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Effects of Induced Alkalosis on Simulated Match Performance in Elite Female Water Polo Players

Frankie Tan, Ted Polglaze, Gregory Cox, Brian Dawson, Iñigo Mujika, and Sally Clark

This study investigated the effects of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) ingestion on simulated water polo match performance. Twelve elite players from the Australian National Women’s Water Polo Squad (age 23.7 ± 3.0 yr, height 1.73 ± 0.05 m, body mass 75.7 ± 8.0 kg) participated in the study. In a randomized cross-over double-blind design, players ingested 0.3 g/kg of NaHCO3 or placebo 90 min before performing a 59-min match-simulation test (MST) that included 56 × 10-m maximal-sprint swims as the performance measure. Capillary blood samples were obtained preingestion, pre- and post-warm-up, and after each quarter of the MST. Preexercise ingestion of NaHCO3 was effective in enhancing extracellular pH from baseline levels of 7.41; ±0.01 (M; ±90% confidence limits) to 7.49; ±0.01 and bicarbonate levels from 24.4; ±0.3 to 28.5; ±0.5 mmol/L. The percentage difference in mean sprint times between trials showed no substantial effects of NaHCO3 (0.4; ±1.0, effect size = 0.09; ±0.23; p = .51). These findings are contrary to those of previous NaHCO3 studies on simulated team-sport performance, but this investigation is unique in that it examined highly trained athletes performing sport-specific tasks. In conclusion, water polo players should not expect substantial enhancement in intermittent-sprint performance from NaHCO3 supplementation.

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Next-Generation Models for Predicting Winning Times in Elite Swimming Events: Updated Predictions for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Iñigo Mujika, David B. Pyne, Paul Pao-Yen Wu, Kwok Ng, Emmet Crowley, and Cormac Powell

Purpose: To evaluate statistical models developed for predicting medal-winning performances for international swimming events and generate updated performance predictions for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Methods: The performance of 2 statistical models developed for predicting international swimming performances was evaluated. The first model employed linear regression and forecasting to examine performance trends among medal winners, finalists, and semifinalists over an 8-year period. A machine-learning algorithm was used to generate time predictions for each individual event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The second model was a Bayesian framework and comprised an autoregressive term (the previous winning time), moving average (past 3 events), and covariates for stroke, gender, distance, and type of event (World Championships vs Olympic Games). To examine the accuracy of the predictions from both models, the mean absolute error was determined between the predicted times for the Budapest 2022 World Championships and the actual results from said championships. Results: The mean absolute error for prediction of swimming performances was 0.80% for the linear-regression machine-learning model and 0.85% for the Bayesian model. The predicted times and actual times from the Budapest 2022 World Championships were highly correlated (r = .99 for both approaches). Conclusions: These models, and associated predictions for swimming events at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, provide an evidence-based performance framework for coaches, sport-science support staff, and athletes to develop and evaluate training plans, strategies, and tactics, as well as informing resource allocation to athletes, based on their potential for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

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Power Road-Derived Physical Performance Parameters in Junior, Under-23, and Professional Road Cycling Climbers

Gabriele Gallo, Manuel Mateo-March, Peter Leo, Antonio Campos-Donaire, Alexis Gandia-Soriano, Andrea Giorgi, Emanuela Faelli, Piero Ruggeri, Roberto Codella, Iñigo Mujika, and Luca Filipas

Purpose: To investigate the relationship of field-derived power and physical performance parameters with competition success in road cycling climbing specialists of age-related categories and to explore cross-sectional differences between high-ranked (HIGHR) climbing specialists of each category. Methods: Fifty-three male climbers participated in this study (junior [JUN], n = 15; under 23 [U23], n = 21; professional [PRO], n = 17). Training and racing data collected during the 2016–19 competitive seasons were retrospectively analyzed for record power outputs (RPOs) and RPOs after prior accumulated work. Results: In JUN, body mass, absolute RPOs, and relative RPOs were higher in HIGHR compared with low ranked (d = 0.97–2.20, large; P = .097–.001); in U23 and PRO, the percentage decrease in RPOs after 20, 30, 40, and 50 kJ·kg−1 was less in HIGHR compared with low ranked (d = 0.77–1.74, moderate–large; P = .096–.004). JUN HIGHR presented lower absolute and relative RPO-20 min ( η p 2 = .34 .38 , large; P = .099–.001) and higher percentage decrease in RPOs after prior accumulated work compared with U23 and PRO HIGHR ( η p 2 = .28 .68 , large; P = .060–.001); percentage decrease in RPOs after prior accumulated work was the only parameter differentiating U23 and PRO HIGHR, with PRO declining less in relative RPO-1 min, RPO-5 min, and RPO-20 min after 20 to 50 kJ·kg−1 ( η p 2 = .28 .68 , large; P = .090–.001). Conclusions: Superior absolute and relative RPOs characterize HIGHR JUN climbing specialists. Superior fatigue resistance differentiates HIGHR U23 and PRO climbers compared with low ranked, as well as PRO versus U23 climbers.

