Despite the progress made by the scientific exercise community in collaborating and communicating with nonscientist coaches, there is room for improvement. Coaches find research difficult to understand, feel that their interests are not being addressed by exercise research, and rely on peer discussion to further their coaching knowledge base while consuming few peer-reviewed articles. One useful strategy to bridge the science–practice gap is with case studies. In addition to furthering our understanding of the physiology, psychology, and training schedules of elite athletes, case studies can serve (1) as a useful communication channel with coaches if presented as narratives and (2) to establish and strengthen relationships between scientists and coaches, leading to fruitful research collaborations. The purpose of this invited commentary is to discuss these 2 less-recognized benefits of case studies and propose a way to incorporate case studies more frequently alongside group-based studies.
Antonio Dello Iacono, Marco Beato, and Israel Halperin
Purpose: To investigate whether providing athletes with a choice regarding the number of repetitions to complete in a potentiation protocol would enhance jumping performance compared with protocols in which the number of repetitions is predetermined. Methods: Fifteen male basketball players completed 4 testing sessions separated by 72 hours. In the first session, individual optimum power loads in the barbell jump squat were determined. In the following 3 sessions, the athletes completed 3 sets of 3 potentiation protocols using optimum power load jump squats in a partly randomized order: (1) The traditional condition included 6 repetitions per set, (2) the self-selected condition included a choice regarding the number of repetitions to complete per set, and (3) the imposed condition included the same number of repetitions per set as the self-selected condition, but the number was imposed on the athletes beforehand. The jumping performance was determined as jump squat test height and measured using a force platform before and 30 seconds, 4 minutes, and 8 minutes after completing the protocols. Results: The self-selected condition led to superior jumping performance compared with the 2 other conditions across all post measures (P < .05; range: 0.3–1.3 cm). Compared with the traditional condition, the imposed condition led to superior jumping performance across all post measures (range: 0.2–0.45 cm), although not statistically significant at post 4 minutes and post 8 minutes. Conclusions: Choice provision concerning how many repetitions to complete in a potentiation protocol is a useful performance-enhancing strategy. Improved potentiation–fatigue ratio and motivational factors are sought to explain these effects.
Antonio Dello Iacono, Marco Beato, and Israel Halperin
Purpose: To compare the effects of 2 postactivation potentiation (PAP) protocols using traditional-set or cluster-set configurations on countermovement jump performance. Methods: Twenty-six male basketball players completed 3 testing sessions separated by 72 hours. On the first session, subjects performed barbell jump squats with progressively heavier loads to determine their individual optimum power load. On the second and third sessions, subjects completed 2 PAP protocols in a randomized order: 3 sets of 6 repetitions of jump squats using optimum power load performed with either a traditional-set (no interrepetition rest) or a cluster-set (20-s rest every 2 repetitions) configuration. After a warm-up, countermovement jump height was measured using a force platform before, 30 seconds, 4 minutes, and 8 minutes after completing the PAP protocols. The following kinetic variables were also analyzed and compared: relative impulse, ground reaction force, eccentric displacement, and vertical leg-spring stiffness. Results: Across both conditions, subjects jumped lower at post 30 seconds by 1.21 cm, and higher in post 4 minutes by 2.21 cm, and in post 8 minutes by 2.60 cm compared with baseline. However, subjects jumped higher in the cluster condition by 0.71 cm (95% confidence interval, 0.37 to 1.05 cm) in post 30 seconds, 1.33 cm (95% confidence interval, 1.02 to 1.65 cm) in post 4 minute, and 1.64 cm (95% confidence interval, 1.41 to 1.88 cm) in post 8 minutes. The superior countermovement jump performance was associated with enhanced kinetic data. Conclusions: Both protocols induced PAP responses in vertical jump performance using jump squats at optimum power load. However, the cluster-set configuration led to superior performance across all time points, likely due to reduced muscular fatigue.
