents a 6-tiered Participant Classification Framework whereby all individuals across a spectrum of exercise backgrounds and athletic abilities can be classified. The Participant Classification Framework uses training volume and performance metrics to classify a participant to one of the following: Tier 0: Sedentary; Tier 1: Recreationally Active; Tier 2: Trained/Developmental; Tier 3: Highly Trained/National Level; Tier 4: Elite/International Level; or Tier 5: World Class. We suggest the Participant Classification Framework can be used to classify participants both prospectively (as part of study participant recruitment) and retrospectively (during systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses). Discussion around how the Participant Classification Framework can be tailored toward different sports, athletes, and/or events has occurred, and sport-specific examples provided. Additional nuances such as depth of sport participation, nationality differences, and gender parity within a sport are all discussed. Finally, chronological age with reference to the junior and masters athlete, as well as the Paralympic athlete, and their inclusion within the Participant Classification Framework has also been considered. It is our intention that this framework be widely implemented to systematically classify participants in research featuring exercise, sport, performance, health, and/or fitness outcomes going forward, providing the much-needed uniformity to classification practices.

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Harry Beal, Jo Corbett, Danielle Davis, and Martin J. Barwood

Purpose: The Doha 2019 women’s World Championship marathon took place in extreme hot (32 °C), humid conditions (74% relative humidity) culminating in unprecedented (41%) failure rates. We explored whether extreme heat or suboptimal pacing was responsible for diminished performance against a temperate “control” (London 2017: 19 °C, 59% relative humidity) and whether physical characteristics (eg, body surface area, estimated maximal oxygen uptake, habitual heat exposure) explained performance. Method: Five-kilometer-pace (km·h−1) data underwent repeated-measures analyses of hot (Doha, n = 40) versus temperate pacing and performance (London, n = 78) within and between marathon pacing (finisher quartiles normalized against personal best; n = 10 per group) and within hot marathon finishers versus nonfinishers (up to 10 km; normalized data). Possible predictors (multiple regression) of hot marathon pacing were explored. Tests to .05 alpha level, partial eta squared (ηp2) indicates effect size. Results: Mean (SD) of Doha (14.82 [0.96] km·h−1) pace was slower (London: 15.74 [0.96] km·h−1; P = .00; ηp2=.500). In hot conditions, athletes finishing in positions 1 to 10 (group 1) started more conservatively (93.7% [2.1%] of personal best) than slower runners (groups 3 and 4; 96.6% [2.8%] of personal best; P < .05, ηp2=.303). Groups were not different at 15 km and then slowed immediately (groups 3 and 4) or after 20 km (group 2). Finishers and nonfinishers adopted similar pace up to 10 km (P > .05, ηp2=.003). World ranking predicted (P = .00; r 2 = .248) average pace in Doha. Conclusion: Extreme hot conditions reduced performance. Top 10 athletes adopted a conservative initial pace, whereas lower-placing athletes adopted a faster, aggressive start. Pacing alone does not explain high failure rates in nonfinishers. Athletes competing in the heat should initially pace conservatively to optimize performance.

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Justin A. Haegele, Lindsay E. Ball, Xihe Zhu, M. Ally Keene, and Lindsey A. Nowland

The purpose of this study was to examine the inclusiveness of visually impaired youths’ experiences in integrated physical education. An experiential qualitative research approach was utilized, and 22 visually impaired youth (age 12–17 years) acted as participants. Data sources included one-on-one Zoom interviews, written responses to long-answer prompts, and reflexive interview notes. Data were analyzed using a reflexive thematic analysis approach, and three themes were constructed: (a) I’m not there, so how could I: The absent person; (b) I can’t see, so I can’t do it: The incapable person; and (c) It’d be nice to feel like everyone else: The “normal” person. Participants described that feelings of inclusion were unavailable to them and that feeling, and being viewed as, absent, incapable, and (not) “normal” highlighted this unavailability.

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Rogério Bulhões Corvino, Débora da Luz Scheffer, Rafael Penteado dos Santos, Alexandra Latini, Anderson Souza Oliveira, and Fabrizio Caputo

Purpose: The aim of this study was to identify a blood-flow-restriction (BFR) endurance exercise protocol that maximizes metabolic strain and minimizes muscle fatigue. Methods: Twelve healthy participants accomplished 5 different interval cycling endurance exercises (2-min work, 1-min rest) in a randomized order: (1) control, low intensity with unrestricted blood flow (CON30); (2) low intensity with intermittent BFR (i-BFR30, ∼150 mm Hg); (3) low intensity with continuous BFR (c-BFR, ∼100 mm Hg); (4) unloaded cycling with i-BFR0 (∼150 mm Hg); and (5) high intensity (HI) with unrestricted blood flow. Force production, creatine kinase activity, antioxidant markers, blood pH, and potassium (K+) were measured in a range of 5 minutes before and after each cycling exercise protocol. Results: HI showed the highest reduction (Δ = −0.26 [0.05], d = 5.6) on blood pH. Delta pH for c-BRF30 (Δ = −0.02 [0.03], d = 0.8) and Δ pH for i-BRF30 (Δ = −0.04 [0.03], d = 1.6) were different from each other, and both were higher compared with CON30 (Δ = 0.03 [0.03]). There was significant before-to-after force loss following HI (Δ = 55 [40] N·m−1, d = 1.5) and c-BFR30 (Δ = 27 [21] N·m−1, d = 0.7) protocols only, which were accompanied by significant increases in K+ (HI: Δ = 0.94 [0.65] mmol·L−1, d = 1.8; c-BFR30: Δ = 0.72 [0.85] mmol·L−1, d = 1.2). Moreover, all BFR conditions elicited slight increases in plasma creatine kinase, but not for HI and CON30. Glutathione changes from before to after were significant for all BFR conditions and HI, but not for CON30. Conclusions: The attenuation in fatigue-induced reductions in maximal force suggests that i-BFR exercise could be preferable to c-BFR in improving exercise capacity, with considerably less biologic stress elicited from HI exercises.

