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Ioanna Athanasiadou, Sven Christian Voss, Wesal El Saftawy, Hind Al-Jaber, Najib Dbes, Sameera Al-Yazedi, Waseem Samsam, Vidya Mohamed-Ali, Mohammed Alsayrafi, Georgia Valsami and Costas Georgakopoulos

Low urinary luteinizing hormone (LH) values have been discussed as a marker to detect steroid abuse. However, suppressed LH concentrations related to highly diluted urine samples could be a misleading indication of anabolic steroid abuse. One aim of the present study was to examine the effect of hyperhydration on the interpretation of LH findings during doping control analysis and to investigate different possibilities to correct volume-related changes in urinary LH concentrations. Seven healthy, physically active, nonsmoking White males were examined for a 72-hr period, using water and a commercial sports drink as hyperhydration agents (20 ml/kg body weight). Urine samples were collected and analyzed according to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s technical documents. Baseline urinary LH concentrations, expressed as the mean ± SD for each individual, were within the acceptable physiological range (7.11 ± 5.42 IU/L). A comparison of the measured LH values for both hyperhydration phases (Phase A: 4.24 ± 5.60 IU/L and Phase B: 4.74 ± 4.72 IU/L) with the baseline (“normal”) values showed significant differences (Phase A: p < .001 and Phase B: p < .001), suggesting the clear effect of urine dilution due to hyperhydration. However, an adjustment of urinary LH concentrations by specific gravity based on a reference value of 1.020 seems to adequately correct the hyperhydration-induced decrease on the LH levels.

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Paola Rodriguez-Giustiniani, Ian Rollo, Oliver C. Witard and Stuart D. R. Galloway

This study investigated the influence of ingesting a 12% carbohydrate plus electrolyte (CHO-E) solution providing 60 g of carbohydrate before each half of a 90-min soccer match simulation (SMS) protocol on skill performance, sprint speed, and high-intensity running capacity. Eighteen elite academy (age: 18 ± 2 years) soccer players ingested two 250-ml doses (pre-exercise and at halftime) of a 12% CHO-E solution or electrolyte placebo administered in a double-blind randomized cross-over design. During an indoor (artificial grass pitch) SMS, dribbling, passing, and sprint performance were assessed, and blood was drawn for glucose and lactate analysis. High-intensity running capacity was assessed following the SMS. Dribbling speed/accuracy and sprint speed remained unchanged throughout the SMS. Conversely, passing accuracy for both dominant (mean percentage difference [95% confidence interval, CI]: 9 [3, 15]) and nondominant (mean percentage difference [95% CI]: 13 [6, 20]) feet was better maintained during the SMS on CHO-E (p < .05), with passing speed better maintained in the nondominant foot (mean percentage difference [95% CI]: 5.3 [0.7, 9.9], p = .032). High-intensity running capacity was greater in CHO-E versus placebo (mean percentage difference [95% CI]: 13 [6, 20], p = .010). Capillary blood glucose concentration was higher in CHO-E than placebo at halftime (CHO-E: 5.8 ± 0.5 mM vs. placebo: 4.1 ± 0.4 mM, p = .001) and following the high-intensity running capacity test (CHO-E: 4.9 ± 0.4 mM vs. placebo: 4.3 ± 0.4 mM, p = .001). Ingesting a 12% CHO-E solution before each half of a match can aid in the maintenance of soccer-specific skill performance, particularly on the nondominant foot, and improves subsequent high-intensity running capacity.

