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Alannah K. A. McKay, Ida A. Heikura, Louise M. Burke, Peter Peeling, David B. Pyne, Rachel P.L. van Swelm, Coby M. Laarakkers and Gregory R. Cox

Sleeping with low carbohydrate (CHO) availability is a dietary strategy that may enhance training adaptation. However, the impact on an athlete’s health is unclear. This study quantified the effect of a short-term “sleep-low” dietary intervention on markers of iron regulation and immune function in athletes. In a randomized, repeated-measures design, 11 elite triathletes completed two 4-day mixed cycle run training blocks. Key training sessions were structured such that a high-intensity training session was performed in the field on the afternoon of Days 1 and 3, and a low-intensity training (LIT) session was performed on the following morning in the laboratory (Days 2 and 4). The ingestion of CHO was either divided evenly across the day (HIGH) or restricted between the high-intensity training and LIT sessions, so that the LIT session was performed with low CHO availability (LOW). Venous blood and saliva samples were collected prior to and following each LIT session and analyzed for interleukin-6, hepcidin 25, and salivary immunoglobulin-A. Concentrations of interleukin-6 increased acutely after exercise (p < .001), but did not differ between dietary conditions or days. Hepcidin 25 increased 3-hr postexercise (p < .001), with the greatest increase evident after the LOW trial on Day 2 (2.5 ± 0.9 fold increase ±90% confidence limit). The salivary immunoglobulin-A secretion rate did not change in response to exercise; however, it was highest during the LOW condition on Day 4 (p = .046). There appears to be minimal impact to markers of immune function and iron regulation when acute exposure to low CHO availability is undertaken with expert nutrition and coaching input.

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Caoimhe Tiernan, Mark Lyons, Tom Comyns, Alan M. Nevill and Giles Warrington

Purpose: Insufficient recovery can lead to a decrease in performance and increase the risk of injury and illness. The aim of this study was to evaluate salivary cortisol as a marker of recovery in elite rugby union players. Method: Over a 10-wk preseason training period, 19 male elite rugby union players provided saliva swabs biweekly (Monday and Friday mornings). Subjective markers of recovery were collected every morning of each training day. Session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) was taken after every training session, and training load was calculated (sRPE × session duration). Results: Multilevel analysis found no significant association between salivary cortisol and training load or subjective markers of recovery (all P > .05) over the training period. Compared with baseline (wk 1), Monday salivary cortisol significantly increased in wk 4 (14.94 [7.73] ng/mL; P = .04), wk 8 (16.39 [9.53] ng/mL; P = .01), and wk 9 (15.41 [9.82] ng/mL; P = .02), and Friday salivary cortisol significantly increased in wk 5 (14.81 [8.74] ng/mL; P = .04) and wk 10 (15.36 [11.30] ng/mL; P = .03). Conclusions: The significant increase in salivary cortisol on certain Mondays may indicate that players did not physically recover from the previous week of training or match at the weekend. The increased Friday cortisol levels and subjective marker of perceived fatigue indicated increased physiological stress from that week’s training. Regular monitoring of salivary cortisol combined with appropriate planning of training load may allow sufficient recovery to optimize training performance.

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Craig Pickering and Jozo Grgic

Caffeine is a well-established ergogenic aid, with its performance-enhancing effects demonstrated across a wide variety of exercise modalities. Athletes tend to frequently consume caffeine as a performance enhancement method in training and competition. There are a number of methods available as a means of consuming caffeine around exercise, including caffeine anhydrous, sports drinks, caffeine carbohydrate gels, and gum. One popular method of caffeine ingestion in nonathletes is coffee, with some evidence suggesting it is also utilized by athletes. In this article, we discuss the research pertaining to the use of coffee as an ergogenic aid, exploring (a) whether caffeinated coffee is ergogenic, (b) whether dose-matched caffeinated coffee provides a performance benefit similar in magnitude to caffeine anhydrous, and (c) whether decaffeinated coffee consumption affects the ergogenic effects of a subsequent isolated caffeine dose. There is limited evidence that caffeinated coffee has the potential to offer ergogenic effects similar in magnitude to caffeine anhydrous; however, this requires further investigation. Coingestion of caffeine with decaffeinated coffee does not seem to limit the ergogenic effects of caffeine. Although caffeinated coffee is potentially ergogenic, its use as a preexercise caffeine ingestion method represents some practical hurdles to athletes, including the consumption of large volumes of liquid and difficulties in quantifying the exact caffeine dose, as differences in coffee type and brewing method may alter caffeine content. The use of caffeinated coffee around exercise has the potential to enhance performance, but athletes and coaches should be mindful of the practical limitations.

