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Optimal Minimum Velocity Threshold to Estimate the 1-Repetition Maximum: The Case of the Smith Machine Bench Press Exercise

Amador García-Ramos

Purpose: To compare the accuracy in the estimation of the Smith machine bench press 1-repetition maximum (1RM) when using a novel minimum velocity threshold (MVT) called optimal MVT (MVT that minimizes the differences between the actual and predicted 1RM in a preliminary session) with respect to using the 2 standard MVTs (general and individual MVTs). Methods: A total of 126 young men (Smith machine bench press 1RM = 80.7 [13.6] kg) completed 2 identical sessions consisting of an incremental loading test until reaching the 1RM load. Four individual load–velocity relationships were modeled in each session considering all loading conditions until reaching the load that showed the closest mean velocity to 0.60, 0.50, 0.40, and 0.30 m·s−1. The first testing session was used to determine the preindividual MVT and 4 optimal MVTs (1 for each final test velocity), while the second testing session was used to estimate the 1RM using 4 types of MVT (general MVT, preindividual MVT, actual-individual MVT, and optimal MVT). Results: The absolute errors in the prediction of the 1RM were significantly lower for the optimal MVT (2.94 [2.40] kg) compared to the general MVT (3.66 [2.99] kg), preindividual MVT (3.80 [3.15] kg), and actual-individual MVT (4.02 [3.21] kg). The optimal MVT (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] ranged from .56 to .62) was always more reliable than the individual MVT (ICC = .34). Conclusions: The optimal MVT provides more accurate estimates of the Smith machine bench press 1RM than the standard MVTs previously used in scientific research (general and individual MVTs).

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The 2-Point Method: Theoretical Basis, Methodological Considerations, Experimental Support, and Its Application Under Field Conditions

Amador García-Ramos

The “2-point method,” originally referred to as the “2-load method,” was proposed in 2016 by Prof Slobodan Jaric to characterize the maximal mechanical capacities of the muscles to produce force, velocity, and power. Two years later, in 2018, Prof Jaric and I summarized in a review article the scientific evidence showing that the 2-point method, compared with the multiple-point method, is capable of providing the outcomes of the force–velocity (F–V) and load–velocity (L–V) relationships with similar reliability and high concurrent validity. However, a major gap of our review was that, until 2018, the feasibility of the 2-point method had only been explored through testing procedures based on multiple (more than 2) loads. This is problematic because (1) it has misled users into thinking that implementing the 2-point method inevitably requires testing more than 2 conditions and (2) obtaining the data from the same test could have artificially inflated the concurrent validity of the 2-point method. To overcome these limitations, subsequent studies have implemented in separate sessions the 2-point method under field conditions (only 2 different loads applied in the testing protocol) and the standard multiple-point method. These studies consistently demonstrate that while the outcomes of the 2-point method exhibit comparable reliability, they tend to have slightly higher magnitudes compared with the standard multiple-point method. This review article emphasizes the practical aspects that should be considered when applying the 2-point method under field conditions to obtain the main outcomes of the F–V and L–V relationships.

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Changes in the Load–Velocity Profile Following Power- and Strength-Oriented Resistance-Training Programs

Alejandro Pérez-Castilla and Amador García-Ramos

Objective: To compare the short-term effect of power- and strength-oriented resistance-training programs on the individualized load–velocity profiles obtained during the squat (SQ) and bench-press (BP) exercises. Methods: Thirty physically active men (age = 23.4 [3.5] y; SQ 1-repetition maximum [1RM] = 126.5 [26.7] kg; BP 1RM = 81.6 [16.7] kg) were randomly assigned to a power- (exercises: countermovement jump and BP throw; sets per exercise: 4–6; repetitions per set: 5–6; load: 40% 1RM) or strength-training group (exercises: SQ and BP; sets per exercise: 4–6; repetitions per set: 2–8; load: 70%–90% 1RM). The training program lasted 4 wk (2 sessions/wk). The individualized load–velocity profiles (ie, velocity associated with the 30%–60%–90% 1RM) were assessed before and after training through an incremental loading test during the SQ and BP exercises. Results: The power-training group moderately increased the velocity associated with the full spectrum of % 1RM for the SQ (effect size [ES] range: 0.70 to 0.93) and with the 30% 1RM for the BP (ES: 0.67), while the strength-training group reported trivial/small changes across the load–velocity spectrum for both the SQ (ES range: 0.00 to 0.35) and BP (ES range: −0.06 to −0.33). The power-training group showed a higher increase in the mean velocity associated with all % 1RM compared with the strength-training group for both the SQ (ES range: 0.54 to 0.63) and BP (ES range: 0.25 to 0.53). Conclusions: The individualized load–velocity profile (ie, velocity associated with different % 1RM) of lower-body and upper-body exercises can be modified after a 4-wk resistance-training program.

