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Pål Haugnes, Jan Kocbach, Harri Luchsinger, Gertjan Ettema and Øyvind Sandbakk

Purpose: To investigate fluctuations in speed, work rate, and heart rate (HR) when cross-country ski skating across varying terrains at different endurance-training intensities. Methods: Seven male junior Norwegian skiers performed maximal-speed (V max) tests in both flat and uphill terrains. Thereafter, 5-km sessions at low (LIT), moderate (MIT), and high intensity (HIT) were performed based on their own perception of intensity while monitored by a global navigation satellite system with integrated barometry and accompanying HR monitor. Results: Speed, HR, and rating of perceived exertion gradually increased from LIT to MIT and HIT, both for the total course and in flat and uphill terrains (all P < .05). Uphill work rates (214 [24] W, 298 [27] W, and 350 [54] W for LIT, MIT, and HIT, respectively) and the corresponding percentage of maximal HR (79.2% [6.1]%, 88.3% [2.4]%, and 91.0% [1.7]%) were higher than in flat terrain (159 [16] W, 206 [19] W, and 233 [72] W vs 72.3% [6.3]%, 83.2% [2.3]%, and 87.4% [2.0]% for LIT, MIT, and HIT, respectively) (all P < .01). In general, ∼13% point lower utilization of maximal work rate was reached in uphill than in flat terrain at all intensities (all P < .01). Conclusions: Cross-country ski training across varying terrains is clearly interval based in terms of speed, external work rate, and metabolic intensity for all endurance-training intensities. Although work rate and HR were highest in uphill terrain at all intensities, the utilization of maximal work rate was higher in flat terrain. This demonstrates the large potential for generating external work rate when uphill skiing and the corresponding downregulation of effort due to the metabolic limitations.

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Stephen S. Cheung

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Paul A. Solberg, Will G. Hopkins, Gøran Paulsen and Thomas A. Haugen

Purpose: To quantify age of peak performance and performance improvements in the years preceding peak age in elite weightlifting and powerlifting athletes using results from powerlifting World Championships in 2003–2017 and weightlifting World Championships and Olympic Games in 1998–2017. Methods: Individual performance trends were derived by fitting a quadratic curve separately to each athlete’s performance and age data. Effects were evaluated using magnitude-based inferences. Results: Peak age (mean [SD]) was 35 (7) y for powerlifters and 26 (3) y for weightlifters, a large most likely substantial difference of 9, ±1 y (mean, 90% confidence limit). Men showed possibly higher peak age than women in weightlifting (0.8, ±0.7 y; small) and a possibly lower peak age in powerlifting (1.3, ±1.8 y; trivial). Peak age of athletes who ever won a medal was very likely less than that of nonmedalists in weightlifting (1.3, ±0.6 y; small), while the difference in powerlifters was trivial but unclear. Five-year improvements prior to peak age were 12% (10%) for powerlifters and 9% (7%) for weightlifters, a small possibly substantial difference (2.9, ±2.1%). Women exhibited possibly greater improvements than men in powerlifting (2.7, ±3.8%; small) and very likely greater in weightlifting (3.5, ±1.6%; small). Medalists possibly improved less than nonmedalists among powerlifters (−1.7, ±2.3%; small), while the difference was likely trivial for weightlifters (2.3, ±1.8%). Conclusion: These novel insights on performance development will be useful for practitioners evaluating strategies for achieving success.

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Alejandro Pérez-Castilla, Antonio Piepoli, Gabriel Garrido-Blanca, Gabriel Delgado-García, Carlos Balsalobre-Fernández and Amador García-Ramos

Objective: To compare the accuracy of different devices to predict the bench-press 1-repetition maximum (1RM) from the individual load–velocity relationship modeled through the multiple- and 2-point methods. Methods: Eleven men performed an incremental test on a Smith machine against 5 loads (45–55–65–75–85%1RM), followed by 1RM attempts. The mean velocity was simultaneously measured by 1 linear velocity transducer (T-Force), 2 linear position transducers (Chronojump and Speed4Lift), 1 camera-based optoelectronic system (Velowin), 2 inertial measurement units (PUSH Band and Beast Sensor), and 1 smartphone application (My Lift). The velocity recorded at the 5 loads (45–55–65–75–85%1RM), or only at the 2 most distant loads (45–85%1RM), was considered for the multiple- and 2-point methods, respectively. Results: An acceptable and comparable accuracy in the estimation of the 1RM was observed for the T-Force, Chronojump, Speed4Lift, Velowin, and My Lift when using both the multiple- and 2-point methods (effect size ≤ 0.40; Pearson correlation coefficient [r] ≥ .94; standard error of the estimate [SEE] ≤ 4.46 kg), whereas the accuracy of the PUSH (effect size = 0.70–0.83; r = .93–.94; SEE = 4.45–4.80 kg), and especially the Beast Sensor (effect size = 0.36–0.84; r = .50–.68; SEE = 9.44–11.2 kg), was lower. Conclusions: These results highlight that the accuracy of 1RM prediction methods based on movement velocity is device dependent, with the inertial measurement units providing the least accurate estimate of the 1RM.

