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Peter Collins, Yahya Al-Nakeeb and Mark Lyons

Background:

Active school commuting is widely regarded as a key opportunity for youth to participate in physical activity (PA). However, the accurate measurement of the commute home from school and its contribution to total free-living moderateto- vigorous PA (MVPA) is relatively unexplored.

Methods:

Seventy-five adolescents (38 males, 37 females) wore an integrated GPS and heart rate device during after-school hours for 4 consecutive weekdays.

Results:

Active commuters were significantly more active (11.72 minutes MVPA) than passive commuters (3.5 minutes MVPA) during their commute home from school (P = .001). The commute home of walkers and cyclists on average contributed 35% of their total free-living PA. However, there was no significant difference in the overall free-living PA levels of passive and active commuters (P > .05). A total 92.7% of the youth living within 1.5 miles of the school actively commuted, compared with 16.7% of the youth who lived further away. Socioeconomic differences in commuting patterns were also evident.

Conclusions:

The findings highlighted the significant proportion of total free-living PA that was attributed to active commuting home from school. The study demonstrates the usefulness of utilizing GPS and heart rate data to accurately track young people’s after-school PA. Demographic influences and implications for future research are discussed.

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Michael J. Duncan, Mark Lyons and Joanne Hankey

Purpose:

This study examined the placebo effect of caffeine on number of repetitions (reps), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), blood pressure (BP), and peak heart rate (PHR) during resistance-training exercise with repetitions (reps) performed to volitional failure.

Methods:

Following determination of 1-rep maximum in single-leg leg extension, 15 males performed reps to failure at 60% 1-RM in 3 conditions: control, perceived caffeine condition, and perceived placebo condition presented in a randomized order. Participants were informed they would ingest 250 mL of solution that contained either 3 mg·kg−1 caffeine or 3 mg·kg−1 placebo 1 h before each exercise trial. A deceptive protocol was employed and subjects consumed a placebo solution in both conditions. During each condition, total reps, RPE for the active muscle and overall body, and PHR were recorded.

Results:

Subjects completed 2 more reps when they perceived they had ingested caffeine. RPE was significantly (P = .04) lower in the perceived caffeine and control conditions and RPE for the active muscle was significantly higher across all conditions compared with RPE for the overall body. No substantial differences were evident in PHR across conditions.

Conclusions:

Results of this study are similar to studies of actual caffeine ingestion. However, the perception of consuming a substance that purportedly enhances performance is sufficient enough to enable individuals to complete a greater number of reps to failure during short-term resistance exercise.

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Paul Kinnerk, Stephen Harvey, Philip Kearney, Ciaran MacDonncha and Mark Lyons

Game Based Approaches (GBAs) have been advocated as pedagogies that positively impact athletes’ personal and social development, decision-making, tactical awareness and physical fitness. Despite the growing support for GBAs in the academic literature, evidence is currently lacking regarding the application of GBAs across different sports and developmental levels. Accordingly, the present study aimed to investigate Gaelic football coaches’ self-reported practice activities and session sequencing and assess how these aligned with benchmarks outlined in the GBA academic literature. In addition, coaches’ practice activities were examined as a function of developmental level (academy/developmental/senior) and time of the season (pre/peak). Responses to an online survey, completed by 150 practicing inter-county Gaelic football coaches, were analysed. During pre-season, coaches estimated spending the majority of time in Training Form activities (e.g., isolated fitness, technical skill), whereas they predominately utilised Playing Form activities (e.g., modified games) during peak-season. Coaches reported utilising Training Form activities in the first half of their coaching session before progressing to game like activities in the second half of the session. Few differences were noted across developmental levels. Further education with Gaelic football coaches is required to ensure a more sophisticated conceptual understanding and application of GBAs in coaches’ practice.

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Kris Beattie, Brian P. Carson, Mark Lyons and Ian C. Kenny

Cycling economy (CE), power output at maximal oxygen uptake (WV̇O2max), and anaerobic function (ie, sprinting ability) are considered the best physiological performance indicators in elite road cyclists. In addition to cardiovascular function, these physiological indicators are partly dictated by neuromuscular factors. One technique to improve neuromuscular function in athletes is through strength training. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a 20-wk maximal- and explosive-strength-training intervention on strength (maximal strength, explosive strength, and bike-specific explosive strength), WV̇O2max, CE, and body composition (body mass, fat and lean mass) in cyclists. Fifteen competitive road cyclists were divided into an intervention group (endurance training and strength training: n = 6; age, 38.0 ± 10.2 y; weight, 69.1 ± 3.6 kg; height, 1.77 ± 0.04 m) and a control group (endurance training only: n = 9; age, 34.8 ± 8.5 y; weight, 72.5 ± 7.2 kg; height, 1.78 ± 0.05 m). The intervention group strength-trained for 20 wk. Each participant completed 3 assessments: physiology (CE, WV̇O2max, power at 2 and 4 mmol/L blood lactate), strength (isometric midthigh pull, squat-jump height, and 6-s bike-sprint peak power), and body composition (body mass, fat mass, overall leanness, and leg leanness). The results showed significant between- and within-group changes in the intervention group for maximal strength, bike-specific explosive strength, absolute WV̇O2max, body mass, overall leanness, and leg leanness at wk 20 (P < .05). The control group showed no significant within-group changes in measures of strength, physiology, or body composition. This study demonstrates that 20 wk of strength training can significantly improve maximal strength, bike-specific explosive strength, and absolute WV̇O2max in competitive road cyclists.

