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Pedro L. Valenzuela, Lidia B. Alejo, Laureano M. Ozcoidi, Alejandro Lucia, Alfredo Santalla, and David Barranco-Gil

Purpose: To assess durability in professional cyclists, as well as potential associated indicators. Methods: Twelve male professional cyclists participated in the study (age: 26 [5] y, VO2max: 83.0 [3.6] mL·kg−1·min−1). They performed a 20-minute time trial (TT) on 2 different sessions separated by a 48-hour period: (1) with no previous fatigue (TTFresh) and (2) immediately after a long submaximal ride (approximately 4 h, 40 kJ/kg) (TTFatigue). We then assessed the decay (in percentage) in mean power output (PO) from TTFresh to TTFatigue and its association with different laboratory-based endurance indicators (ventilatory threshold, peak PO, and VO2max) determined through a previous maximal incremental cycling test, as well as with training loads during the 4 weeks preceding the TTs. Results: While no differences were noted in the average heart rate (177 [7] vs 176 [6] beats·min–1, P = .118), there was a significant decay in PO between TTFresh and TTFatigue (386 [29] W vs 375 [28] W [−2.9%], respectively; P = .007), albeit with signs of interindividual variability (range = −8.5% to 1.1%; coefficient of variation = 105%). No significant associations were found between the PO decay and any of the analyzed indicators (all P > .05). Conclusions: Performance is significantly impaired after a certain amount of work completed (approximately 40 kJ·kg–1) in professional cyclists, and the magnitude of this impairment seems to be not related to “traditional” laboratory-based endurance indicators or to markers of training load. These findings might support the need for specifically assessing durability in cyclists and confirming potential determinants of this parameter.

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Nuria Garatachea, Zoraida Verde, Alejandro Santos-Lozano, Thomas Yvert, Gabriel Rodriguez-Romo, Francisco J. Sarasa, Sonsoles Hernández-Sánchez, Catalina Santiago, and Alejandro Lucia

Purpose:

To determine the association of the ACTN3 R577X polymorphism with leg-muscle explosive power in Spanish (white) elite basketball players and controls.

Participants:

100 (60 men) elite basketball players (cases) and 283 nonathletic controls.

Methods:

The authors assessed power performance by means of the vertical-squat and countermovement-jump tests.

Results:

Genotype distributions did not differ between groups (cases: 37.0% [RR], 42.0% [RX], and 21.0% [XX]; controls: 31.8% [RR], 49.8% [RX], and 18.4% [XX]; P = .353). The authors did not observe any effect of the ACTN3 R577X polymorphism on study phenotypes in either group, including when they performed the analyses separately in men and women. They found no association between the ACTN3 R577X polymorphism and the likelihood of being an elite basketball player using the dominant or the recessive model, and the results remained unaltered when the analyses were adjusted for sex, weight, height, and age or when performed for men and women separately.

Conclusions:

Although the ACTN3 R577X is associated with explosive muscle performance and this phenotype is important in the sport of basketball (ie, during jumps), the authors found no association with leg explosive power in elite basket players or with the status of being this type of athlete.

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Adrián Hernández-Vicente, Alejandro Santos-Lozano, Carmen Mayolas-Pi, Gabriel Rodríguez-Romo, Helios Pareja-Galeano, Natalia Bustamante, Eva M. Gómez-Trullén, Alejandro Lucia, and Nuria Garatachea

To objectively assess physical activity levels and sedentary behavior in a cohort of Spanish centenarians and their nonagenarian peers. Physical activity and sedentary behavior patterns were objectively measured by an ActiGraph GT3X accelerometer in centenarians (n = 18; 83% women; 100.8 ± 0.8 [100–103] years) and nonagenarians (n = 11; 91% women; 93.3 ± 2.5 [90–98] years). Centenarians showed less counts per minute (17.6 ± 7.1 vs. 46.1 ± 23.7, p = .003, d = 1.851) and steps per day (455 ± 237 vs. 1,249 ± 776, p = .007, d = 1.587) than nonagenarians. The daily number of sedentary breaks was also lower in the former (5.0 ± 1.5 vs. 6.7 ± 2.0, p = .019, d = 0.971). When observing time distribution, the most active day period in both groups was the morning, with a peak between 10:00 and 11:59. This data suggest that the decline in physical activity levels continues to worsen until the end of the human lifespan.

