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Quasi-Isometric Cycling: A Case Study Investigation of a Novel Method to Augment Peak Power Output in Sprint Cycling

Mehdi Kordi, Martin Evans, and Glyn Howatson

Purpose: Peak power output (PPO) is a determinant of sprint cycling performance and can be enhanced by resistance exercise that targets maximum strength. Conventional resistance training is not always suitable for elite cyclists because of chronic spinal issues; therefore, alternative methods to improve strength that concurrently reduce injury risk are welcome. In this case study, quasi-isometric cycling (QIC), a novel task-specific resistance-training method designed to improve PPO without the use of transitional resistance training, was investigated. Methods: A highly trained sprint track cyclist (10.401 s for 200 m) completed a 5-week training block followed by a second 5-week block that replaced conventional resistance training with the novel QIC training method. The replacement training method required the cyclist to maximally drive the crank of a modified cycle ergometer for 5 seconds as it passed through a ∼100° range (starting at 45° from top dead center) at a constant angular velocity. Each session consisted of 3 sets of 6 repetitions on each leg. The lab PPO was recorded in the saddle and out of the saddle. Results: Conventional training did not alter sprinting ability; however, the intervention improved the out-of-the-saddle PPO by 100 W (from 1751 to 1851 W), while the in-the-saddle PPO increased by 57 W from 1671 to 1728 W. Conclusion: QIC increased PPO in a highly trained, national-level sprint cyclist, which could be translated to improvements in performance on the track. Furthermore, QIC provides a simple, but nonetheless effective, alternative for sprint track cyclists who have compromised function to perform traditional strength training.

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Prediction of Flatwater Kayaking Performance

Ken A. van Someren and Glyn Howatson

Purpose:

To determine the relative importance of anthropometric and physiological attributes for performance in the 1000-m, 500-m, and 200-m flatwater kayaking events.

Methods:

Eighteen competitive male kayakers completed performance trials over the 3 distances and a battery of anthropometric and physiological tests.

Results:

Performance times (mean ± SD) for 1000 m, 500 m, and 200 m were 262.56 ± 36.44 s, 122.10 ± 5.74 s, and 41.59 ± 2.12 s, respectively. Performance in all 3 events was correlated with a number of physiological parameters; in addition, 500-m and 200-m performance was correlated with upper body dimensions. 1000-m time was predicted by power output at lactate turnpoint expressed as a percentage of maximal aerobic power, work done in a 30-s ergometry test and work done in a 2-min ergometry test (adjusted R 2 = 0.71, SEE = 5.72 s); 500-m time was predicted by work done and the fatigue index in a 30-s ergometry test, work done in a 2-min ergometry test, peak isometric and isokinetic function (adjusted R 2 = 0.79, SEE = 2.49 s); 200-m time was predicted by chest circumference, humeral breadth, peak power, work done, and the fatigue index in a 30-s ergometry test (adjusted R 2 = 0.71, SEE = 0.71 s).

Conclusions:

A number of physiological variables are correlated with performance in all events. 1000-m, 500-m, and 200-m times were predicted with a standard error of only 2.2%, 2.0%, and 1.7%, respectively.

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The Response to and Recovery From Maximum-Strength and -Power Training in Elite Track and Field Athletes

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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Supplementation with β-Hydroxy- β-Methylbutyrate (HMB) and α-Ketoisocaproic Acid (KIC) Reduces Signs and Symptoms of Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage in Man

Ken A. van Someren, Adam J. Edwards, and Glyn Howatson

This study examined the effects of β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB) and α-ketoisocaproic acid (KIC) supplementation on signs and symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage following a single bout of eccentrically biased resistance exercise. Six non-resistance trained male subjects performed an exercise protocol designed to induce muscle damage on two separate occasions, performed on the dominant or non-dominant arm in a counter-balanced crossover design. Subjects were assigned to an HMB/KIC (3 g HMB and 0.3 g α-ketoisocaproic acid, daily) or placebo treatment for 14 d prior to exercise in the counter-balanced crossover design. One repetition maximum (1RM), plasma creatine kinase activity (CK), delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), limb girth, and range of motion (ROM) were determined pre-exercise, at 1h, 24 h, 48 h, and 72 h post-exercise. DOMS and the percentage changes in 1RM, limb girth, and ROM all changed over the 72 h period (P < 0.05). HMB/KIC supplementation attenuated the CK response, the percentage decrement in 1RM, and the percentage increase in limb girth (P < 0.05). In addition, DOMS was reduced at 24 h post-exercise (P < 0.05) in the HMB/KIC treatment. In conclusion, 14 d of HMB and KIC supplementation reduced signs and symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage in non-resistance trained males following a single bout of eccentrically biased resistance exercise.

