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The Applied Physiology of American Football

Jay R. Hoffman

American football is the most popular sport in the United States. Its popularity is likely related to the intense, fast-paced, physical style of play. The importance of strength and conditioning to success in football has been long understood. In fact, the strength and conditioning profession in North America can take its roots from American football. However, only recently has scientific study confirmed the positive relationships between strength, speed, and power to success in this sport. Although strength and conditioning are integral to every American football program, the collaboration with sport scientists has not been as fruitful. Only limited studies are available examining the physiological effects of actual competition and physiological adaptations or maladaptations during a season of competition. Most studies on American football have primarily focused on physical performance characteristics of these athletes and how various training paradigms can be used to improve performance.

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Effects of an Amino Acid/Creatine Energy Supplement on the Acute Hormonal Response to Resistance Exercise

Nicholas A. Ratamess, Jay R. Hoffman, Ryan Ross, Miles Shanklin, Avery D. Faigenbaum, and Jie Kang

The authors aimed to examine the acute hormonal and performance responses to resistance exercise with and without prior consumption of an amino acid/creatine/energy supplement. Eight men performed a resistance-exercise protocol at baseline (BL), 20 min after consuming a supplement (S) consisting of essential amino acids, creatine, taurine, caffeine, and glucuronolactone or a maltodextrin placebo (P). Venous blood samples were obtained before and immediately after (IP), 15 min (15P), and 30 min (30P) after each protocol. Area under the curve of resistance-exercise volume revealed that BL was significantly less than S (10%) and P (8.6%). For fatigue rate, only S (18.4% ± 12.0%) was significantly lower than BL (32.9% ± 8.4%). Total testosterone (TT) and growth hormone (GH) were significantly elevated at IP and 15P in all conditions. The GH response was significantly lower, however, in S and P than in BL. The TT and GH responses did not differ between S and P. These results indicated that a supplement consisting of amino acids, creatine, taurine, caffeine, and glucuronolactone can modestly improve high-intensity endurance; however, the anabolic-hormonal response was not augmented.

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Comparison of the Effects of Electrical Stimulation and Cold-Water Immersion on Muscle Soreness After Resistance Exercise

Adam R. Jajtner, Jay R. Hoffman, Adam M. Gonzalez, Phillip R. Worts, Maren S. Fragala, and Jeffrey R. Stout

Context:

Resistance training is a common form of exercise for competitive and recreational athletes. Enhancing recovery from resistance training may improve the muscle-remodeling processes, stimulating a faster return to peak performance.

Objective:

To examine the effects of 2 different recovery modalities, neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) and cold-water immersion (CWI), on performance and biochemical and ultrasonographic measures.

Participants:

Thirty resistance-trained men (23.1 ± 2.9 y, 175.2 ± 7.1 cm, 82.1 ± 8.4 kg) were randomly assigned to NMES, CWI, or control (CON).

Design and Setting:

All participants completed a high-volume lower-body resistance-training workout on d 1 and returned to the human performance laboratory 24 (24H) and 48 h (48H) postexercise for follow-up testing.

Measures:

Blood samples were obtained preexercise (PRE) and immediately (IP), 30 min (30P), 24 h (24H), and 48 h (48H) post. Subjects were examined for performance changes in the squat exercise (total repetitions and average power per repetition), biomarkers of inflammation, and changes in cross-sectional area and echo intensity (EI) of the rectus femoris (RF) and vastus lateralis muscles.

Results:

No differences between groups were observed in the number of repetitions (P = .250; power: P = .663). Inferential-based analysis indicated that increases in C-reactive protein concentrations were likely increased by a greater magnitude after CWI compared with CON, while NMES possibly decreased more than CON from IP to 24H. Increases in interleukin-10 concentrations between IP and 30P were likely greater in CWI than NMES but not different from CON. Inferential-based analysis of RF EI indicated a likely decrease for CWI between IP and 48H. No other differences between groups were noted in any other muscle-architecture measures.

Conclusions:

Results indicated that CWI induced greater increases in pro- and anti-inflammatory markers, while decreasing RF EI, suggesting that CWI may be effective in enhancing short-term muscle recovery after high-volume bouts of resistance exercise.

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Predictors of Fielding Performance in Professional Baseball Players

Gerald T. Mangine, Jay R. Hoffman, Jose Vazquez, Napoleon Pichardo, Maren S. Fragala, and Jeffrey R. Stout

The ultimate zone-rating extrapolation (UZR/150) rates fielding performance by runs saved or cost within a zone of responsibility in comparison with the league average (150 games) for a position. Spring-training anthropometric and performance measures have been previously related to hitting performance; however, their relationships with fielding performance measures are unknown.

Purpose:

To examine the relationship between anthropometric and performance measurements on fielding performance in professional baseball players.

