Purpose: External counterpulsation (ECP) has previously been used to treat cardiac patients via compression of the lower extremities during diastole to increase venous return and coronary perfusion. However, the effects of ECP on exercise performance and markers of recovery in elite athletes are largely unknown. Methods: On 2 separate occasions, 48 h apart, 7 elite National Rugby League players performed an identical 60-min field-based conditioning session followed by a 30-min period of either regular ECP treatment or placebo. Power measures during repeated cycle bouts and countermovement jump height and contraction time derivatives were measured at rest and 5 h postexercise. Saliva samples and venous blood samples were taken at rest, postexercise, and 5 h postexercise to assess stress, inflammation, and muscle damage. Results: After ECP treatment, cycling peak power output (P = .028; 11%) and accumulated peak power (P = .027; 14%) increased compared with the placebo condition. Postexercise plasma interleukin 1 receptor antagonist only increased after ECP (P = .024; 84%), and concentrations of plasma interleukin 1 receptor antagonist tended to be higher (P = .093; 76%) 5 h postexercise. Furthermore, testosterone-to-cortisol ratio was increased above baseline and placebo 5 h postexercise (P = .017–.029; 24–77%). The ratio of postexercise salivary α-amylase to immunoglobulin A decreased after treatment (P = .013; 50%) compared with the placebo control. Conclusions: Exercise performance and hormonal indicators of stress were improved and inflammation markers were reduced following acute ECP.
Llion A. Roberts, Johnpaul Caia, Lachlan P. James, Tannath J. Scott, and Vincent G. Kelly
Lachlan P. James, Emma M. Beckman, Vincent G. Kelly, and G. Gregory Haff
To determine whether the maximal strength, impulse, and power characteristics of competitive mixed-martial-arts (MMA) athletes differ according to competition level.
Twenty-nine male semiprofessional and amateur MMA competitors were stratified into either higher-level (HL) or lower-level (LL) performers on the basis of competition grade and success. The 1-repetition-maximum (1RM) squat was used to assess lower-body dynamic strength, and a spectrum of impulse, power, force, and velocity variables were evaluated during an incremental-load jump squat. In addition, participants performed an isometric midthigh pull (IMTP) and 1RM bench press to determine whole-body isometric force and upper-body dynamic strength capabilities, respectively. All force and power variables were expressed relative to body mass (BM).
The HL competitors produced significantly superior values across a multitude of measures. These included 1RM squat strength (1.84 ± 0.23 vs 1.56 ± 0.24 kg BM; P = .003), in addition to performance in the incremental-load jump squat that revealed greater peak power (P = .005–.002), force (P = .002–.004), and velocity (P = .002–.03) at each load. Higher measures of impulse (P = .01–.04) were noted in a number of conditions. Average power (P = .002–.02) and velocity (P = .01–.04) at all loads in addition to a series of rate-dependent measures were also superior in the HL group (P = .005–.02). The HL competitors’ 1RM bench-press values approached significantly greater levels (P = .056) than the LL group’s, but IMTP performance did not differ between groups.
Maximal lower-body neuromuscular capabilities are key attributes distinguishing HL from LL MMA competitors. This information can be used to inform evidenced-based training and performance-monitoring practices.
Lachlan P. James, Haresh Suppiah, Michael R. McGuigan, and David L. Carey
Purpose: Dozens of variables can be derived from the countermovement jump (CMJ). However, this does not guarantee an increase in useful information because many of the variables are highly correlated. Furthermore, practitioners should seek to find the simplest solution to performance testing and reporting challenges. The purpose of this investigation was to show how to apply dimensionality reduction to CMJ data with a view to offer practitioners solutions to aid applications in high-performance settings. Methods: The data were collected from 3 cohorts using 3 different devices. Dimensionality reduction was undertaken on the extracted variables by way of principal component analysis and maximum likelihood factor analysis. Results: Over 90% of the variance in each CMJ data set could be explained in 3 or 4 principal components. Similarly, 2 to 3 factors could successfully explain the CMJ. Conclusions: The application of dimensional reduction through principal component analysis and factor analysis allowed for the identification of key variables that strongly contributed to distinct aspects of jump performance. Practitioners and scientists can consider the information derived from these procedures in several ways to streamline the transfer of CMJ test information.
Peter W. Harrison, Lachlan P. James, David G. Jenkins, Michael R. McGuigan, Robert W. Schuster, and Vincent G. Kelly
Purpose: The aim of this study was to map responses over 32 hours following high-load (HL) and moderate-load (ML) half-squat priming. Methods: Fifteen participants completed control, HL (87% 1RM), and ML (65% 1RM) activities in randomized, counterbalanced order. Countermovement jump (CMJ), squat jump (SJ), saliva testosterone, saliva cortisol, and perceptual measures were assessed before and 5 minutes, 8 hours, 24 hours, and 32 hours after each activity. Results are presented as percentage change from baseline and 95% confidence interval (CI). Cliff delta was used to determine threshold for group changes. Results: SJ height increased by 4.5% (CI = 2.2–6.8, Cliff delta = 0.20) 8 hours following HL. CMJ and SJ improved by 6.1% (CI = 2.1–7.8, Cliff delta = 0.27) and 6.5% (CI = 1.2–11.8, Cliff delta = 0.30), respectively, 32 hours after ML. No clear diurnal changes in CMJ or SJ occurred 8 hours following control; however, increases of 3.9% (CI = 2.9–9.2, Cliff delta = 0.26) and 4.5% (CI = 0.9–8.1, Cliff delta = 0.24), respectively, were observed after 32 hours. Although diurnal changes in saliva hormone concentration occurred (Cliff delta = 0.37–0.92), the influence of priming was unclear. Perceived “physical feeling” was greater 8 hours following HL (Cliff delta = 0.36) and 32 hours after ML and control (Cliff delta = 0.17–0.34). Conclusions: HL priming in the morning may result in small improvements in jump output and psychophysiological state in the afternoon. Similar improvements were observed in the afternoon the day after ML priming.