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Open access

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.

Open access

Carl Foster, Renato Barroso, Ralph Beneke, Daniel Bok, Daniel Boullosa, Arturo Casado, Karim Chamari, Cristina Cortis, Jos de Koning, Andrea Fusco, Thomas Haugen, Alejandro Lucía, Iñigo Mujika, David Pyne, José A. Rodríguez-Marroyo, Oyvind Sandbakk, and Stephen Seiler

Open access

Ella S. Smith, Alannah K.A. McKay, Kathryn E. Ackerman, Rachel Harris, Kirsty J. Elliott-Sale, Trent Stellingwerff, and Louise M. Burke

Female-specific research on sports science and sports medicine (SSSM) fails to mirror the increase in participation and popularity of women’s sport. Females have historically been excluded from SSSM research, particularly because their physiological intricacy necessitates more complex study designs, longer research times, and additional costs. Consequently, most SSSM practices are based on research with men, despite potential problems in translation to females due to sexual dimorphism in biological and phenotypical parameters as well as differences in event characteristics (e.g., race distances/durations). Recognition that erroneous extrapolations may hamper the efforts of females to maximize their athletic potential has created an impetus to acknowledge and readdress the sex disparity in SSSM research. To direct the priorities for future research, it is prudent to first develop a comprehensive understanding of the gaps in current knowledge by systematically “auditing” the literature. By conducting audits of the literature to highlight underdeveloped topics or identify potential problems with the quality of research, this information can then be used to expediently direct new research activities. This paper therefore presents a standardized audit methodology to establish the representation of female athletes in subdisciplines of existing SSSM research, including a template for reporting the results of key metrics. This standardized audit process will enable comparisons over time and between research subdisciplines. This working guide provides an important step toward achieving sex equity across SSSM research, with the eventual goal of providing evidence-based recommendations specific to the female athlete.

Open access

Jonpaul Nevin, Ingrid Kouwijzer, Ben Stone, Oliver J. Quittmann, Florence Hettinga, Thomas Abel, and Paul M. Smith

The aim of this narrative review is to provide insight as to the history, biomechanics, and physiological characteristics of competitive handcycling. Furthermore, based upon the limited evidence available, this paper aims to provide practical training suggestions by which to develop competitive handcycling performance. Handbike configuration, individual physiological characteristics, and training history all play a significant role in determining competitive handcycling performance. Optimal handcycling technique is highly dependent upon handbike configuration. As such, seat positioning, crank height, crank fore-aft position, crank length, and handgrip position must all be individually configured. In regard to physiological determinants, power output at a fixed blood lactate concentration of 4 mmol·L−1, relative oxygen consumption, peak aerobic power output, relative upper body strength, and maximal anaerobic power output have all been demonstrated to impact upon handcycling performance capabilities. Therefore, it is suggested that that an emphasis be placed upon the development and frequent monitoring of these parameters. Finally, linked to handcycling training, it is suggested that handcyclists should consider adopting a concurrent strength and endurance training approach, based upon a block periodization model that employs a mixture of endurance, threshold, interval, and strength training sessions. Despite our findings, it is clear that several gaps in our scientific knowledge of handcycling remain and that further research is necessary in order to improve our understanding of factors that determine optimal performance of competitive handcyclists. Finally, further longitudinal research is required across all classifications to study the effects of different training programs upon handcycling performance.

Open access

Charli Sargent, Brent Rogalski, Ashley Montero, and Gregory D. Roach

Purpose: Most athletes sleep poorly around competition. The aim of this study was to examine sleep before/after games during an entire season in elite Australian Rules footballers (N = 37) from the same team. Methods: Sleep was monitored using activity monitors for 4 consecutive nights (beginning 2 nights before games) during 19 rounds of a season. Differences in sleep on the nights before/after games, and differences in sleep before/after games as a function of game time (day vs evening), location (local vs interstate), and outcome (win vs loss), were examined using linear mixed effects models. Results: Players fell asleep earlier (+1.9 h; P < .001), and woke up later (+1 h; P < .001) on the night before games compared with the night of games. Players obtained less sleep on the night of games than on the night before games (5.2 h vs 7.7 h; P < .001), and this reduction was exacerbated when games were played in the evening—after evening games, players obtained approximately 40 minutes less sleep than after day games (P < .001). Sleep duration on the nights before and after games was not affected by game location or game outcome, but players had later sleep onset (P < .001) and offset times (P < .001) on most nights when sleeping away from home. Conclusions: Elite footballers obtain good sleep on the night before games but obtain approximately 30% less sleep on the night of games. Given the role of sleep in recovery, it will be important to determine whether a reduction in sleep duration of this magnitude impairs recovery on the days following games.

