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Ava Farley, Gary J. Slater and Karen Hind

Athletic populations require high-precision body composition assessments to identify true change. Least significant change determines technical error via same-day consecutive tests but does not integrate biological variation, which is more relevant for longitudinal monitoring. The aim of this study was to assess biological variation using least significant change measures from body composition methods used on athletes, including surface anthropometry (SA), air displacement plethysmography (BOD POD), dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and bioelectrical impedance spectroscopy (BIS). Thirty-two athletic males (age = 31 ± 7 years; stature = 183 ± 7 cm; mass = 92 ± 10 kg) underwent three testing sessions over 2 days using four methods. Least significant change values were calculated from differences in Day 1 Test 1 versus Day 1 Test 2 (same-day precision), as well as Day 1 Test 1 versus Day 2 (consecutive-day precision). There was high agreement between same-day and consecutive-day fat mass and fat-free mass measurements for all methods. Consecutive-day precision error in comparison with the same-day precision error was 50% higher for fat mass estimates from BIS (3,607 vs. 2,331 g), 25% higher from BOD POD (1,943 vs. 1,448 g) and DXA (1,615 vs. 1,204 g), but negligible from SA (442 vs. 586 g). Consecutive-day precision error for fat-free mass was 50% higher from BIS (3,966 vs. 2,276 g) and SA (1,159 vs. 568 g) and 25% higher from BOD POD (1,894 vs. 1,450 g) and DXA (1,967 vs. 1,461 g) than the same-day precision error. Precision error in consecutive-day analysis considers both technical error and biological variation, enhancing the identification of small, yet significant changes in body composition of resistance-trained male athletes. Given that change in physique is likely to be small in this population, the use of DXA, BOD POD, or SA is recommended.

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Samuel Ryan, Thomas Kempton and Aaron J. Coutts

Purpose: To apply data reduction methods to athlete-monitoring measures to address the issue of data overload for practitioners of professional Australian football teams. Methods: Data were collected from 45 professional Australian footballers from 1 club during the 2018 Australian Football League season. External load was measured in training and matches by 10-Hz OptimEye S5 and ClearSky T6 GPS units. Internal load was measured via the session rate of perceived exertion method. Perceptual wellness was measured via questionnaires completed before training sessions with players providing a rating (1–5 Likert scale) of muscle soreness, sleep quality, fatigue, stress, and motivation. Percentage of maximum speed was calculated relative to individual maximum velocity recorded during preseason testing. Derivative external training load measures (total daily, weekly, and monthly) were calculated. Principal-component analyses (PCAs) were conducted for Daily and Chronic measures, and components were identified via scree plot inspection (eigenvalue > 1). Components underwent orthogonal rotation with a factor loading redundancy threshold of 0.70. Results: The Daily PCA identified components representing external load, perceived wellness, and internal load. The Chronic PCA identified components representing 28-d speed exposure, 28-d external load, 7-d external load, and 28-d internal load. Perceived soreness did not meet the redundancy threshold. Conclusions: Monitoring player exposure to maximum speed is more appropriate over chronic than short time frames to capture variations in between-matches training-cycle duration. Perceived soreness represents a distinct element of a player’s perception of wellness. Summed-variable and single-variable approaches are novel methods of data reduction following PCA of athlete monitoring data.

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Peter M. Fowler, Wade Knez, Heidi R. Thornton, Charli Sargent, Amy E. Mendham, Stephen Crowcroft, Joanna Miller, Shona Halson and Rob Duffield

Purpose: To assess the efficacy of a combined light exposure and sleep hygiene intervention to improve team-sport performance following eastward long-haul transmeridian travel. Methods: Twenty physically trained males underwent testing at 09:00 and 17:00 hours local time on 4 consecutive days at home (baseline) and the first 4 days following 21 hours of air travel east across 8 time zones. In a randomized, matched-pairs design, participants traveled with (INT; n = 10) or without (CON; n = 10) a light exposure and sleep hygiene intervention. Performance was assessed via countermovement jump, 20-m sprint, T test, and Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Level 1 tests, together with perceptual measures of jet lag, fatigue, mood, and motivation. Sleep was measured using wrist activity monitors in conjunction with self-report diaries. Results: Magnitude-based inference and standardized effect-size analysis indicated there was a very likely improvement in the mean change in countermovement jump peak power (effect size 1.10, ±0.55), and likely improvement in 5-m (0.54, ±0.67) and 20-m (0.74, ±0.71) sprint time in INT compared with CON across the 4 days posttravel. Sleep duration was most likely greater in INT both during travel (1.61, ±0.82) and across the 4 nights following travel (1.28, ±0.58) compared with CON. Finally, perceived mood and motivation were likely worse (0.73, ±0.88 and 0.63, ±0.87) across the 4 days posttravel in CON compared with INT. Conclusions: Combined light exposure and sleep hygiene improved speed and power but not intermittent-sprint performance up to 96 hours following long-haul transmeridian travel. The reduction of sleep disruption during and following travel is a likely contributor to improved performance.

