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Individualized Aerobic-Power Training in an Underperforming Youth Elite Association Football Player

Iñigo Mujika, Juanma Santisteban, Paco Angulo, and Sabino Padilla

A 7-week, 10-session individual training program was implemented with a youth elite football (soccer) player who had been underperforming because of poor aerobic fitness. The intervention focused on developing aerobic power and high lactate production and contributed to a 32.3% improvement in a football-specific performance test. The player was able to return to play and exceed expected performance levels during competitive match play.

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Overtraining Syndrome Symptoms and Diagnosis in Athletes: Where Is the Research? A Systematic Review

Jonathon Weakley, Shona L. Halson, and Iñigo Mujika

Context: To understand overtraining syndrome (OTS), it is important to detail the physiological and psychological changes that occur in athletes. Objectives: To systematically establish and detail the physiological and psychological changes that occur as a result of OTS in athletes. Methods: Databases were searched for studies that were (1) original investigations; (2) English, full-text articles; (3) published in peer-reviewed journals; (4) investigations into adult humans and provided (5) objective evidence that detailed changes in performance from prior to the onset of OTS diagnosis and that performance was suppressed for more than 4 weeks and (6) objective evidence of psychological symptoms. Results: Zero studies provided objective evidence of detailed changes in performance from prior to the onset of OTS diagnosis and demonstrated suppressed performance for more than 4 weeks accompanied by changes in psychological symptoms. Conclusions: All studies failed to provide evidence of changes in performance and mood from “healthy” to an overtrained state with evidence of prolonged suppression of performance. While OTS may be observed in the field, little data is available describing how physiological and psychological symptoms manifest. This stems from vague terminology, difficulties in monitoring for prolonged periods of time, and the need for prospective testing. Real-world settings may facilitate the collection of such data, but the ideal testing battery that can easily be conducted on a regular basis does not yet exist. Consequently, it must be concluded that an evidence base of sufficient scientific quality for understanding OTS in athletes is lacking.

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Fitness Determinants of Repeated-Sprint Ability in Highly Trained Youth Football Players

Matt Spencer, David Pyne, Juanma Santisteban, and Iñigo Mujika

Variations in rates of growth and development in young football players can influence relationships among various fitness qualities.

Purpose:

To investigate the relationships between repeated-sprint ability and other fundamental fitness qualities of acceleration, agility, explosive leg power, and aerobic conditioning through the age groups of U1 1 to U18 in highly trained junior football players.

Methods:

Male players (n = 119) across the age groups completed a fitness assessment battery over two testing sessions. The first session consisted of countermovement jumps without and with arm swing, 15-m sprint run, 15-m agility run, and the 20-m Shuttle Run (U11 to U15) or the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test, Level 1 (U16 to U18). The players were tested for repeated-sprint ability in the second testing session using a protocol of 6 × 30-m sprints on 30 s with an active recovery.

Results:

The correlations of repeated-sprint ability with the assorted fitness tests varied considerably between the age groups, especially for agility (r = .02 to .92) and explosive leg power (r = .04 to .84). Correlations of repeated sprint ability with acceleration (r = .48 to .93) and aerobic conditioning (r = .28 to .68) were less variable with age.

Conclusion:

Repeated-sprint ability associates differently with other fundamental fitness tests throughout the teenage years in highly trained football players, although stabilization of these relationships occurs by the age of 18 y. Coaches in junior football should prescribe physical training accounting for variations in short-term disruptions or impairment of physical performance during this developmental period.

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Caffeine, Carbohydrate, and Cooling Use During Prolonged Simulated Tennis

Daniel J. Hornery, Damian Farrow, Iñigo Mujika, and Warren B. Young

Purpose:

To determine the effects of prolonged simulated tennis on performance and the ergogenic potential of caffeine, carbohydrates, and cooling.

Methods:

Twelve highly trained male tennis players (age 18.3 ± 3.0 y, height 178.8 ± 8.5 cm, body mass 73.95 ± 12.30 kg, mean ± SD) performed 4 simulated matches (2 h 40 min) against a ball machine on an indoor hard court. The counterbalanced experimental trials involved caffeine supplementation (3 mg/kg), carbohydrate supplementation (6% solution), precooling and intermittent cooling, and placebo control. Physiological markers (core temperature, heart rate, blood lactate, and blood glucose), subjective responses (ratings of perceived exertion and thermal sensation), stroke velocity and accuracy, serve kinematics, and tennis-specific perceptual skill quantified the efficacy of interventions.

Results:

Significant effects of time (P < .01) reflected increased physiological demand, reduced serve velocity and ground-stroke velocity and accuracy, and a slowing of the serve racket-arm acceleration phase. Caffeine increased serve velocity (165 ± 15 km/h) in the final set of the match (P = .014) compared with placebo (159 ± 15 km/h, P = .008) and carbohydrate (158 ± 13 km/h, P = .001) conditions. Carbohydrate and cooling conditions afforded physiological advantage (increased blood glucose, P < .01, and reduced preexercise thermal sensation, P < .01) but did not affect performance relative to the placebo condition.