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Santiago A. Ruiz-Alias, Javier Olaya-Cuartero, Alberto A. Ñancupil-Andrade, and Felipe García-Pinillos

Purpose: The critical power (CP) concept has been extended from cycling to the running field with the development of wearable monitoring tools. Particularly, the Stryd running power meter and its 9/3-minute CP test is very popular in the running community. Locating this mechanical threshold according to the physiological landmarks would help to define each boundary and intensity domain in the running field. Thus, this study aimed to determine the CP location concerning anaerobic threshold, respiratory compensation point (RCP), and maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max). Method: A group of 15 high-caliber athletes performed the 9/3-minute Stryd CP test and a graded exercise test in 2 different testing sessions. Results: Anaerobic threshold, RCP, and CP were located at 73% (5.41%), 86.82% (3.85%), and 88.71% (5.84%) of VO2max, respectively, with a VO2max of 66.3 (7.20) mL/kg/min. No significant differences were obtained between CP and RCP in any of its units (ie, in watts per kilogram and milliliters per kilogram per minute; P ≥ .184). Conclusions: CP and RCP represent the same boundary in high-caliber athletes. These results suggest that coaches and athletes can determine the metabolic perturbance threshold that CP and RCP represent in an easy and accessible way.

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Andrew J. Johnson, Emily E. Schmitt, Jeffrey R. French, and Evan C. Johnson

Purpose: To investigate the relationship between pacing strategy and performance during uphill and downhill running—specifically, what distribution of energy corresponds to faster race finish times between and among participants. Methods: Eighteen years of race data from a 10.2-mile running race with an uphill first half and a downhill second half were analyzed to identify relationships between pacing and performance. A pacing coefficient (PC), equal to a participant’s ascent time divided by finishing time (FT), was used to define each participant’s pacing strategy. The American College of Sports Medicine metabolic running equation was used to estimate energy expenditure during the ascent, descent, and total race. Statistical analyses compared participants’ PC to their FT and finishing place within their age and gender category. Additionally, FT and finishing place were compared between groups of participants who exhibited similar pacing strategies. Results: PCs were positively associated with faster FTs (r 2 = .120, P < .001) and better finishing positions (r 2 = .104, P < .001). PCs above .600 were associated with the fastest average FTs and best average finishing position within age and gender categories (all P ≤ .047). Conclusions: Participants performed the best when energy expenditure increased no more than 10.4% during the uphill portion compared to their overall average. It is not possible to state that overly aggressive uphill efforts resulted in premature fatigue and thus slower decent times and worse race performance. However, participants should still avoid overly aggressive uphill pacing, as performance was associated with larger PCs.

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Neil Light, Kristian Thorborg, Kasper Krommes, Mathias F. Nielsen, Kasper B. Thornton, Per Hölmich, Juan J.J. Penalver, and Lasse Ishøi

Purpose: To investigate the differences in hip adductor and abductor muscle strength in elite male footballers from youth to senior level. Methods: We tested 125 players from the under-13-years (U’13) to senior squads of a Danish male professional football club in this cross-sectional design study. Hip adductor and abductor force (in newtons), torque (in newton meters), normalized torque (in newton meters per body mass), and adduction-to-abduction ratio were measured using handheld dynamometry. Results: Between U’13 and senior level, adductor force increased by 104%, torque by 127%, and normalized torque by 21%. Abductor force increased by 78%, torque by 126%, and normalized torque by 17%. For incremental differences between age groups, significant increases were observed between the ages of U’13 to U’14 (18%–39%) and U’14 to U’15 (19%–33%) for all strength measures (P ≤ .021). No incremental difference was observed for adductor-to-abductor ratio. Conclusions: The large increases in hip adductor and abductor strength occurring between the ages of U’13 and U’15 offer insight into the strength capabilities and stress demands in these players, which may relate to injury vulnerability, and facilitate clinicians in selecting best-suited exercise interventions.

Open access

Grant C. Brechney, Jack Cannon, and Stephen P. Goodman

Weight cutting in combat sports is a prevalent practice whereby athletes voluntarily dehydrate themselves via various methods to induce rapid weight loss (RWL) to qualify for a lower weight category than that of their usual training body weight. The intention behind this practice is to regain the lost body mass and compete at a heavier mass than permitted by the designated weight category. The purpose of this study was to quantitatively synthesize the available evidence examining the effects of weight cutting on exercise performance in combat-sport athletes. Following a systematic search of the literature, meta-analyses were performed to compare maximal strength, maximal power, anaerobic capacity, and/or repeated high-intensity-effort performance before rapid weight loss (pre-RWL), immediately following RWL (post-RWL), and 3 to 36 hours after RWL following recovery and rapid weight gain (post-RWG). Overall, exercise performance was unchanged between pre-RWL and post-RWG (g = 0.22; 95% CI, −0.18 to 0.62). Between pre-RWL and post-RWL analyses revealed small reductions in maximal strength and repeated high-intensity-effort performance (g = −0.29; 95% CI, −0.54 to −0.03 and g = −0.37; 95% CI, −0.59 to −0.16, respectively; both P ≤ .03). Qualitative analysis indicates that maximal strength and power remained comparable between post-RWL and post-RWG. These data suggest that weight cutting in combat-sport athletes does not alter short-duration, repeated high-intensity-effort performance; however, there is evidence to suggest that select exercise performance outcomes may decline as a product of RWL. It remains unclear whether these are restored by RWG.