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Cross-Sectional Differences in Race Demands Between Junior, Under 23, and Professional Road Cyclists

Gabriele Gallo, Peter Leo, Manuel Mateo-March, Andrea Giorgi, Emanuela Faelli, Piero Ruggeri, Iñigo Mujika, and Luca Filipas

Purpose: To compare the race demands of junior (JUN), under 23 (U23), and professional (PRO) road cyclists. Methods: Thirty male cyclists, divided into 3 age-related categories (JUN, n = 10; U23, n = 10; and PRO, n = 10), participated in this study. Race data collected during the 2019 competitive season were retrospectively analyzed for race characteristics, external, and internal competition load. Results: Higher annual and per race duration, distance, elevation gain, Edward’s training impulse, total work, and work per hour were observed in PRO versus U23 and JUN, and U23 versus JUN (P < .01). PRO and U23 recorded higher mean maximal power (RPOs) between 5 and 180 minutes compared with JUN (P < .01). Edward’s training impulse per hour was higher in JUN than PRO and U23 (P < .01). Accordingly, JUN spent a higher percentage of racing time in high internal intensity zones compared with U23 and PRO, while these 2 categories spent more time at low internal intensity zones (P < .01). Conclusions: JUN races were shorter and included less elevation gain per distance unit compared to U23 and PRO races, but more internally demanding. JUN produced less power output in the moderate-, heavy-, and severe-intensity exercise domains compared with U23 and PRO (RPOs: 5–180 min). U23 and PRO races presented similar work demands per hour and RPOs, but PRO races were longer than U23.

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Defining Training and Performance Caliber: A Participant Classification Framework

Alannah K.A. McKay, Trent Stellingwerff, Ella S. Smith, David T. Martin, Iñigo Mujika, Vicky L. Goosey-Tolfrey, Jeremy Sheppard, and Louise M. Burke

Throughout the sport-science and sports-medicine literature, the term “elite” subjects might be one of the most overused and ill-defined terms. Currently, there is no common perspective or terminology to characterize the caliber and training status of an individual or cohort. This paper presents a 6-tiered Participant Classification Framework whereby all individuals across a spectrum of exercise backgrounds and athletic abilities can be classified. The Participant Classification Framework uses training volume and performance metrics to classify a participant to one of the following: Tier 0: Sedentary; Tier 1: Recreationally Active; Tier 2: Trained/Developmental; Tier 3: Highly Trained/National Level; Tier 4: Elite/International Level; or Tier 5: World Class. We suggest the Participant Classification Framework can be used to classify participants both prospectively (as part of study participant recruitment) and retrospectively (during systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses). Discussion around how the Participant Classification Framework can be tailored toward different sports, athletes, and/or events has occurred, and sport-specific examples provided. Additional nuances such as depth of sport participation, nationality differences, and gender parity within a sport are all discussed. Finally, chronological age with reference to the junior and masters athlete, as well as the Paralympic athlete, and their inclusion within the Participant Classification Framework has also been considered. It is our intention that this framework be widely implemented to systematically classify participants in research featuring exercise, sport, performance, health, and/or fitness outcomes going forward, providing the much-needed uniformity to classification practices.

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Is Doping-Free Sport a Utopia?

