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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 (R2 = .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·CdA−1·L−1·min−1, ES = 0.4), and the lowest occurred at 24° (338 [28] W·CdA−1·L−1·min−1, ES = 0.7), versus control (367 [41] W·CdA−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.

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Rebecca Fernandes, Chris Bishop, Anthony N. Turner, Shyam Chavda and Sean J. Maloney

Purpose: Currently, it is unclear which physical characteristics may underpin the change of direction deficit (COD-D). This investigation sought to determine if momentum, speed-, and jump-based measures may explain variance in COD-D. Methods: Seventeen males from a professional soccer academy (age, 16.76 [0.75] y; height, 1.80 [0.06] m; body mass, 72.38 [9.57] kg) performed 505 tests on both legs, a 40-m sprint, and single-leg countermovement and drop jumps. Results: The regression analyses did not reveal any significant predictors for COD-D on either leg. “Large” relationships were reported between the COD-D and 505 time on both limbs (r = .65 to .69; P < .01), but COD-D was not associated with linear momentum, speed-, or jump-based performances. When the cohort was median split by COD-D, the effect sizes suggested that the subgroup with the smaller COD-D was 5% faster in the 505 test (d = −1.24; P < .001) but 4% slower over 0–10 m (d = 0.79; P = .33) and carried 11% less momentum (d = −0.81; P = .17). Conclusion: Individual variance in COD-D may not be explained by speed- and jump-based performance measures within academy soccer players. However, when grouping athletes by COD-D, faster athletes with greater momentum are likely to display a larger COD-D. It may, therefore, be prudent to recommend more eccentric-biased or technically focused COD training in such athletes and for coaches to view the COD action as a specific skill that may not be represented by performance time in a COD test.

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Matheus Barbalho, Ana Francisca Rozin Kleiner, Bianca Callegari, Ramon Costa de Lima, Givago da Silva Souza, Anselmo de Athayde Costa e Silva and Victor Silveira Coswig

Background: Jumps are important evaluation tools for muscle strength and power and for interlimb asymmetries. Different jump tests are well related to athletic performance, prediction of injury risk, and common motor gestures of several sports such as soccer. Low-cost mobile applications (apps) have gained popularity for this measure. The authors hypothesized that the My Jump 2 app would be a valid tool to assess drop-jump performance and interlimb asymmetry in soccer players. Methods: Eleven male soccer players took part in this study (18.2 [1.3] y, 69.9 [9.5] kg, 174 [6.6] cm). The athletes performed each test twice on a force plate (gold-standard method), while the jumps were recorded through the mobile app. Measures with the My Jump 2 app were applied by 2 evaluators, independently and in duplicate (interrater and intrarater reliability). The agreement analysis between both evaluations was done using an intraclass correlation coefficient and Bland–Altman plots. Results: Compared with the force platform, the app tested showed excellent reliability for the drop jump’s flight time and interlimb asymmetry (intraclass correlation coefficient > .98). For interlimb contact-time asymmetry, the values were 18.4 (9.9) and 19.1 (9.9) milliseconds for the My Jump 2 app and the force platform, respectively (P = .88). For flight-time asymmetries, the values were 389.7 (114.3) and 396.8 (112.5) milliseconds for the My Jump 2 app and the force platform, respectively (P = .88). Conclusion: The My Jump 2 app is a valid tool to assess drop-jump and interlimb asymmetry in soccer players.

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João Paulo Limongi França Guilherme, Ekaterina A. Semenova, Hirofumi Zempo, Gabriel L. Martins, Antonio H. Lancha Junior, Eri Miyamoto-Mikami, Hiroshi Kumagai, Takuro Tobina, Keisuke Shiose, Ryo Kakigi, Takamasa Tsuzuki, Noriko Ichinoseki-Sekine, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Hisashi Naito, Oleg V. Borisov, Elena S. Kostryukova, Nikolay A. Kulemin, Andrey K. Larin, Edward V. Generozov, Noriyuki Fuku and Ildus I. Ahmetov

Purpose: To replicate previous genome-wide association study identified sprint-related polymorphisms in 3 different cohorts of top-level sprinters and to further validate the obtained results in functional studies. Methods: A total of 240 Japanese, 290 Russians, and 593 Brazilians were evaluated in a case-control approach. Of these, 267 were top-level sprint/power athletes. In addition, the relationship between selected polymorphisms and muscle fiber composition was evaluated in 203 Japanese and 287 Finnish individuals. Results: The G allele of the rs3213537 polymorphism was overrepresented in Japanese (odds ratio [OR]: 2.07, P = .024) and Russian (OR: 1.93, P = .027) sprinters compared with endurance athletes and was associated with an increased proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers in Japanese (P = .02) and Finnish (P = .041) individuals. A meta-analysis of the data from 4 athlete cohorts confirmed that the presence of the G/G genotype rather than the G/A+A/A genotypes increased the OR of being a sprinter compared with controls (OR: 1.49, P = .01), endurance athletes (OR: 1.79, P = .001), or controls + endurance athletes (OR: 1.58, P = .002). Furthermore, male sprinters with the G/G genotype were found to have significantly faster personal times in the 100-m dash than those with G/A+A/A genotypes (10.50 [0.26] vs 10.76 [0.31], P = .014). Conclusion: The rs3213537 polymorphism found in the CPNE5 gene was identified as a highly replicable variant associated with sprinting ability and the increased proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers, in which the homozygous genotype for the major allele (ie, the G/G genotype) is preferable for performance.

