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Ida A. Heikura, Marc Quod, Nicki Strobel, Roger Palfreeman, Rita Civil and Louise M. Burke

Purpose: To assess energy and carbohydrate (CHO) availability and changes in blood hormones in 6 professional male cyclists over multiple single-day races. Methods: The authors collected weighed-food records, power-meter data, and morning body mass measurements across 8 d. CHO intakes were compared with contemporary guidelines. Energy availability (EA) was calculated as energy intake minus exercise energy expenditure, relative to fat-free mass (FFM). Skinfold thickness and blood metabolic and reproductive hormones were measured prestudy and poststudy. Statistical significance was defined as P ≤ .05. Results: Body mass (P = .11) or skinfold thickness (P = .75) did not change across time, despite alternate-day low EA (14 [9] vs 57 [10] kcal·kg−1 FFM·d−1, race vs rest days, respectively; P < .001). Cyclists with extremely low EA on race days (<10 kcal·kg−1 FFM·d−1; n = 2) experienced a trend toward decreased testosterone (−14%) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (−25%), despite being high EA (>46 kcal·kg−1 FFM·d−1) on days between. CHO intakes were significantly higher on race versus rest days (10.7 [1.3] vs 6.4 [0.8] g·kg−1·d−1, respectively; P < .001). The cyclists reached contemporary prerace fueling targets (3.4 [0.7] g·kg−1·3 h−1 CHO; P = .24), while the execution of CHO guidelines during race (51 [9] g·h−1; P = .048) and within acute (1.6 [0.5] g·kg−1·3 h−1; P = .002) and prolonged (7.4 [1.0] g·kg−1·24 h−1; P = .002) postrace recovery was poor. Conclusions: The authors are the first to report the day-by-day periodization of energy and CHO in a small sample of professional cyclists. They also examined the logistics of conducting a field study under stressful conditions in which major cooperation from the subjects and team management is needed. Their commentary around these challenges and possible solutions is a major novelty of the article.

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Owen Jeffries, Mark Waldron, Stephen D. Patterson and Brook Galna

Purpose: Regulation of power output during cycling encompasses the integration of internal and external demands to maximize performance. However, relatively little is known about variation in power output in response to the external demands of outdoor cycling. The authors compared the mean power output and the magnitude of power-output variability and structure during a 20-min time trial performed indoors and outdoors. Methods: Twenty male competitive cyclists (V˙O2max 60.4 [7.1] mL·kg−1·min−1) performed 2 randomized maximal 20-min time-trial tests: outdoors at a cycle-specific racing circuit and indoors on a laboratory-based electromagnetically braked training ergometer, 7 d apart. Power output was sampled at 1 Hz and collected on the same bike equipped with a portable power meter in both tests. Results: Twenty-minute time-trial performance indoor (280 [44] W) was not different from outdoor (284 [41] W) (P = .256), showing a strong correlation (r = .94; P < .001). Within-persons SD was greater outdoors (69 [21] W) than indoors (33 [10] W) (P < .001). Increased variability was observed across all frequencies in data from outdoor cycling compared with indoors (P < .001) except for the very slowest frequency bin (<0.0033 Hz, P = .930). Conclusions: The findings indicate a greater magnitude of variability in power output during cycling outdoors. This suggests that constraints imposed by the external environment lead to moderate- and high-frequency fluctuations in power output. Therefore, indoor testing protocols should be designed to reflect the external demands of cycling outdoors.

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Oliver Gonzalo-Skok, Alejandro Moreno-Azze, José Luis Arjol-Serrano, Julio Tous-Fajardo and Chris Bishop

Purpose: To compare the effects of performing different unilateral strength training interventions on unilateral and bilateral jumping performance and their related asymmetries in young soccer players. Methods: Forty-five young (U-17) male soccer players were randomly assigned to 3 eccentric overload training programs. The first group executed the same volume with both legs starting with the weaker leg (SVW, n = 15); the second group carried out double volume with the weaker leg and also starting with the weaker leg (DVW, n = 15); and the third group performed the same volume with both legs starting with the stronger leg (SVS, n = 15). Jumping-performance assessment included a single-leg horizontal jump test, a triple single-leg horizontal jump test, a bilateral countermovement jump (CMJ) test, and a unilateral CMJ test. Asymmetries were also analyzed in the unilateral jumping tests. Results: CMJ was improved (effect size [ES]: 0.27–0.48) and CMJ asymmetry was possibly reduced (ES: 0.08–0.24) in all groups. Substantial improvements were found in triple hop (ES: 0.52–0.71) in SVW and DVW, and triple-hop asymmetry was substantially decreased (ES: 0.88) in DVW. Between-groups analysis showed a substantially better performance in triple hop and horizontal hop with right leg in SVW and DVW compared with SVS. Conclusions: Unilateral strength training programs were shown to substantially improve bilateral jumping performance, while unilateral jumping was substantially enhanced in the groups that started the training session with the weaker leg. Finally, between-limbs asymmetries in the triple hop were mainly reduced through performing double volume with the weaker leg.