Methods:

Body mass, lean body mass (LBM), grip strength, 10-yd sprint, proagility, and vertical-jump mean (VJMP) and peak power (VJPP) were collected during spring training over the course of 5 seasons (2007–2011) for professional corner infielders (CI; n = 17, fielding opportunities = 420.7 ± 307.1), middle infielders (MI; n = 14, fielding opportunities = 497.3 ± 259.1), and outfielders (OF; n = 16, fielding opportunities = 227.9 ± 70.9). The relationships between these data and regular-season (100-opportunity minimum) fielding statistics were examined using Pearson correlation coefficients, while stepwise regression identified the single best predictor of UZR/150.

Results:

Significant correlations (P < .05) were observed between UZR/150 and body mass (r = .364), LBM (r = .396), VJPP (r = .397), and VJMP (r = .405). Of these variables, stepwise regression indicated VJMP (R = .405, SEE = 14.441, P = .005) as the single best predictor for all players, although the addition of proagility performance strengthened (R = .496, SEE = 13.865, P = .002) predictive ability by 8.3%. The best predictor for UZR/150 was body mass for CI (R = .519, SEE = 15.364, P = .033) and MI (R = .672, SEE = 12.331, P = .009), while proagility time was the best predictor for OF (R = .514, SEE = 8.850, P = .042).

Conclusions:

Spring-training measurements of VJMP and proagility time may predict the defensive run value of a player over the course of a professional baseball season.

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Maturity-Related Differences in Systemic Pulmonary and Localized Fatigue Threshold Among Youth Male Athletes

Kyle S. Beyer, Jeffrey R. Stout, Michael J. Redd, Kayla M. Baker, Haley C. Bergstrom, Jay R. Hoffman, and David H. Fukuda

Purpose: To examine the reliability and the maturity-related differences of fatigue thresholds (FTs) among youth males. Methods: Twenty-nine youth males (11–17 y) completed 2 ramp exercise tests on a cycle ergometer. Systemic FTs were calculated from gas exchange and ventilation variables. Localized FTs were calculated from electromyography and near-infrared spectroscopy of the vastus lateralis. All FTs were determined using the maximal distance method and expressed relative to maximal oxygen consumption. All participants were grouped according to the number of years from peak height velocity into PRE- (< −1.5 y), PERI- (−1.5 to +1.5 y) and POST- (> +1.5 y) peak height velocity. Reliability was assessed with intraclass correlation coefficients, and differences between groups were assessed with analysis of variance and Cohen’s d coefficients. Results: Analysis of variance revealed significant group differences with PRE having significantly greater systemic pulmonary FTs than POST, while localized muscular FTs were significantly greater in PRE when compared with PERI and POST. All FTs exhibited excellent reliability (intraclass correlation coefficient > .75) in all maturity groups. Conclusion: Maturity status appears to influence the onset of FTs among youth male athletes, with FTs occurring later in younger athletes. Furthermore, all FTs were reliable measures regardless of maturity.

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Effects of a 10-Week Introductory Judo Course on Postural Control During a Bilateral Reactionary Gripping Task

Tyler W.D. Muddle, David H. Fukuda, Ran Wang, Joshua J. Riffe, David D. Church, Kyle S. Beyer, Jay R. Hoffman, and Jeffrey R. Stout

This study examined the effect of a 10-week introductory judo course on postural control during a bilateral reactionary gripping task using different stance conditions. A total of 20 volunteers were divided into experimental (JDO) and control (CON) groups. Countermovement jump was measured and center of pressure variables were evaluated while performing a bilateral reactionary gripping task under different stance conditions during pre- and posttesting. No interactions were observed for the center of pressure variables (p > .05), while both countermovement jump power (+165.4 W; p = .036) and height (+3.5 cm; p = .018) significantly improved in the JDO group following the 10-week course. Results indicate that 10 weeks of an introductory judo course has no effect on postural control while performing a bilateral reactionary gripping task using different stance conditions.

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Reduced High-Intensity-Running Rate in College Women’s Soccer When Games Are Separated by 42 Hours

William P. McCormack, Jay R. Hoffman, Gabriel J. Pruna, Tyler C. Scanlon, Jonathan D. Bohner, Jeremy R. Townsend, Adam R. Jajtner, Jeffrey R. Stout, Maren S. Fragala, and David H. Fukuda

Purpose:

During the competitive soccer season, women’s intercollegiate matches are typically played on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. The efficacy of a 42-h recovery period is not well understood. This investigation was conducted to determine performance differences between Friday and Sunday matches during a competitive season.

Methods:

Ten NCAA Division I female soccer players (20.5 ± 1.0 y, 166.6 ± 5.1 cm, 61.1 ± 5.8 kg) were monitored with 10-Hz GPS devices across 8 weekends with matches played on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. The players were outside backs, midfielders, and forwards. All players had to participate in a minimum of 45 min/match to be included in the study. Average minutes played, total distance covered, total distance of high-intensity running (HIR) (defined as running at a velocity equal to or exceeding 3.61 m/s for longer than 1 s), the number of HIR efforts, and the number of sprints were calculated for each match. Data for Friday vs Sunday matches were averaged and then compared using dependent t tests.