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Naroa Etxebarria, Megan L. Ross, Brad Clark and Louise M. Burke

Purpose: The authors investigated the potential benefit of ingesting 2 mM of quinine (bitter tastant) on a 3000-m cycling time-trial (TT) performance. Methods: Nine well-trained male cyclists (maximal aerobic power: 386 [38] W) performed a maximal incremental cycling ergometer test, three 3000-m familiarization TTs, and four 3000-m intervention TTs (∼4 min) on consecutive days. The 4 interventions were (1) 25 mL of placebo, (2) a 25-mL sweet solution, and (3) and (4) repeat 25 mL of 2-mM quinine solutions (Bitter1 and Bitter2), 30 s before each trial. Participants self-selected their gears and were only aware of distance covered. Results: Overall mean power output for the full 3000 m was similar for all 4 conditions: placebo, 348 (45) W; sweet, 355 (47) W; Bitter1, 354 (47) W; and Bitter2, 355 (48) W. However, quinine administration in Bitter1 and Bitter2 increased power output during the first kilometer by 15 ± 11 W and 21 ± 10 W (mean ± 90% confidence limits), respectively, over placebo, followed by a decay of 34 ± 32 W during Bitter1 and Bitter2 during the second kilometer. Bitter2 also induced a 11 ± 13-W increase during the first kilometer compared with the sweet condition. Conclusions: Ingesting 2 mM of quinine can improve cycling performance during the first one-third of a 3000-m TT and could be used for sporting events lasting ∼80 s to potentially improve overall performance.

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Joseph J. Matthews, Edward N. Stanhope, Mark S. Godwin, Matthew E.J. Holmes and Guilherme G. Artioli

Combat sport athletes typically engage in a process called making weight, characterized by rapid weight loss (RWL) and subsequent rapid weight gain (RWG) in the days preceding competition. These practices differ across each sport, but no systematic comparison of the size of the changes in body mass exists. The aim was to determine the magnitude of RWL and RWG in combat sport athletes preparing for competition. The review protocol was preregistered with PROSPERO (CRD42017055279). In eligible studies, athletes prepared habitually with a RWL period ≤7 days preceding competition. An electronic search of EBSCOhost (CINAHL Plus, MEDLINE, and SPORTDiscus) and PubMed Central was performed up to July 2018. Sixteen full-text studies (total 4,432 participants; 156 females and 4,276 males) were included, providing data from five combat sports (boxing, judo, mixed martial arts, taekwondo, and wrestling). Three studies reported RWL and 14 studies reported RWG. Duration permitted for RWG ranged 3–32 hr. The largest changes in body mass occurred in two separate mixed martial arts cohorts (RWL: 7.4 ± 1.1 kg [∼10%] and RWG: 7.4 ± 2.8 kg [11.7% ± 4.7%]). The magnitude of RWG appears to be influenced by the type of sport, competition structure, and recovery duration permitted. A cause for concern is the lack of objective data quantifying the magnitude of RWL. There is insufficient evidence to substantiate the use of RWG as a proxy for RWL, and little data are available in females. By engaging in RWG, athletes are able to exploit the rules to compete up to three weight categories higher than at the official weigh-in.

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Youri Geurkink, Gilles Vandewiele, Maarten Lievens, Filip de Turck, Femke Ongenae, Stijn P.J. Matthys, Jan Boone and Jan G. Bourgois

Purpose: To predict the session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) in soccer and determine its main predictive indicators. Methods: A total of 70 external-load indicators (ELIs), internal-load indicators, individual characteristics, and supplementary variables were used to build a predictive model. Results: The analysis using gradient-boosting machines showed a mean absolute error of 0.67 (0.09) arbitrary units (AU) and a root-mean-square error of 0.93 (0.16) AU. ELIs were found to be the strongest predictors of the sRPE, accounting for 61.5% of the total normalized importance (NI), with total distance as the strongest predictor. The included internal-load indicators and individual characteristics accounted only for 1.0% and 4.5%, respectively, of the total NI. Predictive accuracy improved when including supplementary variables such as group-based sRPE predictions (10.5% of NI), individual deviation variables (5.8% of NI), and individual player markers (17.0% of NI). Conclusions: The results showed that the sRPE can be predicted quite accurately using only a relatively limited number of training observations. ELIs are the strongest predictors of the sRPE. However, it is useful to include a broad range of variables other than ELIs, because the accumulated importance of these variables accounts for a reasonable component of the total NI. Applications resulting from predictive modeling of the sRPE can help coaching staff plan, monitor, and evaluate both the external and internal training load.

