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Nuria Romero-Parra, Victor Manuel Alfaro-Magallanes, Beatriz Rael, Rocío Cupeiro, Miguel A. Rojo-Tirado, Pedro J. Benito, Ana B. Peinado and on behalf of the IronFEMME Study Group

Context: The indirect markers of muscle damage have been previously studied in females. However, inconclusive results have been found, possibly explained by the heterogeneity regarding monitoring and verification of menstrual-cycle phase. Purpose: To determine whether the fluctuations in sex hormones during the menstrual cycle influence muscle damage. Methods: A total of 19 well-trained eumenorrheic women (age 28.6 [5.9] y; height 163.4 [6.1] cm; weight 59.6 [5.8] kg body mass) performed an eccentric-based resistance protocol consisting of 10 × 10 back squats at 60% of their 1-repetition maximum on the early follicular phase (EFP), late follicular phase, and midluteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Range of motion, muscle soreness, countermovement jump, and limb circumferences were evaluated prior to 24 and 48 hours postexercise. Perceived exertion was evaluated after each set. Results: Differences in sex hormones indicated that tests were adequately performed in the different menstrual-cycle phases. Prior to exercise, muscle soreness was higher in the EFP (4.7 [7.7]) than in the late follicular phase (1.1 [3.2]; P = .045). No other variables showed significant differences between phases. Time-point differences (baseline, 24, and 48 h) were observed in knee range of motion (P = .02), muscle soreness, countermovement jump, and between sets for perceived exertion (P < .001). Conclusion: Although the protocol elicited muscle damage, hormonal fluctuations over the menstrual cycle did not seem to affect indirect markers of muscle damage, except for perceived muscle soreness. Muscle soreness was perceived to be more severe before exercise performed in EFP, when estrogen concentrations are relatively low. This may impair women’s predisposition to perform strenuous exercise during EFP.

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Ana B. Peinado, Nuria Romero-Parra, Miguel A. Rojo-Tirado, Rocío Cupeiro, Javier Butragueño, Eliane A. Castro, Francisco J. Calderón and Pedro J. Benito

Context: While a number of studies have researched road-cycling performance, few have attempted to investigate the physiological response in field conditions. Purpose: To describe the physiological and performance profile of an uphill time trial (TT) frequently used in cycling competitions. Methods: Fourteen elite road cyclists (mean ± SD age 25 ± 6 y, height 174 ± 4.2 cm, body mass 64.4 ± 6.1 kg, fat mass 7.48% ± 2.82%) performed a graded exercise test to exhaustion to determine maximal parameters. They then completed a field-based uphill TT in a 9.2-km first-category mountain pass with a 7.1% slope. Oxygen uptake (VO2), power output, heart rate (HR), lactate concentration, and perceived-exertion variables were measured throughout the field-based test. Results: During the uphill TT, mean power output and velocity were 302 ± 7 W (4.2 ± 0.1 W/kg) and 18.7 ± 1.6 km/h, respectively. Mean VO2 and HR were 61.6 ± 2.0 mL · kg−1 · min−1 and 178 ± 2 beats/min, respectively. Values were significantly affected by the 1st, 2nd, 6th, and final kilometers (P < .05). Lactate concentration and perceived exertion were 10.87 ± 1.12 mmol/L and 19.1 ± 0.1, respectively, at the end of the test, being significantly different from baseline measures. Conclusion: The studied uphill TT is performed at 90% of maximum HR and VO2 and 70% of maximum power output. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study assessing cardiorespiratory parameters combined with measures of performance, perceived exertion, and biochemical variables during a field-based uphill TT in elite cyclists.

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Beatriz Rael, Nuria Romero-Parra, Víctor M. Alfaro-Magallanes, Laura Barba-Moreno, Rocío Cupeiro, Xanne Janse de Jonge, Ana B. Peinado and on Behalf of the IronFEMME Study Group

Purpose: The influence of female sex hormones on body fluid regulation and metabolism homeostasis has been widely studied. However, it remains unclear whether hormone fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle (MC) and with oral contraceptive (OC) use affect body composition (BC). Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate BC over the MC and OC cycle in well-trained females. Methods: A total of 52 eumenorrheic and 33 monophasic OC-taking well-trained females participated in this study. Several BC variables were measured through bioelectrical impedance analysis 3 times in the eumenorrheic group (early follicular phase, late follicular phase, and midluteal phase) and on 2 occasions in the OC group (withdrawal phase and active pill phase). Results: Mixed linear model tests reported no significant differences in the BC variables (body weight, body mass index, basal metabolism, fat mass, fat-free mass, and total body water) between the MC phases or between the OC phases (P > .05 for all comparisons). Trivial and small effect sizes were found for all BC variables when comparing the MC phases in eumenorrheic females, as well as for the OC cycle phases. Conclusions: According to the results, sex hormone fluctuations throughout the menstrual and OC cycle do not influence BC variables measured by bioelectrical impedance in well-trained females. Therefore, it seems that bioimpedance analysis can be conducted at any moment of the cycle, both for eumenorrheic women and women using OC.