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Glyn Howatson, Raphael Brandon and Angus M. Hunter

There is a great deal of research on the responses to resistance training; however, information on the responses to strength and power training conducted by elite strength and power athletes is sparse.

Purpose:

To establish the acute and 24-h neuromuscular and kinematic responses to Olympic-style barbell strength and power exercise in elite athletes.

Methods:

Ten elite track and field athletes completed a series of 3 back-squat exercises each consisting of 4 × 5 repetitions. These were done as either strength or power sessions on separate days. Surface electromyography (sEMG), bar velocity, and knee angle were monitored throughout these exercises and maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), jump height, central activation ratio (CAR), and lactate were measured pre, post, and 24 h thereafter.

Results:

Repetition duration, impulse, and total work were greater (P < .01) during strength sessions, with mean power being greater (P < .01) after the power sessions. Lactate increased (P < .01) after strength but not power sessions. sEMG increased (P < .01) across sets for both sessions, with the strength session increasing at a faster rate (P < .01) and with greater activation (P < .01) by the end of the final set. MVC declined (P < .01) after the strength and not the power session, which remained suppressed (P < .05) 24 h later, whereas CAR and jump height remained unchanged.

Conclusion:

A greater neuromuscular and metabolic demand after the strength and not power session is evident in elite athletes, which impaired maximal-force production for up to 24 h. This is an important consideration for planning concurrent athlete training.

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Angus M. Hunter, Allan St, Clair Gibson, Malcolm Collins, Mike Lambert and Timothy D. Noakes

This study analyzed the effect of caffeine ingestion on performance during a repeated-measures, 100-km, laboratory cycling time trial that included bouts of 1- and 4-km high intensity epochs (HIE). Eight highly trained cyclists participated in 3 separate trials—placebo ingestion before exercise with a placebo carbohydrate solution and placebo tablets during exercise (Pl), or placebo ingestion before exercise with a 7% carbohydrate drink and placebo tablets during exercise (Cho), or caffeine tablet ingestion before and during exercise with 7% carbohydrate (Caf). Placebo (twice) or 6 mg · kg−1 caffeine was ingested 60 min prior to starting 1 of the 3 cycling trials, during which subjects ingested either additional placebos or a caffeine maintenance dose of 0.33 mg · kg−1 every 15 min to trial completion. The 100-km time trial consisted of five 1-km HIE after 10, 32, 52, 72, and 99 km, as well as four 4-km HIE after 20, 40, 60, and 80 km. Subjects were instructed to complete the time trial and all HIE as fast as possible. Plasma (caffeine) was significantly higher during Caf (0.43 ± 0.56 and 1.11 ± 1.78 mM pre vs. post Pl; and 47.32 ± 12.01 and 72.43 ± 29.08 mM pre vs. post Caf). Average power, HIE time to completion, and 100-km time to completion were not different between trials. Mean heart rates during both the 1-km HIE (184.0 ± 9.8 Caf; 177.0 ± 5.8 Pl; 177.4 ± 8.9 Cho) and 4-km HIE (181.7 ± 5.7 Caf; 174.3 ± 7.2 Pl; 175.6 ± 7.6 Cho; p < .05) was higher in Caf than in the other groups. No significant differences were found between groups for either EMG amplitude (IEMG) or mean power frequency spectrum (MPFS). IEMG activity and performance were not different between groups but were both higher in the 1-km HIE, indicating the absence of peripheral fatigue and the presence of a centrally-regulated pacing strategy that is not altered by caffeine ingestion. Caffeine may be without ergogenic benefit during endurance exercise in which the athlete begins exercise with a defined, predetermined goal measured as speed or distance.

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Colin B. Shore, Gill Hubbard, Trish Gorely, Robert Polson, Angus Hunter and Stuart D. Galloway

Background: Exercise referral schemes (ERS) are prescribed programs to tackle physical inactivity and associated noncommunicable disease. Inconsistencies in reporting, recording, and delivering ERS make it challenging to identify what works, why, and for whom. Methods: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guided this narrative review of reviews. Electronic databases were searched for systematic reviews of ERS. Inclusion criteria and quality assessed through A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR). Data on uptake, attendance, and adherence were extracted. Results: Eleven reviews met inclusion criteria. AMSTAR quality was medium. Uptake ranged between 35% and 81%. Groups more likely to take up ERS included (1) females and (2) older adults. Attendance ranged from 12% to 49%. Men were more likely to attend ERS. Effect of medical diagnosis upon uptake and attendance was inconsistent. Exercises prescribed were unreported; therefore, adherence to exercise prescriptions was unreported. The influence of theoretically informed approaches on uptake, attendance, and adherence was generally lacking; however, self-determination, peer support, and supervision were reported as influencing attendance. Conclusions: There was insufficient reporting across studies about uptake, attendance, and adherence. Complex interventions such as ERS require consistent definitions, recording, and reporting of these key facets, but this is not evident from the existing literature.

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Lewis J. Macgregor, Massimiliano Ditroilo, Iain J. Smith, Malcolm M. Fairweather and Angus M. Hunter

Context:

Assessments of skeletal-muscle functional capacity often necessitate maximal contractile effort, which exacerbates muscle fatigue or injury. Tensiomyography (TMG) has been investigated as a means to assess muscle contractile function after fatigue; however, observations have not been contextualized by concurrent physiological measures.

