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Alannah K.A. McKay, Peter Peeling, David B. Pyne, Nicolin Tee, Marijke Welveart, Ida A. Heikura, Avish P. Sharma, Jamie Whitfield, Megan L. Ross, Rachel P.L. van Swelm, Coby M. Laarakkers, and Louise M. Burke

This study implemented a 2-week high carbohydrate (CHO) diet intended to maximize CHO oxidation rates and examined the iron-regulatory response to a 26-km race walking effort. Twenty international-level, male race walkers were assigned to either a novel high CHO diet (MAX = 10 g/kg body mass CHO daily) inclusive of gut-training strategies, or a moderate CHO control diet (CON = 6 g/kg body mass CHO daily) for a 2-week training period. The athletes completed a 26-km race walking test protocol before and after the dietary intervention. Venous blood samples were collected pre-, post-, and 3 hr postexercise and measured for serum ferritin, interleukin-6, and hepcidin-25 concentrations. Similar decreases in serum ferritin (17–23%) occurred postintervention in MAX and CON. At the baseline, CON had a greater postexercise increase in interleukin-6 levels after 26 km of walking (20.1-fold, 95% CI [9.2, 35.7]) compared with MAX (10.2-fold, 95% CI [3.7, 18.7]). A similar finding was evident for hepcidin levels 3 hr postexercise (CON = 10.8-fold, 95% CI [4.8, 21.2]; MAX = 8.8-fold, 95% CI [3.9, 16.4]). Postintervention, there were no substantial differences in the interleukin-6 response (CON = 13.6-fold, 95% CI [9.2, 20.5]; MAX = 11.2-fold, 95% CI [6.5, 21.3]) or hepcidin levels (CON = 7.1-fold, 95% CI [2.1, 15.4]; MAX = 6.3-fold, 95% CI [1.8, 14.6]) between the dietary groups. Higher resting serum ferritin (p = .004) and hotter trial ambient temperatures (p = .014) were associated with greater hepcidin levels 3 hr postexercise. Very high CHO diets employed by endurance athletes to increase CHO oxidation have little impact on iron regulation in elite athletes. It appears that variations in serum ferritin concentration and ambient temperature, rather than dietary CHO, are associated with increased hepcidin concentrations 3 hr postexercise.

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Paul Ritsche, Thomas Bernhard, Ralf Roth, Eric Lichtenstein, Martin Keller, Sabrina Zingg, Martino V. Franchi, and Oliver Faude

Purpose: Hamstring muscle architecture may be associated with sprint performance and the risk of sustaining a muscle injury, both of which increase during puberty. In this study, we investigated the m. biceps femoris long head (BFlh) cross-sectional area (ACSA), fascicle length (FL) and pennation angle (PA), and sprint performance as well as their relationship in under 13 to 15 youth soccer players. Methods: We measured 85 players in under-13 (n = 29, age = 12.5 [0.1] y, height = 155.3 [6.2] cm, weight = 43.9 [7.6] kg), under-14 (n = 25, age = 13.5 [0.3] y, height = 160.6 [7.7] cm, weight = 47.0 [6.8] kg), and under-15 (n = 31, age = 14.4 [0.3] y, height = 170.0 [7.7] cm, weight = 58.1 [8.8] kg) teams. We used ultrasound to measure BFlh ACSA, FL and PA, and sprint tests to assess 10- and 30-m sprint time, maximal velocity  (v max), and maximal acceleration (α max). We calculated Pearson r to assess the relationship between sprint ability and architectural parameters. Results: All muscle architectural parameters increased from the under-13 to the under-15 age group (BFlh ACSA = 37%, BFlh FL = 11%, BFlh PA = 8%). All sprint performance parameters improved from the under-13 to under-15 age categories (30-m time = 7%, 10-m time = 4%, v max = 9%, α max = 7%). The BFlh ACSA was correlated with 30-m sprint time (r = −.61 (95% compatibility interval [CI] [−.73, −.45]) and v max (r = .61, 95% CI [.45, .72]). A combination of BFlh ACSA and age best predicted 30-m time (R² = .47 [.33, .62]) and 10-m time (R² = .23 [.08, .38]). Conclusions: Muscle architectural as well as sprint performance parameters increase from the under-13 to under-15 age groups. Even though we found correlations for all assessed architectural parameters, BFlh ACSA was best related to the assessed sprint parameters.

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Iván Peña-González, José M. Sarabia, Alba Roldan, Agustín Manresa-Rocamora, and Manuel Moya-Ramón

In regular football, the players’ selection process involves an objective assessment based on their anthropometric and physical performance. However, available literature focused on players’ selection process in cerebral palsy (CP) football is scarce. Purpose: To describe the anthropometrical and physical performance profiles of the International Spanish CP footballers and to compare them with the remaining CP football players from the national competition. Method: A total of 75 CP football players from the Spanish CP Football National Competition (classified into the 3 existing classes: football class [FT] 1 = 38; FT2 = 29; FT3 = 8) participated in the study. Participants were divided into 2 groups: selected players (n = 15) and nonselected players (n = 60) for the national team. Anthropometrical data and physical performance (countermovement jump, 20-m sprint, modified agility T-test [MAT], and dribbling test) were collected. Results: There were significant differences in the 20-m sprint, MAT, and dribbling for the total sample and in MAT and dribbling for FT2 and FT3 classes between selected players and nonselected players (P < .05), but there were no differences for FT1. The MAT and dribbling showed a positive correlation and a high percentage of player selection prediction. Conclusion: Change-of-direction ability (ie, MAT) and dribbling skills are important when performing the selection process, as they allow the evaluation of important aspects of the game, but they may also provide the technical staff with an idea of the functionality and the physical performance of the players in each sport class.