Conclusions:

Prolonged simulated tennis induced significant decrements in tennis skills. Caffeine supplementation partly attenuated the effects of fatigue and increased serve velocity. In contrast, carbohydrate and cooling strategies had little ergogenic effect on tennis performance.

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Nutritional Recommendations for Water Polo

Gregory R. Cox, Iñigo Mujika, and Cees-Rein van den Hoogenband

Water polo is an aquatic team sport that requires endurance, strength, power, swimming speed, agility, tactical awareness, and specific technical skills, including ball control. Unlike other team sports, few researchers have examined the nutritional habits of water polo athletes or potential dietary strategies that improve performance in water polo match play. Water polo players are typically well muscled, taller athletes; female players display higher levels of adiposity compared with their male counterparts. Positional differences exist: Center players are heavier and have higher body fat levels compared with perimeter players. Knowledge of the physical differences that exist among water polo players offers the advantage of player identification as well as individualizing nutrition strategies to optimize desired physique goals. Individual dietary counseling is warranted to ensure dietary adequacy, and in cases of physique manipulation. Performance in games and during quality workouts is likely to improve by adopting strategies that promote high carbohydrate availability, although research specific to water polo is lacking. A planned approach incorporating strategies to facilitate muscle glycogen refueling and muscle protein synthesis should be implemented following intensified training sessions and matches, particularly when short recovery times are scheduled. Although sweat losses of water polo players are less than what is reported for land-based athletes, specific knowledge allows for appropriate planning of carbohydrate intake strategies for match play and training. Postgame strategies to manage alcohol intake should be developed with input from the senior player group to minimize the negative consequences on recovery and player welfare.

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Effects of Increased Muscle Strength and Muscle Mass on Endurance-Cycling Performance

Iñigo Mujika, Bent R. Rønnestad, and David T. Martin

Despite early and ongoing debate among athletes, coaches, and sport scientists, it is likely that resistance training for endurance cyclists can be tolerated, promotes desired adaptations that support training, and can directly improve performance. Lower-body heavy strength training performed in addition to endurance-cycling training can improve both short- and long-term endurance performance. Strength-maintenance training is essential to retain strength gains during the competition season. Competitive female cyclists with greater lower-body lean mass (LBLM) tend to have ~4–9% higher maximum mean power per kg LBLM over 1 s to 10 min. Such relationships enable optimal body composition to be modeled. Resistance training off the bike may be particularly useful for modifying LBLM, whereas more cycling-specific training strategies like eccentric cycling and single-leg cycling with a counterweight have not been thoughtfully investigated in well-trained cyclists. Potential mechanisms for improved endurance include postponed activation of less efficient type II muscle fibers, conversion of type IIX fibers into more fatigue-resistant IIa fibers, and increased muscle mass and rate of force development.

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Swimming Fast When It Counts: A 7-Year Analysis of Olympic and World Championships Performance

Iñigo Mujika, Luis Villanueva, Marijke Welvaert, and David B. Pyne

Context/Background : International-level swimmers periodize their training to qualify for major championships, then improve further at these events. However, the effects of various factors that could affect performance progressions have not been described systematically. Purpose: To quantify the pattern of change in performance between season best qualifying time and the major championships of the year and to assess the influence of time between performance peaks, ranking at the major events, stroke, event distance, sex, age, and country. Methods: A total of 7832 official competition times recorded at 4 FINA World Championships and 2 Olympic Games between 2011 and 2017 were compared with each swimmer’s season best time prior to the major event of the year. Percentage change in performance was related with the time elapsed between season best and major competition, race event, sex, age, and country using linear mixed modeling. Results: Faster performance (−0.79% [0.67%]; mean [SD]) at the major competition of the year occurred in 38% of all observations vs 62% no change or regression (1.10% [0.88%]). The timing between performance peaks (<34 to >130 d) had little effect on performance progressions (P = .83). Only medal winners (−0.87% [0.91%]), finalists (−0.16% [0.97%]), and US swimmers (−0.44% [1.08%]) progressed between competitions. Stroke, event distance, sex, and age had trivial impact on performance progression. Conclusions: Performance progressions at Olympic Games and World Championships were not determined by timing between performance peaks. Performance progression at a major competition appears necessary to win a medal or make the final, independent of race event, sex, and age.