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Chelsie E. Winchcombe, Martyn J. Binnie, Matthew M. Doyle, Cruz Hogan and Peter Peeling

Purpose: To determine the reliability and validity of a power-prescribed on-water (OW) graded exercise test (GXT) for flat-water sprint kayak athletes. Methods: Nine well-trained sprint kayak athletes performed 3 GXTs in a repeated-measures design. The initial GXT was performed on a stationary kayak ergometer in the laboratory (LAB). The subsequent 2 GXTs were performed OW (OW1 and OW2) in an individual kayak. Power output (PWR), stroke rate, blood lactate, heart rate, oxygen consumption, and rating of perceived exertion were measured throughout each test. Results: Both PWR and oxygen consumption showed excellent test–retest reliability between OW1 and OW2 for all 7 stages (intraclass correlation coefficient > .90). The mean results from the 2 OW GXTs (OWAVE) were then compared with LAB, and no differences in oxygen consumption across stages were evident (P ≥ .159). PWR was higher for OWAVE than for LAB in all stages (P ≤ .021) except stage 7 (P = .070). Conversely, stroke rate was lower for OWAVE than for LAB in all stages (P < .010) except stage 2 (P = .120). Conclusions: The OW GXT appears to be a reliable test in well-trained sprint kayak athletes. Given the differences in PWR and stroke rate between the LAB and OW tests, an OW GXT may provide more specific outcomes for OW training.

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Øyvind Skattebo, Thomas Losnegard and Hans Kristian Stadheim

Purpose: Long-distance cross-country skiers specialize to compete in races >50 km predominantly using double poling (DP). This emphasizes the need for highly developed upper-body endurance capacities and an efficient DP technique. The aim of this study was to investigate potential effects of specialization by comparing physiological capacities and kinematics in DP between long-distance skiers and skiers competing using both techniques (skating/classic) in several competition formats (“all-round skiers”). Methods: Seven male long-distance (32 [6] y, 183 [6] cm, 76 [5] kg) and 6 all-round (25 [3] y, 181 [5] cm, 75 [6] kg) skiers at high international levels conducted submaximal workloads and an incremental test to exhaustion for determination of peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) and time to exhaustion (TTE) in DP and running. Results: In DP and running maximal tests, TTE showed no difference between groups. However, long-distance skiers had 5–6% lower VO2peak in running (81 [5] vs 85 [3] mL·kg−1·min−1; P = .07) and DP (73 [3] vs 78 [3] mL·kg−1·min−1; P < .01) than all-round skiers. In DP, long-distance skiers displayed lower submaximal O2 cost than all-round skiers (3.8 ± 3.6%; P < .05) without any major differences in cycle times or cyclic patterns of joint angles and center of mass. Lactate concentration over a wide range of speeds (45–85% of VO2peak) did not differ between groups, even though each workload corresponded to a slightly higher percentage of VO2peak for long-distance skiers (effect size: 0.30–0.68). Conclusions: The long-distance skiers displayed lower VO2peak but compensated with lower O2 cost to perform equally with the all-round skiers on a short TTE test in DP. Furthermore, similar submaximal lactate concentration and reduced O2 cost could be beneficial in sustaining high skiing speeds in long-duration competitions.

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Layne Case and Joonkoo Yun

Despite the rising interest in intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder, the extent to which interventions are effective on gross motor outcomes is currently unknown. The purpose of this study was to analyze the effect of different intervention approaches on gross motor outcomes among children with autism spectrum disorder using meta-analysis. A total of 18 studies met the inclusion criteria for quantitative analysis. Pre- and posttest means and SDs were extracted to calculate effect sizes. Potential moderator variables were chosen based on important intervention characteristics. The results suggest that interventions have a large effect on gross motor outcomes among children with autism spectrum disorder (δ = 0.99, SE = 0.19, p < .001, 95% confidence interval [0.62, 1.36]). The interventions that were 16 total hours or longer had a significantly larger effect than those less than 16 hr. In addition, the interventions in experimental settings had significantly larger effects than the interventions in practical settings. Future interventions should consider intensity, including not only the duration of the intervention but also the intensity in which specific intervention goals are targeted.

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Iva Obrusnikova, Haley M. Novak and Albert R. Cavalier

Adults with intellectual disability have significantly lower musculoskeletal fitness than their peers without a disability. Appropriate instructional strategies are needed to facilitate their acquisition and maintenance of musculoskeletal fitness. In this multiple-baseline across-participants single-subject study, the authors evaluated the effects of a multicomponent package that included a video-enhanced system of least-to-most prompts on the acquisition of 5 muscle-strengthening exercises in 3 women with mild intellectual disability, age 24–37 yr. Results show substantive gains in correct and independent performance of steps in the 5 exercises during the treatment condition. The improved performance was maintained 2 wk after the last treatment session and in a large YMCA gym. The study suggests that use of the video-enhanced system of least-to-most prompts can lead to improved acquisition and maintenance of muscle-strengthening exercises by adults with mild intellectual disability.

