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Michael R. McGuigan, Glenn A. Wright, and Steven J. Fleck

The use of strength training designed to increase underlying strength and power qualities in elite athletes in an attempt to improve athletic performance is commonplace. Although the extent to which strength and power are important to sports performance may vary depending on the activity, the associations between these qualities and performance have been well documented in the literature. The purpose of this review is to provide a brief overview of strength training research to determine if it really helps improve athletic performance. While there is a need for more research with elite athletes to investigate the relationship between strength training and athletic performance, there is sufficient evidence for strength training programs to continue to be an integral part of athletic preparation in team sports.

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Stuart J. Cormack, Robert U. Newton, and Michael R. McGuigan

Purpose:

To examine the acute and short-term responses of variables obtained during a single countermovement jump (CMJ1); repeated countermovement jump involving 5 consecutive efforts without a pause (CMJ5); and cortisol, testosterone, and testos-terone-to-cortisol ratio (T:C) to an elite Australian Rules Football (ARF) match with a view to determining which variables may be most useful for ongoing monitoring.

Methods:

Twenty-two elite ARF players participating in a preseason cup match performed a CMJ1 and a CMJ5 and provided saliva samples 48 h before the match (48pre), prematch (Pre), postmatch, 24 h post (24post), 72 h post (72post), 96 h post (96post), and 120 h post (120post). The magnitude of change in variables at each time point compared with Pre and 48pre was analyzed using the effect size (ES) statistic.

Results:

A substantial decrement in the pre- to postmatch comparison occurred in the ratio of CMJ1 Flight time:Contraction time (ES −0.65 ± 0.28). Cortisol (ES 2.34 ± 1.06) and T:C (ES −0.52 ± 0.42) displayed large pre- to postmatch changes. The response of countermovement variables at 24post and beyond compared with pre-match and 48pre was varied, with only CMJ1 Flight time:Contraction time displaying a substantial decrease (ES −0.32 ± 0.26) postmatch compared with 48pre. Cortisol displayed a clear pattern of response with substantial elevations up to 24post compared with Pre and 48pre.

Conclusion:

CMJ1 Flight time:Contraction time appears to be the most useful variable for monitoring neuromuscular status in elite ARF players due to its substantial change compared with 48pre and prematch. Monitoring cortisol, due to its predictable pattern of response, may provide a useful measure of hormonal status.

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Favil Singh, Carl Foster, David Tod, and Michael R. McGuigan

Purpose:

To evaluate the effectiveness of session rating of perceived exertion (RPE) to measure effort during different types of resistance training.

Method:

Fifteen male subjects (age 26.7 ± 4.3 years) performed 3 protocols. All protocols consisted of same 5 exercises but with different intensities, rest periods, and numbers of repetitions. One-repetition maximum (1-RM) was defined as the maximal amount of weight that an individual could lift 1 time without support. The strength protocol included 3 sets of 5 repetitions at 90% of 1-RM with 3 minutes rest between. The hypertrophy session included 3 sets of 10 repetitions at 70% with 1 minute of rest, and the power session included 3 sets of 5 repetitions at 50% with 3 minutes of rest. Session RPE is a modification of the standard RPE scale. Session and standard RPE were measured after the completion of each set and 30 minutes postexercise, respectively.

Results:

Results showed a difference between both the 2 RPE values of the strength and hypertrophy protocols (P ≤ .05) but no difference between mean and session RPE values for the power protocol. During the familiarization session, session RPE was measured at 5-minute intervals for 30 minutes postexercise. There was a significant difference (P ≤ .05) between the mean RPE values at the fifth and tenth minutes postexercise when compared with 30 minutes postexercise. All other session RPE values showed no significant difference.

Conclusion:

The session RPE method appears to be effective in monitoring different types of resistance training, and session RPE after 30 minutes was a better indicator of the overall resistance sessions than average RPE.

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Trent W. Lawton, John B. Cronin, and Michael R. McGuigan

Purpose:

There is no common theory on criteria to appropriately select crew rowers in pursuit of small performance gains. The purpose of this study was to establish whether anthropometry, rowing ergometry, or lower body strength were suitable criteria to identify differences between selected and nonselected sculling crews.

Method:

Twelve elite women performed a 2000-m ergometer time trial and a 5-repetition leg-press dynamometer test, were anthropometrically profiled, and participated in on-water national crew seat-racing trials. Log-transformed data were analyzed to compare percent (± SD) and standardized differences in group means (ES; ±90% confidence interval [CI]) between selected and nonselected oarswomen, with adjustments for body mass where appropriate.

Results:

Selected crew boats were 4.60% ± 0.02% faster and won by an average margin of 13.5 ± 0.7 s over 1500 m. There were no differences between crews on average in height, arm span, seated height, body mass, or 8-site skinfold sum (body fat). Difference in 2000-m ergometer times were also trivial (ES = 0.2, 90%CI = −0.6 to 1.1, P = .63); however, selected crews had moderately greater leg-press strength (ES = 1.1, 90%CI = 0.3−1.9, P = .03).

