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Rebecca Robertson, Laura St. Germain and Diane M. Ste-Marie

In this experiment, we examined whether self-observation, via video replay, coupled with the viewing of a skilled model was better for motor skill learning than the use of self-observation alone. Twenty-one female gymnasts participated in a within design experiment in which two gymnastics skills were learned. One skill was practiced in conjunction with the self-observation/skilled model pairing and the other with only self-observation. The experiment unfolded over five sessions in which pre-test, baseline, acquisition, retention, and post-test scores were obtained. Analysis of the physical performance scores revealed a significant Condition ×Session interaction in which it was shown that there were no differences between the intervention conditions at baseline and early in acquisition; but, later in acquisition, those skills practiced with the self-observation/skilled model pairing were executed significantly better than those with only self-observation. Also, an error identification test showed that participants had significantly higher response sensitivity scores for those skills learned with the paired intervention compared to self-observation alone. These results suggest that pairing self-observation with a skilled model is better in a gymnastic setting than self-observation alone.

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Clint R. Bellenger, Laura Karavirta, Rebecca L. Thomson, Eileen Y. Robertson, Kade Davison and Jonathan D. Buckley

Purpose:

Heart-rate variability (HRV) as a measure of autonomic function may increase in response to training interventions leading to increases or decreases in performance, making HRV interpretation difficult in isolation. This study aimed to contextualize changes in HRV with subjective measures of training tolerance.

Methods:

Supine and standing measures of vagally mediated HRV (root-mean-square difference of successive normal RR intervals [RMSSD]) and measures of training tolerance (Daily Analysis of Life Demands for Athletes questionnaire, perception of energy levels, fatigue, and muscle soreness) were recorded daily during 1 wk of light training (LT), 2 wk of heavy training (HT), and 10 d of tapering (T) in 15 male runners/triathletes. HRV and training tolerance were analyzed as rolling 7-d averages at LT, HT, and T. Performance was assessed after LT, HT, and T with a 5-km treadmill time trial (5TTT).

Results:

Time to complete the 5TTT likely increased after HT (effect size [ES] ± 90% confidence interval = 0.16 ± 0.06) and then almost certainly decreased after T (ES = −0.34 ± 0.08). Training tolerance worsened after HT (ES ≥ 1.30 ± 0.41) and improved after T (ES ≥ 1.27 ± 0.49). Standing RMSSD very likely increased after HT (ES = 0.62 ± 0.26) and likely remained higher than LT at the completion of T (ES = 0.38 ± 0.21). Changes in supine RMSSD were possible or likely trivial.

Conclusion:

Vagally mediated HRV during standing increased in response to functional overreaching (indicating potential parasympathetic hyperactivity) and also to improvements in performance. Thus, additional measures such as training tolerance are required to interpret changes in vagally mediated HRV.

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Joel T. Fuller, Clint R. Bellenger, Dominic Thewlis, John Arnold, Rebecca L. Thomson, Margarita D. Tsiros, Eileen Y. Robertson and Jonathan D. Buckley

Purpose:

Stride-to-stride fluctuations in running-stride interval display long-range correlations that break down in the presence of fatigue accumulated during an exhaustive run. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether long-range correlations in running-stride interval were reduced by fatigue accumulated during prolonged exposure to a high training load (functional overreaching) and were associated with decrements in performance caused by functional overreaching.

Methods:

Ten trained male runners completed 7 d of light training (LT7), 14 d of heavy training (HT14) designed to induce a state of functional overreaching, and 10 d of light training (LT10) in a fixed order. Running-stride intervals and 5-km time-trial (5TT) performance were assessed after each training phase. The strength of long-range correlations in running-stride interval was assessed at 3 speeds (8, 10.5, and 13 km/h) using detrended fluctuation analysis.

Results:

Relative to performance post-LT7, time to complete the 5TT was increased after HT14 (+18 s; P < .05) and decreased after LT10 (–20 s; P = .03), but stride-interval long-range correlations remained unchanged at HT14 and LT10 (P > .50). Changes in stride-interval long-range correlations measured at a 10.5-km/h running speed were negatively associated with changes in 5TT performance (r –.46; P = .03).

Conclusions:

Runners who were most affected by the prolonged exposure to high training load (as evidenced by greater reductions in 5TT performance) experienced the greatest reductions in stride-interval long-range correlations. Measurement of stride-interval long-range correlations may be useful for monitoring the effect of high training loads on athlete performance.