Background: The effects of anodal transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) on endurance exercise performance are not yet fully understood. Different stimulated areas and low focality of classical tDCS technique may have led to discordant results. Purpose: This study investigated the effect of a bilateral anodal high-definition tDCS (HD-tDCS) of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex on the cycling time-trial (TT) performance and physiological and perceptual response at moderate intensity in elite cyclists. Methods: A total of 8 elite cyclists (maximal oxygen consumption: 72.2 [4.3] mL·min−1·kg−1) underwent in a double-blind, counterbalanced, and randomized order the experimental treatment (HD-tDCS) or control treatment (SHAM). After 20 minutes of receiving either HD-tDCS on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (F3 and F4) or SHAM stimulation, the participants completed a constant-load trial (CLT) at 75% of the second ventilatory threshold. Thereafter, they performed a simulated 15-km TT. The ratings of perceived exertion, heart rate, cadence, oxygen consumption, and respiratory exchange ratio were recorded during the CLT; the ratings of perceived exertion and heart rate were recorded during the TT. Results: The total time to complete the TT was 1.3% faster (HD-tDCS: 1212  s vs SHAM: 1228  s; P = .04) and associated with a higher heart rate (P < .001) and a tendency toward higher mean power output (P = .05). None of the physiological and perceptual variables measured during the CLT highlighted differences between the HD-tDCS and SHAM condition. Conclusions: The findings suggest that bilateral HD-tDCS on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex improves cycling TT performance without altering the physiological and perceptual response at moderate intensity, indicating that an upregulation of the prefrontal cortex could enhance endurance exercise performance.
Luca Pollastri, Gabriele Gallo, Milena Zucca, Luca Filipas, Antonio La Torre, Ugo Riba, Luigi Molino, and Elisabetta Geda
Gabriele Gallo, Luca Filipas, Michele Tornaghi, Mattia Garbin, Roberto Codella, Nicola Lovecchio, and Daniele Zaccaria
Purpose: To analyze the anthropometric and physiological characteristics of competitive 15- to 16-year-old young male road cyclists and scale them according to a dichotomous category of successful/unsuccessful riders. Methods: A total of 103 15- to 16-year-old male road cyclists competing in the Italian national under 17 category performed a laboratory incremental exercise test during the in-season period. Age, height, body mass, body mass index, peak height velocity, and absolute and relative power output at 2 mmol/L and 4 mmol/L of blood lactate concentration were compared between 2 subgroups, including those scoring at least 1 point (successful, n = 70) and those that did not score points (unsuccessful, n = 61) in the general season ranking. Results: Successful and unsuccessful riders did not differ anthropometrically. Successful riders recorded significantly higher absolute and relative power output at 2 mmol/L and 4 mmol/L of blood lactate concentration compared with unsuccessful riders. Successful riders were also significantly older and had advanced biological maturation compared with their unsuccessful counterparts. Conclusion: Power associated with blood lactate profiles, together with chronological age and peak height velocity, plays an important role in determining race results in under 17 road cycling. Physiological tests could be helpful for coaches to measure these performance predictors.
Luca Filipas, Emiliano Nerli Ballati, Matteo Bonato, Antonio La Torre, and Maria Francesca Piacentini
Purpose: To analyze the pacing profiles of the world’s top 800-m annual performances between 2010 and 2016, comparing men’s and women’s strategies. Methods: A total of 142 performances were characterized for overall race times and 0-to-200-m, 200-to-400-m, 400-to-600-m, and 600-to-800-m split times using available footage from YouTube. Only the best annual performance for each athlete was considered. Overall race and split speed were calculated so that each lap speed could be expressed as a percentage of the mean race speed. Results: The mean speed of the men’s 800-m was 7.73 (0.06) m·s−1, with the 0-to-200-m split faster than the others. After the first split, the speed decreased significantly during the 3 subsequent splits (P < .001). The mean speed of the women’s 800-m was 6.77 (0.05) m·s−1, with a significative variation in speed during the race (P < .001). The first split was faster than the others (P < .001). During the rest of the race, speed was almost constant, and no difference was observed between the other splits. Comparison between men and women revealed that there was an interaction between split and gender (P < .001), showing a different pacing behavior in 800-m competitions. Conclusions: The world’s best 800-m performances revealed an important difference in the pacing profile between men and women. Tactics could play a greater role in this difference, but physiological and behavioral characteristics are likely also important.
Luca Filipas, Davide Ferioli, Giuseppe Banfi, Antonio La Torre, and Jacopo Antonino Vitale
Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the single and combined effects of sleep restriction (SR) and mental fatigue (MF) on free-throw (FT) performance among adult male basketball players. Methods: A total of 19 amateur male basketball players performed, in a randomized, counterbalanced, and crossover order, 2 identical experimental sessions separated by an interval of 1 week. The difference between the 2 sessions was in the quantity of sleep the night before the sessions, as follows: in one case, the participants followed their habitual sleep–wake routines; in the other session, they were forced to sleep not more than 5 hours. During the experimental sessions, the participants performed 60 basketball FTs on 2 occasions, separated by watching a basketball tactical video for 30 minutes designed to induce MF. As such, the FT test was completed in 4 different conditions: control, MF, SR, and SR and MF combined. Results: The participants registered a significantly lower total sleep time in acute SR (P < .001). The subjective rating of MF was lower in the control than in MF, SR, and SR and MF combined (P < .001). There were no differences between conditions for the subjective ratings of motivation. FT accuracy was higher in the control than in MF, SR, and SR and MF combined (P = .010), while no differences were observed between the 3 experimental conditions (all P > .05). Conclusion: The results indicate that a combined effect of MF and SR induces a small reduction in basketball FT performance, similar to MF or SR alone.