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  • Author: Antonio La Torre x
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Paolo Menaspà, Marco Sias, Gene Bates and Antonio La Torre

Purpose: To describe the demand of recent World Cup (WC) races comparing top-10 (T10) and non-top-10 (N-T10) performances using power data. Methods: Race data were collected in 1-d World Cup races during the 2012–2015 road cycling seasons. Seven female cyclists completed 49 WC races, finishing 25 times in T10 and 24 times in N-T10. Peak power (1 s) and maximal mean power (MMP) for durations of 5, 10, 20, and 30 s and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, and 60 min expressed as power to weight ratio were analyzed in T10 and N-T10. The percentage of total race time spent at different power bands was compared between T10 and N-T10 using 0.75-W·kg−1 power bands, ranging from <0.75 to >7.50 W·kg−1. The number of efforts in which the power output remained above 7.50 W·kg−1 for at least 10 s was recorded. Results: MMPs were significantly higher in T10 than in N-T10, with a large effect size for durations between 10 s and 5 min. N-T10 spent more time in the 3.01- to 3.75-W·kg−1 power band when compared to T10 (P = .011); conversely, T10 spent more time in the 6.75- to 7.50- and >7.50-W·kg−1 power bands (P = .009 and .005, respectively) than N-T10. A significantly higher number of short and high-intensity efforts (≥10 s, >7.5 W·kg−1) was ridden by T10 than N-T10 (P = .002), specifically, 46 ± 20 and 30 ± 15 efforts for T10 and N-T10, respectively. Conclusions: The ability to ride at high intensity was determinant for successful road-cycling performances in WC races.

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Federico Pizzuto, Matteo Bonato, Gialunca Vernillo, Antonio La Torre and Maria Francesca Piacentini

Purpose:

To analyze how many finalists of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Junior Championships (WJCs) in the middle- and long-distance track events had dropped out from high-level competitions.

Methods:

Starting from 2002, the 8 male and the 8 female finalists in the middle- and long-distance events of 6 editions of the WJC were followed until 2015 to evaluate how many missed the IAAF rankings for 2 consecutive years starting from the year after WJC participation. For those still competing at elite level, their careers were monitored.

Results:

In 2015, 61% of the 2002, 54.8% of the 2004, 48.3% of the 2006, 37.5% of the 2008, 26.2% of the 2010, and 29% of the 2012 WJC finalists were not present in the IAAF rankings. Of the 368 athletes considered, 75 (20.4%) were able to achieve the IAAF top 10 in 2.4 ± 2.2 y. There is evidence of relationships between dropout and gender (P = .040), WJC edition (P = .000), and nationality (P = .010) and between the possibility to achieve the IAAF top 10 and dropout (P = .000), continent (P = .001), relative age effect (P = .000), and quartile of birth (P = .050).

Conclusions:

Even if 23 of the finalists won a medal at the Olympic Games or at the World Championships, it is still not clear if participation at the WJC is a prerequisite to success at a senior level.

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Luca Filipas, Emiliano Nerli Ballati, Matteo Bonato, Antonio La Torre and Maria Francesca Piacentini

Purpose: To analyze the pacing profiles of the world’s top 800-m annual performances between 2010 and 2016, comparing men’s and women’s strategies. Methods: A total of 142 performances were characterized for overall race times and 0-to-200-m, 200-to-400-m, 400-to-600-m, and 600-to-800-m split times using available footage from YouTube. Only the best annual performance for each athlete was considered. Overall race and split speed were calculated so that each lap speed could be expressed as a percentage of the mean race speed. Results: The mean speed of the men’s 800-m was 7.73 (0.06) m·s−1, with the 0-to-200-m split faster than the others. After the first split, the speed decreased significantly during the 3 subsequent splits (P < .001). The mean speed of the women’s 800-m was 6.77 (0.05) m·s−1, with a significative variation in speed during the race (P < .001). The first split was faster than the others (P < .001). During the rest of the race, speed was almost constant, and no difference was observed between the other splits. Comparison between men and women revealed that there was an interaction between split and gender (P < .001), showing a different pacing behavior in 800-m competitions. Conclusions: The world’s best 800-m performances revealed an important difference in the pacing profile between men and women. Tactics could play a greater role in this difference, but physiological and behavioral characteristics are likely also important.

