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Tom W. Macpherson and Matthew Weston

Purpose:

To examine the effect of low-volume sprint interval training (SIT) on the development (part 1) and subsequent maintenance (part 2) of aerobic fitness in soccer players.

Methods:

In part 1, 23 players from the same semiprofessional team participated in a 2-wk SIT intervention (SIT, n = 14, age 25 ± 4 y, weight 77 ± 8 kg; control, n = 9, age 27 ± 6 y, weight 72 ± 10 kg). The SIT group performed 6 training sessions of 4–6 maximal 30-s sprints, in replacement of regular aerobic training. The control group continued with their regular training. After this 2-wk intervention, the SIT group was allocated to either intervention (n = 7, 1 SIT session/wk as replacement of regular aerobic training) or control (n = 7, regular aerobic training with no SIT sessions) for a 5-wk period (part 2). Pre and post measures were the YoYo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (YYIRL1) and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max).

Results:

In part 1, the 2-week SIT intervention had a small beneficial effect on YYIRL1 (17%; 90% confidence limits ±11%), and VO2max (3.1%; ±5.0%) compared with control. In part 2, 1 SIT session/wk for 5 wk had a small beneficial effect on VO2max (4.2%; ±3.0%), with an unclear effect on YYIRL1 (8%; ±16%).

Conclusion:

Two weeks of SIT elicits small improvements in soccer players’ high-intensity intermittent-running performance and VO2max, therefore representing a worthwhile replacement of regular aerobic training. The effectiveness of SIT for maintaining SIT-induced improvements in high-intensity intermittent running requires further research.

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Shaun J. McLaren, Michael Graham, Iain R. Spears and Matthew Weston

Purpose:

To investigate the sensitivity of differential ratings of perceived exertion (dRPE) as measures of internal load.

Methods:

Twenty-two male university soccer players performed 2 maximal incremental-exercise protocols (cycle, treadmill) on separate days. Maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max), maximal heart rate (HRmax), peak blood lactate concentration (B[La]peak), and the preprotocol-to-postprotocol change in countermovement-jump height (ΔCMJH) were measured for each protocol. Players provided dRPE (CR100) for breathlessness (RPE-B) and leg-muscle exertion (RPE-L) immediately on exercise termination (RPE-B0, RPE-L0) and 30 min postexercise (RPE-B30, RPE-L30). Data were analyzed using magnitude-based inferences.

Results:

There were clear between-protocols differences for V̇O2max (cycle 46.5 ± 6.3 vs treadmill 51.0 ± 5.1 mL · kg−1 · min−1, mean difference –9.2%; ±90% confidence limits 3.7%), HRmax (184.7 ± 12.7 vs 196.7 ± 7.8 beats/min, –6.0%; ±1.7%), B[La]peak (9.7 ± 2.1 vs 8.5 ± 2.0 mmol/L, 15%; ±10%), and ΔCMJH (–7.1 ± 4.2 vs 0.6 ± 3.6 cm, –23.2%; ±5.4%). Clear between-protocols differences were recorded for RPE-B0 (78.0 ± 11.7 vs 94.7 ± 9.5 AU, –18.1%; ±4.5%), RPE-L0 (92.6 ± 9.7 vs 81.3 ± 14.1 AU, 15.3%; ±7.6%), RPE-B30 (70 ± 11 vs 82 ± 13 AU, –13.8%; ±7.3%), and RPE-L30 (86 ± 12 vs 65 ± 19 AU, 37%; ±17%). A substantial timing effect was observed for dRPE, with moderate to large reductions in all scores 30 min postexercise compared with scores collected on exercise termination.

Conclusion:

dRPE enhance the precision of internal-load measurement and therefore represent a worthwhile addition to training-load-monitoring procedures.

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Jonathan M. Taylor, Tom W. Macpherson, Iain R. Spears and Matthew Weston

The ability to repeatedly perform sprints has traditionally been viewed as a key performance measure in team sports, and the relationship between repeated-sprint ability (RSA) and performance has been explored extensively. However, when reviewing the repeated-sprint profile of team-sports match play it appears that the occurrence of repeated-sprint bouts is sparse, indicating that RSA is not as important to performance as commonly believed. Repeated sprints are, however, a potent and time-efficient training strategy, effective in developing acceleration, speed, explosive leg power, aerobic power, and high-intensity-running performance—all of which are crucial to team-sport performance. As such, we propose that repeated-sprint exercise in team sports should be viewed as an independent variable (eg, a means of developing fitness) as opposed to a dependent variable (eg, a means of assessing fitness/performance).

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Jonathan M. Taylor, Tom W. Macpherson, Shaun J. McLaren, Iain Spears and Matthew Weston

Purpose:

To compare the effects of 2 repeated-sprint training programs on fitness in soccer.