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Ana Gay, Gracia López-Contreras, Ricardo J. Fernandes and Raúl Arellano

Purpose: To observe changes in performance, physiological, and general kinematic variables induced by the use of wetsuits vs swimsuits in both swimming-pool and swimming-flume conditions. Methods: In a randomized and counterbalanced order, 33 swimmers (26.46 [11.72] y old) performed 2 × 400-m maximal front crawl in a 25-m swimming pool (with wetsuit and swimsuit), and their mean velocities were used later in 2 swimming-flume trials with both suits. Velocity, blood lactate concentration, heart rate (HR), Borg scale (rating of perceived exertion), stroke rate, stroke length (SL), stroke index, and propelling efficiency were evaluated. Results: The 400-m performance in the swimming pool was 0.07 m·s−1 faster when using the wetsuit than when using the swimsuit, evidencing a reduction of ∼6% in time elapsed (P < .001). Maximal HR, maximal blood lactate concentration, rating of perceived exertion, stroke rate, and propelling efficiency were similar when using both swimsuits, but SL and stroke index presented higher values with the wetsuit in both the swimming pool and the swimming flume. Comparing swimming conditions, maximal HR and maximal blood lactate concentration were lower, and SL, stroke index, and propelling efficiency were higher when swimming in the flume than when swimming in the pool with both suits. Conclusions: The 6% velocity improvement was the result of an increase of 4% in SL. Swimmers reduced stroke rate and increased SL to benefit from the hydrodynamic reduction of the wetsuit and increase their swimming efficiency. Wetsuits might be utilized during training seasons to improve adaptations while swimming.

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Lucas A. Pereira, Rodrigo Ramirez-Campillo, Saul Martín-Rodríguez, Ronaldo Kobal, César C.C. Abad, Ademir F.S. Arruda, Aristide Guerriero and Irineu Loturco

Purpose: To examine the variations in the velocity of contraction (V c) assessed using tensiomyography, vertical jumping ability, and sprinting speed induced by 4 different exercise protocols (ie, strength, sprint, plyometric, and technical training sessions) in 14 male national-team rugby players (age 21.8 [2.6] y, weight 83.6 [8.5] kg, and height 177.4 [6.7] cm). Methods: Physical tests were conducted immediately before and after 4 distinct workouts in the following order: tensiomyography in the rectus femoris and biceps femoris muscles, squat and countermovement jumps, and 30-m sprint velocity. To analyze the differences in the assessed variables before and after each training session, the differences based on magnitudes were calculated. Results: After strength and plyometric workouts, the players presented possible to almost certain impairments in sprint and jump performance and in the V c of the rectus femoris (effect sizes 0.26–0.64). After the sprint-training session, possible to very likely decreases were observed in the squat jump, 30-m sprint, and V c of the biceps femoris (effect sizes 0.21–0.44). By contrast, after the technical training, athletes demonstrated a possible increase in the squat jump and V c in both muscles examined (effect sizes 0.13–0.20). Conclusions: The main finding of this research is that, for the vast majority of results, the direction of changes observed in V c were the same as those observed in performance assessments. This suggests that V c might be used as a sensitive marker of acute variations in speed and power performance of elite team-sport athletes.

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Seiichiro Takei, Kuniaki Hirayama and Junichi Okada

Purpose: The optimal load for maximal power output during hang power cleans (HPCs) from a mechanical perspective is the 1-repetition-maximum (1RM) load; however, previous research has reported otherwise. The present study thus aimed to investigate the underlying factors that determine optimal load during HPCs. Methods: Eight competitive Olympic weight lifters performed HPCs at 40%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, 95%, and 100% of their 1RM while the ground-reaction force and bar/body kinematics were simultaneously recorded. The success criterion during HPC was set above parallel squat at the receiving position. Results: Both peak power and relative peak power were maximized at 80% 1RM (3975.7 [439.1] W, 50.4 [6.6] W/kg, respectively). Peak force, force at peak power, and relative values tended to increase with heavier loads (P < .001), while peak system velocity and system velocity at peak power decreased significantly above 80% 1RM (P = .005 and .011, respectively). There were also significant decreases in peak bar velocity (P < .001) and bar displacement (P < .001) toward heavier loads. There was a strong positive correlation between peak bar velocity and bar displacement in 7 of 8 subjects (r > .90, P < .01). The knee joint angle at the receiving position fell below the quarter-squat position above 70% 1RM. Conclusions: Submaximal loads were indeed optimal for maximal power output for HPC when the success criterion was set above the parallel-squat position. However, when the success criterion was defined as the quarter-squat position, the optimal load became the 1RM load.