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Davide Ferioli, Ermanno Rampinini, Andrea Bosio, Antonio La Torre and Nicola A. Maffiuletti

Purpose: To examine differences between adult male basketball players of different competitive levels (study 1) and changes over a basketball season (study 2) of knee-extensor peripheral muscle function during multistage change-of-direction exercise (MCODE). Methods: In study 1, 111 players from 4 different divisions completed the MCODE during the regular season. In study 2, the MCODE was performed before (T1) and after (T2) the preparation period and during the competitive season (T3) by 32 players from divisions I, II, and III. The MCODE comprised 4 levels of increasing intensity for each player. The twitch peak torque (PT) of knee extensors was measured after each level. PTmax (the highest value of PT) and fatigue were calculated. Results: In study 1, the authors found possibly small differences (effect size [ES] [90% confidence interval] −0.24 [0.39]) in fatigue between divisions I and II. Division I was characterized by likely (ES 0.30–0.65) and very likely to almost certain (ES 0.74–1.41) better PTmax and fatigue levels than divisions III and VI, respectively. In study 2, fatigue was very likely reduced (ES −0.91 to −0.51) among all divisions from T1 to T2, whereas PTmax was likely to very likely reduced (ES −0.51 to −0.39) in divisions II and III. Conclusions: Professional basketball players are characterized by a better peripheral muscle function during MCODE. Most of the seasonal changes in peripheral muscle function occurred after the preparation period. These findings inform practitioners on the development of training programs to enhance the ability to sustain repeated change-of-direction efforts.

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Jacopo A. Vitale, Giuseppe Banfi, Andrea Galbiati, Luigi Ferini-Strambi and Antonio La Torre

Purpose: To evaluate actigraphy-based sleep quality and perceived recovery before and after a night game in top-level volleyball athletes. Methods: Data on sleep parameters were collected by actigraphy for 3 consecutive nights with 24 elite athletes (12 male and 12 female; mean age [SD] = 26.0 [3.4] y, age range = 20–33 y) during the competitive season 2016–17. Data from 1 night before and 2 nights after an official night match were studied, and athletes’ subjective perception of recovery was evaluated by the Total Quality Recovery scale. The following actigraphic parameters were studied: time in bed, sleep latency, sleep efficiency, wake after sleep onset, total sleep time, immobility time, moving time, and fragmentation index. Results: The analysis highlighted significant differences for all sleep variables. Total sleep time was lower the first night after the match compared with prematch sleep (P = .02) and the second night (P = .0009) after night competition (P = .0001, F 2,23 = 22.93, ηp2 = .66). Similarly, sleep efficiency was lower immediately after the night competition compared with both prematch values (P = .03) and the second night (P = .0003) after competition (P = .0005, F 2,23 = 8.93, ηp2 = .44). The same differences were observed in the perceived recovery values (P = .001, F 2,23 = 13.37, ηp2 = .54). Conclusions: Coaches and medical staff should use these findings to develop a greater knowledge of how sleep differs during different phases of competition and to implement behavioral and sleep-hygiene strategies in top-level athletes.

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Davide Ferioli, Andrea Bosio, Johann C. Bilsborough, Antonio La Torre, Michele Tornaghi and Ermanno Rampinini

Purpose: To investigate the effect of the preparation period on neuromuscular characteristics of 12 professional (PRO) and 16 semiprofessional (SEMIPRO) basketball players and relationships between training-load indices and changes in neuromuscular physical performance. Methods: Before and after the preparation period, players underwent a countermovement jump (CMJ) test followed by a repeated change-of-direction (COD) test consisting of 4 levels with increasing intensities. The peripheral neuromuscular functions of the knee extensors (peak torque [PT]) were measured using electrical stimulations after each level (PT1, PT2, PT3, and PT4). Furthermore, PT Max (the highest value of PT) and PT Dec (PT decrement from PT Max to PT4) were calculated. Results: Trivial to small (effect size [ES] = −0.17 to 0.46) improvements were found in CMJ variables, regardless of competitive level. After the preparation period, peripheral fatigue induced by a COD test was similarly reduced in both PRO (PT Dec: from 27.8% [21.3%] to 11.4% [13.7%]; ES = −0.71; 90% confidence interval [CI], ±0.30) and SEMIPRO (PT Dec: from 26.1% [21.9%] to 10.2% [8.2%]; ES = −0.69; 90% CI, ±0.32). Moderate to large relationships were found between session rating of perceived exertion training load and changes in peak power output (PPO) measured during the CMJs (r s [90% confidence interval]: PPOabs, −.46 [±.26]; PPOrel, −.53 [±.23]) and in some PTs measured during the COD test (PT1, −.45 [±.26]; PT2, −.44 [±.26]; PT3, −.40 [±.27]; and PT Max, −.38 [±.28]). Conclusions: The preparation period induced minimal changes in the CMJ, while the ability to sustain repeated COD efforts was improved. Reaching high session rating of perceived exertion training loads might partially and negatively affect the ability to produce strength and power.

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Lorenzo Pugliese, Simone Porcelli, Matteo Bonato, Gaspare Pavei, Antonio La Torre, Martina A. Maggioni, Giuseppe Bellistri and Mauro Marzorati

Purpose:

Recently, some studies have suggested that overall training intensity may be more important than training volume for improving swimming performance. However, those studies focused on very young subjects, and/or the difference between high-volume and high-intensity training was blurred. The aim of this study was to investigate in masters swimmers the effects of manipulation of training volume and intensity on performance and physiological variables.