Stephen Seiler, Ralph Beneke, Shona L. Halson, Franco M. Impellizzeri, Iñigo Mujika, David B. Pyne, and Carl Foster

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Bengt Saltin—A Role Model for More than a Generation of Scientists

Edited by Carl Foster, Stephen Seiler, Aaron Coutts, Shona Halson, Franco Impellizzeri, Jos de Koning, Renate M. Leithäuser, Michael McGuigan, Iñigo Mujika, David Pyne, and Ralph Beneke

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The Influence of High-Intensity Work on the Record Power Profile of Under-23, Pro Team, and World Tour Cyclists

Peter Leo, Manuel Mateo-March, Andrea Giorgi, Xabier Muriel, Alejandro Javaloyes, David Barranco-Gil, Jesús G. Pallarés, Alejandro Lucia, Iñigo Mujika, and Pedro L. Valenzuela

Background: Durability (ie, the ability to attenuate the decline in performance after accumulated work) has been identified as a performance determinant in elite cyclists. The aim of the present study was to compare durability in elite cyclists of various performance levels, particularly after high-intensity work, referred to as “high-intensity durability.” Methods: Forty-nine (N = 49) male road cyclists were categorized as either under 23 years of age (U23) (N = 11), Pro Team (N = 13), or World Tour (N = 24). The participants’ critical power (CP) was assessed during the preseason. Thereafter, the participants’ maximum mean power (MMP) values were determined for efforts of different durations (from 5 s to 30 min) after different levels of accumulated work above CP (from 0 to 7.5 kJ·kg−1). Results: U23 cyclists showed a significant reduction of all relative MMP values for durations ≥1 minute after ≥5 kJ·kg−1 above CP compared with the “fresh” state (0 kJ·kg−1), whereas in Pro Team and World Tour cyclists, a significant reduction was not observed until 7.5 kJ·kg−1 above CP. In the “fresh” state, both Pro Team and particularly World Tour cyclists attained higher MMP values for efforts ≥10 minutes than U23 riders. However, more differences emerged with greater previous work levels, and indeed after 7.5 kJ·kg−1 above CP World Tour cyclists attained higher MMP values than both U23 and Pro Team cyclists for most efforts (≥30 s). Conclusion: Pro Team and particularly World Tour cyclists tolerate greater levels of accumulated work at high intensity, which might support the importance of high-intensity durability for performance.

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Influence of Torque and Cadence on Power Output Production in Cyclists

Peter Leo, Manuel Mateo-March, Pedro L. Valenzuela, Xabier Muriel, Alexis Gandía-Soriano, Andrea Giorgi, Mikel Zabala, David Barranco-Gil, Iñigo Mujika, Jesús G. Pallarés, and Alejandro Lucia

Purpose: No information is available on the torque/cadence relationship in road cyclists. We aimed to establish whether this relationship differs between cyclists of different performance levels or team roles. Methods: Mean maximal power (MMP) output data from 177 riders were obtained from 2012 to 2021 from training and competitions. Cyclists were categorized according to their performance level (world-tour [WT, n = 68], procontinental [PC, n = 63], or under 23 [U23, n = 46]) and team role (time trialists [n = 12], all-rounders [n = 94], climbers [n = 64], or team leaders [n = 7]). Results: A significant interaction effect was found for absolute and relative MMP (P < .001), with higher values in PC than WT for short (5–60 s) efforts and the opposite trend for longer durations. MMP was also greater in PC than in U23 for short efforts (30–60 s), with WT and PC attaining higher MMP than U23 for longer bouts (5–60 min). A significant interaction effect was found for cadence (P = .007, but with no post hoc differences) and absolute (P = .010) and relative torque (P = .002), with PC and WT showing significantly higher torque (all P < .05) than U23 for 5- to 60-minute efforts, yet with no differences between the former 2 performance levels. No interaction effect between team roles was found for cadence (P = .185) or relative torque (P = .559), but a significant interaction effect was found for absolute torque (P < .001), with all-rounders attaining significantly higher values than climbers for 5-second to 5-minute efforts. Conclusions: Differences in MMP between cycling performance levels and rider types are dependent on torque rather than cadence, which might support the role of torque development in performance.

Open access

How to Succeed as an Athlete: What We Know, What We Need to Know

Carl Foster, Renato Barroso, Ralph Beneke, Daniel Bok, Daniel Boullosa, Arturo Casado, Karim Chamari, Cristina Cortis, Jos de Koning, Andrea Fusco, Thomas Haugen, Alejandro Lucía, Iñigo Mujika, David Pyne, José A. Rodríguez-Marroyo, Oyvind Sandbakk, and Stephen Seiler