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Jeanick Brisswalter and Christophe Hausswirth

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Laura Pomportes, Jeanick Brisswalter, Arnaud Hays and Karen Davranche

Purpose: To investigate the effect of ingesting carbohydrate (CHO), caffeine  (CAF), and a guarana complex (GUAc) during a running exercise on cognitive performance, rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and shooting performance in high-level modern pentathlon athletes. Methods: A total of 10 athletes completed 4 counterbalanced sessions within a 2-wk period, corresponding to ingestions of CHO (30 g), GUAc (300 mg), CAF (200 mg), or placebo. The exercise involved a 40-min run on a treadmill at a steady speed, previously determined as a “somewhat hard” exercise (RPE 13). Shooting and cognitive performance (Simon task) were assessed in 3 phases: before exercise and ingestion, before exercise and after half ingestion, and after exercise and full ingestion. Drinks were consumed 40 min (250 mL) and 5 min (125 mL) prior to exercise and after 20 min of running (125 mL). RPE was assessed at 10-min intervals during exercise. Results: There was an interaction between drink and exercise on mean reaction time (P = .01, ηp2=.41) and a drink effect on RPE (P = .01, ηp2=.15). CHO, CAF, and GUAc enhanced the speed of information processing after exercise (P = .003, P = .004, and P = .04, respectively), but only CAF and GUAc decreased RPE (P = .002 and P = .02, respectively). Conclusion: The results highlight a beneficial effect of nutritional supplements on information processing and RPE. This finding is particularly interesting as decision-making processes are crucial in the performance of many sports.

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Yann Le Meur, Thierry Bernard, Sylvain Dorel, Chris R. Abbiss, Gérard Honnorat, Jeanick Brisswalter and Christophe Hausswirth

Purpose:

The purpose of the present study was to examine relationships between athlete’s pacing strategies and running performance during an international triathlon competition.

Methods:

Running split times for each of the 107 finishers of the 2009 European Triathlon Championships (42 females and 65 males) were determined with the use of a digital synchronized video analysis system. Five cameras were placed at various positions of the running circuit (4 laps of 2.42 km). Running speed and an index of running speed variability (IRSVrace) were subsequently calculated over each section or running split.

Results:

Mean running speed over the frst 1272 m of lap 1 was 0.76 km-h–1 (+4.4%) and 1.00 km-h–1 (+5.6%) faster than the mean running speed over the same section during the three last laps, for females and males, respectively (P < .001). A significant inverse correlation was observed between RSrace and IRSVrace for all triathletes (females r = -0.41, P = .009; males r = -0.65, P = .002; and whole population -0.76, P = .001). Females demonstrated higher IRSVrace compared with men (6.1 ± 0.5 km-h–1 and 4.0 ± 1.4 km-h–1, for females and males, respectively, P = .001) due to greater decrease in running speed over uphill sections.

Conclusions:

Pacing during the run appears to play a key role in high-level triathlon performance. Elite triathletes should reduce their initial running speed during international competitions, even if high levels of motivation and direct opponents lead them to adopt an aggressive strategy.

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Fabrice Vercruyssen, Mathieu Gruet, Serge S. Colson, Sabine Ehrstrom and Jeanick Brisswalter

Background:

Physiological mechanisms behind the use of compression garments (CGs) during off-road running are unknown.

Purpose:

To investigate the influence of wearing CGs vs conventional running clothing (CON) on muscle contractile function and running economy before and after short-distance trail running.

Methods:

Knee-extensor neuromuscular function and running economy assessed from two 5-min treadmill runs (11 and 14 km/h) were evaluated before and after an 18.6-km short-distance trail run in 12 trained athletes wearing either CGs (stocking + short-tight) or CON. Quadriceps neuromuscular function was assessed from mechanical and EMG recording after maximal percutaneous electrical femoral-nerve stimulations (single-twitch doublets at 10 [Db10] and 100 Hz [Db100] delivered at rest and during maximal quadriceps voluntary contraction [MVC]).

Results:

Running economy (in mL O2 · km–1 · kg–1) increased after trail running independent of the clothing condition and treadmill speeds (P < .001). Similarly, MVC decreased after CON and CGs conditions (–11% and –13%, respectively, P < .001). For both clothing conditions, a significant decrease in quadriceps voluntary activation, Db10, Db100, and the low-to-high frequency doublet ratio were observed after trail running (time effect, all P < .01), without any changes in rectus femoris maximal M-wave.

