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Dan Weaving, Clive Beggs, Nicholas Dalton-Barron, Ben Jones and Grant Abt

Purpose: To discuss the use of principal-component analysis (PCA) as a dimension-reduction and visualization tool to assist in decision making and communication when analyzing complex multivariate data sets associated with the training of athletes. Conclusions: Using PCA, it is possible to transform a data matrix into a set of orthogonal composite variables called principal components (PCs), with each PC being a linear weighted combination of the observed variables and with all PCs uncorrelated to each other. The benefit of transforming the data using PCA is that the first few PCs generally capture the majority of the information (ie, variance) contained in the observed data, with the first PC accounting for the highest amount of variance and each subsequent PC capturing less of the total information. Consequently, through PCA, it is possible to visualize complex data sets containing multiple variables on simple 2D scatterplots without any great loss of information, thereby making it much easier to convey complex information to coaches. In the future, athlete-monitoring companies should integrate PCA into their client packages to better support practitioners trying to overcome the challenges associated with multivariate data analysis and interpretation. In the interim, the authors present here an overview of PCA and associated R code to assist practitioners working in the field to integrate PCA into their athlete-monitoring process.

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Soubhagyalaxmi Mohanty, Balaram Pradhan and Alex Hankey

Physical activities provide fundamental benefits to children’s health and well-being. They are vital for development and healthy life, but participation of children with visual impairment is limited. Herein, the authors report results of a 16-wk yoga program, evaluating its effects on physical fitness in children with visual impairment. Eighty-three children age 9–16 years (12.37 ± 2.19) participated in a 2-arm, single-blind wait-list-controlled study at a residential school in south India. Participants (yoga group 41, controls 42) were assessed on muscle strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination, and respiratory health. Significant improvements in physical fitness were observed after the yoga intervention (Group × Time interactions for right-hand grip strength, p < .001; sit-up, p < .001; sit and reach, p < .001; bilateral plate tapping, p < .001; and peak expiratory flow rate, p < .001). Left-hand grip strength showed main effects of time, although there were no Group × Time interactions. Results demonstrate yoga’s ability to improve a wide range of physical variables in children with visual impairment.

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Timothy J.H. Lathlean, Paul B. Gastin, Stuart V. Newstead and Caroline F. Finch

Purpose: To investigate the association between training and match loads and injury in elite junior Australian football players over 1 competitive season. Methods: Elite junior Australian football players (n = 290, age 17.7 [0.3] y, range 16–18 y) were recruited from the under-18 state league competition in Victoria to report load and injury information. One-week load (session rating of perceived exertion multiplied by duration) and all time-loss injuries were reported using an online sport-injury surveillance system. Absolute load measures (weekly sums) enabled the calculation of relative measures such as the acute:chronic workload ratio. Load measures were modeled against injury outcome (yes/no) using a generalized estimating equation approach, with a 1-wk lag for injury. Results: Low (<300 arbitrary units [au]) and high (>4650 au) 1-wk loads were associated with significantly higher risk of injury. Furthermore, low (<100 au) and high (>850 au) session loads were associated with a higher risk of injury. High strain values (>13,000) were associated with up to a 5-fold increase in the odds of injury. There was a relatively flat-line association between the acute:chronic workload ratio and injury. Conclusions: This study is the first investigation of elite junior athletes demonstrating linear and nonlinear relationships between absolute and relative load measures and injury. Coaches should focus player loads on, or at least close to, the point at which injury risk starts to increase again (2214 au for 1-wk load and 458 au for session load) and use evidence-based strategies across the week and month to help reduce the risk of injury.

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Philip Hurst, Lieke Schipof-Godart, Florentina Hettinga, Bart Roelands and Chris Beedie

Purpose: To investigate the placebo effect of caffeine on pacing strategy and performance over 1000-m running time trials using a balanced placebo design. Methods: Eleven well-trained male middle-distance athletes performed seven 1000-m time trials (1 familiarization, 2 baseline, and 4 experimental). Experimental trials consisted of the administration of 4 randomized treatments: informed caffeine/received caffeine, informed caffeine/received placebo, informed placebo/received caffeine, and informed placebo/received placebo. Split times were recorded at 200, 400, 600, 800, and 1000 m, and peak heart rate and rating of perceived exertion were recorded at the completion of the trial. Results: Relative to baseline, participants ran faster during informed caffeine/received caffeine (d = 0.42) and informed caffeine/received placebo (d = 0.43). These changes were associated with an increased pace during the first half of the trial. No differences were shown in pacing or performance between baseline and the informed placebo/received caffeine (d = 0.21) and informed placebo/received placebo (d = 0.10). No differences were reported between treatments for peak heart rate (η 2 = .084) and rating of perceived exertion (η 2 = .009). Conclusions: The results indicate that the effect of believing to have ingested caffeine improved performance to the same magnitude as actually receiving caffeine. These improvements were associated with an increase in pace during the first half of the time trial.