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Kris Beattie, Brian P. Carson, Mark Lyons and Ian C. Kenny

Maximum- and reactive-strength qualities both have important roles in athletic movements and sporting performance. Very little research has investigated the relationship between maximum strength and reactive strength. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between maximum-strength (isometric midthigh-pull peak force [IMTP PF]) and reactive-strength (drop-jump reactive-strength index [DJ-RSI]) variables at 0.3-m, 0.4-m, 0.5-m, and 0.6-m box heights. A secondary aim was to investigate the between- and within-group differences in reactive-strength characteristics between relatively stronger athletes (n = 11) and weaker athletes (n = 11). Forty-five college athletes across various sports were recruited to participate in the study (age, 23.7 ± 4.0 y; mass, 87.5 ± 16.1 kg; height, 1.80 ± 0.08 m). Pearson correlation results showed that there was a moderate association (r = .302–.431) between maximum-strength variables (absolute, relative, and allometric scaled PF) and RSI at 0.3, 0.4, 0.5 and 0.6 m (P ≤ .05). In addition, 2-tailed independent-samples t tests showed that the RSIs for relatively stronger athletes (49.59 ± 2.57 N/kg) were significantly larger than those of weaker athletes (33.06 ± 2.76 N/kg) at 0.4 m (Cohen d = 1.02), 0.5 m (d = 1.21), and 0.6 m (d = 1.39) (P ≤ .05). Weaker athletes also demonstrated significant decrements in RSI as eccentric stretch loads increased at 0.3-m through 0.6-m box heights, whereas stronger athletes were able to maintain their reactive-strength ability. This research highlights that in specific sporting scenarios, when there are high eccentric stretch loads and fast stretch-shortening-cycle demands, athletes’ reactive-strength ability may be dictated by their relative maximal strength, specifically eccentric strength.

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Caoimhe Tiernan, Mark Lyons, Tom Comyns, Alan M. Nevill and Giles Warrington

Purpose: Insufficient recovery can lead to a decrease in performance and increase the risk of injury and illness. The aim of this study was to evaluate salivary cortisol as a marker of recovery in elite rugby union players. Method: Over a 10-wk preseason training period, 19 male elite rugby union players provided saliva swabs biweekly (Monday and Friday mornings). Subjective markers of recovery were collected every morning of each training day. Session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) was taken after every training session, and training load was calculated (sRPE × session duration). Results: Multilevel analysis found no significant association between salivary cortisol and training load or subjective markers of recovery (all P > .05) over the training period. Compared with baseline (wk 1), Monday salivary cortisol significantly increased in wk 4 (14.94 [7.73] ng/mL; P = .04), wk 8 (16.39 [9.53] ng/mL; P = .01), and wk 9 (15.41 [9.82] ng/mL; P = .02), and Friday salivary cortisol significantly increased in wk 5 (14.81 [8.74] ng/mL; P = .04) and wk 10 (15.36 [11.30] ng/mL; P = .03). Conclusions: The significant increase in salivary cortisol on certain Mondays may indicate that players did not physically recover from the previous week of training or match at the weekend. The increased Friday cortisol levels and subjective marker of perceived fatigue indicated increased physiological stress from that week’s training. Regular monitoring of salivary cortisol combined with appropriate planning of training load may allow sufficient recovery to optimize training performance.

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Gina Sobrero, Scott Arnett, Mark Schafer, Whitley Stone, T. A. Tolbert, Amanda Salyer-Funk, Jason Crandall, Lauren B. Farley, Josh Brown, Scott Lyons, Travis Esslinger, Keri Esslinger and Jill Maples

High intensity functional training (HIFT) emphasizes constantly varied, high intensity, functional activity by programming strength and conditioning exercises, gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting, and specialty movements. Conversely, traditional circuit training (TCT) programs aim to improve muscular fitness by utilizing the progressive overload principle, similar movements weekly, and specified work-to-rest ratios. The purpose of this investigation was to determine if differences exist in health and performance measures in women participating in HIFT or TCT after a six-week training program. Recreationally active women were randomly assigned to a HIFT (n = 8, age 26.0 + 7.3 yrs) or TCT (n = 11, age 26.3 + 9.6 yrs) group. Participants trained three days a week for six weeks with certified trainers. Investigators examined body composition (BC), aerobic and anaerobic capacity, muscular strength, endurance, flexibility, power, and agility. Repeated-measures ANOVA were used for statistical analyses with an alpha level of 0.05. Both groups increased body mass (p = .011), and improved muscular endurance (p < .000), upper body strength (p = .007), lower body power (p = .029) and agility (p = .003). In addition, the HIFT group decreased body fat (BF) %, while the TCT group increased BF% (p = .011). No changes were observed in aerobic or anaerobic capacity, flexibility, upper body power, or lower body stair climbing power. Newer, high intensity functional exercise programs such as HIFT may have better results on BC and similar effects when compared with TCT programs on health and fitness variables such as musculoskeletal strength and performance.