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Fernando G. Beltrami and Timothy D. Noakes

Purpose: This study aimecd to investigate whether elite athletes could reach higher values of maximal oxygen uptake (V˙O2max) during a decremental exercise test in comparison with a traditional incremental test, as recently demonstrated in trained individuals. Methods: Nine male runners (age 25.8 [5.1] y, season best 10-km time 31:19 [1:50]) performed, on different days, 3 maximal uphill (5% grade) running exercise tests in fixed order: an incremental test (INC1), a V-shape exercise test (where speed started at 0.5 km·h−1 higher than the top stage finished during INC1 and was slowly decreased during 5.5 min, when it was again increased in similar fashion to the INC tests), and a final incremental test (INC2). Results: V˙O2max during the V-shape exercise test was higher than during INC1 (6.3% [3.0%], P = .01), although running speed was lower (16.6 [1.7] vs 17.9 [1.6] km·h−1, P = .01). Performance was similar between INC1 and INC2, but V˙O2max during INC2 was higher than INC1 (P < .001). During the V-shape exercise test, 5 participants reached the incremental part of the test, but V˙O2 did not increase (ΔV˙O2=52 [259]mL·min1, P = .67), despite higher running speed (approximately 1.1 km·h−1, P < .01). Heart rate, pulmonary ventilation, breathing rate, and respiratory exchange ratio measured at V˙O2max were not different between tests. Conclusion: A decremental exercise test of sufficient intensity can produce higher V˙O2max than a traditional incremental test, even in elite athletes, and this is maintained during a subsequent incremental test.

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Ana C. Santos-Mariano, Fabiano Tomazini, Cintia Rodacki, Romulo Bertuzzi, Fernando De-Oliveira, and Adriano E. Lima-Silva

Purpose: To investigate the effects of caffeine (CAF) on performance during high- and long-jump competitions. Methods: Using a crossover and double-blind design, 6 well-trained high jumpers and 6 well-trained long jumpers performed a simulation of a high- and long-jump competition 60 minutes after ingesting a capsule containing either 5 mg·kg−1 body mass of anhydrous CAF or a placebo. The high jumps were video recorded for kinematic analysis. The velocity during the approach run of the long jump was also monitored using photocells. Results: CAF improved jump performance (ie, the highest bar height overlap increased by 5.1% [2.3%], P = .008), as well as enhancing the height displacement of the central body mass (+1.3% [1.7%], P = .004) compared with the placebo. CAF had no ergogenic effect on jump distance (P = .722); however, CAF increased the velocity during the last 10 m of the long jump (P = .019), and the percentage of “foul jumps” was higher than that expected by chance in the CAF group (80.5% [12.5%], χ2 = 13.44, P < .001) but not in the cellulose condition (58.3% [22.9%], χ2 = 1.48, P = .224). Conclusion: CAF ingestion (5 mg·kg−1 body mass) improves high-jump performance but seems to negatively influence technical aspects during the approach run of the long jump, resulting in no improvement in long-jump performance. Thus, CAF can be useful for jumpers, but the specificity of the jump competition must be taken into account.

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Adrien Vachon, Nicolas Berryman, Iñigo Mujika, Jean-Baptiste Paquet, and Laurent Bosquet

Purpose: To investigate the relationship between physical fitness and repeated high-intensity effort (RHIE) ability in elite rugby union players, depending on playing position. Method: Thirty-nine players underwent a fitness testing battery composed of a body composition assessment, upper-body strength (1-repetition maximum bench press and 1-repetition maximum bench row), lower-body strength (6-repetition maximum back squat), and power (countermovement jump, countermovement jump with arms, and 20-m sprint), as well as aerobic fitness (Bronco test) and RHIE tests over a 1-week period. Pearson linear correlations were used to quantify relationships between fitness tests and the RHIE performance outcomes (total sprint time [TST] and percentage decrement [%D]). Thereafter, a stepwise multiple regression model was used to verify the influence of physical fitness measures on RHIE ability. Results: TST was strongly to very strongly associated to body fat (BF, r = .82, P < .01), the 20-m sprint (r = .86, P < .01), countermovement jump (r = −.72, P < .01), and Bronco test (r = .90, P < .01). These fitness outcomes were related to %D, with moderate to strong associations (.82 > ∣r∣ > .54, P < .01). By playing position, similar associations were observed in forwards, but RHIE ability was only related to the 20-m sprint in backs (r = .53, P < .05). The RHIE performance model equations were TST = 13.69 + 0.01 × BF + 0.08 × Bronco + 10.20 × 20 m and %D = −14.34 + 0.11 × BF +0.18 × Bronco − 9.92 × 20 m. These models explain 88.8% and 68.2% of the variance, respectively. Conclusion: Body composition, lower-body power, and aerobic fitness were highly related with RHIE ability. However, backs expressed a different profile than forwards, suggesting that further research with larger sample sizes is needed to better understand the fitness determinants of backs’ RHIE ability.