Aviv Emanuel, Isaac Rozen Smukas, and Israel Halperin
Context: The Feeling Scale (FS) is a unique and underexplored scale in sport sciences that measures affective valence. The FS has the potential to be used in athletic environments as a monitoring and prescription tool. Purpose: To examine whether FS ratings, as measured on a repetition-by-repetition basis, can predict proximity to task failure and bar velocity across different exercises and loads. Methods: On the first day, 20 trained participants (10 females) completed 1-repetition-maximum (1-RM) tests in the barbell bench and squat exercises and were introduced to the FS. In the following 3 sessions, participants completed 3 sets to task failure with either (1) 70% 1-RM bench press, (2) 70% 1-RM squat (squat-70%), or (3) 80% 1-RM squat (squat-80%). Sessions were completed in a randomized, counterbalanced order. After every completed repetition, participants verbally reported their FS ratings. Bar velocity was measured via a linear position transducer. Results: FS ratings predicted failure proximity and bar velocity in all 3 conditions (P < .001, R 2 .66–.85). Based on the analysis, which included over 2400 repetitions, a reduction of 1 unit in the FS corresponded to approaching task failure by 14%, 11%, and 11%, and to a reduction in bar velocity of 10%, 4%, and 3%, in the bench, squat-70%, and squat-80%, respectively. Conclusion: This is the first study to investigate whether the FS can be used in resistance-training environments among resistance-trained participants on a repetition-by-repetition basis. The results indicate that the FS can be used to monitor and prescribe resistance training and that its benefits should be further explored.
Israel Halperin, David B. Pyne, and David T. Martin
Internal validity refers to the degree of control exerted over potential confounding variables to reduce alternative explanations for the effects of various treatments. In exercise and sports-science research and routine testing, internal validity is commonly achieved by controlling variables such as exercise and warm-up protocols, prior training, nutritional intake before testing, ambient temperature, time of testing, hours of sleep, age, and gender. However, a number of other potential confounding variables often do not receive adequate attention in sports physiology and performance research. These confounding variables include instructions on how to perform the test, volume and frequency of verbal encouragement, knowledge of exercise endpoint, number and gender of observers in the room, influence of music played before and during testing, and the effects of mental fatigue on performance. In this review the authors discuss these variables in relation to common testing environments in exercise and sports science and present some recommendations with the goal of reducing possible threats to internal validity.
Aviv Emanuel, Isaac Isur Rozen Smukas, and Israel Halperin
Background: Despite the progress made in the study of subjective measures in resistance training, some questions remain unanswered. Here the authors investigated if ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) can predict task failure and bar velocity across exercises and loads as a primary outcome and whether a battery of subjective measures differ as a function of the lifted loads as a secondary outcome. Methods: In this preregistered study, 20 resistance-trained subjects (50% female) first completed a 1-repetition-maximum test of the barbell squat and bench press. In the second and third sessions, they completed 2 sets of squats followed by 2 sets of bench press to task failure, using 70% or 83% of 1-repetition maximum, while bar velocity was recorded. RPE scores were recorded after every repetition. In addition to RPE, rating of fatigue, affective valence, enjoyment, and load preferences were collected after set and session completion. Results: Across conditions, RPE was strongly correlated with reaching task failure (r = .86) and moderately correlated with bar velocity (r = −.58). The model indicates that an increase in 1 RPE unit is associated with an 11% shift toward task failure and a 4% reduction in bar velocity, with steeper slopes observed in the heavier condition. Negligible differences were observed between the load conditions in rating of fatigue, affective valence, enjoyment, and load preference. Conclusion: RPE scores, collected on a repetition-by-repetition basis, accurately reflected reaching task failure across loads and conditions. Hence, RPE can be used to prescribe repetition numbers during ongoing sets. The negligible differences between load conditions in rating of fatigue, affective valence, enjoyment, and load preference indicate that when sets are taken to task failure, loads can be selected based on individual preferences.
Antonio Dello Iacono, Stephanie Valentin, Mark Sanderson, and Israel Halperin
Purpose: To investigate the test–retest reliability and criterion validity of the isometric horizontal push test (IHPT), a newly designed test that selectively measures the horizontal component of maximal isometric force. Methods: Twenty-four active males with ≥3 years of resistance training experience performed 2 testing sessions of the IHPT, separated by 3 to 4 days of rest. In each session, subjects performed 3 maximal trials of the IHPT with 3 minutes of rest between them. The peak force outputs were collected simultaneously using a strain gauge and the criterion equipment consisting of a floor-embedded force plate. Results: The test–retest reliability of peak force values was nearly perfect (intraclass correlation coefficient = ∼.99). Bland–Altman analysis showed excellent agreement between days with nearly no bias for strain gauge 1.2 N (95% confidence interval [CI], −3 to 6 N) and force plate 0.8 N (95% CI, −4 to 6 N). A nearly perfect correlation was observed between the strain gauge and force plate (r = .98, P < .001), with a small bias of 8 N (95% CI, 1.2 to 15 N) in favor of the force plate. The sensitivity of the IHPT was also good, with smallest worthwhile change greater than standard error of measurement for both the strain gauge (smallest worthwhile change: 29 N; standard error of measurement: 17 N; 95% CI, 14 to 20 N) and the force plate (smallest worthwhile change: 29 N; standard error of measurement: 18 N; 95% CI, 14 to 19 N) devices. Conclusions: The high degree of validity, reliability, and sensitivity of the IHPT, coupled with its affordability, portability, ease of use, and time efficacy, point to the potential of the test for assessment and monitoring purposes.