Methods:

A group of 10 male masters swimmers (age 32.3 ± 5.1 y) performed 2 different 6-wk training periods followed by 1 wk of tapering. The first period was characterized by high training volume performed at low intensity (HvLi), whereas the second period was characterized by low training volume performed at high intensity (LvHi). Peak oxygen consumption (V̇O2peak) during incremental arm exercise, individual anaerobic threshold (IAT), and 100-m, 400-m, and 2000-m-freestyle time were evaluated before and at the end of both training periods.

Results:

HvLi training significant increased V̇O2peak (11.9% ± 4.9% [mean change ± 90%CL], P = .002) and performance in the 400-m (–2.8% ± 1.8%, P = .002) and 2000-m (–3.4% ± 2.9%, P = .025), with a likely change in IAT (4.9% ± 4.7%, P > .05). After LvHi training, speed at IAT (12.4% ± 5.3%, P = .004) and 100-m performance (–1.2% ± 0.8%, P = .001) also improved, without any significant changes in V̇O2peak, 2000-m, and 400-m.

Conclusions:

These findings indicate that in masters swimmers an increase of training volume may lead to an improvement of V̇O2peak and middle- to long-distance performance. However, a subsequent period of LvHi training maintains previous adjustments and positively affects anaerobic threshold and short-distance performance.

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Martina A. Maggioni, Matteo Bonato, Alexander Stahn, Antonio La Torre, Luca Agnello, Gianluca Vernillo, Carlo Castagna and Giampiero Merati

Purpose: To investigate the effects of ball drills and repeated-sprint-ability training during the regular season in basketball players. Methods: A total of 30 players were randomized into 3 groups: ball-drills training (BDT, n = 12, 4 × 4 min, 3 vs 3 with 3-min passive recovery), repeated-sprint-ability training (RSAT, n = 9, 3 × 6 × 20-m shuttle running with 20-s and 4-min recovery), and general basketball training (n = 9, basketball technical/tactical exercises), as control group. Players were tested before and after 8 wk of training using the following tests: V˙O2max, squat jump, countermovement jump, Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (YIRT1), agility T test, line-drill test, 5-/10-/20-m sprints, and blood lactate concentration. A custom-developed survey was used to analyze players’ technical skills. Results: After training, significant improvements were seen in YIRT1 (BDT P = .014, effect size [ES] ± 90% CI = 0.8 ± 0.3; RSAT P = .022, ES ± 90% CI = 0.7 ± 0.3), the agility T test (BDT P = .018, ES ± 90% CI = 0.7 ± 0.5; RSAT P = .037, ES ± 90% CI = 0.7 ± 0.5), and the line-drill test (BDT P = .010, ES ± 90% CI = 0.3 ± 0.1; RSAT P < .0001, ES ± 90% CI = 0.4 ± 0.1). In the RSAT group, only 10-m sprint speeds (P = .039, ES ± 90% CI = 0.3 ± 0.2) and blood lactate concentration (P = .004, ES ± 90% CI = 0.8 ± 1.1) were improved. Finally, technical skills were increased in BDT regarding dribbling (P = .038, ES ± 90% CI = 0.8 ± 0.6), shooting (P = .036, ES ± 90% CI = 0.8 ± 0.8), passing (P = .034, ES ± 90% CI = 0.9 ± 0.3), rebounding (P = .023, ES ± 90% CI = 1.1 ± 0.3), defense (P = .042, ES ± 90% CI = 0.5 ± 0.5), and offense (P = .044, ES ± 90% CI = 0.4 ± 0.4) skills. Conclusions: BDT and RSAT are both effective in improving the physical performance of basketball players. BDT had also a positive impact on technical skills. Basketball strength and conditioning professionals should include BDT as a routine tool to improve technical skills and physical performance simultaneously throughout the regular training season.

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José D. Jiménez-García, Fidel Hita-Contreras, Manuel de la Torre-Cruz, Raquel Fábrega-Cuadros, Agustín Aibar-Almazán, David Cruz-Díaz and Antonio Martínez-Amat

The objective of this study was to compare the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and moderate-intensity interval training (MIIT) programs, both with a suspension training system, on several fall risk factors in healthy older adults. A total of 82 participants (68.23 ± 2.97 years) were randomized to HIIT (n = 28), MIIT (n = 27), or control (n = 27) groups. Balance confidence (Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale), fear of falling (Falls Efficacy Scale—International), dynamic balance (Timed Up and Go test), and gait analysis (OptoGait optical detection system) were assessed. Statistical analysis showed improvements after the intervention in the HIIT group compared with the MIIT and control groups regarding the fear of falling (p < .05 and p < .01, respectively), gait (both ps < .05), and dynamic balance (p < .05 and p < .01, respectively), whereas both HIIT and MIIT groups improved balance confidence compared with the control group (p < .01 and p < .05, respectively). We can conclude that HIIT has significant beneficial effects of fall risk in older adults.