Conclusions:

Wearing CGs does not reduce physiological alterations induced during short-distance trail running. Further studies should determine whether higher intensity of compression pressure during exercises of longer duration may be effective to induce any physiological benefits in experienced trail runners.

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Marcus P. Tartaruga, Carlos B. Mota, Leonardo A. Peyré-Tartaruga and Jeanick Brisswalter

Purpose:

To identify the effect of allometric scaling on the relationship between running efficiency (R Eff) and middle-distancerunning performance according to performance level.

Methods:

Thirteen male recreational middle-distance runners (mean ± SD age 33.3 ± 8.4 y, body mass 76.4 ± 8.6 kg, maximal oxygen uptake [VO2max] 52.8 ± 4.6 mL · kg−1 · min−1; G1) and 13 male high-level middle-distance runners (age 25.5 ± 4.2 y, body mass 62.8 ± 2.7 kg, VO2max 70.4 ± 1.9 mL · kg−1 · min−1; G2) performed a continuous incremental test to volitional exhaustion to determine VO2max and a 6-min submaximal running test at 70% of VO2max to assess R Eff.

Results:

Significant correlation between R Eff and performance were found for both groups; however, the strongest correlations were observed in recreational runners, especially when using the allometric exponent (respectively for G1, nonallometric vs allometric scaling: r = .80 vs r = .86; and for G2, nonallometric vs allometric scaling: r = .55 vs r = .50).

Conclusion:

These results indicate that an allometric normalization may improve endurance-performance prediction from R Eff values in recreational, but not in elite, runners.

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François Bieuzen, Jeanick Brisswalter, Christopher Easthope, Fabrice Vercruyssen, Thierry Bernard and Christophe Hausswirth

Background:

Compression garments are increasingly popular in long-distance running events where they are used to limit cumulative fatigue and symptoms associated with mild exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). However, the effective benefits remain unclear.

Objective:

This study examined the effect of wearing compression stockings (CS) on EIMD indicators. Compression was applied during or after simulated trail races performed at competition pace in experienced off-road runners.

Methods:

Eleven highly trained male runners participated in 3 simulated trail races (15.6 km: uphill section 6.6 km, average gradient 13%, and downhill section 9.0 km, average gradient –9%) in a randomized crossover trial. The effect of wearing CS while running or during recovery was tested and compared with a control condition (ie, run and recovery without CS; non- CS). Indicators of muscle function, muscle damage (creatine kinase; CK), inflammation (interleukin-6; IL-6), and perceived muscle soreness were recorded at baseline (1 h before warm-up) and 1, 24, and 48 h after the run.

Results:

Perceived muscle soreness was likely to be lower when participants wore CS during trail running compared with the control condition (1 h postrun, 82% chance; 24 h postrun, 80% chance). A likely or possibly beneficial effect of wearing CS during running was also found for isometric peak torque at 1 h postrun (70% chance) and 24 h postrun (60% chance) and throughout the recovery period on countermovement jump, compared with non-CS. Possible, trivial, or unclear differences were observed for CK and IL-6 between all conditions.

Conclusion:

Wearing CS during simulated trail races mainly affects perceived leg soreness and muscle function. These benefits are visible very shortly after the start of the recovery period.

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Cyril Schmit, Rob Duffield, Christophe Hausswirth, Jeanick Brisswalter and Yann Le Meur

Purpose: To determine the effect of high- versus low-intensity training in the heat and ensuing taper period in the heat on endurance performance. Methods: In total, 19 well-trained triathletes undertook 5 days of normal training and a 1-wk taper including either low- (heat acclimation [HA-L], n = 10) or high-intensity (HA-H, n = 9) training sessions in the heat (30°C, 50% relative humidity). A control group (n = 10) reproduced their usual training in thermoneutral conditions. Indoor 20-km cycling time trials (35°C, 50% relative humidity) were performed before (Pre) and after the main heat exposure (Mid) and after the taper (Post). Results: Power output remained stable in the control group from Pre to Mid (effect size: −0.10 [0.26]) and increased from Mid to Post (0.18 [0.22]). The HA-L group demonstrated a progressive increase in performance from Pre to Mid (0.62 [0.33]) and from Mid to Post (0.53 [0.30]), alongside typical physiological signs of HA (reduced core temperature and heart rate and increased body-mass loss). While the HA-H group presented similar adaptations, increased perceived fatigue and decreased performance at Mid (−0.35 [0.26]) were evidenced and reversed at Post (0.50 [0.20]). No difference in power output was reported at Post between the HA-H and control groups. Conclusion: HA-H can quickly induce functional overreaching in nonacclimatized endurance athletes. As it was associated with a weak subsequent performance supercompensation, coaches and athletes should pay particular attention to training monitoring during a final preparation in the heat and reduce training intensity when early signs of functional overreaching are identified.

