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Herbert Wagner, Patrick Fuchs, Andrea Fusco, Philip Fuchs, Jeffrey W. Bell, and Serge P. von Duvillard

Purpose: Biological differences between men and women are well known; however, literature addressing knowledge about the influence of sex on specific and general performance in team handball is almost nonexistent. Consequently, the aim of the study was to assess and compare specific and general physical performance in male and female elite team-handball players, to determine if the differences are consequential for general compared with specific physical performance characteristics and the relationship between general and specific physical performance. Methods: Twelve male and 10 female elite team-handball players performed a game-based performance test, upper- and lower-body strength and power tests, a sprinting test, and an incremental treadmill running test. Results: Significant differences (P < .05) between male and female players were found for peak oxygen uptake and total running time during the treadmill test, 30-m sprinting time, leg-extension strength, trunk- and shoulder-rotation torque, and countermovement-jump height, as well as offense and defense time, ball velocity, and jump height in the game-based performance test. An interaction (sex × test) was found for time and oxygen uptake, and except shoulder-rotation torque and ball velocity in women, the authors found only a low relationship between specific and general physical performance. Conclusion: The results of the study revealed that male players are heavier, taller, faster, and stronger; jump higher; and have better aerobic performance. However, female players performed relatively better in the team-handball-specific tests than in the general tests. The findings also suggest that female players should focus more on strength training.

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Andrea Fusco, Christine Knutson, Charles King, Richard P. Mikat, John P. Porcari, Cristina Cortis, and Carl Foster

Purpose: Although the session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) is primarily a marker of internal training load (TL), it may be sensitive to external TL determining factors, such as duration and volume. Thus, sRPE could provide further information on accumulated fatigue not available from markers of internal TL. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate sRPE during heavy training bouts at relatively constant intensity. Methods: Eleven university swimmers performed a high-volume training session consisting of 4 × 10 × 100-yd (4 × 10 × 91.4 m). Repetition lap time and heart rate were measured for each repetition and averaged for each set. Blood lactate concentration was measured after each set. At the end of each set, a 10-minute rest period was allowed, during which sRPE values were obtained, as if the training bout had ended. Results: There were no differences between sets for lap time (P = .096), heart rate (P = .717), and blood lactate concentration (P = .466), suggesting that the subjects were working at the same external and internal intensity. There was an increase (P = .0002) in sRPE between sets (first 4 [1.2], second 5 [1.3], third 7 [1.3], and fourth 8 [1.5]), suggesting that even when maintaining the same intensity, the perception of the entire workload increased with duration. Conclusions: Increases in duration, although performed with a consistent internal and external intensity, influences sRPE. These findings support the concept that sRPE may provide additional information on accumulated fatigue not available from other markers of TL.

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Philip X. Fuchs, Andrea Fusco, Jeffrey W. Bell, Serge P. von Duvillard, Cristina Cortis, and Herbert Wagner

Purpose: To determine the effect of in-season differential training on volleyball spike-jump technique and performance in elite-level female players. Methods: During the season, spike jumps of 12 elite female players (Austrian Volleyball League Women) were recorded by 13 Qualisys Oqus cameras (250 Hz) and an AMTI force plate (1000 Hz). First measurement was made at the beginning of the investigation. Two identical measurements were repeated after a first and a second interval. The first interval served as control phase. The second interval was comparable in length and regular program but included differential training (6 wk, 8 sessions of 15–20 min) as a modified warm-up. It addressed specific performance determinants. Analyses of variances were calculated for the 3 measurements and for the development during control and intervention phase. Results: Initial jump height (0.44 [0.09] m) changed by −4.5% during the control phase and +11.9% during the intervention (P < .001, ηp2=.70). All approach variables, arm backswing, and velocity-conversion strategy improved compared with the control phase (Δ%: 6.1–51.2%, P < .05, ηp2=.40.80). Joint angles, countermovement depth, maximal angular velocities, and torso incline were not affected (Δ%: −2.9–9.1%, P = .066–.969, ηp2=.00.27). Conclusions: In-season differential training led to technical adaptations and increased spike-jump height in elite female players. The differential training program allowed players to experience a range of adaptability and to adjust toward an individual optimum in technical components of performance determinants. Coaches are encouraged to apply technical differential training to elite athletes and to target biomechanical performance factors specifically.

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Blaine E. Arney, Reese Glover, Andrea Fusco, Cristina Cortis, Jos J. de Koning, Teun van Erp, Salvador Jaime, Richard P. Mikat, John P. Porcari, and Carl Foster

Purpose: The session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) is a well-accepted method of monitoring training load in athletes in many different sports. It is based on the category-ratio (0–10) RPE scale (BORG-CR10) developed by Borg. There is no evidence how substitution of the Borg 6–20 RPE scale (BORG-RPE) might influence the sRPE in athletes. Methods: Systematically training, recreational-level athletes from a number of sport disciplines performed 6 randomly ordered, 30-min interval-training sessions, at intensities based on peak power output (PPO) and designed to be easy (50% PPO), moderate (75% PPO), or hard (85% PPO). Ratings of sRPE were obtained 30 min postexercise using either the BORG-CR10 or BORG-RPE and compared for matched exercise conditions. Results: The average percentage of heart-rate reserve was well correlated with sRPE from both BORG-CR10 (r = .76) and BORG-RPE (r = .69). The sRPE ratings from BORG-CR10 and BORG-RPE were very strongly correlated (r = .90) at matched times. Conclusions: Although producing different absolute numbers, sRPE derived from either the BORG-CR10 or BORG-RPE provides essentially interchangeable estimates of perceived exercise training intensity.

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Carl Foster, Daniel Boullosa, Michael McGuigan, Andrea Fusco, Cristina Cortis, Blaine E. Arney, Bo Orton, Christopher Dodge, Salvador Jaime, Kim Radtke, Teun van Erp, Jos J. de Koning, Daniel Bok, Jose A. Rodriguez-Marroyo, and John P. Porcari

The session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) method was developed 25 years ago as a modification of the Borg concept of rating of perceived exertion (RPE), designed to estimate the intensity of an entire training session. It appears to be well accepted as a marker of the internal training load. Early studies demonstrated that sRPE correlated well with objective measures of internal training load, such as the percentage of heart rate reserve and blood lactate concentration. It has been shown to be useful in a wide variety of exercise activities ranging from aerobic to resistance to games. It has also been shown to be useful in populations ranging from patients to elite athletes. The sRPE is a reasonable measure of the average RPE acquired across an exercise session. Originally designed to be acquired ∼30 minutes after a training bout to prevent the terminal elements of an exercise session from unduly influencing the rating, sRPE has been shown to be temporally robust across periods ranging from 1 minute to 14 days following an exercise session. Within the training impulse concept, sRPE, or other indices derived from sRPE, has been shown to be able to account for both positive and negative training outcomes and has contributed to our understanding of how training is periodized to optimize training outcomes and to understand maladaptations such as overtraining syndrome. The sRPE as a method of monitoring training has the advantage of extreme simplicity. While it is not ideal for the precise recording of the details of the external training load, it has large advantages relative to evaluating the internal training load.