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Gerrit Jan van Ingen Schenau, Maarten F. Bobbert and Arnold de Haan

This target article addresses the role of storage and reutilization of elastic energy in stretch-shortening cycles. It is argued that for discrete movements such as the vertical jump, elastic energy does not explain the work enhancement due to the prestretch. This enhancement seems to occur because the prestretch allows muscles to develop a high level of active state and force before starting to shorten. For cyclic movements in which stretch-shortening cycles occur repetitively, some authors have claimed that elastic energy enhances mechanical efficiency. In the current article it is demonstrated that this claim is often based on disputable concepts such as the efficiency of positive work or absolute work, and it is argued that elastic energy cannot affect mechanical efficiency simply because this energy is not related to the conversion of metabolic energy into mechanical energy. A comparison of work and efficiency measures obtained at different levels of organization reveals that there is in fact no decisive evidence to either support or reject the claim that the stretch-shortening cycle enhances muscle efficiency. These explorations lead to the conclusion that the body of knowledge about the mechanics and energetics of the stretch-shortening cycle is in fact quite lean. A major challenge is to bridge the gap between knowledge obtained at different levels of organization, with the ultimate purpose of understanding how the intrinsic properties of muscles manifest themselves under in-vivo-like conditions and how they are exploited in whole-body activities such as running. To achieve this purpose, a close cooperation is required between muscle physiologists and human movement scientists performing inverse and forward dynamic simulation studies of whole-body exercises.

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Gerrit Jan van Ingen Schenau, Maarten F. Bobbert and Arnold de Haan

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Koen Levels, Lennart P.J. Teunissen, Arnold de Haan, Jos J. de Koning, Bernadet van Os and Hein A.M. Daanen

Purpose:

The best way to apply precooling for endurance exercise in the heat is still unclear. The authors analyzed the effect of different preparation regimens on pacing during a 15-km cycling time trial in the heat.

Methods:

Ten male subjects completed four 15-km time trials (30°C), preceded by different preparation regimes: 10 min cycling (WARM-UP), 30 min scalp cooling of which 10 min was cycling (SC+WARM-UP), ice-slurry ingestion (ICE), and ice slurry ingestion + 30 min scalp cooling (SC+ICE).

Results:

No differences were observed in finish time and mean power output, although power output was lower for WARM-UP than for SC+ICE during km 13–14 (17 ± 16 and 19 ± 14 W, respectively) and for ICE during km 13 (16 ± 16 W). Rectal temperature at the start of the time trial was lower for both ICE conditions (~36.7°C) than both WARMUP conditions (~37.1°C) and remained lower during the first part of the trial. Skin temperature and thermal sensation were lower at the start for SC+ICE.

Conclusions:

The preparation regimen providing the lowest body-heat content and sensation of coolness at the start (SC+ICE) was most beneficial for pacing during the latter stages of the time trial, although overall performance did not differ.

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Sander P.M. Ganzevles, Arnold de Haan, Peter J. Beek, Hein A.M. Daanen and Martin J. Truijens

For training to be optimal, daily training load has to be adapted to the momentary status of the individual athlete, which is often difficult to establish. Therefore, the current study investigated the predictive value of heart-rate recovery (HRR) during a standardized warm-up for training load. Training load was quantified by the variation in heart rate during standardized training in competitive swimmers. Eight female and 5 male Dutch national-level swimmers participated in the study. They all performed 3 sessions consisting of a 300-m warm-up test and a 10 × 100-m training protocol. Both protocols were swum in front crawl at individually standardized velocities derived from an incremental step test. Velocity was related to 75% and 85% heart-rate reserve (% HRres) for the warm-up and training, respectively. Relative HRR during the first 60 s after the warm-up (HRRw-up) and differences between the actual and intended heart rate for the warm-up and the training (ΔHRw-up and ΔHRtr) were determined. No significant relationship between HRRw-up and ΔHRtr was found (F 1,37 = 2.96, P = .09, R 2 = .07, SEE = 4.65). There was considerable daily variation in ΔHRtr at a given swimming velocity (73–93% HRres). ΔHRw-up and ΔHRtr were clearly related (F 1,37 = 74.31, P < .001, R 2 = .67, SEE = 2.78). HRR after a standardized warm-up does not predict heart rate during a directly subsequent and standardized training session. Instead, heart rate during the warm-up protocol seems a promising alternative for coaches to make daily individual-specific adjustments to training programs.