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Optimization of the Force–Velocity Relationship Obtained From the Bench-Press-Throw Exercise: An a Posteriori Multicenter Reliability Study

Amador García-Ramos and Slobodan Jaric

Purpose: An a posteriori multicenter reliability study was conducted to compare the reliability of the outcomes derived from the linear force–velocity (F–V) relationship (F-intercept [F 0], V-intercept [V 0], F–V slope, and maximum power [Pmax]) using a 2-point method based on 2 distant loads with respect to a multiple-point method based on 4 proximal loads and a multiple-point method that considered all 6 tested loads. Method: Data from 63 healthy men derived from 3 studies were analyzed. The F–V relationship obtained from the bench-press-throw exercise was determined in 2 separate sessions using 3 different combinations of loads: 2-point method (20–70% of 1-repetition maximum [1RM]), 4-load multiple-point method (30–40–50–60% of 1RM), and 6-load multiple-point method (20–30–40–50–60–70% of 1RM). Reliability was assessed through the coefficient of variation (CV), whereas a CVratio of 1.15 was deemed as the smallest important ratio. Results: The 2-point method provided the outcomes of the F–V relationship with greater reliability than the 4-load multiple-point method (F 0, 3.58% vs 4.53%, CVratio = 1.27; V 0, 5.58% vs 7.85%, CVratio = 1.41; F–V slope, 8.57% vs 11.99%, CVratio = 1.40; Pmax, 4.33% vs 4.81%, CVratio = 1.11). The reliability of the 6-load multiple-point method was comparable to the 2-point method (F 0, 3.53%, CVratio = 1.01; V 0, 5.32%, CVratio = 1.05; F–V slope, 8.38%, CVratio = 1.02; P 0, 3.74%, CVratio = 1.16). Conclusion:The distance between experimental points is more important for obtaining a reproducible F–V relationship than the number of experimental points; therefore, the 2-point method could be recommended for a quicker assessment of the F–V relationship.

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Feasibility of Volitional Reaction Time Tests in Athletes: A Systematic Review

Danica Janicijevic and Amador Garcia-Ramos

This systematic review aimed to synthesize the current evidence on the feasibility of volitional reaction time (RT) tests to evaluate the information processing abilities of athletes. Four databases were searched, and, finally, 38 studies exploring the reliability, validity, or sensitivity of RT tests were included. Seven studies explored the reliability, which ranged from poor to excellent, while only three studies explored the validity of RT tests. The most important downside of the majority of the implemented RT tests is their nonspecific nature (i.e., stimulus and response did not resemble the sports actions). Sports scientists should focus on developing RT tests that are specific for each sport and refine the testing procedures to obtain accurate, reproducible, and sensitive measurements of RT.

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Sensitivity of the iLOAD® Application for Monitoring Changes in Barbell Velocity Following Power- and Strength-Oriented Resistance Training Programs

Alejandro Pérez-Castilla, Daniel Boullosa, and Amador García-Ramos

Objective: To evaluate the sensitivity of the iLOAD® application to detect the changes in mean barbell velocity of complete sets following power- and strength-oriented resistance training (RT) programs. Methods: Twenty men were randomly assigned to a power training group (countermovement jump and bench press throw at 40% of the 1-repetition maximum [1RM]) or strength training group (back squat and bench press at 70% to 90% of 1RM). Single sets of 10 repetitions at 25% and 70% of 1RM during the back squat and bench press exercises were assessed before and after the 4-week RT programs simultaneously with the iLOAD® application and a linear velocity transducer. Results: The power training group showed a greater increment in velocity performance at the 25% of 1RM (effect size range = 0.66–1.53) and the 70% of 1RM (effect size range = 0.11–0.30). The percent change in mean velocity after the RT programs highly correlated between the iLOAD® application and the linear velocity transducer for the back squat (r range = .85–.88) and bench press (r range = .87–.93). However, the iLOAD® application revealed a 2% greater increase in mean velocity after training compared to the linear velocity transducer. Conclusions: The iLOAD® application is a cost-effective, portable, and easy-to-use tool which can be used to detect changes in mean barbell velocity after power- and strength-oriented RT programs.

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Force–Velocity Relationship of Upper Body Muscles: Traditional Versus Ballistic Bench Press

Amador García-Ramos, Slobodan Jaric, Paulino Padial, and Belén Feriche

This study aimed to (1) evaluate the linearity of the force–velocity relationship, as well as the reliability of maximum force (F 0), maximum velocity (V 0), slope (a), and maximum power (P 0); (2) compare these parameters between the traditional and ballistic bench press (BP); and (3) determine the correlation of F 0 with the directly measured BP 1-repetition maximum (1RM). Thirty-two men randomly performed 2 sessions of traditional BP and 2 sessions of ballistic BP during 2 consecutive weeks. Both the maximum and mean values of force and velocity were recorded when loaded by 20–70% of 1RM. All force–velocity relationships were strongly linear (r > .99). While F 0 and P 0 were highly reliable (ICC: 0.91–0.96, CV: 3.8–5.1%), lower reliability was observed for V 0 and a (ICC: 0.49–0.81, CV: 6.6–11.8%). Trivial differences between exercises were found for F 0 (ES: < 0.2), however the a was higher for the traditional BP (ES: 0.68–0.94), and V 0 (ES: 1.04–1.48) and P 0 (ES: 0.65–0.72) for the ballistic BP. The F 0 strongly correlated with BP 1RM (r: 0.915–0.938). The force–velocity relationship is useful to assess the upper body maximal capabilities to generate force, velocity, and power.