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Llion A. Roberts, Johnpaul Caia, Lachlan P. James, Tannath J. Scott and Vincent G. Kelly

Purpose: External counterpulsation (ECP) has previously been used to treat cardiac patients via compression of the lower extremities during diastole to increase venous return and coronary perfusion. However, the effects of ECP on exercise performance and markers of recovery in elite athletes are largely unknown. Methods: On 2 separate occasions, 48 h apart, 7 elite National Rugby League players performed an identical 60-min field-based conditioning session followed by a 30-min period of either regular ECP treatment or placebo. Power measures during repeated cycle bouts and countermovement jump height and contraction time derivatives were measured at rest and 5 h postexercise. Saliva samples and venous blood samples were taken at rest, postexercise, and 5 h postexercise to assess stress, inflammation, and muscle damage. Results: After ECP treatment, cycling peak power output (P = .028; 11%) and accumulated peak power (P = .027; 14%) increased compared with the placebo condition. Postexercise plasma interleukin 1 receptor antagonist only increased after ECP (P = .024; 84%), and concentrations of plasma interleukin 1 receptor antagonist tended to be higher (P = .093; 76%) 5 h postexercise. Furthermore, testosterone-to-cortisol ratio was increased above baseline and placebo 5 h postexercise (P = .017–.029; 24–77%). The ratio of postexercise salivary α-amylase to immunoglobulin A decreased after treatment (P = .013; 50%) compared with the placebo control. Conclusions: Exercise performance and hormonal indicators of stress were improved and inflammation markers were reduced following acute ECP.

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Aaron T. Scanlan, Robert Stanton, Charli Sargent, Cody O’Grady, Michele Lastella and Jordan L. Fox

Purpose: To quantify and compare internal and external workloads in regular and overtime games and examine changes in relative workloads during overtime compared with other periods in overtime games in male basketball players. Methods: Starting players for a semiprofessional male basketball team were monitored during 2 overtime games and 2 regular games (nonovertime) with similar contextual factors. Internal (rating of perceived exertion and heart-rate variables) and external (PlayerLoad and inertial movement analysis variables) workloads were quantified across games. Separate linear mixed-models and effect-size analyses were used to quantify differences in variables between regular and overtime games and between game periods in overtime games. Results: Session rating-of-perceived-exertion workload (P = .002, effect size 2.36, very large), heart-rate workload (P = .12, 1.13, moderate), low-intensity change-of-direction events to the left (P = .19, 0.95, moderate), medium-intensity accelerations (P = .12, 1.01, moderate), and medium-intensity change-of-direction events to the left (P = .10, 1.06, moderate) were higher during overtime games than during regular games. Overtime periods also exhibited reductions in relative PlayerLoad (first quarter P = .03, −1.46, large), low-intensity accelerations (first quarter P = .01, −1.45, large; second quarter P = .15, −1.22, large), and medium-intensity accelerations (first quarter P = .09, −1.32, large) compared with earlier periods. Conclusions: Overtime games disproportionately elevate perceptual, physiological, and acceleration workloads compared with regular games in starting basketball players. Players also perform at lower external intensities during overtime periods than earlier quarters during basketball games.

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Sandro Venier, Jozo Grgic and Pavle Mikulic

Purpose: To explore the acute effects of caffeinated chewing gum on vertical-jump performance, isokinetic knee-extension/flexion strength and power, barbell velocity in resistance exercise, and whole-body power. Methods: Nineteen resistance-trained men consumed, in randomized counterbalanced order, either caffeinated chewing gum (300 mg of caffeine) or placebo and completed exercise testing that included squat jump; countermovement jump; isokinetic knee extension and knee flexion at angular velocities of 60 and 180°·s−1; bench-press exercise with loads corresponding to 50%, 75%, and 90% of 1-repetition maximum (1RM); and an “all-out” rowing-ergometer test. Results: Compared with placebo, caffeinated chewing gum enhanced (all Ps < .05) (1) vertical-jump height in the squat jump (effect size [ES] = 0.21; +3.7%) and countermovement jump (ES = 0.27; +4.6%); (2) knee-extension peak torque (ES = 0.21; +3.6%) and average power (ES = 0.25; +4.5%) at 60°·s−1 and knee-extension average power (ES = 0.30; +5.2%) at 180°·s−1, and knee-flexion peak torque at 60°·s−1 (ES = 0.22; +4.1%) and 180°·s−1 (ES = 0.31; +5.9%); (3) barbell velocity at 50% of 1RM (ES = 0.30; +3.2%), 75% of 1RM (ES = 0.44; +5.7%), and 90% of 1RM (ES = 0.43; +9.1%); and (4) whole-body peak power on the rowing-ergometer test (ES = 0.41; +5.0%). Average power of the knee flexors did not change at either angular velocity with caffeine consumption. Conclusions: Caffeinated chewing gum with a dose of caffeine of 300 mg consumed 10 min preexercise may acutely enhance vertical-jump height, isokinetic strength and power of the lower-body musculature, barbell velocity in the bench-press exercise with moderate to high loads, and whole-body power.

