Where Does the Sport Physiologist Fit In?
Kevin G. Thompson
Being an Elite Sports Scientist: A Balancing Act?
Kevin G. Thompson
Assessment of an International Breaststroke Swimmer Using a Race Readiness Test
Kevin G. Thompson and Stephen W. Garland
Competitive swimmers routinely undertake a 7 X 200-m incremental step test to evaluate their fitness and readiness to compete.1 An exercise protocol more closely replicating competition swimming speeds may provide further insight into the swimmer’s physiological and technical readiness for competition. This case study reports data over a 3-year period from 11 Race Readiness Tests, which were completed, in addition to the 7 X 200-m test, as an attempt to provide the swimmer and coach with a fuller assessment. For this individual, data provided objective information from which to assess training status and race readiness following a transition from 200-m to 100-m race training. Data also raised a question as to whether a 100-m maximal effort 10 minutes before another one actually enhances performance owing to a priming effect.
Breaking the Myth That Relay Swimming Is Faster Than Individual Swimming
Sabrina Skorski, Naroa Etxebarria, and Kevin G. Thompson
To investigate if swimming performance is better in a relay race than in the corresponding individual race.
The authors analyzed 166 elite male swimmers from 15 nations in the same competition (downloaded from www.swimrankings.net). Of 778 observed races, 144 were Olympic Games performances (2000, 2004, 2012), with the remaining 634 performed in national or international competitions. The races were 100-m (n = 436) and 200-m (n = 342) freestyle events. Relay performance times for the 2nd–4th swimmers were adjusted (+ 0.73 s) to allow for the “flying start.”
Without any adjustment, mean individual relay performances were significantly faster for the first 50 m and overall time in the 100-m events. Furthermore, the first 100 m of the 200-m relay was significantly faster (P > .001). During relays, swimmers competing in 1st position did not show any difference compared with their corresponding individual performance (P > .16). However, swimmers competing in 2nd–4th relay-team positions demonstrated significantly faster times in the 100-m (P < .001) and first half of the 200-m relays than in their individual events (P < .001, ES: 0.28–1.77). However, when finishing times for 2nd–4th relay team positions were adjusted for the flying start no differences were detected between relay and individual race performance for any event or split time (P > .17).
Highly trained swimmers do not swim (or turn) faster in relay events than in their individual races. Relay exchange times account for the difference observed in individual vs relay performance.
No Improvement of Repeated-Sprint Performance With Dietary Nitrate
Kristy Martin, Disa Smee, Kevin G. Thompson, and Ben Rattray
Nitrate supplementation improves endurance exercise and single bouts of high-intensity activity, but its effect on repeated sprints is unclear. This study is the first to investigate the effects of acute dietary nitrate supplementation during a high-intensity intermittent-sprint test to exhaustion.
Team-sport athletes (9 male, age 22.3 ± 2.1 y, VO2max 57.4 ± 8.5 mL · kg−1 · min−1; 7 female, age 20.7 ± 1.3 y, VO2max 47.2 ± 8.5 mL · kg−1 · min−1) were assigned to a double-blind, randomized, crossover design. Participants consumed 70 mL of concentrated beetroot juice containing a minimum of 0.3 g of nitrate (NT) or 70 mL of placebo (PL) 2 h before a repeated-sprint protocol involving repeated 8-s sprints with 30-s recovery on a cycle ergometer to exhaustion.
Fewer sprints (NT = 13 ± 5 vs PL = 15 ± 6, P = .005, d = 0.41) and less total work (NT = 49.2 ± 24.2 kJ vs PL = 57.8 ± 34.0 kJ, P = .027, d = 0.3) were completed in NT relative to PL. However there was no difference in overall mean power output or the mean power output for each individual 8-s sprint.
These findings suggest that dietary nitrate is not beneficial for improving repeated-sprint performance, at least when such sprints are near-maximal and frequent in nature. The lack of an effect of nitrate at near-maximal oxygen uptake supports the suggestion that at greater exercise intensities nitrate does not have an ergogenic effect.