Open access

Emma Brooks, Gilles Lamothe, Taniya S. Nagpal, Pascal Imbeault, Kristi Adamo, Jameel Kara, and Éric Doucet

There has been much consideration over whether exogenous ketone bodies have the capacity to enhance exercise performance through mechanisms such as altered substrate metabolism, accelerated recovery, or neurocognitive improvements. This systematic review aimed to determine the effects of both ketone precursors and monoesters on endurance exercise performance. A systematic search was conducted in PubMed, SPORTDiscus, and CINAHL for randomized controlled trials investigating endurance performance outcomes in response to ingestion of a ketone supplement compared to a nutritive or nonnutritive control in humans. A meta-analysis was performed to determine the standardized mean difference between interventions using a random-effects model. Hedge’s g and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were reported. The search yielded 569 articles, of which eight were included in this review (80 participants; 77 men and three women). When comparing endurance performance among all studies, no significant differences were found between ketone and control trials (Hedges g = 0.136; 95% CI [−0.195, 0.467]; p = .419). Subanalyses based on type of endurance tests showed no significant differences in time to exhaustion (Hedge’s g = −0.002; 95% CI [−0.312, 0.308]; p = .989) or time trial (Hedge’s g = 0.057; 95% CI [−0.282, 0.395]; p = .744) values. Based on these findings, exogenous ketone precursors and monoesters do not exert significant improvements on endurance exercise performance. While all studies reported an increase in blood ketone concentrations after ingestion, ketone monoesters appear to be more effective at raising concentrations than precursors.

Open access

Alannah K.A. McKay, Peter Peeling, David B. Pyne, Nicolin Tee, Marijke Welveart, Ida A. Heikura, Avish P. Sharma, Jamie Whitfield, Megan L. Ross, Rachel P.L. van Swelm, Coby M. Laarakkers, and Louise M. Burke

This study implemented a 2-week high carbohydrate (CHO) diet intended to maximize CHO oxidation rates and examined the iron-regulatory response to a 26-km race walking effort. Twenty international-level, male race walkers were assigned to either a novel high CHO diet (MAX = 10 g/kg body mass CHO daily) inclusive of gut-training strategies, or a moderate CHO control diet (CON = 6 g/kg body mass CHO daily) for a 2-week training period. The athletes completed a 26-km race walking test protocol before and after the dietary intervention. Venous blood samples were collected pre-, post-, and 3 hr postexercise and measured for serum ferritin, interleukin-6, and hepcidin-25 concentrations. Similar decreases in serum ferritin (17–23%) occurred postintervention in MAX and CON. At the baseline, CON had a greater postexercise increase in interleukin-6 levels after 26 km of walking (20.1-fold, 95% CI [9.2, 35.7]) compared with MAX (10.2-fold, 95% CI [3.7, 18.7]). A similar finding was evident for hepcidin levels 3 hr postexercise (CON = 10.8-fold, 95% CI [4.8, 21.2]; MAX = 8.8-fold, 95% CI [3.9, 16.4]). Postintervention, there were no substantial differences in the interleukin-6 response (CON = 13.6-fold, 95% CI [9.2, 20.5]; MAX = 11.2-fold, 95% CI [6.5, 21.3]) or hepcidin levels (CON = 7.1-fold, 95% CI [2.1, 15.4]; MAX = 6.3-fold, 95% CI [1.8, 14.6]) between the dietary groups. Higher resting serum ferritin (p = .004) and hotter trial ambient temperatures (p = .014) were associated with greater hepcidin levels 3 hr postexercise. Very high CHO diets employed by endurance athletes to increase CHO oxidation have little impact on iron regulation in elite athletes. It appears that variations in serum ferritin concentration and ambient temperature, rather than dietary CHO, are associated with increased hepcidin concentrations 3 hr postexercise.