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  • Author: Liam P. Kilduff x
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Christian Cook, C. Martyn Beaven, Liam P. Kilduff and Scott Drawer

Introduction:

This study aimed to determine whether caffeine ingestion would increase the workload voluntarily chosen by athletes in a limited-sleep state.

Methods:

In a double-blind, crossover study, 16 professional rugby players ingested either a placebo or 4 mg/kg caffeine 1 hr before exercise. Athletes classified themselves into nondeprived (8 hr+) or sleep-deprived states (6 hr or less). Exercise comprised 4 sets of bench press, squats, and bent rows at 85% 1-repetition maximum. Athletes were asked to perform as many repetitions on each set as possible without failure. Saliva was collected before administration of placebo or caffeine and again before and immediately after exercise and assayed for testosterone and cortisol.

Results:

Sleep deprivation produced a very large decrease in total load (p = 1.98 × 10−7). Caffeine ingestion in the nondeprived state resulted in a moderate increase in total load, with a larger effect in the sleep-deprived state, resulting in total load similar to those observed in the nondeprived placebo condition. Eight of the 16 athletes were identified as caffeine responders. Baseline testosterone was higher (p < .05) and cortisol trended lower in non-sleep-deprived athletes. Changes in hormones from predose to preexercise correlated to individual workload responses to caffeine. Testosterone response to exercise increased with caffeine compared with placebo, as did cortisol response.

Conclusions:

Caffeine increased voluntary workload in professional athletes, even more so under conditions of self-reported limited sleep. Caffeine may prove worthwhile when athletes are tired, especially in those identified as responders.

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Christian J. Cook, Liam P. Kilduff and C. Martyn Beaven

Purpose:

To examine the effects of moderate-load exercise with and without blood-flow restriction (BFR) on strength, power, and repeated-sprint ability, along with acute and chronic salivary hormonal parameters.

Methods:

Twenty male semiprofessional rugby union athletes were randomized to a lower-body BFR intervention (an occlusion cuff inflated to 180 mmHg worn intermittently on the proximal thighs) or a control intervention that trained without occlusion in a crossover design. Experimental sessions were performed 3 times a week for 3 wk with 5 sets of 5 repetitions of bench press, leg squat, and pull-ups performed at 70% of 1-repetition maximum.

Results:

Greater improvements were observed (occlusion training vs control) in bench press (5.4 ± 2.6 vs 3.3 ± 1.4 kg), squat (7.8 ± 2.1 vs 4.3 ± 1.4 kg), maximum sprint time (−0.03 ± 0.03 vs –0.01 ± 0.02 s), and leg power (168 ± 105 vs 68 ± 50 W). Greater exercise-induced salivary testosterone (ES 0.84–0.61) and cortisol responses (ES 0.65–0.20) were observed after the occlusion intervention sessions compared with the nonoccluded controls; however, the acute cortisol increases were attenuated across the training block.

Conclusions:

Occlusion training can potentially improve the rate of strength-training gains and fatigue resistance in trained athletes, possibly allowing greater gains from lower loading that could be of benefit during high training loads, in competitive seasons, or in a rehabilitative setting. The clear improvement in bench-press strength resulting from lower-body occlusion suggests a systemic effect of BFR training.

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Christian Cook, Danny Holdcroft, Scott Drawer and Liam P. Kilduff

Purpose:

To investigate how different warm-ups influenced subsequent sled-pull sprint performance in Olympic-level bob-skeleton athletes as part of their preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Methods:

Three female and 3 male athletes performed 5 different randomized warm-ups of differing intensities, durations, and timing relative to subsequent testing, each 2 days apart, all repeated twice. After warm-ups, testing on a sledpull sprint over 20 m, 3 repeats 3 min apart, took place.

Results:

Performance testing showed improvement (P < .001, ES > 1.2) with both increasing intensity of warm-up and closeness of completion to testing, with 20-m sled sprinting being 0.1–0.25 s faster in higher-intensity protocols performed near testing In addition, supplementing the warm-ups by wearing of a light survival coat resulted in further performance improvement (P = .000, ES 1.8).

Conclusions:

Changing timing and intensity of warm-up and using an ancillary passive heat-retention device improved sprint performance in Olympic-level bob-skeleton athletes. Subsequent adoption of these on the competitive circuit was associated with a seasonal improvement in push times and was ultimately implemented in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

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Mark Russell, Aden King, Richard. M. Bracken, Christian. J. Cook, Thibault Giroud and Liam. P. Kilduff

Purpose:

To assess the effects of different modes of morning (AM) exercise on afternoon (PM) performance and salivary hormone responses in professional rugby union players.