Methods:

Fifteen semiprofessional soccer players (age: 24 ± 4 y; body mass: 77 ± 8 kg) completed 6 repeated-sprint training sessions over a 2-week period. Players were assigned to a straight-line (STR) (n = 8; 3–4 sets of 7 × 30 m) or change of direction (CoD) (n = 7; 3–4 sets of 7 × 20-m) repeated-sprint training group. Performance measures included 5-, 10-, and 20-m sprints, countermovement jump, Illinois agility, and Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test level 1 (YYIRTL1) performance. Internal (heart rate) and external (global positioning system-derived measures) training loads were monitored throughout. Data were analyzed using magnitude-based inferences.

Results:

Internal and external loads were higher in the STR group than in the CoD group with large differences in maximum velocity (28.7%; ±90% confidence limits, 3.3%), moderate differences in mean heart rates (7.0%; ±1.4%) and PlayerLoad (17.6%; ±8.6%), and small differences in peak heart rates (3.0%; ±1.6%). Large improvements in 5-m (STR: 9.6%; ±7.0% and CoD: 9.4%; ±3.3%), 10-m (STR: 6.6%; ±4.6% and CoD: 6.7%; ±2.2%), and 20-m (STR: 3.6; ±4.0% and CoD: 4.0; ±1.7%) sprints were observed. Large and moderate improvements in YYIRTL1 performance were observed in the STR (24.0%; ±9.3%) and CoD (31.0%; ±7.5%), respectively. Between-groups differences in outcome measures were unclear.

Conclusions:

Two weeks of repeated-sprint training stimulates improvements in acceleration, speed, and high-intensity running performance in soccer players. Despite STR inducing higher internal and external training loads, training adaptations were unclear between training modes, indicating a need for further research.

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Daniel Castillo, Matthew Weston, Shaun J. McLaren, Jesús Cámara and Javier Yanci

The aims of this study were to describe the internal and external match loads (ML) of refereeing activity during official soccer matches and to investigate the relationship among the methods of ML quantification across a competitive season. A further aim was to examine the usefulness of differential perceived exertion (dRPE) as a tool for monitoring internal ML in soccer referees. Twenty field referees (FRs) and 43 assistant referees (ARs) participated in the study. Data were collected from 30 competitive matches (FR = 20 observations, AR = 43 observations) and included measures of internal (Edwards’ heart-rate-derived training impulse [TRIMPEDW]) ML, external (total distance covered, distance covered at high speeds, and player load) ML, and ML differentiated ratings of perceived respiratory (sRPEres) and leg-muscle (sRPEmus) exertion. Internal and external ML were all greater for FRs than for ARs (–19.7 to –72.5), with differences ranging from very likely very large to most likely extremely large. The relationships between internal-ML and external-ML indicators were, in most cases, unclear for FR (r < .35) and small to moderate for AR (r < .40). The authors found substantial differences between RPEres and RPEmus scores in both FRs (0.6 AU; ±90% confidence limits 0.4 AU) and ARs (0.4; ±0.3). These data demonstrate the multifaceted demands of soccer refereeing and thereby highlight the importance of monitoring both internal and external ML. Moreover, dRPE represents distinct dimensions of effort and may be useful in monitoring soccer referees’ ML during official matches.

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Matthew Weston, Angela E. Hibbs, Kevin G. Thompson and Iain R. Spears

Purpose:

To quantify the effects of a 12-wk isolated core-training program on 50-m front-crawl swim time and measures of core musculature functionally relevant to swimming.

Methods:

Twenty national-level junior swimmers (10 male and 10 female, 16 ± 1 y, 171 ± 5 cm, 63 ± 4 kg) participated in the study. Group allocation (intervention [n = 10], control [n = 10]) was based on 2 preexisting swim-training groups who were part of the same swimming club but trained in different groups. The intervention group completed the core training, incorporating exercises targeting the lumbopelvic complex and upper region extending to the scapula, 3 times/wk for 12 wk. While the training was performed in addition to the normal pool-based swimming program, the control group maintained their usual pool-based swimming program. The authors made probabilistic magnitude-based inferences about the effect of the core training on 50-m swim time and functionally relevant measures of core function.

Results:

Compared with the control group, the core-training intervention group had a possibly large beneficial effect on 50-m swim time (–2.0%; 90% confidence interval –3.8 to –0.2%). Moreover, it showed small to moderate improvements on a timed prone-bridge test (9.0%; 2.1–16.4%) and asymmetric straight-arm pull-down test (23.1%; 13.7–33.4%), and there were moderate to large increases in peak EMG activity of core musculature during isolated tests of maximal voluntary contraction.

Conclusion:

This is the first study to demonstrate a clear beneficial effect of isolated core training on 50-m front-crawl swim performance.

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Matthew Weston, Warren Gregson, Carlo Castagna, Simon Breivik, Franco M. Impellizzeri and Ric J. Lovell

Athlete case studies have often focused on the training outcome and not the training process. Consequently, there is a dearth of information detailing longitudinal training protocols, yet it is the combined assessment of both outcome and process that enhances the interpretation of physical test data. We were provided with a unique opportunity to assess the training load, physical match performance, and physiological fitness of an elite soccer referee from the referee’s final season before attaining full-time, professional status (2002) until the season when he refereed the 2010 UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup finals. An increased focus on on-field speed and gym-based strength training was observed toward the end of the study period and longitudinal match data showed a tendency for decreased total distances but an increased intensity of movements. Laboratory assessments demonstrated that VO2max remained stable (52.3 vs 50.8 mL-kg–1-min–1), whereas running speed at the lactate threshold (14.0 vs 12.0 km-h-1) and running economy (37.3 vs 43.4 mLkg–1min–1) both improved in 2010 compared with 2002.