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Tart Cherry Supplementation and Recovery From Strenuous Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Jessica Amie Hill, Karen Mary Keane, Rebecca Quinlan, and Glyn Howatson

The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of tart cherry (TC) supplementation on recovery following strenuous exercise. A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted using studies investigating TC supplementation on measures of muscle soreness, muscular strength, muscular power, creatine kinase, C-reactive protein, Interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha. A literature search ending in July 2020 was conducted in three databases (SPORTDiscus, Web of Science, and PubMed). Data from 14 studies were extracted and pooled for analysis. Tart cherry supplementation had a small beneficial effect in reducing muscle soreness (effect size [ES] = −0.44, 95% confidence interval [CI] [−0.87, −0.02]). A moderate beneficial effect was observed for recovery of muscular strength (ES = −0.78, 95% CI [−1.11, −0.46]). A moderate effect was observed for muscular power (ES = −0.53, 95% CI [−0.77, −0.29]); a further subgroup analysis on this variable indicated a large effect of TC supplementation on recovery of jump height (ES = −0.82, 95% CI [−1.18, −0.45]) and a small significant effect of supplementation on sprint time (ES = −0.32, 95% CI [−0.60, −0.04]). A small effect was observed for both C-reactive protein (ES = −0.46, 95% CI [−0.93, −0.00]) and Interleukin-6 (ES = −0.35, 95% CI [−0.68, −0.02]. No significant effects were observed for creatine kinase and tumor necrosis factor alpha. These results indicate that the consumption of a TC supplement can aid aspects of recovery from strenuous exercise.

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Alterations in Whole-Body Insulin Sensitivity Resulting From Repeated Eccentric Exercise of a Single Muscle Group: A Pilot Investigation

Javier T. Gonzalez, Martin J. Barwood, Stuart Goodall, Kevin Thomas, and Glyn Howatson

Unaccustomed eccentric exercise using large muscle groups elicits soreness, decrements in physical function and impairs markers of whole-body insulin sensitivity; although these effects are attenuated with a repeated exposure. Eccentric exercise of a small muscle group (elbow flexors) displays similar soreness and damage profiles in response to repeated exposure. However, it is unknown whether damage to small muscle groups impacts upon whole-body insulin sensitivity. This pilot investigation aimed to characterize whole-body insulin sensitivity in response to repeated bouts of eccentric exercise of the elbow flexors. Nine healthy males completed two bouts of eccentric exercise separated by 2 weeks. Insulin resistance (updated homeostasis model of insulin resistance, HOMA2-IR) and muscle damage profiles (soreness and physical function) were assessed before, and 48 h after exercise. Matsuda insulin sensitivity indices (ISIMatsuda) were also determined in 6 participants at the same time points as HOMA2-IR. Soreness was elevated, and physical function impaired, by both bouts of exercise (both p < .05) but to a lesser extent following bout 2 (time x bout interaction, p < .05). Eccentric exercise decreased ISIMatsuda after the first but not the second bout of eccentric exercise (time x bout interaction p < .05). Eccentric exercise performed with an isolated upper limb impairs whole-body insulin sensitivity after the first, but not the second, bout.

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The Effects of Compression-Garment Pressure on Recovery After Strenuous Exercise

Jessica Hill, Glyn Howatson, Ken van Someren, David Gaze, Hayley Legg, Jack Lineham, and Charles Pedlar

Compression garments are frequently used to facilitate recovery from strenuous exercise.

Purpose:

To identify the effects of 2 different grades of compression garment on recovery indices after strenuous exercise.

Methods:

Forty-five recreationally active participants (n = 26 male and n = 19 female) completed an eccentric-exercise protocol consisting of 100 drop jumps, after which they were matched for body mass and randomly but equally assigned to a high-compression pressure (HI) group, a low-compression pressure (LOW) group, or a sham ultrasound group (SHAM). Participants in the HI and LOW groups wore the garments for 72 h postexercise; participants in the SHAM group received a single treatment of 10-min sham ultrasound. Measures of perceived muscle soreness, maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), countermovement-jump height (CMJ), creatine kinase (CK), C-reactive protein (CRP), and myoglobin (Mb) were assessed before the exercise protocol and again at 1, 24, 48, and 72 h postexercise. Data were analyzed using a repeated-measures ANOVA.

Results:

Recovery of MVC and CMJ was significantly improved with the HI compression garment (P < .05). A significant time-by-treatment interaction was also observed for jump height at 24 h postexercise (P < .05). No significant differences were observed for parameters of soreness and plasma CK, CRP, and Mb.

