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Blanche Evans, David Hopkins and Tracey Toney

The purpose of this study was to determine the metabolic stress of a self-paced half-mile walk test incorporated in the AAHPERD functional fitness assessment for older adults. Forty-three subjects, aged 57 to 75, completed a half-mile walk on an indoor track (IT) and during a treadmill simulation (TS) of the track walk. Treadmill data indicated that subjects exercised at a mean VO2 of 14.7 ml · kg−1 · min−1 and mean heart rate (b · min−1) of 129. A significant difference (p ≤ .05) was found between IT and TS on rating of perceived exertion. Results indicate that older subjects selected a pace that stressed their cardiorespiratory system without producing severe fatigue or medical complications. Therefore, the half-mile walk test appears to be a safe test that may be incorporated in functional fitness testing. However, its ability to determine functional capacity needs further study.

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David K. Liow and Will G. Hopkins

The training practices of athletes with disabilities were investigated by means of a validated self-administered questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were derived from the replies of 41 wheelchair racers, 20 swimmers, and 14 athletes specializing in throwing events. The majority of athletes competed at either international (77%) or national levels (15%). Almost all swimmers were coached frequently, but one third of the wheelchair racers and one half of the throwers were not coached. Median volumes of endurance, interval, strength, and skill training in each of four training phases (buildup, precompetition, taper, and postcompetition) only partially reflected the contribution of energy systems and skills to performance in the different sports; moreover, there were wide variations in the training programs of athletes within each sport, especially swimmers and throwers. It was concluded that there is need for improvement in the coaching and training of many top-class athletes with disabilities.

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David S. Rowlands and Will G. Hopkins

The effect of pre-exercise meal composition on metabolism and performance in cycling were investigated in a crossover study. Twelve competitive cyclists ingested high-fat, high-carbohydrate, or high-protein meals 90 min before a weekly exercise test. The test consisted of a 1-hour pre-load at 55% peak power, five 10-min incremental loads from 55 to 82% peak power (to measure the peak fat-oxidation rate), and a 50-km time trial that included three 1-km and 4-km sprints. A carbohydrate supplement was ingested throughout the exercise. Relative to the high-protein and high-fat meals, the high-carbohydrate meal halved the peak fat-oxidation rate and reduced the fat oxidation across all workloads by a factor of 0.20 to 0.58 (p = .002–.0001). Reduced fat availability may have accounted for this reduction, as indicated by lower plasma fatty acid, lower glycerol, and higher pre-exercise insulin concentrations relative to the other meals (p = .04–.0001). In contrast, fat oxidation following the high-protein meal was similar to that following the high-fat meal. This similarity was linked to evidence suggesting greater lipolysis and plasma fat availability following high-protein relative to high-carbohydrate meals. Despite these substantial effects on metabolism, meal composition had no clear effect on sprint or 50-km performance.

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David B. Pyne, Megan E. Anderson and Will G. Hopkins

Purpose:

To characterize within-subject changes in anthropometric characteristics of elite swimmers within and between seasons.

Methods:

The subjects were 77 elite swimmers (31 females, 46 males, age 15 to 30 years) monitored over 0.4 to 9.2 years. One anthropometrist recorded their body mass (M) and sum of 7 skin-fold thicknesses (S) on 2042 occasions over 14 years from phase to phase within a season and over consecutive seasons. We estimated change in lean mass using a newly derived index (LMI) that tracked changes in M controlled for changes in S.

Results:

The LMI is M/Sx, where x = 0.16 ± 0.04 for females and 0.15 ± 0.05 for males (mean ± SD). The LMI of males increased 1.1% (95% confidence limits ± 0.2%) between preseason and taper phases, almost twice as much as that of females (0.6% ± 0.3%). During the same period, M and S fell by ~1% and ~11%, respectively. From season to season LMI increased by 0.9% (0.8% to 1.0%) for males and 0.5% (0.3% to 0.7%) for females. All these within-subject effects on LMI were well defined (±~0.3%). The typical variation (SD) of an individual’s LMI was 1.2% for assessments within a season and 1.9% between seasons, with a short-term technical error of measurement of ~0.5%.

Conclusion:

Coaches and conditioners should typically expect a twofold greater increase in lean mass in male swimmers within and between seasons than in females. An LMI of the form M/Sx should be useful for monitoring individual swimmers and athletes in other sports in which body composition affects performance.