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Emma Weston, Matthew Nagy, Tiwaloluwa A. Ajibewa, Molly O’Sullivan, Shannon Block and Rebecca E. Hasson

Purpose: To compare the acute effects of intermittent physical activity (PA) across 4 different intensities on blood pressure. Methods: Thirty children (12 males and 18 females; aged 7–11 y; 33% overweight/obese; 53% nonwhite) completed 4 experimental conditions in random order: 8 hours sitting interrupted with 20, 2-minute low-, moderate-, high-intensity PA breaks, or sedentary screen-time breaks. PA intensity corresponded with 25%, 50%, and 75% of heart rate reserve. Blood pressure was measured during each condition in the morning (0800 h), noon (1200 h), and afternoon (1600 h). Results: There were no significant differences across conditions for systolic blood pressure (SBP; all Ps > .05). There was a significant effect of time with SBP decreasing throughout the day for all conditions (average morning SBP: 106 [1] mm Hg, average noon SBP: 101 [2] mm Hg, average afternoon SBP: 103 [1] mm Hg; P = .01). There were no significant effects of condition or time on diastolic blood pressure (all Ps > .05). Conclusion: While sedentary behavior is known to be associated with hypertension in both adults and children, a single bout of prolonged sitting may be insufficient to produce hypertensive effects in otherwise healthy children. Future research should examine the appropriate dose of intermittent PA to accrue hypotensive responses in preadolescent children.

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Matthew Weston, Alan M. Batterham, Carlo Castagna, Matthew D. Portas, Christopher Barnes, Jamie Harley and Ric J. Lovell

Purpose:

Soccer referees’ physical match performances at the start of the second half (46–60 min) were evaluated in relation to both the corresponding phase of the first half (0–15 min) and players’ performances during the same match periods.

Methods:

Match analysis data were collected (Prozone, UK) from 12 soccer referees on 152 English Premier League matches during the 2008/09 soccer season. Physical match performance categories for referees and players were total distance, high-speed running distance (speed >5.5 m/s), and sprinting distance (>7.0 m/s). The referees’ heart rate was recorded from the start of their warm-up to the end of the match. The referees’ average distances (in meters) from the ball and fouls were also calculated.

Results:

No substantial differences were observed in duration (16:42 ± 2:35 vs 16:27 ± 1:00 min) or intensity (107 ± 11 vs 106 ± 14 beats/min) of the referees’ preparation periods immediately before each half. Physical match performance was reduced during the initial phase of the second half when compared with the first half in both referees (effect sizes—standardized mean differences—0.19 to 0.73) and players (effect sizes 0.20 to 1.01). The degree of the decreased performance was consistent between referees and players for total distance (4.7 m), high-speed running (1.5 m), and sprinting (1.1 m). The referees were closer to the ball (effect size 0.52) during the opening phase the second half.

Conclusion:

Given the similarity in the referees’ preparation periods, it may be that the reduced physical match performances observed in soccer referees during the opening stages of the second half are a consequence of a slower tempo of play.

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Farhan Juhari, Dean Ritchie, Fergus O’Connor, Nathan Pitchford, Matthew Weston, Heidi R. Thornton and Jonathan D. Bartlett

Context: Team-sport training requires the daily manipulation of intensity, duration, and frequency, with preseason training focusing on meeting the demands of in-season competition and training on maintaining fitness. Purpose: To provide information about daily training in Australian football (AF), this study aimed to quantify session intensity, duration, and intensity distribution across different stages of an entire season. Methods: Intensity (session ratings of perceived exertion; CR-10 scale) and duration were collected from 45 professional male AF players for every training session and game. Each session’s rating of perceived exertion was categorized into a corresponding intensity zone, low (<4.0 arbitrary units), moderate (≥4.0 and <7.0), and high (≥7.0), to categorize session intensity. Linear mixed models were constructed to estimate session duration, intensity, and distribution between the 3 preseason and 4 in-season periods. Effects were assessed using linear mixed models and magnitude-based inferences. Results: The distribution of the mean session intensity across the season was 29% low intensity, 57% moderate intensity, and 14% high intensity. While 96% of games were high intensity, 44% and 49% of skills training sessions were low intensity and moderate intensity, respectively. Running had the highest proportion of high-intensity training sessions (27%). Preseason displayed higher training-session intensity (effect size [ES] = 0.29–0.91) and duration (ES = 0.33–1.44), while in-season game intensity (ES = 0.31–0.51) and duration (ES = 0.51–0.82) were higher. Conclusions: By using a cost-effective monitoring tool, this study provides information about the intensity, duration, and intensity distribution of all training types across different phases of a season, thus allowing a greater understanding of the training and competition demands of Australian footballers.