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Daniel Boullosa

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Adam Grainger, Paul Comfort and Shane Heffernan

Purpose: Partial body cryotherapy (PBC) has been shown to be beneficial for postexercise recovery; however, no study has demonstrated the effectiveness of PBC for recovery following elite rugby union training. Rugby union is a unique sport that involves high-velocity collisions and may induce greater performance decrements than other sports; thus, PBC could be beneficial. The application of PBC in “real world” has rarely been investigated during the competitive phase of a playing season and warranted investigation. Methods: In a counterbalanced sequential research design, professional rugby athletes (n = 18; age 25.4 [4.0] y; training age 7.2 [4.0] y; mass 99.8 [10.6] kg; height 188.3 [6.0] cm) were assigned to a 12-week PBC intervention, washout period (4 wk), and reassessed as their own controls. Self-reported well-being, muscle soreness, sleep quality, and countermovement jump height were assessed before and 40 hours after “real-world” training. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests and Cohen d were used for statistical analysis. Results: No differences were observed between PBC and control conditions (P > .05; d = 0.00–0.14) for well-being (−0.02% [0.08%] vs 0.01% [0.06%]), muscle soreness (−0.01% [0.11%] vs 0.01% [0.16%]), sleep quality (−0.03% [0.14%] vs 0.10% [0.29%]), or countermovement jump height (36.48–36.59 vs 38.13–37.52 cm; P = .54). Conclusions: These results suggest PBC is ineffective for the restoration of selected performance parameters during the performance maintenance phase of the competitive season. To ascertain the appropriation of its use, future investigations should seek to assess the use of cryotherapies at various phases of the elite rugby union competitive season.

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Wojciech Jedziniak, Piotr Lesiakowski and Teresa Zwierko

The authors investigated the dynamics of saccadic parameters during a stationary oculomotor target task in amputee soccer players (n = 16), able-bodied soccer players (n = 16), and nonathletic control subjects (n = 16). Eye movements during the visual-search tasks were recorded binocularly using a mobile eye-tracking system, and the gaze parameters were analyzed (fixation duration, saccade duration, saccade amplitude, saccade average acceleration, saccade peak deceleration, saccade average velocity, and ocular mobility index). The average saccade acceleration in the amputee soccer players was significantly lower than in the able-bodied players (p = .021). Other saccade characteristics in disabled athletes were comparable to those of the able-bodied groups. Moreover, the able-bodied soccer players presented faster saccadic parameters than nonathletes in terms of saccade acceleration (p = .002), deceleration (p = .015), and velocity (p = .009). The modification of oculomotor functions may result from extensive practice and participation in ball games. The authors’ hypothesis that oculomotor functions in amputee soccer players may be impaired was not fully confirmed.

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Edward A. Gray, Thomas A. Green, James A. Betts and Javier T. Gonzalez

During short-term recovery, postexercise glucose–fructose coingestion can accelerate total glycogen repletion and augment recovery of running capacity. It is unknown if this advantage translates to cycling, or to a longer (e.g., overnight) recovery. Using two experiments, the present research investigated if postexercise glucose–fructose coingestion augments exercise capacity following 4-hr (short experiment; n = 8) and 15-hr (overnight experiment; n = 8) recoveries from exhaustive exercise in trained cyclists, compared with isocaloric glucose alone. In each experiment, a glycogen depleting exercise protocol was followed by a 4-hr recovery, with ingestion of 1.5 or 1.2 g·kg−1·hr−1 carbohydrate in the short experiment (double blind) and the overnight experiment (single blind), respectively. Treatments were provided in a randomized order using a crossover design. Four or fifteen hours after the glycogen depletion protocol, participants cycled to exhaustion at 70% W max or 65% W max in the short experiment and the overnight experiment, respectively. In both experiments there was no difference in substrate oxidation or blood glucose and lactate concentrations between treatments during the exercise capacity test (trial effect, p > .05). Nevertheless, cycling capacity was greater in glucose + fructose versus glucose only in the short experiment (28.0 ± 8.4 vs. 22.8 ± 7.3 min, d = 0.65, p = .039) and the overnight experiment (35.9 ± 10.7 vs. 30.6 ± 9.2 min, d = 0.53, p = .026). This is the first study to demonstrate that postexercise glucose–fructose coingestion enhances cycling capacity following short-term (4 hr) and overnight (15 hr) recovery durations. Therefore, if multistage endurance athletes are ingesting glucose for rapid postexercise recovery then fructose containing carbohydrates may be advisable.