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Jozo Grgic, Filip Sabol, Sandro Venier, Ivan Mikulic, Nenad Bratkovic, Brad J. Schoenfeld, Craig Pickering, David J. Bishop, Zeljko Pedisic and Pavle Mikulic

Purpose: To explore the effects of 3 doses of caffeine on muscle strength and muscle endurance. Methods: Twenty-eight resistance-trained men completed the testing sessions under 5 conditions: no-placebo control, placebo control, and with caffeine doses of 2, 4, and 6 mg·kg−1. Muscle strength was assessed using the 1-repetition-maximum test; muscle endurance was assessed by having the participants perform a maximal number of repetitions with 60% 1-repetition maximum. Results: In comparison with both control conditions, only a caffeine dose of 2 mg·kg−1 enhanced lower-body strength (d = 0.13–0.15). In comparison with the no-placebo control condition, caffeine doses of 4 and 6 mg·kg−1 enhanced upper-body strength (d = 0.07–0.09) with a significant linear trend for the effectiveness of different doses of caffeine (P = .020). Compared with both control conditions, all 3 caffeine doses enhanced lower-body muscle endurance (d = 0.46–0.68). For upper-body muscle endurance, this study did not find significant effects of caffeine. Conclusions: This study revealed a linear trend between the dose of caffeine and its effects on upper-body strength. The study found no clear association between the dose of caffeine and the magnitude of its ergogenic effects on lower-body strength and muscle endurance. From a practical standpoint, the magnitude of caffeine’s effects on strength is of questionable relevance. A low dose of caffeine (2 mg·kg−1)—for an 80-kg individual, the dose of caffeine in 1–2 cups of coffee—may produce substantial improvements in lower-body muscle endurance with the magnitude of the effect being similar to that attained using higher doses of caffeine.

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Tiago Turnes, Rafael Penteado dos Santos, Rafael Alves de Aguiar, Thiago Loch, Leonardo Trevisol Possamai and Fabrizio Caputo

Purpose: To compare the intensity and physiological responses of deoxygenated hemoglobin breaking point ([HHb]BP) and anaerobic threshold (AnT) during an incremental test and to verify their association with 2000-m rowing-ergometer performance in well-trained rowers. Methods: A total of 13 male rowers (mean [SD] age = 24 [11] y and V˙O2peak = 63.7 [6.1] mL·kg−1·min−1) performed a step incremental test. Gas exchange, vastus lateralis [HHb], and blood lactate concentration were measured. Power output, V˙O2, and heart rate of [HHb]BP and AnT were determined and compared with each other. A 2000-m test was performed in another visit. Results: No differences were found between [HHb]BP and AnT in the power output (236 [31] vs 234 [31] W; Δ = 0.7%), 95% confidence interval [CI] 6.7%), V˙O2 (4.2 [0.5] vs 4.3 [0.4] L·min−1; Δ = −0.8%, 95% CI 4.0%), or heart rate (180 [16] vs 182 [12] beats·min−1; Δ = −1.6%, 95% CI 2.1%); however, there was high typical error of estimate (TEE) and wide 95% limits of agreement (LoA) for power output (TEE 10.7%, LoA 54.1–50.6 W), V˙O2 (TEE 5.9%, LoA −0.57 to 0.63 L·min−1), and heart rate (TEE 2.4%, LoA −9.6 to 14.7 beats·min−1). Significant correlations were observed between [HHb]BP (r = .70) and AnT (r = .89) with 2000-m mean power. Conclusions: These results demonstrate a breaking point in [HHb] of the vastus lateralis muscle during the incremental test that is capable of distinguishing rowers with different performance levels. However, the high random error would compromise the use of [HHb]BP for training and testing in rowing.