Diurnal Variation in Swim Performance Remains, Irrespective of Training Once or Twice Daily
Louise Martin, Alan M. Nevill, and Kevin G. Thompson
Fast swim times in morning rounds are essential to ensure qualification in evening finals. A significant time-of-day effect in swimming performance has consistently been observed, although physical activity early in the day has been postulated to reduce this effect. The aim of this study was to compare intradaily variation in race-pace performance of swimmers routinely undertaking morning and evening training (MEG) with those routinely undertaking evening training only (EOG).
Each group consisted of 8 swimmers (mean ± SD: age = 15.2 ± 1.0 and 15.4 ± 1.4 y, 200-m freestyle time 132.8 ± 8.4 and 136.3 ± 9.1 s) who completed morning and evening trials in a randomized order with 48 h in between on 2 separate occasions. Oral temperature, heart rate, and blood lactate were assessed at rest, after a warm-up, after a 150-m race-pace swim, and after a 100-m time trial. Stroke rate, stroke count, and time were recorded for each length of the 150-m and 100-m swims.
Both training groups recorded significantly slower morning 100-m performances (MEG = +1.7 s, EOG = +1.4 s; P < .05) along with persistently lower morning temperatures that on average were –0.47°C and –0.60°C, respectively (P < .05). No differences were found in blood-lactate, heart-rate, and stroke-count responses (P > .05). All results were found to be reproducible (P > .05).
The long-term use of morning training does not appear to significantly reduce intradaily variation in race-pace swimming or body temperature.
Physical and Physiological Characteristics of Various-Sided Games in Elite Women’s Soccer
Jocelyn K. Mara, Kevin G. Thompson, and Kate L. Pumpa
To investigate the physical and physiological response to different formats of various-sided games.
Eighteen elite women’s soccer players wore 15-Hz global positioning system devices and heart-rate (HR) monitors during various-sided games (small, 4 vs 4 and 5 vs 5; medium, 6 vs 6 and 7 vs 7; large, 8 vs 8 and 9 vs 9).
Players covered more relative sprinting distance during large-sided games than in small-sided (P < .001, d = 0.69) and medium-sided (P < .001, d = 0.54) games. In addition, a greater proportion of total acceleration efforts that had a commencement velocity <1 m/s were observed in small-sided games (44.7% ± 5.5%) than in large-sided games (36.7% ± 10.6%) (P = .018, d = 0.94). This was accompanied by a greater proportion of acceleration efforts with a final velocity equivalent to the sprint threshold in large-sided games (15.4% ± 7.7%) than in small-sided games (5.2% ± 2.5%) (P < .001, d = 1.78). The proportion of time spent in HR zone 4 (>85% maximum HR) was greater during small-sided games (69.8% ± 2.5%) than in medium- (62.1% ± 2.8%, d = 2.90) and large-sided games (54.9% ± 3.1%) (P < .001, d = 5.29).
The results from this study demonstrate that coaches can use small-sided games as an aerobic conditioning stimulus and to develop players’ explosiveness and repeat-sprint ability over short durations. Large-sided games can be used to maintain aerobic capacity and develop maximum speed over longer distances.
Asymmetry of Cerebral Hemodynamic Response to Incremental Cycling Exercise
Mark R. Stone, Alan St Clair Gibson, and Kevin G. Thompson
Exercise is known to result in hemodynamic changes in the bilateral prefrontal cortex. The aim of this study was to investigate hemodynamic changes in right and left hemispheres of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) during incremental cycling exercise.
