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  • Author: Alexandra Avloniti x
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Helen T. Douda, Argyris G. Toubekis, Alexandra A. Avloniti and Savvas P. Tokmakidis

Purpose:

To identify the physiological and anthropometric predictors of rhythmic gymnastics performance, which was defined from the total ranking score of each athlete in a national competition.

Methods:

Thirty-four rhythmic gymnasts were divided into 2 groups, elite (n = 15) and nonelite (n = 19), and they underwent a battery of anthropometric, physical fitness, and physiological measurements. The principal-components analysis extracted 6 components: anthropometric, flexibility, explosive strength, aerobic capacity, body dimensions, and anaerobic metabolism. These were used in a simultaneous multiple-regression procedure to determine which best explain the variance in rhythmic gymnastics performance.

Results:

Based on the principal-component analysis, the anthropometric component explained 45% of the total variance, flexibility 12.1%, explosive strength 9.2%, aerobic capacity 7.4%, body dimensions 6.8%, and anaerobic metabolism 4.6%. Components of anthropometric (r = .50) and aerobic capacity (r = .49) were significantly correlated with performance (P < .01). When the multiple-regression model—y = 10.708 + (0.0005121 × VO2 max) + (0.157 × arm span) + (0.814 × midthigh circumference) - (0.293 × body mass)—was applied to elite gymnasts, 92.5% of the variation was explained by VO2max (58.9%), arm span (12%), midthigh circumference (13.1%), and body mass (8.5%).

Conclusion:

Selected anthropometric characteristics, aerobic power, flexibility, and explosive strength are important determinants of successful performance. These findings might have practical implications for both training and talent identification in rhythmic gymnastics.

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Eleni Michopoulou, Alexandra Avloniti, Antonios Kambas, Diamanda Leontsini, Maria Michalopoulou, Symeon Tournis and Ioannis G. Fatouros

This study determined dietary intake and energy balance of elite premenarcheal rhythmic gymnasts during their preseason training. Forty rhythmic gymnasts and 40 sedentary age-matched females (10–12 yrs) participated in the study. Anthropometric profile and skeletal ages were determined. Dietary intake and physical activity were assessed to estimate daily energy intake, daily energy expenditure, and resting metabolic rate. Groups demonstrated comparable height, bone age, pubertal development, resting metabolic rate. Gymnasts had lower body mass, BMI, body fat than age-matched controls. Although groups demonstrated comparable daily energy intake, gymnasts exhibited a higher daily energy expenditure resulting in a daily energy deficit. Gymnasts also had higher carbohydrate intake but lower fat and calcium intake. Both groups were below the recommended dietary allowances for fiber, water, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin intake. Gymnasts may need to raise their daily energy intake to avoid the energy deficit during periods of intense training.

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Alexandra A. Avloniti, Helen T. Douda, Savvas P. Tokmakidis, Alexandros H. Kortsaris, Evropi G. Papadopoulou and Emmanouil G. Spanoudakis

Purpose:

To investigate the acute changes in leukocyte number and cortisol after a single bout of soccer training.

Methods:

Ten elite female national-team soccer players and 8 nonathletes participated in the study. The duration of the exercise was 2 h, and it was performed at an intensity of 75% of maximal heart rate (HRmax). Blood samples were taken before, immediately after, and 4 h after a soccer training session to determine total white blood cells; the subsets of neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils; and cortisol. At the same time, blood samples were obtained from nonathletes who refrained from exercise.

Results:

Data analysis indicated a significant increase in total white blood cells in the athletes postexercise (P < .001). The leukocytosis was still evident after 4 h of recovery (78% higher than the preexercise values), and there was a significant difference between athletes and nonathletes (P < .001). This leukocytosis was primarily caused by neutrophilia—there were no significant differences in lymphocytes after the end of exercise or between the 2 groups (P > 0.05). In addition, there was a statistically significant difference in cortisol concentration between athletes and nonathletes after the exercise (P < .001).

Conclusion:

These findings revealed that the single bout of soccer training at an intensity of 75% of HRmax induced leukocytosis without affecting the lymphocyte count in elite female athletes and probably the effectiveness of cellular components of adaptive immunity. Coaches should provide adequate time (>4 h) until the next exercise session.

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Chariklia K. Deli, Ioannis G. Fatouros, Vassilis Paschalis, Kalliopi Georgakouli, Athanasios Zalavras, Alexandra Avloniti, Yiannis Koutedakis and Athanasios Z. Jamurtas

Purpose:

Research regarding exercise-induced muscle-damage mainly focuses on adults. The present study examined exercise-induced muscle-damage responses in adults compared with children.

Method:

Eleven healthy boys (10–12 y) and 15 healthy men (18–45 y) performed 5 sets of 15 maximal eccentric contractions of the knee extensors. Range of motion (ROM), delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) during squat and walking, and peak isometric, concentric and eccentric torque were assessed before, post, 24, 48, 72, and 96 hr postexercise. Creatine kinase (CK) activity was assessed before and 72 hr postexercise.

Results:

Eccentric exercise resulted in DOMS during squat that persisted for up to 96h in men, and 48 hr in boys (p < .05), and DOMS during walking that persisted for up to 72 hr in men, and 48 hr in boys (p < .01). The ROM was lower in both age groups 48 hr postexercise (p < .001). Isometric (p < .001), concentric (p < .01) and eccentric (p < .01) force decreased post, and up to 48 hr postexercise in men. Except for a reduction in isometric force immediately after exercise, no other changes occurred in boys’ isokinetic force. CK activity increased in men at 72 hr postexercise compared with pre exercise levels (p = .05).

Conclusion:

Our data provide further confirmation that children are less susceptible to exercise-induced muscle damage compared with adults.

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Athanasios Chatzinikolaou, Konstantinos Michaloglou, Alexandra Avloniti, Diamanda Leontsini, Chariklia K. Deli, Dimitris Vlachopoulos, Luis Gracia-Marco, Sotirios Arsenis, Ioannis Athanailidis, Dimitrios Draganidis, Athanasios Z. Jamurtas, Craig A. Williams and Ioannis G. Fatouros

Purpose: To investigate the effect of a complex, short-term strength/power training protocol on performance and body composition of elite early adolescent soccer players. Methods: Twenty-two players (14–15 y) were randomly assigned to (1) an experimental group (N = 12; participated in a 5-wk training protocol with traditional multijoint power resistance exercises, Olympic-style lifts, plyometric drills, and speed work; 4 times per week) or (2) a control group (N = 10). Strength and power performance (jumping, speed, change of direction, repeated sprint ability, endurance, isokinetic strength of knee flexors and extensors, maximal strength in various lifts, and speed-endurance) were evaluated pretraining and posttraining. Results: Cessation of training for 5 weeks in the control group induced a marked performance deterioration (∼5%–20%). Training not only prevented strength performance deterioration but also increased it (∼2%–30%). Endurance and repeated sprint ability declined to a smaller extent in experimental group compared with control group (15% vs 7.5%). Isometric strength and body composition remained unaltered in both groups. Conclusions: Results demonstrate that (1) young players exhibit a high level of trainability of their strength/power performance (but not endurance) in response to a short-term complex training protocol during early adolescence, (2) Olympic-style lifts are characterized by increased safety in this age group and appear to be highly effective, (3) lifts incorporating a hip thrust result in increased strength of both knee extensors and flexors, (4) cessation of training for only 5 weeks results in marked deterioration of strength/power and endurance performance, and (5) improvement of strength/power performance may be related to neural-based adaptation as body composition remained unaffected.