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Peter Leo, James Spragg, Iñigo Mujika, Andrea Giorgi, Dan Lorang, Dieter Simon, and Justin S. Lawley

Purpose: The aim of this study was to compare the power profile, internal and external workloads, and racing performance between U23 and professional cyclists and between varying rider types across 2 editions of a professional multistage race. Methods: Nine U23 cyclists from a Union Cycliste Internationale “Continental Team” (age 20.8 [0.9] y; body mass 71.2 [6.3] kg) and 8 professional cyclists (28.1 [3.2] y; 63.0 [4.6] kg) participated in this study. Rider types were defined as all-rounders, general classification (GC) riders, and domestiques. Data were collected during 2 editions of a 5-day professional multistage race and split into the following 4 categories: power profile, external and internal workloads, and race performance. Results: The professional group, including domestiques and GC riders, recorded higher relative power profile values after certain amounts of total work (1000–3000 kJ) than the U23 group or all-rounders (P ≤ .001–.049). No significant differences were found for external workload measures between U23 and professional cyclists, nor among rider types. Internal workloads were higher in U23 cyclists and all-rounders (P ≤ .001–.043) compared with professionals, domestiques, and GC riders, respectively. The power profile significantly predicted percentage general classification and Union Cycliste Internationale points (R2 = .90–.99), whereas external and internal workloads did not. Conclusion: These findings reveal that the power profile represents a practical tool to discriminate between professionals and U23 cyclists as well as rider types. The power profile after 1000 to 3000 kJ of total work could be used by practitioners to evaluate the readiness of U23 cyclists to move into the professional ranks, as well as differentiate between rider types.

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Stefan Altmann, Rainer Neumann, Sascha Härtel, Alexander Woll, and Martin Buchheit

Purpose: To assess the value of monitoring changes in fitness in professional soccer players, using changes in heart rate at submaximal intensity (HR12km/h) over the velocity at a lactate concentration of 4 mmol/L (v4mmol/L). The authors reexamined (1) a range of threshold magnitudes, which may improve detecting substantial individual changes and (2) the agreement between changes in these 2 variables. Methods: On at least 2 occasions during different moments of the season, 97 professional soccer players from Germany (first, second, and fourth division) completed an incremental test to determine HR12km/h and v4mmol/L. Optimal thresholds for changes in HR12km/h and v4mmol/L were assessed, using various methods (eg, smallest worthwhile change + typical error [TE], successive reiterations approach). Agreement between both variable changes was examined for the whole sample (225 comparisons), 4 different subgroups (depending on the moment of the season), and in an individual over 6 years (n = 23 tests). Results: Changes of 4.5% and 6.0% for HR12km/h and v4mmol/L, respectively, were rated as optimal to indicate substantial changes in fitness. Depending on the (sub)groups analyzed, these thresholds yielded 0% to 2% full mismatches, 22% to 38% partial agreements, and 60% to 78% full agreements in terms of fitness change interpretation between both variables. Conclusions: When lactate sampling during incremental tests is not possible, practitioners willing to monitor adult professional soccer players’ (Germany; first, second, and fourth division) training status can confidently implement short, 3-minute submaximal runs, with 4.5% changes in HR12km/h being indicative of true substantial fitness changes, with 60% to 78% accuracy. Future studies should investigate the potential role of confounding factors of HR12km/h to improve changes in fitness prediction.

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Hamid Reza Bokaeian, Fateme Esfandiarpour, Shahla Zahednejad, Hossein Kouhzad Mohammadi, and Farzam Farahmand

In this study, the effects of an exercise therapy comprising yoga exercises and medial-thrust gait (YogaMT) on lower-extremity kinetics, pain, and function in patients with medial knee osteoarthritis were investigated. Fifty-nine patients were randomly allocated to three treatment groups: (a) the YogaMT group practiced yoga exercises and medial thrust gait, (b) the knee-strengthening group performed quadriceps- and hamstring-strengthening exercises, and (c) the treadmill walking group practiced normal treadmill walking in 12 supervised sessions. The adduction and flexion moments of the hip, knee, and ankle; pain intensity; and 2-min walking test were assessed before and after treatment and at 1-month follow-up. The YogaMT group experienced a significant reduction in knee adduction moment. All groups showed significant improvement in pain and function. The YogaMT may reduce medial knee load in patients with knee osteoarthritis in the short term. A larger clinical trial is required to investigate the long-term outcomes of this intervention.

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Otávio Luis Piva da Cunha Furtado, Mikko Häyrinen, Isabela dos Santos Alves, Leonardo Travitzki, and Márcio Pereira Morato

The authors’ purpose was to examine the factors associated with penalty outcomes of male elite goalball. A total of 122 video-recorded matches from two Paralympic Games (i.e., 2012 and 2016) and the 2014 Goalball World Championship were assessed using notational analysis. Individual (n = 2), situational (n = 4), and performance variables (n = 7) were analyzed with good strength of agreement for intra- and interrater kappa index values. Their results showed that penalties play a very important role in the final score, composing around 25% of total goals in elite goalball matches. Winners were awarded on average with 62% of penalties and had 66% effectiveness compared with losers (31% and 53%) or drawers (8% and 52%). Based on the authors’ findings, penalty takers should direct their throws at specific target sectors on the court, which could increase their rate of success to over 80%.