After 10 min rest, 9 participants (mean age 26.6 ± 2.5 y, mass 77.5 ± 9.7 kg, stature 1.79 ± 0.9 m) cycled at 100–150 W for 4 min. Thereafter, resistance was increased by 25 W every 4 min until exhaustion (EXH). Respiratory exchange and concentrations of oxy- ([HbO2]), deoxy- ([(HHb]), and total hemoglobin ([Hbtot]) in the PFC were continuously measured. Data were averaged for 60 s at rest and preceding ventilatory threshold 1 (VT1), VT2, and volitional EXH and after 5 min recovery. Subjective ratings of affect were measured at VT1, VT2, VT1 minus 25 W (VT1-25W), and VT2 plus 25 W (VT2+25W).
There were no between-hemispheres differences in [HbO2] or [Hbtot] at rest, VT1, or recovery or in [HHb] at any point. Right-hemisphere [HbO2] and [Hbtot] were significantly greater than left at VT2 (P = .01 and P = .02) and EXH (P = .03 and P = .02). Affect was significantly greater at VT1-25W vs VT2 and VT2+25W and at VT1 and VT2 vs VT2+25W (P < .01–.03).
To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to describe an exercise-state-dependent change in PFC asymmetry during incremental exercise. The asymmetry detected coincided with a decrease in affect scores in agreement with the PFC-asymmetry hypothesis.
The Effect of Self-Paced and Prescribed Interset Rest Strategies on Performance in Strength Training
Peter Ibbott, Nick Ball, Marijke Welvaert, and Kevin G. Thompson
Purpose: To assess pacing strategies using prescribed and self-selected interset rest periods and their influence on performance in strength-trained athletes. Methods: A total of 16 strength-trained male athletes completed 3 randomized heavy strength-training sessions (5 sets and 5 repetitions) with different interset rest periods. The interset rest periods were 3 min (3MIN), 5 min (5MIN), and self-selected (SS). Mechanical (power, velocity, work, and displacement), surface electromyography (sEMG), and subjective (rating of perceived exertion) and readiness-to-lift data were recorded for each set. Results: SS-condition interset rest periods increased from sets 1 to 4 (from 207.52 to 277.71 s; P = .01). No differences in mechanical performance were shown between the different interset rest-period conditions. Power output (210 W; 8.03%) and velocity (0.03 m·s−1; 6.73%) decreased as sets progressed for all conditions (P < .001) from set 1 to set 5. No differences in sEMG activity between conditions were shown; however, vastus medialis sEMG decreased as the sets progressed for each condition (1.75%; P = .005). All conditions showed increases in rating of perceived exertion as sets progressed (set 1 = 6.1, set 5 = 7.9; P < .001). Participants reported greater readiness to lift in the 5MIN condition (7.81) than in the 3MIN (7.09) and SS (7.20) conditions (P < .001). Conclusions: Self-selecting interset rest periods does not significantly change performance compared with 3MIN and 5MIN conditions. Given the opportunity, athletes will vary their interset rest periods to complete multiple sets of heavy strength training. Self-selection of interset rest periods may be a feasible alternative to prescribed interset rest periods.
Are Individuals Who Engage in More Frequent Self-Regulation Less Susceptible to Mental Fatigue?
Kristy Martin, Kevin G. Thompson, Richard Keegan, and Ben Rattray
The aim of this study was to investigate whether individuals who engage in more frequent self-regulation are less susceptible to mental fatigue. Occupational cognitive demand and participation in sports or exercise were quantified as activities requiring self-regulation. Cardiorespiratory fitness was also assessed. On separate occasions, participants either completed 90 min of an incongruent Stroop task (mental exertion condition) or watched a 90-min documentary (control condition). Participants then completed a cycling time-to-exhaustion (physical endurance) test. There was no difference in the mean time to exhaustion between conditions, although individual responses varied. Occupational cognitive demand, participation in sports or exercise, and cardiorespiratory fitness predicted the change in endurance performance (p = .026, adjusted R 2 = .279). Only cognitive demand added significantly to the prediction (p = .024). Participants who reported higher levels of occupational cognitive demand better maintained endurance performance following mental exertion.