Conclusions:

The pressures exerted by a compression garment affect recovery after exercise-induced muscle damage, with higher pressure improving recovery of muscle function.

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The Relationship Between Neuromuscular Function and the W′ in Elite Cyclists

Mehdi Kordi, Len Parker Simpson, Kevin Thomas, Stuart Goodall, Tom Maden-Wilkinson, Campbell Menzies, and Glyn Howatson

Purpose: To assess the association between the W′ and measures of neuromuscular function relating to the capacity of skeletal muscle to produce force in a group of elite cyclists. Methods: Twenty-two athletes specializing in a range of disciplines and competing internationally volunteered to participate. Athletes completed assessments of maximum voluntary torque (MVT), voluntary activation, and isometric maximum voluntary contraction to measure rate of torque development (RTD). This was followed by assessment of peak power output (PPO) and 3-, 5-, and 12-minute time trials to determine critical power. Pearson correlation was used to examine associations with critical power and W′. Goodness of fit was calculated, and significant relationships were included in a linear stepwise regression model. Results: Significant positive relationships were evident between W′ and MVT (r = .82), PPO (r = .70), and RTD at 200 milliseconds (r = .59) but not with RTD at 50 milliseconds and voluntary activation. Correlations were also observed between critical power and RTD at 200 milliseconds and MVT (r = .54 and r = .51, respectively) but not with PPO, voluntary activation, or RTD at 50 milliseconds. The regression analysis found that 87% of the variability in W′ (F 1,18 = 68.75; P < .001) was explained by 2 variables: MVT (81%) and PPO (6%). Conclusions: It is likely that muscle size and strength, as opposed to neural factors, contribute meaningfully to W′. These data can be used to establish training methods to enhance W′ to improve cycling performance in well-trained athletes.

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Cryotherapy Reinvented: Application of Phase Change Material for Recovery in Elite Soccer

Tom Clifford, Will Abbott, Susan Y. Kwiecien, Glyn Howatson, and Malachy P. McHugh

Purpose : To examine whether donning lower-body garments fitted with cooled phase change material (PCM) would enhance recovery after a soccer match. Methods : In a randomized, crossover design, 11 elite soccer players from the reserve squad of a team in the second-highest league in England wore PCM cooled to 15°C (PCMcold) or left at ambient temperature (PCMamb; sham control) for 3 h after a soccer match. To assess recovery, countermovement jump height, maximal isometric voluntary contraction (MIVC), muscle soreness, and the adapted Brief Assessment of Mood Questionnaire (BAM+) were measured before 12, 36, and 60 h after each match. A belief questionnaire was completed preintervention and postintervention to determine the perceived effectiveness of each garment. Results : Results are comparisons between the 2 conditions at each time point postmatch. MIVC at 36 h postmatch was greater with PCMcold versus PCMwarm (P = .01; ES = 1.59; 95% CI, 3.9–17.1%). MIVC also tended to be higher at 60 h postmatch (P = .05; ES = 0.85; 95% CI, −0.4% to 11.1%). Muscle soreness was 26.5% lower in PCMcold versus PCMwarm at 36 h (P = .02; ES = 1.7; 95% CI, −50.4 to −16.1 mm) and 24.3% lower at 60 h (P = .04; ES = 1.1; 95% CI, −26.9 to −0.874 mm). There were no between-conditions differences in postmatch countermovement jump height or BAM+ (P > .05). The belief questionnaire revealed that players felt the PCMcold was more effective than the PCMamb after the intervention (P = .004). Conclusions : PCM cooling garments provide a practical means of delivering prolonged postexercise cooling and thereby accelerate recovery in elite soccer players.

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Looking the Part: Female Sports Psychologists’ Body Mass Index and Dress Influences Athletes’ Perceptions of Their Potential Effectiveness

Geoff P. Lovell, John K. Parker, Abbe Brady, Stewart T. Cotterill, and Glyn Howatson

Research has reported that initial evaluations of consultants’ competency are affected by dress and build. This investigation examined how athletes’ perceptions of sport psychology consultants (SPCs) are affected by SPCs’ physical characteristics of BMI and dress, and whether these perceptions are moderated by the athletes’ sex or standard of competition. Two hundred and thirty three competitive sports volunteers classified by sex and competitive standard viewed computer generated images of the same female SPC in sports and formal attire manipulated to represent a range of body mass indexes. Participants were asked to rank the SPCs in order of their preference to work with them, and to rate their perceived effectiveness of each of the SPCs. Results demonstrated that SPCs’ physical characteristics do influence athletes’ preference to work with them and perceptions of their effectiveness. Furthermore, athlete’s competitive standard does significantly moderate initial evaluation of SPCs based on physical characteristics.