Purpose: To investigate the effects of strength-training tapers of different intensities but equal volume reductions on neuromuscular performance. Methods: Eleven strength-trained men (21.3 [3.3] y, 92.3 [17.6] kg, relative 1-repetition-maximum deadlift 1.9 [0.2] times bodyweight) completed a crossover study. Specifically, two 4-wk strength-training blocks were followed by a taper week with reduced volume (∼70%) involving either increased (5.9%) or decreased (−8.5%) intensity. Testing occurred pretraining (T1), posttraining (T2), and posttaper (T3). Salivary testosterone and cortisol, plasma creatine kinase, a Daily Analysis of Life Demands in Athletes questionnaire, countermovement jump (CMJ), isometric midthigh pull, and isometric bench press were measured. Results: CMJ height improved significantly over time (P < .001), with significant increases from T1 (38.0 [5.5] cm) to both T2 (39.3 [5.3] cm; P = .010) and T3 (40.0 [5.3] cm; P = .001) and from T2 to T3 (P = .002). CMJ flight time:contraction time increased significantly over time (P = .004), with significant increases from T1 (0.747 [0.162]) to T2 (0.791 [0.163]; P = .012). Isometric midthigh-pull relative peak force improved significantly over time (P = .033), with significant increases from T1 (34.7 [5.0] N/kg) to T2 (35.9 [4.8] N/kg; P = .013). No significant changes were found between tapers. However, the higher-intensity taper produced small effect-size increases at T3 vs T1 for isometric midthigh-pull relative peak force, CMJ height, and flight time:contraction time, while the lower-intensity taper only produced small effect-size improvements at T3 vs T1 for CMJ height. Conclusions: A strength-training taper with volume reductions had a positive effect on power, with a tendency for the higher-intensity taper to produce more favorable changes in strength and power.
Hayden J. Pritchard, Matthew J. Barnes, Robin J. Stewart, Justin W. Keogh, and Michael R. McGuigan
Christos K. Argus, Nicholas D. Gill, Justin W.L. Keogh, Michael R. McGuigan, and Will G. Hopkins
There is little literature comparing contrast training programs typically performed by team-sport athletes within a competitive phase. We compared the effects of two contrast training programs on a range of measures in high-level rugby union players during the competition season.
The programs consisted of a higher volume-load (strength-power) or lower volume-load (speed-power) resistance training; each included a tapering of loading (higher force early in the week, higher velocity later in the week) and was performed twice a week for 4 wk. Eighteen players were assessed for peak power during a bodyweight countermovement jump (BWCMJ), bodyweight squat jump (BWSJ), 50 kg countermovement jump (50CMJ), 50 kg squat jump (50SJ), broad jump (BJ), and reactive strength index (RSI; jump height divided by contact time during a depth jump). Players were then randomized to either training group and were reassessed following the intervention. Inferences were based on uncertainty in outcomes relative to thresholds for standardized changes.
There were small between-group differences in favor of strength-power training for mean changes in the 50CMJ (8%; 90% confidence limits, ±8%), 50SJ (8%; ±10%), and BJ (2%; ±3%). Differences between groups for BWCMJ, BWSJ, and reactive strength index were unclear. For most measures there were smaller individual differences in changes with strength-power training.
Our findings suggest that high-level rugby union athletes should be exposed to higher volume-load contrast training which includes one heavy lifting session each week for larger and more uniform adaptation to occur in explosive power throughout a competitive phase of the season.
Stuart J. Cormack, Robert U. Newton, Michael R. McGuigan, and Tim L.A. Doyle
To establish the reliability of various measures obtained during single and repeated countermovement jump (CMJ) performance in an elite athlete population.
Two studies, each involving 15 elite Australian Rules Football (ARF) players were conducted where subjects performed two days, separated by one week, of AM and PM trials of either a single (CMJ1) or 5 repeated CMJ (CMJ5). Each trial was conducted on a portable force-plate. The intraday, interday, and overall typical error (TE) and coefficient of variation (CV%) were calculated for numerous variables in each jump type.
A number of CMJ1 and CMJ5 variables displayed high intraday, interday, and overall reliability. In the CMJ1 condition, mean force (CV 1.08%) was the most reliable variable. In the CMJ5, fight time and relative mean force displayed the highest repeatability with CV of 1.88% and 1.57% respectively. CMJ1Mean force was the only variable with an overall TE < smallest worthwhile change (SWC).
Selected variables obtained during CMJ1 and CMJ5 performance can be used to assess the impact of both acute and chronic training and competition. Variables derived from the CMJ5 may respond differently than their CMJ1 counterparts and should provide insights into differential mechanisms of response and adaptation.
Kyle R. Barnes, Will G. Hopkins, Michael R. McGuigan, and Andrew E. Kilding
Runners use uphill running as a movement-specific form of resistance training to enhance performance. However, the optimal parameters for prescribing intervals are unknown. The authors adopted a dose-response design to investigate the effects of various uphill interval-training programs on physiological and performance measures.