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David S. Rowlands, Darrell L. Bonetti and Will G. Hopkins

Isotonic sports drinks are often consumed to offset the effects of dehydration and improve endurance performance, but hypotonic drinks may be more advantageous. The purpose of the study was to compare absorption and effects on performance of a commercially available hypotonic sports drink (Mizone Rapid: 3.9% carbohydrate [CHO], 218 mOsmol/kg) with those of an isotonic drink (PowerAde: 7.6% CHO, 281 mOsmol/kg), a hypertonic drink (Gatorade: 6% CHO, 327 mOsmol/kg), and a noncaloric placebo (8 mOsmol/kg). In a crossover, 11 cyclists consumed each drink on separate days at 250 ml/15 min during a 2-hr preload ride at 55% peak power followed by an incremental test to exhaustion. Small to moderate increases in deuterium oxide enrichment in the preload were observed with Mizone Rapid relative to PowerAde, Gatorade, and placebo (differences of 88, 45, and 42 parts per million, respectively; 90% confidence limits ±28). Serum osmolality was moderately lower with Mizone Rapid than with PowerAde and Gatorade (–1.9, –2.4; mOsmol/L; ±1.2 mOsmol/L) but not clearly different vs. placebo. Plasma volume reduction was small to moderate with Mizone Rapid, PowerAde, and Gatorade relative to placebo (–1.9%, –2.5%, –2.9%; ± 2.5%). Gut comfort was highest with Mizone Rapid but clearly different (8.4% ± 4.8%) only vs PowerAde. Peak power was highest with Mizone Rapid (380 W) vs. placebo and other drinks (1.2–3.0%; 99% confidence limits ±4.7%), but differences were inconclusive with reference to the smallest important effect (~1.2%). The outcomes are consistent with fastest fluid absorption with the hypotonic sports drink. Further research should determine whether the effect has a meaningful impact on performance.

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Philo U. Saunders, Amanda J. Cox, Will G. Hopkins and David B. Pyne

It is unclear whether physiological measures monitored in an incremental treadmill test during a training season provide useful diagnostic information about changes in distance running performance.

Purpose:

To quantify the relationship between changes in physiological measures and performance (peak running speed) over a training season.

Methods:

Well-trained distance runners (34 males; VO2max 64 ± 6 mL⋅kg-1⋅min-1, mean ± SD) completed four incremental treadmill tests over 17 wk. The tests provided values of peak running speed, VO2max, running economy, and lactate threshold (as speed and %VO2max). The physiological measures were included in simple and multiple linear regression models to quantify the relationship between changes in these measures and changes in peak speed.

Results:

The typical within-subject variation in peak speed from test to test was 2.5%, whereas those for physiological measures were VO2max (mL⋅min-1⋅kg-1) 3.0%, economy (m⋅kg⋅mL–1) 3.6%, lactate threshold (%VO2max) 8.7%, and body mass 1.8%. In simple models these typical changes predicted the following changes in performance: VO2max 1.4%, economy 0.8%, lactate threshold –0.3%, and body mass –0.2% (90% confidence limits ~±0.7%); the corresponding correlations with performance were 0.57, 0.33, –0.05, and –0.13 respectively (~±0.20). In a multiple linear regression model, the contribution of each physiological variable to performance changed little after adjustment for the other variables.

Conclusion:

Change in VO2max in an incremental test during a running season is a good predictor of change in peak running speed, change in running economy is a moderate predictor, and lactate threshold and body mass provide little additional information.

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Elaine Tor, David L. Pease, Kevin A. Ball and Will G. Hopkins

Time trials are commonly used in the lead-up to competition. A method that evaluates the relationship between time trial and competition performance in swimming would be useful for developing performance-enhancement strategies.

Purpose:

To use linear mixed modeling to identify key parameters that can be used to relate time-trial and competition performance.

Methods:

Ten swimmers participated in the study. Each swimmer was analyzed during 3 time trials and 1 competition. Race video footage was analyzed to determine several key parameters. Pooling of strokes and distances was achieved by modeling changes in parameters between time trials and competition within each subject as linear predictors of percent change in performance using mixed modeling of log-transformed race times.