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Alejandro Santos-Lozano, Ana M. Angulo, Pilar S. Collado, Fabian Sanchis-Gomar, Helios Pareja-Galeano, Carmen Fiuza-Luces, Alejandro Lucia, and Nuria Garatachea

Most studies on aging and marathon have analyzed elite marathoners, yet the latter only represent a very small fraction of all marathon participants. In addition, analysis of variance or unpaired Student t tests are frequently used to compare mean performance times across age groups. In this report the authors propose an alternative methodology to determine the impact of aging on marathon performance in both nonelite and elite marathoners participating in the New York City Marathon. In all, 471,453 data points corresponding to 370,741 different runners over 13 race editions (1999–2011) were retrieved. Results showed that the effect of aging on marathon performance was overall comparable in both sexes, the effect of aging differed between the fastest and slowest runners in both sexes, and the magnitude of the sex differences was higher in the slowest runners than in the fastest ones. Current data suggest that the biological differences between sexes allow men to have better marathon performance across most of the human life span.

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Pedro L. Valenzuela, Manuel Mateo-March, Mikel Zabala, Xabier Muriel, Alejandro Lucia, David Barranco-Gil, and Jesús G. Pallarés

Purpose: Ambient temperature affects endurance exercise performance. However, most research has been conducted in a laboratory-based setting, and whether there are sex-specific trends remains unclear. The present study aimed to analyze the influence of ambient temperature on cycling performance in male and female professional cyclists using field-based data collected during both training and racing. Methods: A total of 74 cyclists (48 male and 26 female; age 29 [5] y, 8 [5] y of experience in the professional category) were included in the analyses. We registered the participants’ record power profile using data from both training and competitions over 8 years (2013–2020; 8 [5] seasons per cyclist). We analyzed their mean maximal power (MMP) values attained for efforts lasting 5 seconds, 30 seconds, 5 minutes, and 20 minutes at ambient temperatures ranging from <5°C to >35°C. Results: A significant influence of ambient temperature on MMP values was found in male and female cyclists (P < .001 for both), with no significant differences between sexes (P = .512). Cyclists attained the highest MMP values at temperate conditions (10–30°C in males and 5–25°C in females), whereas an impairment in performance was found at colder and hotter temperatures, particularly for the more extreme conditions (performance impairment at <5°C and >35°C of −18% to −9% and −16% to −9%, respectively). Conclusions: Ambient temperature influences field-based cycling performance, following a reverse U-shaped relationship, with the highest MMP values attained in the range of ∼10°C to 25°C and with no major differences between sexes.

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Sonsoles Hernández-Sánchez, Pedro L. Valenzuela, Javier S. Morales, Juan J. Carrero, Alejandro Lucia, and Jonatan R. Ruiz

Context: Exercise improves the commonly impaired physical fitness and cardiovascular health of transplant recipients. However, concerns remain about the safety of strenuous physical exercise in this population. Purpose: To describe the physiological effects of ultraendurance exercise in a renal transplant recipient. Methods: After a 25-week training program, a 31-year-old male with stage 3 chronic kidney disease who had undergone 2 kidney transplants participated in a 62-km (5600 m of positive altitude change) trail-running race. Blood and urine analyses were performed at baseline (24 h before the race), 4 days after the race, and at different time points up to 16 weeks postexercise. Results: The participant completed the race in 12 hours 18 minutes. No noticeable side effects were recorded during the whole study period, including the prerace training program. No major urine or blood alterations were observed after ultraendurance exercise, with glomerular filtration rate remaining steady during the study period. Conclusions: Ultraendurance exercise induced no adverse physiological effects in a well-trained young renal transplant recipient.