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Sophia Nimphius and Matthew J. Jordan

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Steve H. Faulkner and Philippa Jobling

Purpose: Cycling time trials (TTs) are characterized by riders’ adopting aerodynamic positions to lessen the impact of aerodynamic drag on velocity. The optimal performance requirements for TTs likely exist on a continuum of rider aerodynamics versus physiological optimization, yet there is little empirical evidence to inform riders and coaches. The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between aerodynamic optimization, energy expenditure, heat production, and performance. Methods: Eleven trained cyclists completed 5 submaximal exercise tests followed by a TT. Trials were completed at hip angles of 12° (more horizontal), 16°, 20°, 24° (more vertical), and their self-selected control position. Results: The largest decrease in power output at anaerobic threshold compared with control occurred at 12° (−16 [20] W, P = .03; effect size [ES] = 0.8). There was a linear relationship between upper-body position and heat production (R 2 = .414, P = .04) but no change in mean body temperature, suggesting that, as upper-body position and hip angle increase, convective and evaporative cooling also rise. The highest aerodynamic–physiological economy occurred at 12° (384 [53] W·C d A −1·L−1·min−1, ES = 0.4), and the lowest occurred at 24° (338 [28] W·C d A −1·L−1·min−1, ES = 0.7), versus control (367 [41] W·C d A −1·L−1·min−1). Conclusion: These data suggest that the physiological cost of reducing hip angle is outweighed by the aerodynamic benefit and that riders should favor aerodynamic optimization for shorter TT events. The impact on thermoregulation and performance in the field requires further investigation.

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Naoya Takei, Katsuyuki Kakinoki, Olivier Girard and Hideo Hatta

Background: Training in hypoxia versus normoxia often induces larger physiological adaptations, while this does not always translate into additional performance benefits. A possible explanation is a reduced oxygen flux, negatively affecting training intensity and/or volume (decreasing training stimulus). Repeated Wingates (RW) in normoxia is an efficient training strategy for improving both physiological parameters and exercise capacity. However, it remains unclear whether the addition of hypoxia has a detrimental effect on RW performance. Purpose: To test the hypothesis that acute moderate hypoxia exposure has no detrimental effect on RW, while both metabolic and perceptual responses would be slightly higher. Methods: On separate days, 7 male university sprinters performed 3 × 30-s Wingate efforts with 4.5-min passive recovery in either hypoxia (FiO2: 0.145) or normoxia (FiO2: 0.209). Arterial oxygen saturation was assessed before the first Wingate effort, while blood lactate concentration and ratings of perceived exertion were measured after each bout. Results: Mean (P = .92) and peak (P = .63) power outputs, total work (P = .98), and the percentage decrement score (P = .25) were similar between conditions. Arterial oxygen saturation was significantly lower in hypoxia versus normoxia (92.0% [2.8%] vs 98.1% [0.4%], P < .01), whereas blood lactate concentration (P = .78) and ratings of perceived exertion (P = .51) did not differ between conditions. Conclusion: In sprinters, acute exposure to moderate hypoxia had no detrimental effect on RW performance and associated metabolic and perceptual responses.

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Helene Pedersen, Atle Hole Saeterbakken, Markus Vagle, Marius Steiro Fimland and Vidar Andersen

Purpose: The Nordic hamstring exercise (NHE) has been shown to considerably reduce hamstring injuries among soccer players. However, as the load in the NHE is the person’s own bodyweight, it is a very heavy exercise and difficult to individualize. The flywheel inertial leg curl (FLC) could be an alternative since the eccentric overload is based on the amount of work produced in the concentric movement. Therefore, the primary aim of this study was to compare the activation in the hamstrings at long muscle lengths in the NHE and the FLC in amateur soccer players. Methods: Fifteen male amateur soccer players performed 5 repetitions in each exercise in a randomized and counterbalanced order. The concentric and eccentric movements were divided into lower and upper phases. Surface EMG was measured distally, proximally, and in the middle, at both muscles. Results: In the lower phase in the eccentric movement, there were no significant differences between the 2 exercises (P = .101–.826). In the lower concentric movement, the FLC led to higher activation in all parts of both the biceps femoris (31%–52%, P < .001) and the semitendinosus (20%–35%, P = .001–.023). Conclusion: Both exercises activated the hamstrings similarly at long muscle lengths during eccentric contractions (Nordic hamstring, nonsignificantly higher). However, when performing concentric contractions, the FLC induced higher activations. Therefore, the FLC could be a useful alternative to the NHE and particularly suitable for weaker athletes before progressing to NHE.

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Filippo Dolci, Andrew E. Kilding, Tania Spiteri, Paola Chivers, Ben Piggott, Andrew Maiorana and Nicolas H. Hart

Purpose: To evaluate the reliability of new change-of-direction-economy tests (assessing energetic efficiency when performing continuous shuttle runs) compared with common running-economy tests in soccer players Methods: Sixteen subelite, male soccer players were recruited to perform a testing battery involving running economy (RE), 10-m shuttle-running economy (SRE10), and 20-m shuttle-running economy (SRE20) at 8.4 km·h−1 mean speed on 2 different days within 48 hours. SRE10 and SRE20 consisted of continuous shuttle runs interspersed with 180° directional changes. During the RE, SRE20, and SRE10 tests, respiratory exchange ratio and oxygen uptake were collected and used to calculate the movement-economy values over any running condition as oxygen cost and energetic cost. The secondary variables (carbon dioxide production, heart rate, minute ventilation, and blood lactate) were also monitored during all tests. Results: Depending on expression (oxygen cost or energetic cost), reliability was established for RE (CV: 5.5%–5.8%; ICC = .77–.88), SRE10 (CV: 3.5%–3.8%; ICC = .78–.96), and SRE20 (CV: 3.5%–3.8%; ICC = .66–.94). All secondary physiological variables reported good reliability (CV < 10%), except for blood lactate (CV < 35.8). The RE, SRE10, and SRE20 tests show good reliability in soccer players, whereas blood lactate has the highest variability among physiological variables during the economy tests. Conclusion: The assessment of change-of-direction economy through performing 20- and 10-m shuttle runs is reliable and can be applied to evaluate soccer players’ energetic movement efficiency under more soccer-specific running conditions.