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Patrick P.J.M. Schoenmakers, Florentina J. Hettinga and Kate E. Reed

Purpose: Over recent years, multiple studies have tried to optimize the exercise intensity and duration of work intervals in high-intensity-interval training (HIIT) protocols. Although an optimal work interval is of major importance to facilitate training adaptations, an optimal HIIT protocol can only be achieved with an adequate recovery interval separating work bouts. Surprisingly, little research has focused on the acute responses and long-term impact of manipulating recovery intervals in HIIT sessions. This invited commentary therefore aimed to review and discuss the current literature and increase the understanding of the moderating role of recovery durations in HIIT protocols. Conclusion: The acute responses to manipulations in recovery durations in repeated-sprint training (RST), sprint interval training (SIT), and aerobic interval training (AIT) protocols have recently begun to receive scientific interest. However, limited studies have manipulated only the recovery duration in RST, SIT, or AIT protocols to analyze the role of recovery durations on long-term training adaptations. In RST and SIT, longer recovery intervals (≥80 s) facilitate higher workloads in subsequent work intervals (compared with short recovery intervals), while potentially lowering the aerobic stimulus of the training session. In AIT, the total physiological strain endured per training protocol appears not to be moderated by the recovery intervals, unless the recovery duration is too short. This invited commentary highlights that further empirical evidence on a variety of RST, SIT, and AIT protocols and in exercise modalities other than cycling is needed.

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Ozcan Esen, Ceri Nicholas, Mike Morris and Stephen J. Bailey

Purpose: Dietary nitrate supplementation has been reported to improve performance in kayaking and rowing exercise, which mandate significant recruitment of the upper-body musculature. Because the effect of dietary nitrate supplementation on swimming performance is unclear, the purpose of this study was to assess the effect of dietary nitrate supplementation on 100-m and 200-m swimming freestyle time-trial (TT) performance. Methods: In a double-blind, randomized crossover design, 10 moderately trained swimmers underwent 2 separate 3-d supplementation periods, with a daily dose of either 140 mL nitrate-rich (∼800 mg/d nitrate) or nitrate-depleted (PLA) beetroot juice (BRJ). After blood sampling on day 3, the swimmers performed both 200-m and 100-m freestyle swimming TTs, with 30 min recovery between trials. Results: Plasma nitrite concentration was greater after BRJ relative to PLA consumption (432 [203] nmol/L, 111 [56] nmol/L, respectively, P = .001). Systolic blood pressure was lowered after BRJ compared with PLA supplementation (114 [10], 120 [10] mm Hg, respectively P = .001), but time to complete the 200-m (BRJ 152.6 [14.1] s, PLA 152.5 [14.1] s) and 100-m (BRJ 69.5 [7.2] s, PLA 69.4 [7.4] s) freestyle swimming TTs was not different between BRJ and PLA (P > .05). Conclusions: Although 3 d of BRJ supplementation increased plasma nitrite concentration and lowered blood pressure, it did not improve 100-m and 200-m swimming TT performance. These results do not support an ergogenic effect of nitrate supplementation in moderately trained swimmers, at least for 100-m and 200-m freestyle swimming performance.

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Davide Ferioli, Ermanno Rampinini, Andrea Bosio, Antonio La Torre and Nicola A. Maffiuletti

Purpose: To examine differences between adult male basketball players of different competitive levels (study 1) and changes over a basketball season (study 2) of knee-extensor peripheral muscle function during multistage change-of-direction exercise (MCODE). Methods: In study 1, 111 players from 4 different divisions completed the MCODE during the regular season. In study 2, the MCODE was performed before (T1) and after (T2) the preparation period and during the competitive season (T3) by 32 players from divisions I, II, and III. The MCODE comprised 4 levels of increasing intensity for each player. The twitch peak torque (PT) of knee extensors was measured after each level. PTmax (the highest value of PT) and fatigue were calculated. Results: In study 1, the authors found possibly small differences (effect size [ES] [90% confidence interval] −0.24 [0.39]) in fatigue between divisions I and II. Division I was characterized by likely (ES 0.30–0.65) and very likely to almost certain (ES 0.74–1.41) better PTmax and fatigue levels than divisions III and VI, respectively. In study 2, fatigue was very likely reduced (ES −0.91 to −0.51) among all divisions from T1 to T2, whereas PTmax was likely to very likely reduced (ES −0.51 to −0.39) in divisions II and III. Conclusions: Professional basketball players are characterized by a better peripheral muscle function during MCODE. Most of the seasonal changes in peripheral muscle function occurred after the preparation period. These findings inform practitioners on the development of training programs to enhance the ability to sustain repeated change-of-direction efforts.