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Christian J. Cook, Blair T. Crewther, Liam P. Kilduff, Linda L. Agnew, Phillip Fourie, and Benjamin G. Serpell

Purpose: To establish if training volume was associated with androgen baselines and androgen responsiveness to acute exercise. Methods: During a “high-volume” training phase, 28 cyclists (14 men and 14 women) undertook oxygen-uptake and maximal-work-capacity testing. Two days later, they completed a repeat-sprint protocol, which was repeated 3 weeks later during a “low-volume” phase. Blood and saliva samples were collected before and after (+5 and +60 min) the repeat-sprint protocol. Blood was assayed for total testosterone (TT), free testosterone (FT), and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and saliva, for testosterone and DHT. Results: Pretrial TT, FT, and DHT concentration was greater for males (P < .001, large effect size differences), and in both genders TT, DHT, and saliva for DHT was higher during high-volume loading (moderate to large effect size). Area-under-the-curve analysis revealed larger TT, FT, and DHT responses to the repeat-sprint protocol among females, and high-volume training was linked to larger TT, DHT, and saliva for DHT responses (moderate to large effect size). Baseline TT and FT correlated with oxygen uptake and work capacity in both genders (P < .05). Conclusion: DHT showed no acute performance correlation but was responsive to volume of training, particularly in females. This work informs on timelines and relationships of androgenic biomarkers in males and females across different training loads, adding to the complexity that should be considered in interpretation thereof. The authors speculate that testosterone may impact acute performance via behavioral mechanisms of motivation and attention; DHT, via training volume-induced androgenic promotion, may facilitate long-term adaptive changes, especially for females.

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José María González-Ravé, Francisco Hermosilla, Fernando González-Mohíno, Arturo Casado, and David B. Pyne

A well-planned periodized approach allows swimmers to achieve peak performance at the major national and international competitions. Purpose: To identify the main characteristics of endurance training for highly trained swimmers described by the training intensity distribution (TID), volume, and periodization models. Methods: The electronic databases Scopus, PubMed, and Web of Science were searched using a comprehensive list of relevant terms. Studies that investigated the effect of the periodization of training in swimming, with the training load (volume, TID) and periodization reported, were included in the systematic review. Results: A total of 3487 studies were identified, and after removal of duplicates and elimination of papers based on title and abstract screening, 17 articles remained.  A further 8 articles were excluded after full text review, leaving a final total of 9 studies in the systematic review. The evidence levels were 1b for intervention studies (n = 3) and 2b for (observational) retrospective studies (n = 6). The sprint swimmers typically followed a polarized and threshold TID, the middle-distance swimmers followed a threshold and pyramidal TID, and the long-distance swimmers primarily followed a pyramidal TID. The periodization model identified in the majority of studies selected is characterized by wave-like cycles in units like mesocycles to promote physiological adaptations and skill acquisition. Conclusions: Highly trained swimmers follow a training volume and TID based on their primary event. There is a need for further experimental studies on the effects of block and reverse periodization models on swimming performance. Although observational studies of training have limited evidence, it is unclear whether a different training/periodization approach would yield better results.

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S. Sofie Lövdal, Ruud J.R. Den Hartigh, and George Azzopardi

Purpose: Staying injury free is a major factor for success in sports. Although injuries are difficult to forecast, novel technologies and data-science applications could provide important insights. Our purpose was to use machine learning for the prediction of injuries in runners, based on detailed training logs. Methods: Prediction of injuries was evaluated on a new data set of 74 high-level middle- and long-distance runners, over a period of 7 years. Two analytic approaches were applied. First, the training load from the previous 7 days was expressed as a time series, with each day’s training being described by 10 features. These features were a combination of objective data from a global positioning system watch (eg, duration, distance), together with subjective data about the exertion and success of the training. Second, a training week was summarized by 22 aggregate features, and a time window of 3 weeks before the injury was considered. Results: A predictive system based on bagged XGBoost machine-learning models resulted in receiver operating characteristic curves with average areas under the curves of 0.724 and 0.678 for the day and week approaches, respectively. The results of the day approach especially reflect a reasonably high probability that our system makes correct injury predictions. Conclusions: Our machine-learning-based approach predicts a sizable portion of the injuries, in particular when the model is based on training-load data in the days preceding an injury. Overall, these results demonstrate the possible merits of using machine learning to predict injuries and tailor training programs for athletes.