Objective:

To measure peripheral-fatigue-induced alterations in mechanical and contractile properties of the plantar-flexor muscles through noninvasive TMG concurrently with maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and passive muscle tension (PMT) to validate TMG as a gauge of peripheral fatigue.

Design:

Pre- and posttest intervention with control.

Setting:

University laboratory.

Participants:

21 healthy male volunteers.

Interventions:

Subjects’ plantar flexors were tested for TMG parameters, along with MVC and PMT, before and after either a 5-min rest period (control) or a 5-min electrical-stimulation intervention (fatigue).

Main Outcome Measures:

Temporal (contraction velocity) and spatial (radial displacement) contractile parameters of the gastrocnemius medialis were recorded through TMG. MVC was measured as an indicator of muscle fatigue, and PMT was measured to assess muscle stiffness.

Results:

Radial displacement demonstrated a fatigue-associated reduction (3.3 ± 1.2 vs 4.0 ± 1.4 mm, P = .031), while contraction velocity remained unaltered. In addition, MVC significantly declined by 122.6 ± 104 N (P < .001) after stimulation (fatigue). PMT was significantly increased after fatigue (139.8 ± 54.3 vs 111.3 ± 44.6 N, P = .007).

Conclusions:

TMG successfully detected fatigue, evident from reduced MVC, by displaying impaired muscle displacement accompanied by elevated PMT. TMG could be useful in establishing skeletalmuscle fatigue status without exacerbating the functional decrement of the muscle.

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Michael L. Newell, Angus M. Hunter, Claire Lawrence, Kevin D. Tipton and Stuart D. R. Galloway

In an investigator-blind, randomized cross-over design, male cyclists (mean± SD) age 34.0 (± 10.2) years, body mass 74.6 (±7.9) kg, stature 178.3 (±8.0) cm, peak power output (PPO) 393 (±36) W, and VO2max 62 (±9) ml·kg−1min−1 training for more than 6 hr/wk for more than 3y (n = 20) completed four experimental trials. Each trial consisted of a 2-hr constant load ride at 95% of lactate threshold (185 ± 25W) then a work-matched time trial task (~30min at 70% of PPO). Three commercially available carbohydrate (CHO) beverages, plus a control (water), were administered during the 2-hr ride providing 0, 20, 39, or 64g·hr−1 of CHO at a fluid intake rate of 1L·hr−1. Performance was assessed by time to complete the time trial task, mean power output sustained, and pacing strategy used. Mean task completion time (min:sec ± SD) for 39g·hr−1 (34:19.5 ± 03:07.1, p = .006) and 64g·hr−1 (34:11.3 ± 03:08.5 p = .004) of CHO were significantly faster than control (37:01.9 ± 05:35.0). The mean percentage improvement from control was −6.1% (95% CI: −11.3 to −1.0) and −6.5% (95% CI: −11.7 to −1.4) in the 39 and 64g·hr−1 trials respectively. The 20g·hr−1 (35:17.6 ± 04:16.3) treatment did not reach statistical significance compared with control (p = .126) despite a mean improvement of −3.7% (95% CI −8.8−1.5%). No further differences between CHO trials were reported. No interaction between CHO dose and pacing strategy occurred. 39 and 64g·hr−1 of CHO were similarly effective at improving endurance cycling performance compared with a 0g·hr−1 control in our trained cyclists.

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Susan Y. Kwiecien, Malachy P. McHugh, Stuart Goodall, Kirsty M. Hicks, Angus M. Hunter and Glyn Howatson

Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness between cold-water immersion (CWI) and phase-change-material (PCM) cooling on intramuscular, core, and skin-temperature and cardiovascular responses. Methods: In a randomized, crossover design, 11 men completed 15 min of 15°C CWI to the umbilicus and 2-h recovery or 3 h of 15°C PCM covering the quadriceps and 1 h of recovery, separated by 24 h. Vastus lateralis intramuscular temperature at 1 and 3 cm, core and skin temperature, heart-rate variability, and thermal comfort were recorded at baseline and 15-min intervals throughout treatment and recovery. Results: Intramuscular temperature decreased (P < .001) during and after both treatments. A faster initial effect was observed from 15 min of CWI (Δ: 4.3°C [1.7°C] 1 cm; 5.5°C [2.1°C] 3 cm; P = .01). However, over time (2 h 15 min), greater effects were observed from prolonged PCM treatment (Δ: 4.2°C [1.9°C] 1 cm; 2.2°C [2.2°C] 3 cm; treatment × time, P = .0001). During the first hour of recovery from both treatments, intramuscular temperature was higher from CWI at 1 cm (P = .013) but not 3 cm. Core temperature deceased 0.25° (0.32°) from CWI (P = .001) and 0.28°C (0.27°C) from PCM (P = .0001), whereas heart-rate variability increased during both treatments (P = .001), with no differences between treatments. Conclusions: The magnitude of temperature reduction from CWI was comparable with PCM, but intramuscular temperature was decreased for longer during PCM. PCM cooling packs offer an alternative for delivering prolonged cooling whenever application of CWI is impractical while also exerting a central effect on core temperature and heart rate.