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Christopher Byrne and Jason K.W. Lee

Purpose: To determine if the Physiological Strain Index (PSI), in original or modified form, can evaluate heat strain on a 0–10 scale, in trained and heat-acclimatized men undertaking a competitive half-marathon run in outdoor heat. Methods: Core (intestinal) temperature (TC) and heart rate (HR) were recorded continuously in 24 men (mean [SD] age = 26 [3] y, VO2peak = 59 [5] mL·kg·min−1). A total of 4 versions of the PSI were computed: original PSI with upper constraints of TC 39.5°C and HR 180 beats·min−1 (PSI39.5/180) and 3 modified versions of PSI with each having an age-predicted maximal HR constraint and graded TC constraints of 40.0°C (PSI40.0/PHRmax), 40.5°C (PSI40.5/PHRmax), and 41.0°C (PSI41.0/PHRmax). Results: In a warm (26.1–27.3°C) and humid (79–82%) environment, all runners finished the race asymptomatic in 107 (10) (91–137) min. Peak TC and HR were 39.7°C (0.5°C) (38.5–40.7°C) and 186 (6) (175–196) beats·min−1, respectively. In total, 63% exceeded TC 39.5°C, 71% exceeded HR 180 beats·min−1, and 50% exceeded both of the original PSI upper TC and HR constraints. The computed heat strain was significantly greater with PSI39.5/180 than all other methods (P < .003). PSI >10 was observed in 63% of runners with PSI39.5/180, 25% for PSI40.0/PHRmax, 8% for PSI40.5/PHRmax, and 0% for PSI41.0/PHRmax. Conclusions: The PSI was able to quantify heat strain on a 0–10 scale in trained and heat-acclimatized men undertaking a half-marathon race in outdoor heat, but only when the upper TC and HR constraints were modified to 41.0°C and age-predicted maximal HR, respectively.

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Mads S. Larsen, Dagmar Clausen, Astrid Ank Jørgensen, Ulla R. Mikkelsen and Mette Hansen

Recent studies demonstrate that protein ingestion immediately before sleep improves muscle recovery during the night following resistance exercise. Whether this feeding strategy benefits recovery from endurance training has yet to be established. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of whey protein isolate ingested every night before sleep on subsequent performance and circulatory markers of muscular recovery during a week of intensified endurance training mimicking a training camp. In a parallel design, 32 trained runners underwent a 1-week intervention with a rigorously controlled diet (carbohydrate = 7.2 g·kg−1·day−1, protein = 1.8 g·kg−1·day−1, and fat = 1.0 g·kg−1·day−1) and exercise program (11 sessions) while receiving either a protein (0.5 g·kg−1·day−1) or carbohydrate (0.5 g·kg−1·day−1) beverage every night before sleep. Blood samples were obtained on the morning of Days 1, 4, 7, and 8 and analyzed for markers of muscle damage (creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase, and myoglobin). The postintervention 5-km time-trial performance was significantly impaired in both groups (11 ± 24 s, p < .01). Plasma creatine kinase (227% ± 221%, p < .01), lactate dehydrogenase (18% ± 22%, p < .01), and myoglobin (72% ± 62%, p < .01) increased gradually throughout the week with no difference between the groups (p > .05). In conclusion, the presleep protein ingestion did not reduce the decline in performance or ameliorate the rise of circulatory markers of muscle damage during a week of intensified training when compared with the isocaloric carbohydrate ingestion.