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Emily C. Borden, William J. Kraemer, Bryant J. Walrod, Emily M. Post, Lydia K. Caldwell, Matthew K. Beeler, William H. DuPont, John Paul Anders, Emily R. Martini, Jeff S. Volek and Carl M. Maresh

Purpose: To evaluate the changes in the state of hydration in elite National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I college wrestlers during and after a season. Methods: Ohio State University wrestling team members (N = 6; mean [SD] age = 19.6 [1.1] y; height = 171.6 [2.9] cm; body mass = 69.5 [8.1] kg) gave informed consent to participate in the investigation with measurements (ie, body mass, urine-specific gravity [USG; 2 methods], Visual Analog Scale thirst scale, plasma osmolality) obtained during and after the season. Results: Measurements for USG, regardless of methods, were not significantly different between visits, but plasma osmolality was significantly (P = .001) higher at the beginning of the season—295.5 (4.9) mOsm·kg−1 compared with 279.6 (6.1) mOsm·kg−1 after the season. No changes in thirst ratings were observed, and the 2 measures of USG were highly correlated (r > .9, P = .000) at each time point, but USG and plasma osmolality were not related. Conclusions: A paradox in the clinical interpretation of euhydration in the beginning of the season was observed with the USG, indicating that the wrestlers were properly hydrated, while the plasma osmolality showed they were not. Thus, the tracking of hydration status during the season is a concern when using only NCAA policies and procedures. The wrestlers did return to normal euhydration levels after the season on both biomarkers, which is remarkable, as previous studies have indicated that this may not happen because of the reregulation of the osmol-regulatory center in the brain.

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Daniel Bok and Igor Jukić

Purpose: To report creatine kinase ([CK]) responses during a soccer World Cup preparatory and first-leg period and to determine the influence of aerobic fitness on postmatch [CK] responses. Methods: Eleven national-team players were analyzed in this study. A lactate threshold test was performed during the first 3 d, whereas fingertip blood was drawn most mornings (21 out of 30 d) for [CK] measurements. One-way repeated-measures analysis of variance was used for determining the effect of time on [CK] measurements, whereas Pearson correlation coefficient was used for assessing associations between the changes in [CK] and velocities associated with blood lactate concentrations of 2 (v2) and 4 mmol·L−1 (v4). Results: Peak [CK] concentrations were consistently reached on the first day after the match with values of 474 (261), 520 (419), and 460 (126) U·L−1 but with no significant differences between them. [CK] concentrations returned to prematch values (331 [201] U·L−1) on the second day after the match. The change in [CK] concentration between prematch and postmatch day was largely correlated (r = .614, P = .044) with v2. Conclusions: Top-level soccer players display low levels of muscle damage during official tournaments, and they recover before the next match. Postmatch muscle damage is greater in players with higher aerobic endurance because this fitness quality enables them to execute high-intensity activities known to be a major contributor to muscle damage.

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Thomas A. Haugen, Felix Breitschädel and Stephen Seiler

Purpose: To quantify possible differences in sprint mechanical outputs in handball and basketball players according to playing standard and position. Methods: Sprint tests of 298 male players were analyzed. Theoretical maximal velocity (v 0), horizontal force (F 0), horizontal power (P max), force–velocity slope (S FV), ratio of force (RFmax), and index of force application technique (D RF) were calculated from anthropometric and spatiotemporal data using an inverse dynamic approach applied to the center-of-mass movement. Results: National-team handball players displayed clearly superior 10-m times (0.03, ±0.02 s), 40-m times (0.12, ±0.07 s), F 0 (0.1, ±0.2 N·kg−1), v 0 (0.3, ±0.2 m·s−1), and P max (0.9, ±0.5 W·kg−1) than corresponding top-division players. Wings differed from the other positions in terms of superior 10-m times (0.02, ±0.01 to 0.07, ±0.02 s), 40-m times (0.07, ±0.05 to 0.27, ±0.07 s), F 0 (0.2, ±0.1 to 0.4, ±0.2 N·kg−1), v 0 (0.1, ±0.1 to 0.5, ±0.1 m·s−1), P max (0.7, ±0.4 to 2.0, ±0.5 W·kg−1), and RFmax (0.6, ±0.4 to 1.3, ±0.4%). In basketball, guards differed from forwards in terms of superior 10-m times (0.03, ±0.02 s), 40-m times (0.10, ±0.08 s), v 0 (0.2, ±0.1 m·s−1), P max (0.6, ±0.6 W·kg−1), and RFmax (0.4, ±0.3%). The effect magnitudes of the substantial differences observed ranged from small to large. Conclusions: The present results provide an overall picture of the force–velocity profile continuum in sprinting handball and basketball players and serve as useful background information for practitioners when diagnosing individual players and prescribing training programs.