Methods:

On 4 occasions (randomized, crossover design), 15 professional rugby players provided AM (~8 AM) and PM (~2 PM) saliva samples before PM assessments of countermovement-jump height, reaction time, and repeated-sprint ability. Control (passive rest), weights (bench press: 5 × 10 repetitions, 75% 1-repetition maximum, 90-s intraset recovery), cycling (6 × 6-s maximal sprint cycling, 7.5% body mass load, 54-s intraset recovery), and running (6 × 40-m maximal sprints, 20-s intraset recovery) interventions preceded (~5 h) PM testing.

Results:

PM sprint performance improved (P < .05) after weights (>0.15 ± 0.19 s, >2.04% ± 2.46%) and running (>0.15 ± 0.17 s, >2.12% ± 2.22%) but not cycling (P > .05). PM jump height increased after cycling (0.012 ± 0.009 m, 2.31% ± 1.76%, P < .001) and running (0.020 ± 0.009 m, 3.90% ± 1.79%, P < .001) but not weights (P = .936). Reaction time remained unchanged between trials (P = .379). Relative to control (131 ± 21 pg/mL), PM testosterone was greater in weights (21 ± 23 pg/mL, 17% ± 18%, P = .002) and running (28 ± 26 pg/mL, 22% ± 20%, P = .001) but not cycling (P = .072). Salivary cortisol was unaffected by AM exercise (P = .540).

Conclusions:

All modes of AM exercise improved at least 1 marker of PM performance, but running appeared the most beneficial to professional rugby union players. A rationale therefore exists for preceding PM competition with AM exercise.

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Liam P. Kilduff, Charlotte V. Finn, Julien S. Baker, Christian J. Cook and Daniel J. West

Sports scientists and strength and conditioning professionals spend the majority of the competition season trying to ensure that their athletes’ training and recovery strategies are appropriate to ensure optimal performance on competition day. However, there is an additional window on the day of competition where performance can be acutely enhanced with a number of preconditioning strategies. These strategies include appropriately designed warm-up, passive heat maintenance, postactivation potentiation, remote ischemic preconditioning, and, more recently, prior exercise and hormonal priming. The aim of this review was to explore the potential practical use of these strategies and propose a theoretical timeline outlining how they may be incorporated into athlete’s precompetition routine to enhance performance. For the purpose of this review the discussion is confined to strategies that may enhance performance of short-duration, high-intensity sports (eg, sprinting, jumping, throwing).

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Christopher M. Gaviglio, Blair T. Crewther, Liam P. Kilduff, Keith A. Stokes and Christian J. Cook

Purpose:

To assess the measures of salivary free testosterone and cortisol concentrations across selected rugby union matches according to game outcome.

Methods:

Twenty-two professional male rugby union players were studied across 6 games (3 wins and 3 losses). Hormone samples were taken 40 min before the game and 15 min after. The hormonal data were grouped and compared against competition outcomes. These competition outcomes included wins and losses and a game-ranked performance score (1–6).

Results:

Across the entire team, pregame testosterone concentrations were significantly higher during winning games than losses (P = 5.8 × 10−5). Analysis by playing position further revealed that, for the backs, pregame testosterone concentrations (P = 3.6 × 10−5) and the testosterone-to-cortisol ratio T:C (P = .038) were significantly greater before a win than a loss. Game-ranked performance score correlated to the team’s pregame testosterone concentrations (r = .81, P = .049). In backs, pregame testosterone (r = .91, P = .011) and T:C (r = .81, P = .05) also correlated to game-ranked performance. Analysis of the forwards’ hormone concentrations did not distinguish between game outcomes, nor did it correlate with game-ranked performance. Game venue (home vs away) only affected postgame concentrations of testosterone (P = .018) and cortisol (P = 2.58 × 10−4).

Conclusions:

Monitoring game-day concentrations of salivary free testosterone may help identify competitive readiness in rugby union matches. The link between pregame T:C and rugby players in the back position suggests that monitoring weekly training loads and enhancing recovery modalities between games may also assist with favorable performance and outcome in rugby union matches.