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Lifting Velocity as a Predictor of the Maximum Number of Repetitions That Can Be Performed to Failure During the Prone Bench Pull Exercise

Sergio Miras-Moreno, Alejandro Pérez-Castilla, and Amador García-Ramos

Objective: To explore (1) the goodness of fit of generalized and individualized relationships between the maximum number of repetitions performed to failure (RTF) and the fastest mean velocity and peak velocity of the sets (RTF–velocity relationships), (2) the between-sessions reliability of mean velocity and peak velocity values associated with different RTFs, and (3) whether the errors in the prediction of the RTF under fatigued and nonfatigued conditions differ between generalized and individualized RTF–velocity relationships. Methods: Twenty-three sport-science students performed 4 testing sessions with the prone bench pull exercise in a Smith machine: a 1-repetition-maximum [1RM] session, 2 identical sessions consisting of singles sets of RTF against 4 randomized loads (60%–70%–80%–90%1RM), and 1 session consisting of 4 sets of RTF against the 75%1RM. Results: Individualized RTF–velocity relationships presented a higher goodness of fit (r 2 = .96–.97 vs .67–.70) and accuracy (absolute errors = 2.1–2.9 repetitions vs 2.8–4.3 repetitions) in the prediction of the RTF than generalized RTF–velocity relationships. The reliability of the velocity values associated with different RTFs was generally high (average within-subject coefficient of variation = 4.01% for mean velocity and 3.98% for peak velocity). The error in the prediction of the RTF increased by ~1 repetition under fatigue (ie, set 1 vs sets 2–4). Conclusions: Individualized RTF–velocity relationships can be used with acceptable precision and reliability to prescribe the loads associated with a given RTF during the match a specific XRM during the prone bench pull exercise, but a lower accuracy is expected in a fatigued state.

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Reliability and Sensitivity of Reaction Time Measurements During Quasi-Realistic Soccer Situations

Lazar Tomic, Danica Janicijevic, Aleksandar Nedeljkovic, Bojan Leontijevic, and Amador García-Ramos

Reliability and sensitivity of reaction time (RT) during quasi-realistic soccer situations was explored in 10 professional soccer players (skilled; age = 20.9 ± 3.6 years) and 10 males without soccer experience (nonskilled; age = 23.4 ± 0.5 years). The participants were instructed to react as fast as possible to a stimulus presented via the video-based method while standing on force platforms. RT was computed as the difference between the instant when the rate of force development of any leg reaches 5% of its maximal value and the instant of stimulus presentation. The results revealed acceptable to high reliability of RT (intraclass correlation coefficient median = .90; coefficient of variation ≤ 5.83%), and shorter RT for skilled compared with nonskilled participants in three out of eight comparisons (effect size range = 1.00–1.41). The video-based methods can be confidently used to assess the RT in soccer players.

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Number of Repetitions Performed Before and After Reaching Velocity Loss Thresholds: First Repetition Versus Fastest Repetition—Mean Velocity Versus Peak Velocity

Amador García-Ramos, Jonathon Weakley, Danica Janicijevic, and Ivan Jukic

Purpose: To explore the effect of several methodological factors on the number of repetitions performed before and after reaching certain velocity loss thresholds (VLTs). Method: Fifteen resistance-trained men (bench press 1-repetition maximum = 1.25 [0.16] kg·kg−1) performed with maximum intent a total of 182 sets (77 short sets [≤12 repetitions] and 105 long sets [>12 repetitions]) leading to failure during the Smith machine bench press exercise. Fifteen percent, 30%, and 45% VLTs were calculated, considering 2 reference repetitions (first and fastest repetitions) and 2 velocity variables (mean velocity [MV] and peak velocity [PV]). Results: The number of repetitions performed before reaching all VLTs were affected by the reference repetition and velocity variable (P ≤ .001). The fastest MV and PV during the short sets (75.3%) and PV during the long sets (72.4%) were predominantly observed during the first repetition, while the fastest MV during long sets was almost equally distributed between the first (37.1%) and second repetition (40.0%). Failure occurred before reaching the VLTs more frequently using PV (4, 8, and 33 occasions for 15%, 30%, and 45% VLTs, respectively) than MV (only 1 occasion for the 45% VLT). The participants rarely produced a velocity output above a VLT once this threshold was exceeded for the first time (≈10% and 30% of occasions during the short and long sets, respectively). Conclusions: The reference repetition and velocity variable are important factors to consider when implementing VLTs during resistance training. The fastest repetition (instead of the first repetition) and MV (instead of PV) are recommended.