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Antonis Kesisoglou, Andrea Nicolò and Louis Passfield

Purpose: To examine the effect of cycling exercise intensity and duration on subsequent performance and to compare the resulting acute performance decrement (APD) with total work done (TWD) and corresponding training-load (TL) metrics. Methods: A total of 14 male cyclists performed a 5-minute time trial (TT) as a baseline and after 4 initial exercise bouts of varying exercise intensity and duration. The initial exercise bouts were performed in a random order and consisted of a 5- and a 20-minute TT and a 20- and a 40-minute submaximal ride. The resulting APD was calculated as the percentage change in 5-minute TT from baseline, and this was compared with the TWD and TL metrics for the corresponding initial exercise bout. Results: Average power output was different for each of the 4 initial exercise bouts (ηp2=.971; P < .001), and all bouts resulted in an APD. But APD was only different when comparing maximal with submaximal bouts (ηp2=.862; P < .001). The APD contradicted TWD and TL metrics and was not different when comparing 5- and 20-minute maximal TTs or the 20- and 40-minute submaximal bouts. In contrast, TL metrics were different for all training sessions (ηp2=.970; P < .001). Conclusion: An APD is found after initial exercise bouts consisting of 5- and 20-minute TTs and after 20- and 40-minute of submaximal exercise that is not consistent with the corresponding values for TWD or TL. This discrepancy highlights important shortcomings when using TWD and TL to compare exercise bouts of different intensity and duration.

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Rafael E.A. Muchaxo, Sonja de Groot, Lucas H.V. van der Woude, Thomas W.J. Janssen and Carla Nooijen

The classification system for handcycling groups athletes into five hierarchical classes, based on how much their impairment affects performance. Athletes in class H5, with the least impairments, compete in a kneeling position, while athletes in classes H1 to H4 compete in a recumbent position. This study investigated the average time-trial velocity of athletes in different classes. A total of 1,807 results from 353 athletes who competed at 20 international competitions (2014–2018) were analyzed. Multilevel regression was performed to analyze differences in average velocities between adjacent pairs of classes, while correcting for gender, age, and event distance. The average velocity of adjacent classes was significantly different (p < .01), with higher classes being faster, except for H4 and H5. However, the effect size of the differences between H3 and H4 was smaller (d = 0.12). Hence, results indicated a need for research in evaluating and developing evidence-based classification in handcycling, yielding a class structure with meaningful performance differences between adjacent classes.

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Emma K. Zadow, James W. Fell, Cecilia M. Kitic, Jia Han and Sam S. X. Wu

Context: Time of day has been shown to impact athletic performance, with improved performance observed in the late afternoon–early evening. Diurnal variations in physiological factors may contribute to variations in pacing selection; however, research investigating time-of-day influence on pacing is limited. Purpose: To investigate the influence of time-of-day on pacing selection in a 4-km cycling time trial (TT). Methods: Nineteen trained male cyclists (mean [SD] age 39.0 [10.7] y, height 1.8 [0.1] m, body mass 78.0 [9.4] kg, VO2max 62.1 [8.7] mL·kg−1·min−1) completed a 4-km TT on 5 separate occasions at 08:30, 11:30, 14:30, 17:30, and 20:30. All TTs were completed in a randomized order, separated by a minimum of 2 d and maximum of 7 d. Results: No time-of-day effects were observed in pacing as demonstrated by similar power outputs over 0.5-km intervals (P = .78) or overall mean power output (333.0 [38.9], 339.8 [37.2], 335.5 [31.2], 336.7 [35.2], and 334.9 [35.7] W; P = .45) when TTs were performed at 08:30, 11:30, 14:30, 17:30, and 20:30. Preexercise tympanic temperature demonstrated a time-of-day effect (P < .001), with tympanic temperature higher at 14:30 and 17:30 than at 08:30 and 11:30. Conclusion: While a biological rhythm was present in tympanic temperature, pacing selection and performance when completing a 4-km cycling TT were not influenced by time of day. The findings suggest that well-trained cyclists can maintain a robust pacing strategy for a 4-km TT regardless of time of the day.