Twenty well-trained runners performed an incremental treadmill test to determine aerobic and biomechanical measures, a series of jumps on a force plate to determine neuromuscular measures, and a 5-km time trial. Runners were then randomly assigned to 1 of 5 uphill interval-training programs. After 6 wk all tests were repeated. To identify the optimal training program for each measure, each runner’s percentage change was modeled as a quadratic function of the rank order of the intensity of training. Uncertainty in the optimal training and in the corresponding effect on the given measure was estimated as 90% confidence limits using bootstrapping.
There was no clear optimum for time-trial performance, and the mean improvement over all intensities was 2.0% (confidence limits ±0.6%). The highest intensity was clearly optimal for running economy (improvement of 2.4% ± 1.4%) and for all neuromuscular measures, whereas other aerobic measures were optimal near the middle intensity. There were no consistent optima for biomechanical measures.
These findings support anecdotal reports for incorporating uphill interval training in the training programs of distance runners to improve physiological parameters relevant to running performance. Until more data are obtained, runners can assume that any form of high-intensity uphill interval training will benefit 5-km time-trial performance.
Stuart J. Cormack, Mitchell G. Mooney, Will Morgan, and Michael R. McGuigan
To determine the impact of neuromuscular fatigue (NMF) assessed from variables obtained during a countermovement jump on exercise intensity measured with triaxial accelerometers (load per minute [LPM]) and the association between LPM and measures of running activity in elite Australian Football.
Seventeen elite Australian Football players performed the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test level 2 (Yo-Yo IR2) and provided a baseline measure of NMF (flight time:contraction time [FT:CT]) from a countermovement jump before the season. Weekly samples of FT:CT, coaches’ rating of performance (votes), LPM, and percent contribution of the 3 vectors from the accelerometers in addition to high-speed-running meters per minute at >15 km/h and total distance relative to playing time (m/min) from matches were collected. Samples were divided into fatigued and nonfatigued groups based on reductions in FT:CT. Percent contributions of vectors to LPM were assessed to determine the likelihood of a meaningful difference between fatigued and nonfatigued groups. Pearson correlations were calculated to determine relationships between accelerometer vectors and running variables, votes, and Yo-Yo IR2 score.
Fatigue reduced the contribution of the vertical vector by (mean ± 90% CI) –5.8% ± 6.1% (86% likely) and the number of practically important correlations.
NMF affects the contribution of individual vectors to total LPM, with a likely tendency toward more running at low speed and less acceleration. Fatigue appears to limit the influence of the aerobic and anaerobic qualities assessed via the Yo-Yo IR2 test on LPM and seems implicated in pacing.
Irineu Loturco, Timothy Suchomel, Chris Bishop, Ronaldo Kobal, Lucas A. Pereira, and Michael McGuigan
Purpose: To compare the associations between optimum power loads and 1-repetition-maximum (1RM) values (assessed in half-squat and jump-squat exercises) and multiple performance measures in elite athletes. Methods: Sixty-one elite athletes (15 Olympians) from 4 different sports (track and field [sprinters and jumpers], rugby sevens, bobsled, and soccer) performed squat and countermovement jumps, half-squat exercise (to assess 1RM), half-squat and jump-squat exercises (to assess bar-power output), and sprint tests (60 m for sprinters and jumpers and 40 m for the other athletes). Pearson product–moment correlation test was used to determine relationships between 1RM and bar-power outputs with vertical jumps and sprint times in both exercises. Results: Overall, both measurements were moderately to near perfectly related to speed performance (r values varying from −.35 to −.69 for correlations between 1RM and sprint times, and from −.36 to −.91 for correlations between bar-power outputs and sprint times; P < .05). However, on average, the magnitude of these correlations was stronger for power-related variables, and only the bar-power outputs were significantly related to vertical jump height. Conclusions: The bar-power outputs were more strongly associated with sprint-speed and power performance than the 1RM measures. Therefore, coaches and researchers can use the bar-power approach for athlete testing and monitoring. Due to the strong correlations presented, it is possible to infer that meaningful variations in bar-power production may also represent substantial changes in actual sport performance.
Lachlan P. James, Haresh Suppiah, Michael R. McGuigan, and David L. Carey
Purpose: Dozens of variables can be derived from the countermovement jump (CMJ). However, this does not guarantee an increase in useful information because many of the variables are highly correlated. Furthermore, practitioners should seek to find the simplest solution to performance testing and reporting challenges. The purpose of this investigation was to show how to apply dimensionality reduction to CMJ data with a view to offer practitioners solutions to aid applications in high-performance settings. Methods: The data were collected from 3 cohorts using 3 different devices. Dimensionality reduction was undertaken on the extracted variables by way of principal component analysis and maximum likelihood factor analysis. Results: Over 90% of the variance in each CMJ data set could be explained in 3 or 4 principal components. Similarly, 2 to 3 factors could successfully explain the CMJ. Conclusions: The application of dimensional reduction through principal component analysis and factor analysis allowed for the identification of key variables that strongly contributed to distinct aspects of jump performance. Practitioners and scientists can consider the information derived from these procedures in several ways to streamline the transfer of CMJ test information.
