Purpose: To evaluate the effects of wearing upper- and lower-body compression garments on cross-country skiing performance in elite winter biathletes. Methods: A total of 7 senior biathletes (4 men and 3 women) from the Swedish national team performed 2 exercise trials in a randomized and counterbalanced order, wearing either commercially available upper- and lower-body compression garments (COMP) or a standard winter-biathlon racing suit (CON). In each trial, the athletes roller-skied on a customized treadmill, completing a time trial simulating the skiing duration of a biathlon sprint race, followed by a time-to-exhaustion test designed to elicit exhaustion within ∼60 to 90 seconds. Heart rate, blood lactate concentration, rating of perceived exertion, thermal sensation, and thermal comfort were monitored throughout each trial, while muscle soreness was measured up to 48 hours after each trial. Results: Pressure exerted by the clothing was significantly higher at all anatomical sites for COMP compared with CON (P ≤ .002). Wearing COMP led to small positive effects on time-trial (d = 0.31) and time-to-exhaustion test (d = 0.31) performances compared with CON, but these differences were not statistically significant (P > .05). No significant differences were found for any physiological (heart rate or blood lactate concentration) or subjective (rating of perceived exertion, thermal sensation, thermal comfort, or muscle soreness) responses between COMP and CON (P > .05). Conclusion: Wearing COMP during maximal cross-country skiing may have small but worthwhile beneficial effects on performance for some individuals. Due to individual variation, athletes are advised to test COMP prior to competition.
Tom Toolis and Kerry McGawley
Kerry McGawley and Hans-Christer Holmberg
Cross-country-ski races place complex demands on athletes, with events lasting between approximately 3 min and 2 h. The aim of the current study was to compare the aerobic and anaerobic measures derived from a short time trial (TT) between male and female skiers using diagonal cross-country skiing.
Twenty-four highly trained cross-country skiers (12 male and 12 female, age 17.4 ± 1.4 y, body mass 68.2 ± 8.9 kg, height 174 ± 8 cm) participated. The submaximal VO2–speed relationship and VO2max were derived from an incremental ramp test to exhaustion (RAMP), while the accumulated oxygen deficit (AOD), peak VO2, and performance time were measured during a 600-m TT.
The female skiers took longer to complete the TT than the males (209 ± 9 s vs 166 ± 7 s, P < .001) and exhibited a lower relative anaerobic contribution (20% ± 4% vs 24% ± 3%, P = .015) and a higher fractional utilization of VO2max (84% ± 4% vs 79% ± 5%, P = .007) than males. Although there was no significant difference in AOD between the sexes (40.9 ± 9.5 and 47.3 ± 7.4 mL/kg for females and males, respectively; P = .079), the mean difference ± 90% confidence intervals of 6.4 ± 6.0 mL/kg reflected a likely practical difference (ES = 0.72). The peak VO2 during the TT was significantly higher than VO2max during the RAMP for all participants combined (62.3 ± 6.8 vs 60.5 ± 7.2 mL · kg−1 · min−1, P = .011), and the mean difference ± 90% confidence intervals of 1.8 ± 1.1 mL · kg−1 · min−1 reflected a possible practical difference (ES = 0.25).
These results show that performance and physiological responses to a self-paced TT lasting approximately 3 min differ between sexes. In addition, a TT may provide a valid measure of VO2max.
Jonathan Watkins, Simon Platt, Erik Andersson and Kerry McGawley
The aim of the current study was to investigate pacing strategies and the distribution of physiological resources in best vs worst performances during a series of 4-min self-paced running time trials (RunTTs).
Five male and 5 female recreational runners (age 32 ± 7 y) completed a submaximal ramp test and 5 RunTTs on a motor-driven treadmill fitted with a speed-controlling laser system. The supramaximal oxygen-uptake (V̇O2) demand was estimated by linear extrapolation from the submaximal relationship between V̇O2 and speed, enabling computation of the accumulated oxygen deficit.
There were no significant differences between the 5 RunTTs for any of the performance, physiological, or subjective responses (P > .05). The trial-to-trial variability in pacing (ie, separate quarters) was typically low, with an average within-athlete coefficient of variation of 3.3%, being highest at the start and end of the 4 min. Total distance covered and distance covered over the first and last 2 min for best and worst performances were 1137 ± 94 and 1090 ± 89 (P < .001), 565 ± 53 and 526 ± 40 m (P = .002), and 572 ± 47 and 565 ± 54 m (P = .346), respectively.
Negative pacing strategies were evident during both the best and the worst performances of the RunTT. Best performances were characterized by more aggressive pacing over the first 2 min compared with worst performances. In addition, the relatively low trial-to-trial variability in running speed suggests that pacing strategies are similar during a series of 4-min self-paced running time trials.
Kerry McGawley, Erwan Leclair, Jeanne Dekerle, Helen Carter and Craig A. Williams
The Wingate cycle test (WAnT) is a 30-s test commonly used to estimate anaerobic work capacity (AWC). However, the test may be too short to fully deplete anaerobic energy reserves. We hypothesized that a 90-s all-out isokinetic test (ISO_90) would be valid to assess both aerobic and anaerobic capacities in young females. Eight girls (11.9 ± 0.5 y) performed an exhaustive incremental test, a WAnT and an ISO_90. Peak VO2 attained during the ISO_90 was significantly greater than VO2peak. Mean power, end power, fatigue index, total work done and AWC were not significantly different between the WAnT and after 30 s of the 90-s test (i.e., ISO_30). However, 95% limits of agreement showed large variations between the two tests when comparing all anaerobic parameters. It is concluded that an ISO-90 may be a useful test to assess aerobic capacity in young girls. However, since the anaerobic parameters derived from the ISO_30 did not agree with those derived from a traditional WAnT, the validity of using an ISO_90 to assess anaerobic performance and capacity within this population group remains unconfirmed.
Amelia Carr, Kerry McGawley, Andrew Govus, Erik P. Andersson, Oliver M. Shannon, Stig Mattsson and Anna Melin
This study investigated the energy, macronutrient, and fluid intakes, as well as hydration status (urine specific gravity), in elite cross-country skiers during a typical day of training (Day 1) and a sprint skiing competition the following day (Day 2). A total of 31 (18 males and 13 females) national team skiers recorded their food and fluid intakes and urine specific gravity was measured on Days 1 and 2. In addition, the females completed the Low Energy Availability in Females Questionnaire to assess their risk of long-term energy deficiency. Energy intake for males was 65 ± 9 kcal/kg on Day 1 versus 58 ± 9 kcal/kg on Day 2 (p = .002) and for females was 57 ± 10 on Day 1 versus 55 ± 5 kcal/kg on Day 2 (p = .445). Carbohydrate intake recommendations of 10–12 g·kg−1·day−1 were not met by 89% of males and 92% of females. All males and females had a protein intake above the recommended 1.2–2.0 g/kg on both days and a postexercise protein intake above the recommended 0.3 g/kg. Of the females, 31% were classified as being at risk of long-term energy deficiency. In the morning of Day 1, 50% of males and 46% of females were dehydrated; on Day 2, this was the case for 56% of males and 38% of females. In conclusion, these data suggest that elite cross-country skiers ingested more protein and less carbohydrate than recommended and one third of the females were considered at risk of long-term energy deficiency. Furthermore, many of the athletes were dehydrated prior to training and competition.