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Fabian Sanchis-Gomar, Helios Pareja-Galeano, Jose A. Rodriguez-Marroyo, Jos J. de Koning, Alejandro Lucia, and Carl Foster

Despite some advances, it remains largely unknown how the millions of variations in the human genome influence athletic performance (especially in endurance events), and no single genetic test can really predict sports talent. However, there is experimental evidence from animal research that selecting for even a simple characteristic such as running ability can produce comparatively large and rapid changes in performance. That such selection has not been specifically documented in humans is more evidence of the limits of physiology-archeology than of the unlikelihood of selection for physical abilities. Here, the authors argue that top Olympians are likely genetically gifted individuals who in addition have numerous contributors to the “complex trait” of being an athletic champion that may not necessarily depend on defined genetic variations.

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Jordan Santos-Concejero, Jesús Oliván, José L. Maté-Muñoz, Carlos Muniesa, Marta Montil, Ross Tucker, and Alejandro Lucia

Purpose:

This study aimed to determine whether biomechanical characteristics such as ground-contact time, swing time, and stride length and frequency contribute to the exceptional running economy of East African runners.

Methods:

Seventeen elite long-distance runners (9 Eritrean, 8 European) performed an incremental maximal running test and 3 submaximal running bouts at 17, 19, and 21 km/h. During the tests, gas-exchange parameters were measured to determine maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and running economy (RE). In addition, ground-contact time, swing time, stride length, and stride frequency were measured.

Results:

The European runners had higher VO2max values than the Eritrean runners (77.2 ± 5.2 vs 73.5 ± 6.0 mL · kg−1 · min−1, P = .011, effect sizes [ES] = 0.65), although Eritrean runners were more economical at 19 km/h (191.4 ± 10.4 vs 205.9 ± 13.3 mL · kg−1 · min−1, P = .026, ES = 1.21). There were no differences between groups for ground-contact time, swing time, stride length, or stride frequency at any speed. Swing time was associated with running economy at 21 km/h in the Eritrean runners (r = .71, P = .033), but no other significant association was found between RE and biomechanical variables. Finally, best 10-km performance was significantly correlated with RE (r = –.57; P = .013).

Conclusions:

Eritrean runners have superior RE compared with elite European runners. This appears to offset their inferior VO2max. However, the current data suggest that their better RE does not have a biomechanical basis. Other factors, not measured in the current study, may contribute to this RE advantage.

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Jos J. de Koning, Carl Foster, Alejandro Lucia, Maarten F. Bobbert, Florentina J. Hettinga, and John P. Porcari

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Jaime Gil-Cabrera, Pedro L. Valenzuela, Lidia B. Alejo, Eduardo Talavera, Almudena Montalvo-Pérez, Alejandro Lucia, and David Barranco-Gil

Purpose: To compare the effectiveness of optimum power load training (OPT, training with an individualized load and repetitions that maximize power output) and traditional resistance training (TRT, same number of repetitions and relative load for all individuals) in professional cyclists. Methods: Participants (19 [1] y, peak oxygen uptake 75.5 [6] mL/kg/min) were randomly assigned to 8 weeks (2 sessions per week) of TRT (n = 11) or OPT (n = 9), during which they maintained their usual cycle training schedule. Training loads were continuously registered, and measures of muscle strength/power (1-repetition maximum and maximum mean propulsive power on the squat, hip thrust, and lunge exercises), body composition (assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), and endurance performance (assessed on both an incremental test and an 8-min time trial) were collected before and at the end of the intervention. Results: OPT resulted in a lower average intensity (percentage of 1-repetition maximum) during resistance training sessions for all exercises (P < .01), but no differences were found for overall training loads during resistance or cycling sessions (P > .05). Both programs led to significant improvements in all strength/power-related parameters, muscle mass (with no changes in total body mass but a decreased fat mass), and time-trial performance (all Ps < .05). A trend toward increased power output at the respiratory compensation point was also found (P = .056 and .066 for TRT and OPT, respectively). No between-groups differences were noted for any outcome (P > .05). Conclusion: The addition of either TRT or OPT to an endurance training regimen of elite cyclists results in similar improvements of body composition, muscle strength/power, and endurance performance.