Irineu Loturco, Lucas A. Pereira, Tomás T. Freitas, Chris Bishop, Fernando Pareja-Blanco, and Michael R. McGuigan
Purpose: To test the relationships between maximum and relative strength (MS and RS), absolute and relative peak force (PF and RPF), and strength deficit (SDef), with sprint and jump performance, and to compare these mechanical variables between elite sprinters and professional rugby union players. Methods: Thirty-five male rugby union players and 30 male sprinters performed vertical jumps, 30-m sprint, and half-squat 1-repetition maximum (1RM), where these force-related parameters were collected. Pearson correlation coefficients were used to test the relationships between the variables. An independent t test and magnitude-based inferences compared the mechanical variables between sprinters and rugby players. Results: Almost certain significant differences were observed for jump and sprint performance between groups (P < .0001). The rugby union players demonstrated a likely significant higher MS (P = .03) but a very likely lower RS (P = .007) than the sprinters. No significant differences were observed for PF between them. The sprinters exhibited an almost certain significant higher RPF than the rugby players (P < .0001). Furthermore, the rugby players demonstrated almost certain to likely significant higher SDef from 40% to 70% 1RM (P < .05) compared with the sprinters. Overall, all strength-derived parameters were significantly related to functional performance. Conclusions: Elite sprinters present higher levels of RS and RPF, lower levels of SDef, and better sprint and jump performance than professional rugby players. Relative strength-derived values (RS and RPF) and SDef are significantly associated with speed–power measures and may be used as effective and practical indicators of athletic performance.
Irineu Loturco, Michael R. McGuigan, Valter P. Reis, Sileno Santos, Javier Yanci, Lucas A. Pereira, and Ciro Winckler
This study aimed to investigate the association between the optimum power load in the bench press (BP), shoulder press (SP), and prone bench pull (PBP) exercises and acceleration (ACC) and speed performances in 11 National Team wheelchair basketball (WB) players with similar levels of disability. All athletes were previously familiarized with the testing procedures that were performed on the same day during the competitive period of the season. First, athletes performed a wheelchair 20-m sprint assessment and, subsequently, a maximum power load test to determine the mean propulsive power (MPP) in the BP, SP, and PBP. A Pearson product–moment correlation was used to examine the relationships between sprint velocity (VEL), ACC, and the MPP in the three exercises. The significance level was set as p < .05. Large to very large significant associations were observed between VEL and ACC and the MPP in the BP, SP, and PBP exercises (r varying from .60 to .77; p < .05). The results reveal that WB players who produce more power in these three exercises are also able to accelerate faster and achieve higher speeds over short distances. Given the key importance of high and successive ACCs during wheelchair game-related maneuvers, it is recommended that coaches frequently assess the optimum power load in BP, SP, and PBP in WB players, even during their regular training sessions.
Peter W. Harrison, Lachlan P. James, David G. Jenkins, Michael R. McGuigan, Robert W. Schuster, and Vincent G. Kelly
Purpose: The aim of this study was to map responses over 32 hours following high-load (HL) and moderate-load (ML) half-squat priming. Methods: Fifteen participants completed control, HL (87% 1RM), and ML (65% 1RM) activities in randomized, counterbalanced order. Countermovement jump (CMJ), squat jump (SJ), saliva testosterone, saliva cortisol, and perceptual measures were assessed before and 5 minutes, 8 hours, 24 hours, and 32 hours after each activity. Results are presented as percentage change from baseline and 95% confidence interval (CI). Cliff delta was used to determine threshold for group changes. Results: SJ height increased by 4.5% (CI = 2.2–6.8, Cliff delta = 0.20) 8 hours following HL. CMJ and SJ improved by 6.1% (CI = 2.1–7.8, Cliff delta = 0.27) and 6.5% (CI = 1.2–11.8, Cliff delta = 0.30), respectively, 32 hours after ML. No clear diurnal changes in CMJ or SJ occurred 8 hours following control; however, increases of 3.9% (CI = 2.9–9.2, Cliff delta = 0.26) and 4.5% (CI = 0.9–8.1, Cliff delta = 0.24), respectively, were observed after 32 hours. Although diurnal changes in saliva hormone concentration occurred (Cliff delta = 0.37–0.92), the influence of priming was unclear. Perceived “physical feeling” was greater 8 hours following HL (Cliff delta = 0.36) and 32 hours after ML and control (Cliff delta = 0.17–0.34). Conclusions: HL priming in the morning may result in small improvements in jump output and psychophysiological state in the afternoon. Similar improvements were observed in the afternoon the day after ML priming.