Conclusion:

Selected oarswomen with comparable anthropometry and 2000-m ergometer ability had greater lower body strength. Coaches of elite oarswomen might consider leg strength as part of crew-selection criteria, given acceptable on-water boatmanship and attainment of 2000-m ergometer benchmarks.

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Blake D. McLean, Aaron J. Coutts, Vince Kelly, Michael R. McGuigan, and Stuart J. Cormack

Introduction:

The purpose of this study was to examine the changes in neuromuscular, perceptual and hormonal measures following professional rugby league matches during different length between-match microcycles.

Methods:

Twelve professional rugby league players from the same team were assessed for changes in countermovement jump (CMJ) performance (fight time and relative power), perceptual responses (fatigue, well-being and muscle soreness) and salivary hormone (testosterone [T] and cortisol [C]) levels during 5, 7 and 9 d between-match training microcycles. All training was prescribed by the club coaches and was monitored using the session-RPE method.

Results:

Lower mean daily training load was completed on the 5 d compared with the 7 and 9 d microcycles. CMJ fight time and relative power, perception of fatigue, overall well-being and muscle soreness were signifcantly reduced in the 48 h following the match in each microcycle (P < .05). Most CMJ variables returned to near baseline values following 4 d in each microcycle. Countermovement jump relative power was lower in the 7 d microcycle in comparison with the 9 d microcycle (P < .05). There was increased fatigue at 48 h in the 7 and 9 d microcycles (P < .05) but had returned to baseline in the 5 d microcycle. Salivary T and C did not change in response to the match.

Discussion:

Neuromuscular performance and perception of fatigue are reduced for at least 48 h following a rugby league match but can be recovered to baseline levels within 4 d. These fndings show that with appropriate training, it is possible to recover neuromuscular and perceptual measures within 4 d after a rugby league match.

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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.

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Stuart J. Cormack, Robert U. Newton, Michael R. McGuigan, and Prue Cormie

Purpose:

To examine variations in neuromuscular and hormonal status and their relationship to performance throughout a season of elite Australian Rules Football (ARF).

Methods:

Fifteen elite ARF players performed a single jump (CMJ1) and 5 repeated countermovement jumps (CMJ5), and provided saliva samples for the analysis of cortisol (C) and testosterone (T) before the season commenced (Pre) and during the 22-match season. Magnitudes of effects were reported with the effect size (ES) statistic. Correlations were performed to analyze relationships between assessment variables and match time, training load, and performance.

Results:

CMJ1Flight time:Contraction time was substantially reduced on 60% of measurement occasions. Magnitudes of change compared with Pre ranged from 1.0 ± 7.4% (ES 0.04 ± 0.29) to −17.1 ± 21.8% (ES −0.77 ± 0.81). Cortisol was substantially lower (up to −40 ± 14.1%, ES of −2.17 ± 0.56) than Pre in all but one comparison. Testosterone response was varied, whereas T:C increased substantially on 70% of occasions, with increases to 92.7 ± 27.8% (ES 2.03 ± 0.76). CMJ1Flight time:Contraction time (r = .24 ± 0.13) and C displayed (r = −0.16 ± 0.1) small correlations with performance.

Conclusion:

The response of CMJ1Flight time:Contraction time suggests periods of neuromuscular fatigue. Change in T:C indicates subjects were unlikely to have been in a catabolic state during the season. Increase in C compared with Pre had a small negative correlation with performance. Both CMJ1Flight time:Contraction time and C may be useful variables for monitoring responses to training and competition in elite ARF athletes.

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Irineu Loturco, Timothy Suchomel, Chris Bishop, Ronaldo Kobal, Lucas A. Pereira, and Michael R. McGuigan

Purpose: To identify the bar velocities that optimize power output in the barbell hip thrust exercise. Methods: A total of 40 athletes from 2 sports disciplines (30 track-and-field sprinters and jumpers and 10 rugby union players) participated in this study. Maximum bar-power outputs and their respective bar velocities were assessed in the barbell hip thrust exercise. Athletes were divided, using a median split analysis, into 2 groups according to their bar-power outputs in the barbell hip thrust exercise (“higher” and “lower” power groups). The magnitude-based inferences method was used to analyze the differences between groups in the power and velocity outcomes. To assess the precision of the bar velocities for determining the maximum power values, the coefficient of variation (CV%) was also calculated. Results: Athletes achieved the maximum power outputs at a mean velocity, mean propulsive velocity, and peak velocity of 0.92 (0.04) m·s−1 (CV: 4.1%), 1.02 (0.05) m·s−1 (CV: 4.4%), and 1.72 (0.14) m·s−1 (CV: 8.4%), respectively. No meaningful differences were observed in the optimum bar velocities between higher and lower power groups. Conclusions: Independent of the athletes’ power output and bar-velocity variable, the optimum power loads frequently occur at very close bar velocities.

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Christos K. Argus, Nicholas D. Gill, Justin W.L. Keogh, Michael R. McGuigan, and Will G. Hopkins

Purpose:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusion:

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.

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Stuart J. Cormack, Robert U. Newton, Michael R. McGuigan, and Tim L.A. Doyle

Purpose:

To establish the reliability of various measures obtained during single and repeated countermovement jump (CMJ) performance in an elite athlete population.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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).

Conclusion:

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.