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Alireza Rabbani, Mehdi Kargarfard, Carlo Castagna, Filipe Manuel Clemente and Craig Twist

Purpose: To investigate the relationship between accumulated global positioning system–accelerometer-based and heart rate–based training metrics and changes in high-intensity intermittent-running capacity during an in-season phase in professional soccer players. Methods: Eleven male professional players (mean [SD] age 27.2 [4.5] y) performed the 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test (30-15IFT) before and after a 5-wk in-season training phase, and the final velocity (VIFT) was considered their high-intensity intermittent-running capacity. During all sessions, Edwards training impulse (Edwards TRIMP), Banister TRIMP, Z5 TRIMP, training duration, total distance covered, new body load (NBL), high-intensity running performance (distance covered above 14.4 km·h−1), and very-high-intensity running performance (distance covered above 19.8 km·h−1) were recorded. Results: The players’ VIFT showed a most likely moderate improvement (+4.3%, 90% confidence limits 3.1–5.5%, effect size 0.70, [0.51–0.89]). Accumulated NBL, Banister TRIMP, and Edwards TRIMP showed large associations (r = .51–.54) with changes in VIFT. A very large relationship was also observed between accumulated Z5 TRIMP (r = .72) with changes in VIFT. Large to nearly perfect within-individual relationships were observed between NBL and some of the other training metrics (ie, Edwards TRIMP, Banister TRIMP, training duration, and total distance) in 10 out of 11 players. Conclusions: Heart rate–based training metrics can be used to monitor high-intensity intermittent-running-capacity changes in professional soccer players. The dose–response relationship is also largely detected using accelerometer-based metrics (ie, NBL) to track changes in high-intensity intermittent-running capacity of professional soccer players.

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Liam Anderson, Graeme L. Close, Matt Konopinski, David Rydings, Jordan Milsom, Catherine Hambly, John Roger Speakman, Barry Drust and James P. Morton

Maintaining muscle mass and function during rehabilitation from anterior cruciate ligament injury is complicated by the challenge of accurately prescribing daily energy intakes aligned to energy expenditure. Accordingly, we present a 38-week case study characterizing whole body and regional rates of muscle atrophy and hypertrophy (as inferred by assessments of fat-free mass from dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) in a professional male soccer player from the English Premier League. In addition, in Week 6, we also quantified energy intake (via the remote food photographic method) and energy expenditure using the doubly labeled water method. Mean daily energy intake (CHO: 1.9–3.2, protein: 1.7–3.3, and fat: 1.4–2.7 g/kg) and energy expenditure were 2,765 ± 474 and 3,178 kcal/day, respectively. In accordance with an apparent energy deficit, total body mass decreased by 1.9 kg during Weeks 1–6 where fat-free mass loss in the injured and noninjured limb was 0.9 and 0.6 kg, respectively, yet, trunk fat-free mass increased by 0.7 kg. In Weeks 7–28, the athlete was advised to increase daily CHO intake (4–6 g/kg) to facilitate an increased daily energy intake. Throughout this period, total body mass increased by 3.6 kg (attributable to a 2.9 and 0.7 kg increase in fat free and fat mass, respectively). Our data suggest it may be advantageous to avoid excessive reductions in energy intake during the initial 6–8 weeks post anterior cruciate ligament surgery so as to limit muscle atrophy.

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Dennis van Erck, Eric J. Wenker, Koen Levels, Carl Foster, Jos J. de Koning and Dionne A. Noordhof

Background: Although cyclists often compete at altitude, the effect of altitude on gross efficiency (GE) remains inconclusive. Purpose: To investigate the effect of altitude on GE at the same relative exercise intensity and at the same absolute power output (PO) and to determine the effect of altitude on the change in GE during high-intensity exercise. Methods: Twenty-one trained men performed 3 maximal incremental tests and 5 GE tests at sea level, 1500 m, and 2500 m of acute simulated altitude. The GE tests at altitude were performed once at the same relative exercise intensity and once at the same absolute PO as at sea level. Results: Altitude resulted in an unclear effect at 1500 m (−3.8%; ±3.3% [90% confidence limit]) and most likely negative effect at 2500 m (−6.3%; ±1.7%) on pre-GE, when determined at the same relative exercise intensity. When pre-GE was determined at the same absolute PO, unclear differences in GE were found (−1.5%; ±2.6% at 1500 m; −1.7%; ±2.4% at 2500 m). The effect of altitude on the decrease in GE during high-intensity exercise was unclear when determined at the same relative exercise intensity (−0.4%; ±2.8% at 1500 m; −0.7%; ±1.9% at 2500 m). When GE was determined at the same absolute PO, altitude resulted in a substantially smaller decrease in GE (2.8%; ±2.4% at 1500 m; 5.5%; ±2.9% at 2500 m). Conclusion: The lower GE found at altitude when exercise is performed at the same relative exercise intensity is mainly caused by the lower PO at which cyclists exercise.