Israel Halperin, Andrew D. Vigotsky, Carl Foster, and David B. Pyne
Exercise and sport sciences continue to grow as a collective set of disciplines investigating a broad array of basic and applied research questions. Despite the progress, there is room for improvement. A number of problems pertaining to reliability and validity of research practices hinder advancement and the potential impact of the field. These problems include inadequate validation of surrogate outcomes, too few longitudinal and replication studies, limited reporting of null or trivial results, and insufficient scientific transparency. The purpose of this review is to discuss these problems as they pertain to exercise and sport sciences based on their treatment in other disciplines, namely psychology and medicine, and to propose a number of solutions and recommendations.
Marco Beato, Stuart A. McErlain-Naylor, Israel Halperin, and Antonio Dello Iacono
Purpose: To summarize the evidence on postactivation potentiation (PAP) protocols using flywheel eccentric overload (EOL) exercises. Methods: Studies were searched using the electronic databases PubMed, Scopus, and Institute for Scientific Information Web of Knowledge. Results: In total, 7 eligible studies were identified based on the following results: First, practitioners can use different inertia intensities (eg, 0.03–0.11 kg·m2), based on the exercise selected, to enhance sport-specific performance. Second, the PAP time window following EOL exercise seems to be consistent with traditional PAP literature, where acute fatigue is dominant in the early part of the recovery period (eg, 30 s), and PAP is dominant in the second part (eg, 3 and 6 min). Third, as EOL exercises require large force and power outputs, a volume of 3 sets with the conditioning activity (eg, half-squat or lunge) seems to be a sensible approach. This could reduce the transitory muscle fatigue and thereby allow for a stronger potentiation effect compared with larger exercise volumes. Fourth, athletes should gain experience by performing EOL exercises before using the tool as part of a PAP protocol (3 or 4 sessions of familiarization). Finally, the dimensions of common flywheel devices offer useful and practical solutions to induce PAP effects outside of normal training environments and prior to competitions. Conclusions: EOL exercise can be used to stimulate PAP responses to obtain performance advantages in various sports. However, future research is needed to determine which EOL exercise modalities among intensity, volume, and rest intervals optimally induce the PAP phenomenon and facilitate transfer effects on athletic performances.
Jonathan C. Reid, Rebecca M. Greene, Nehara Herat, Daniel D. Hodgson, Israel Halperin, and David G. Behm
Contrary to adult force reserve strategies, it is not known whether adolescent females with less experience performing maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) have specific responses to a known or unknown fatigue endpoint.
Using a counterbalanced random crossover design, fourteen inexperienced female adolescents completed three elbow flexor (EF) fatiguing protocols. Participants were randomly assigned to a control (informed they would perform 12 MVCs), unknown (not informed of the number of MVCs to be completed, but stopped after 12) or deception condition (instructed to complete 6 MVCs, however, after the sixth repetition performed another 6 MVCs). Before and during the interventions, EF impulse, force, and biceps brachii (BB) and triceps brachii (TB) electromyography (EMG) activity were recorded. Results: Participants exhibited decreases in impulse (10.9%; p < .05), force (7.5%; p = .001), BB (16.2%; p < .05) and TB (12.9%; p < .05) EMG activity between the pretest and the first repetition of all protocols. Knowledge of endpoint, or lack of it, did not change measures with the repeated MVCs. When informed about the final repetition, force remained depressed suggesting no physiological reserve.
Adolescent females exhibited an anticipatory response to the task of performing repeated MVCs. A lack of change with knowledge of endpoint indicates that those lacking in MVC experience do not employ the same pacing strategies as in previous studies of participants with MVC experience.