Results:

No differences were seen in minutes played, distance rate, or number of sprints between Friday and Sunday matches. A significant (P = .017) decrease in rate of HIR between Friday (25.37 ± 7.22 m/min) and Sunday matches (22.90 ± 5.70 m/min) was seen. In addition, there was a trend toward a difference (P = .073) in the number of efforts of HIR between Friday (138.41 ± 36.43) and Sunday (126.92 ± 31.31).

Conclusions:

NCAA Division I female soccer players cover less distance of HIR in games played less than 48 h after another game. This could be due to various factors such as dehydration, glycogen depletion, or muscle damage.

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Anaerobic Power Responses to Amino Acid Nutritional Supplementation

Carl M. Maresh, Catherine L. Gabaree, Jay R. Hoffman, Daniel R. Hannon, Michael R. Deschenes, Lawrence E. Armstrong, Avron Abraham, Frederick E. Bailey, and William J. Kraemer

To examine the effect of a nutritional supplement (ATP-E™) on high intensity exercise performance, 23 physically active males volunteered to perform six Wingate Anaerobic Power tests. Tests were performed prior to and at 14 and 21 days during ATP-E~o~r placebo ingestion. f i e experiment followed a double-blind and random-order design. Twelve subjects (responders, R) showed an increase in preexercise blood ATP on Day 14 of ATP-E™ ingestion compared to control measures. The remaining 11 subjects (nonresponders, NR) had no change in pree~e~cibselo od ATP. Peak power and mean power were unchanged for both R and NR subjects across the exercise tests, but R experienced a decrease (p < 0.05) in immediate postexercise plasma lactate on Day 14 of ATP-E™ testing compared to their control measures. NR had no change in peak plasma lactate at any time during the study. The results suggest that short-term high intensity exercise performance was maintained in R with less reliance on anaerobic metabolism, and that response was evident following 14 days of ATP-E™ ingestion.

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Dietary Supplementation and Improved Anaerobic Performance

Carl M. Maresh, Lawrence E. Armstrong, Jay R. Hoffman, Daniel R. Hannon, Catherine L. V. Gabaree, Michael F. Bergeron, Michael J. Whittlesey, and Michael R. Deschenes

In the present study, the effects of an increased daily dose of a dietary supplement (ATP-E, 0.2 g · kg 1 · day 1 ) on Wingate test performance were examined in 12 men (21 ± 1.6 years) prior to and following 14 days of supplement and placebo ingestion. A double-blind and counterbalanced design was used. Results revealed higher (p < .007) preexercise blood ATP (95.4 ± 10.5 μmol · dl 1 ) for the entire group following 14 days of ATP-E ingestion compared to placebo measures (87.6 ± 10.9 μmol · dl 1 ). Mean power (667 ± 73 W) was higher (p < .008) after 14 days of ATP-E ingestion versus placebo (619 ± 67 W). Peak plasma lactate was lower (p < .07) after 14 days of ATP-E ingestion (14.9 ± 2.8 mmol · L 1 ) compared to placebo (16.3 ± 1.6 mmol · L 1 ). These data suggested that the improvement in 30-s Wingate test performance in this group may be related to the increased dose of ATP-E.

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Effect of Protein-Supplement Timing on Strength, Power, and Body-Composition Changes in Resistance-Trained Men

Jay R. Hoffman, Nicholas A. Ratamess, Christopher P. Tranchina, Stefanie L. Rashti, Jie Kang, and Avery D. Faigenbaum

The effect of 10 wk of protein-supplement timing on strength, power, and body composition was examined in 33 resistance-trained men. Participants were randomly assigned to a protein supplement either provided in the morning and evening (n = 13) or provided immediately before and immediately after workouts (n = 13). In addition, 7 participants agreed to serve as a control group and did not use any protein or other nutritional supplement. During each testing session participants were assessed for strength (one-repetition-maximum [1RM] bench press and squat), power (5 repetitions performed at 80% of 1RM in both the bench press and the squat), and body composition. A significant main effect for all 3 groups in strength improvement was seen in 1RM bench press (120.6 ± 20.5 kg vs. 125.4 ± 16.7 at Week 0 and Week 10 testing, respectively) and 1RM squat (154.5 ± 28.4 kg vs. 169.0 ± 25.5 at Week 0 and Week 10 testing, respectively). However, no significant between-groups interactions were seen in 1RM squat or 1RM bench press. Significant main effects were also seen in both upper and lower body peak and mean power, but no significant differences were seen between groups. No changes in body mass or percent body fat were seen in any of the groups. Results indicate that the time of protein-supplement ingestion in resistance-trained athletes during a 10-wk training program does not provide any added benefit to strength, power, or body-composition changes.