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Aïna Chalabaev, Jeanick Brisswalter, Rémi Radel, Stephen A. Coombes, Christopher Easthope and Corentin Clément-Guillotin

Previous evidence shows that stereotype threat impairs complex motor skills through increased conscious monitoring of task performance. Given that one-step motor skills may not be susceptible to these processes, we examined whether performance on a simple strength task may be reduced under stereotype threat. Forty females and males performed maximum voluntary contractions under stereotypical or nullified-stereotype conditions. Results showed that the velocity of force production within the first milliseconds of the contraction decreased in females when the negative stereotype was induced, whereas maximal force did not change. In males, the stereotype induction only increased maximal force. These findings suggest that stereotype threat may impair motor skills in the absence of explicit monitoring processes, by influencing the planning stage of force production.

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Laurie-Anne Marquet, Christophe Hausswirth, Arnaud Hays, Fabrice Vettoretti and Jeanick Brisswalter

Purpose:

To assess the impact of between-training-sessions recovery strategies (passive [PAS], active [ACT], cold-water immersion [CWI], and ingestion of a recovery drink [NUTR]) on maximal cycling performance, perceptions of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and fatigue in world-class BMX riders.

Methods:

Eleven elite BMX athletes, members of the French national team (top country in the 2011 international ranking, 4 medals at the 2012 World Championships, top European country), participated in the study, which involved standardized training periods. Athletes performed 3 maximal-sprint power tests: the first day of the week before the training session and before and after training on the third day of the week (D3). The recovery strategy was randomly assigned to each participant on day 2 immediately after the last training period of the day. Perceptions of DOMS and general fatigue were recorded on D3.

Results:

After training on D3, the decrease in maximal-sprint power (Pmax) was significantly greater for PAS than with CWI (P = .02) and NUTR (P = .018). Similar results were found with ACT (vs CWI P = .044, and vs NUTR P = .042). Self-reported DOMS and fatigue were significantly greater after PAS than after other strategies.

Conclusions:

For elite BMX riders, between training days, nutritional and/or CWI recovery strategies appear to be best for reducing muscle fatigue and increasing the capacity to withstand the training schedule.

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Sam S.X. Wu, Jeremiah J. Peiffer, Peter Peeling, Jeanick Brisswalter, Wing Y. Lau, Kazunori Nosaka and Chris R. Abbiss

Purpose:

To investigate the effect of 3 swim-pacing profiles on subsequent performance during a sprint-distance triathlon (SDT).

Methods:

Nine competitive/trained male triathletes completed 5 experimental sessions including a graded running exhaustion test, a 750-m swim time trial (STT), and 3 SDTs. The swim times of the 3 SDTs were matched, but pacing was manipulated to induce positive (ie, speed gradually decreasing from 92% to 73% STT), negative (ie, speed gradually increasing from 73% to 92% STT), or even pacing (constant 82.5% STT). The remaining disciplines were completed at a self-selected maximal pace. Speed over the entire triathlon, power output during the cycle discipline, rating of perceived exertion (RPE) for each discipline, and heart rate during the cycle and run were determined.

Results:

Faster cycle and overall triathlon times were achieved with positive swim pacing (30.5 ± 1.8 and 65.9 ± 4.0 min, respectively), as compared with the even (31.4 ± 1.0 min, P = .018 and 67.7 ± 3.9 min, P = .034, effect size [ES] = 0.46, respectively) and negative (31.8 ± 1.6 min, P = .011 and 67.3 ± 3.7 min, P = .041, ES = 0.36, respectively) pacing. Positive swim pacing elicited a lower RPE (9 ± 2) than negative swim pacing (11 ± 2, P = .014). No differences were observed in the other measured variables.

Conclusions:

A positive swim pacing may improve overall SDT performance and should be considered by both elite and age-group athletes during racing.