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Liam P. Kilduff, Yannis P. Pitsiladis, Louise Tasker, Jeff Attwood, Paul Hyslop, Andrew Dailly, Ian Dickson and Stan Grant

This study examined the effects of Cr supplementation on muscle strength in conjunction with resistance training in nonresistance-trained males utilizing strategies previously reported in the literature to help optimize muscle Cr uptake. Nineteen nonresistance-trained males underwent 4 weeks of resistance training (3 days · week−1) while assigned to Cr (20 g · d−1 Cr + 140 g · d−1 glucose) for 7 days (loading), followed by 5 g · d−1 Cr + 35 g · d−1 glucose for 21 days (maintenance; n = 9) or placebo (160 g · d−1 glucose [loading] followed by 40 g · d−1 [maintenance; n = 10]). In subjects classified as “responders” to Cr on the basis of body mass changes (n = 7), the magnitude of change in 180∞ · s−1 isokinetic (p = .029) and isometric (p = .036) force was greater compared to the placebo group. A positive correlation was found between changes in body mass and 180º · s−1 isokinetic (loading: r = 0.68, p = .04; maintenance: r = 0.70, p = .037) and isometric (loading: r = 0.82, p < .01) force. Estimated Cr uptake was also positively correlated with changes in 60º · s−1 (r = 0.90, p < .01) and 180º · s−1 (r = 0.68, p = .043) isokinetic force, and isometric force (r = 0.71, p = .033). These results indicate that Cr supplementation can increase muscle strength (allied with 4 weeks of strength training) but only in subjects whose estimated Cr uptake and body mass are significantly increased; the greater the Cr uptake and associated body mass changes, the greater the performance gains.

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Liam P. Kilduff, Huw Bevan, Nick Owen, Mike I.C. Kingsley, Paul Bunce, Mark Bennett and Dan Cunningham

Purpose:

The ability to develop high levels of muscle power is considered an essential component of success in many sporting activities; however, the optimal load for the development of peak power during training remains controversial. The aim of the present study was to determine the optimal load required to observe peak power output (PPO) during the hang power clean in professional rugby players.

Methods:

Twelve professional rugby players performed hang power cleans on a portable force platform at loads of 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90% of their predetermined 1-repetition maximum (1-RM) in a randomized and balanced order.

Results:

Relative load had a significant effect on power output, with peak values being obtained at 80% of the subjects’ 1-RM (4466 ± 477 W; P < .001). There was no significant difference, however, between the power outputs at 50%, 60%, 70%, or 90% 1-RM compared with 80% 1-RM. Peak force was produced at 90% 1-RM with relative load having a significant effect on this variable; however, relative load had no effect on peak rate of force development or velocity during the hang power clean.

Conclusions:

The authors conclude that relative load has a significant effect on PPO during the hang power clean: Although PPO was obtained at 80% 1-RM, there was no significant difference between the loads ranging from 40% to 90% 1-RM. Individual determination of the optimal load for PPO is necessary in order to enhance individual training effects.

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C. Martyn Beaven, Christian Cook, David Gray, Paul Downes, Ian Murphy, Scott Drawer, John R. Ingram, Liam P. Kilduff and Nicholas Gill

Rugby preseason training involves high-volume strength and conditioning training, necessitating effective management of the recovery-stress state to avoid overtraining and maximize adaptive gains.

Purpose:

Compression garments and an electrostimulation device have been proposed to improve recovery by increasing venous blood flow. These devices were assessed using salivary testosterone and cortisol, plasma creatine kinase, and player questionnaires to determine sleep quality, energy level, mood, and enthusiasm.

Methods:

Twenty-five professional rugby players were assigned to 1 of 2 treatments (compression garment or a concurrent combination of electrostimulation and compression) in a crossover design over 2 × 2-wk training blocks.

Results:

Substantial benefits were observed in self-assessed energy levels (effect size [ES] 0.86), and enthusiasm (ES 0.80) as a result of the combined treatment when compared with compression-garment use. The combination treatment had no discernable effect on salivary hormones, with no treatment effect observed. The electrostimulation device did tend to accelerate the return of creatine kinase to baseline levels after 2 preseason rugby games when compared with the compression-garment intervention (ES 0.61; P = .08).

Conclusions:

Electrostimulation elicited psychometric and physiological benefits reflective of an improved recovery-stress state in professional male rugby players when combined with a lower-body compression garment.