Results:

When parameters were evaluated as the effect of 2 SD on performance time, there were very large effects of start time (2.6%, 90% confidence interval 1.8–3.3%) and average velocity (–2.3%, –2.8% to –1.8%). There was also a small effect for stroke rate (–0.6%, –1.3% to 0.2%). Further analysis revealed an improvement in performance time of 2.4% between time trials and competition, of which 1.8% (large; 1.4–2.1%) was due to a change in average velocity and 0.9% (moderate; 0.6–1.1%) was due to a change in start time; changes in remaining parameters had trivial effects on performance.

Conclusion:

This study illustrates effective analytical strategies for identifying key parameters that can be the focus of training to improve performance in small squads of elite swimmers and other athletes.

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Werner W.K. Hoeger, David R. Hopkins, Sherman Button and Troy A. Palmer

This study compared the proposed modified sit and reach test (MSR) and the commonly administered sit and reach test (SR) to determine if the MSR can administratively control possible limb-length biases. Subjects (N=258) were administered two trials of each test. The MSR test incorporates a finger-to-box distance (FBD) to account for proportional differences between legs and arms. Individuals with high FBD measurements demonstrated a poorer performance on the SR test. An analysis of the subjects failing to meet the Physical Best standard (25 cm) indicated a higher probability of failure for those with larger FBD scores. The subjects were subsequently separated into three groups: high, medium, and low FBD. There were no significant difference among the groups on MSR performance but a significant difference was found on SR performance. The MSR test appears to eliminate the concern of disproportionate limb-length bias expressed by many practitioners.

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Sian V. Allen, Tom J. Vandenbogaerde, David B. Pyne and Will G. Hopkins

Talent identification and development typically involve allocation of resources toward athletes selected on the basis of early-career performance.

Purpose:

To compare 4 methods for early-career selection of Australia’s 2012 Olympic-qualifying swimmers.

Methods:

Performance times from 5738 Australian swimmers in individual Olympic events at 101 competitions from 2000 to 2012 were analyzed as percentages of world-record times using 4 methods that retrospectively simulated early selection of swimmers into a talent-development squad. For all methods, squad-selection thresholds were set to include 90% of Olympic qualifiers. One method used each swimmer’s given-year performance for selection, while the others predicted each swimmer’s 2012 performance. The predictive methods were regression and neural-network modeling using given-year performance and age and quadratic trajectories derived using mixed modeling of each swimmer’s annual best career performances up to the given year. All methods were applied to swimmers in 2007 and repeated for each subsequent year through 2011.

Results:

The regression model produced squad sizes of 562, 552, 188, 140, and 93 for the years 2007 through 2011. Corresponding proportions of the squads consisting of Olympic qualifiers were 11%, 11%, 32%, 43%, and 66%. Neural-network modeling produced similar outcomes, but the other methods were less effective. Swimming Australia’s actual squads ranged from 91 to 67 swimmers but included only 50−74% of Olympic qualifiers.

Conclusions:

Large talent-development squads are required to include most eventual Olympic qualifiers. Criteria additional to age and performance are needed to improve early selection of swimmers to talent-development squads.

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Markus J. Klusemann, David B. Pyne, Will G. Hopkins and Eric J. Drinkwater

Competition-specific conditioning for tournament basketball games is challenging, as the demands of tournament formats are not well characterized.

Purpose:

To compare the physical, physiological, and tactical demands of seasonal and tournament basketball competition and determine the pattern of changes within an international tournament.

Methods:

Eight elite junior male basketball players (age 17.8 ± 0.2 y, height 1.93 ± 0.07 m, mass 85 ± 3 kg; mean ± SD) were monitored in 6 seasonal games played over 4 mo in an Australian second-division national league and in 7 games of an international under-18 tournament played over 8 days. Movement patterns and tactical elements were coded from video and heart rates recorded by telemetry.

Results:

The frequency of running, sprinting, and shuffling movements in seasonal games was higher than in tournament games by 8–15% (99% confidence limits ± ~8%). Within the tournament, jogging and low- to medium-intensity shuffling decreased by 15–20% (± ~14%) over the 7 games, while running, sprinting, and high-intensity shuffling increased 11–81% (± ~25%). There were unclear differences in mean and peak heart rates. The total number of possessions was higher in seasonal than in tournament games by 8% (± 10%).

Conclusions:

Coaches should consider a stronger emphasis on strength and power training in their conditioning programs to account for the higher activity of seasonal games. For tournament competition, strategies that build a sufficient aerobic capacity and neuromuscular resilience to maintain high-intensity movements need to be employed. A focus on half-court tactics accounts for the lower number of possessions in tournaments.