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Filip Sabol, Jozo Grgic and Pavle Mikulic

Purpose: To examine the acute effects of 3 doses of caffeine on upper- and lower-body ballistic exercise performance and to explore if habitual caffeine intake affects the acute effects of caffeine ingestion on ballistic exercise performance. Methods: Twenty recreationally active male participants completed medicine-ball-throw and vertical-jump tests under 4 experimental conditions (placebo and 2, 4, and 6 mg·kg−1 of caffeine). Results: One-way repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) with subsequent post hoc analyses indicated that performance in the medicine-ball-throw test improved, compared with placebo, only with a 6 mg·kg−1 dose of caffeine (P = .032). Effect size, calculated as the mean difference between the 2 measurements divided by the pooled SD, amounted to 0.29 (+3.7%). For the vertical-jump test, all 3 caffeine doses were effective (compared with placebo) for acute increases in performance (P values .022–.044, effect sizes 0.35–0.42, percentage changes +3.7% to +4.1%). A 2-way repeated-measures ANOVA indicated that there was no significant group × condition interaction effect, suggesting comparable responses between low (≤100 mg·d−1) and moderate to high (>100 mg·d−1) caffeine users to the experimental conditions. Conclusion: Caffeine doses of 2, 4, and 6 mg·kg−1 seem to be effective for acute enhancements in lower-body ballistic exercise performance in recreationally trained male individuals. For the upper-body ballistic exercise performance, only a caffeine dose of 6 mg·kg−1 seems to be effective. The acute effects of caffeine ingestion do not seem to be affected by habitual caffeine intake; however, this requires further exploration.

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Jonathon Weakley, Kevin Till, John Sampson, Harry Banyard, Cedric Leduc, Kyle Wilson, Greg Roe and Ben Jones

Purpose: Feedback can enhance acute physical performance. However, its effects on physical adaptation have received little attention. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the effect of feedback during a 4-wk training program on jump, sprint, and strength adaptations. Methods: A total of 28 semiprofessional male rugby union players were strength-matched into 2 groups (feedback and nonfeedback). During the 4-wk training program, the Feedback group received immediate, objective feedback on (1) mean concentric velocity during resistance training repetitions, (2) distance feedback for standing broad jumps, and (3) time for sprints. The Nonfeedback group was not provided additional information. Across the 4-wk mesocycle, subjects completed 3 strength and conditioning sessions per week. Countermovement jump, standing long jump, 10- and 20-m sprint, and 3-repetition-maximum barbell back squat and bench press were measured before and after the training intervention. Magnitude-based inferences assessed meaningful changes within and between groups. Results: The Feedback group showed small to moderate improvements in outcome measures, whereas the Nonfeedback group demonstrated trivial to small improvements. Improvements in countermovement-jump relative peak power (effect size ± 90% confidence limits: 0.34 ± 0.42), 10-m (0.20 ± 0.35) and 20-m sprints (0.40 ± 0.21), and 3-repetition-maximum back squats (0.23 ± 0.17) were possibly to likely greater for the Feedback condition than for Nonfeedback. Conclusions: Providing augmented feedback during strength and conditioning routines can enhance training adaptations compared with athletes who do not receive feedback. Consequently, practitioners should consider providing kinematic outputs, displacement, or sprint time at the completion of each repetition as athletes train.

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Carlo Castagna, Stefano D’Ottavio, Stefano Cappelli and Susana Cristina Araújo Póvoas

Purpose: To examine the internal and external load imposed by long sprint ability–oriented small-sided games (SSG) using different ratios of players to pitch area (densities) in soccer players. Methods: A total of 19 professional soccer players from the same soccer club (age = 17.1 [0.3] y, height = 1.76 [0.69] m, and body mass = 69.7 [9.4] kg) participated in this study. Players performed 4 × 30-s (150 s recovery) all-out 1-vs-1 SSG considering 300, 200, and 100 m2 per player (48 h apart). Players’ external loads were tracked with global positioning technology (20 Hz). Heart rate, blood lactate concentration (BLc), and rating of perceived exertion characterized players’ internal load. Peak BLc was assessed with a 30-s all-out test on a nonmotorized treadmill (NMT). Results: SSG300 produced higher BLc than SSG200 (moderate) and SSG100 (large). The SSG300, SSG200, and SSG100 BLc were 97.8% (34.8%), trivial; 74.7% (24.9%), moderate; and 43.4% (15.7%), large, of the NMT30s peak BLc, respectively. Players covered more distance at high intensity during the SSG300 than in other SSG conditions (huge to very large differences). High-intensity deceleration distance was largely lower in SSG200 than in SSG300. SSG100 elicited very large to huge and large to very large lower external load values than SSG300 and SSG200, respectively. Conclusions: The main finding of this study showed an inverse association between ball-drill density and internal/external loads in long sprint ability–oriented SSG. The SSG300 provided BLc closer to individual maximal, thus satisfying the all-out construct assumed for the development of long sprint ability. Further studies using the SSG300 as a training intervention and/or investigating other different SSG formats using the same density are warranted.