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Tapering and Repeated High-Intensity Effort Ability in Young Elite Rugby Union Players: Influence of Pretaper Fatigue Level

Adrien Vachon, Nicolas Berryman, Iñigo Mujika, Jean-Baptiste Paquet, and Laurent Bosquet

Purpose: To assess the effects of a short-term taper on the ability to perform repeated high-intensity efforts, depending on players’ fatigue level following an intensive training block. Method: After a 3-day off-season camp, 13 players followed the same 3-week preseason training block followed by a 7-day exponential taper. Performance was assessed by a repeated high-intensity effort test before and after the taper. Total sprint time, percentage of decrement, and the number of sprints equal to or higher than 90% of the best sprint were retained for analysis. Players were a posteriori classified in normal training or acute fatigue groups based on their readiness to perform prior to the taper, assessed through the magnitude of difference in psychological (Profile of Mood State Questionnaire), cardiovascular (submaximal constant-duration cycling), and neuromuscular (countermovement jump) tests between the preintensive and postintensive training blocks. Results: Training load declined by 55% (9%) during the taper (P = .001, g = −2.54). The overall group showed a small improvement in total sprint time (−3.40% [3.90%], P = .04, g = −0.39) following the taper. Relative changes tended to be higher in the acute fatigue compared with the normal training group (−5.07% [4.52%] vs −1.45% [1.88%], respectively; P = .08; d = 1.01). No taper-induced improvement was observed in percentage of decrement or number of sprints equal to or higher than 90% of the best sprint. Conclusion: A 7-day taper consisting of 55% training load reduction improved repeated high-intensity effort performance in young elite rugby union players. Pretaper level of fatigue seems to be a key determinant in the taper supercompensation process, as acutely fatigued players at the end of the intensive training block tended to benefit more from the taper.

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Fitness Determinants of Repeated High-Intensity Effort Ability in Elite Rugby Union Players

Adrien Vachon, Nicolas Berryman, Iñigo Mujika, Jean-Baptiste Paquet, and Laurent Bosquet

Purpose: To investigate the relationship between physical fitness and repeated high-intensity effort (RHIE) ability in elite rugby union players, depending on playing position. Method: Thirty-nine players underwent a fitness testing battery composed of a body composition assessment, upper-body strength (1-repetition maximum bench press and 1-repetition maximum bench row), lower-body strength (6-repetition maximum back squat), and power (countermovement jump, countermovement jump with arms, and 20-m sprint), as well as aerobic fitness (Bronco test) and RHIE tests over a 1-week period. Pearson linear correlations were used to quantify relationships between fitness tests and the RHIE performance outcomes (total sprint time [TST] and percentage decrement [%D]). Thereafter, a stepwise multiple regression model was used to verify the influence of physical fitness measures on RHIE ability. Results: TST was strongly to very strongly associated to body fat (BF, r = .82, P < .01), the 20-m sprint (r = .86, P < .01), countermovement jump (r = −.72, P < .01), and Bronco test (r = .90, P < .01). These fitness outcomes were related to %D, with moderate to strong associations (.82 > ∣r∣ > .54, P < .01). By playing position, similar associations were observed in forwards, but RHIE ability was only related to the 20-m sprint in backs (r = .53, P < .05). The RHIE performance model equations were TST = 13.69 + 0.01 × BF + 0.08 × Bronco + 10.20 × 20 m and %D = −14.34 + 0.11 × BF +0.18 × Bronco − 9.92 × 20 m. These models explain 88.8% and 68.2% of the variance, respectively. Conclusion: Body composition, lower-body power, and aerobic fitness were highly related with RHIE ability. However, backs expressed a different profile than forwards, suggesting that further research with larger sample sizes is needed to better understand the fitness determinants of backs’ RHIE ability.

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Power Profiling in U23 Professional Cyclists During a Competitive Season

Peter Leo, James Spragg, Iñigo Mujika, Verena Menz, and Justin S. Lawley

Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate changes in the power profile of U23 professional cyclists during a competitive season based on maximal mean power output (MMP) and derived critical power (CP) and work capacity above CP (W′) obtained during training and racing. Methods: A total of 13 highly trained U23 professional cyclists (age = 21.1 [1.2] y, maximum oxygen consumption = 73.8 [1.9] mL·kg–1·min–1) participated in this study. The cycling season was split into pre-season and in-season. In-season was divided into early-, mid-, and late-season periods. During pre-season, a CP test was completed to derive CPtest and W′test. In addition, 2-, 5-, and 12-minute MMP during in-season were used to derive CPfield and W′field. Results: There were no significant differences in absolute 2-, 5-, and 12-minute MMP, CPfield, and W′field between in-season periods. Due to changes in body mass, relative 12-minute MMP was higher in late-season compared with early-season (P = .025), whereas relative CPfield was higher in mid- and late-season (P = .031 and P = .038, respectively) compared with early-season. There was a strong correlation (r = .77–.83) between CPtest and CPfield in early- and mid-season but not late-season. Bland–Altman plots and standard error of estimates showed good agreement between CPtest and in-season CPfield but not between W′test and W′field. Conclusion: These findings reveal that the power profile remains unchanged throughout the in-season, except for relative 12-minute MMP and CPfield in late-season. One pre-season and one in-season CP test are recommended to evaluate in-season CPfield and W′field.