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Daniel G. Baker and Robert U. Newton

Purpose:

To examine the upper body strength, speed, power, and strength-endurance of rugby-league players of different ranks. These data could provide information pertinent to the importance of these factors for different grades of rugby league and for positional groups in those different grades.

Methods:

Sixty rugby-league players, 20 participants each in the elite, national first-division league (NRL), state-based second-division league (SRL), and intracity third-division league (CRL), served as subjects. Maximal upper body strength, power, speed, and muscle endurance were assessed using the bench-press exercise.

Results:

The NRL players were significantly stronger (141.4 ± 15.4 kg) than SRL (126.6 ± 13.1 kg, ES = 1.033) and CRL (108.1 kg ± 11.6, ES = 2.458) and more powerful (NRL = 680 ± 99 W) than SRL (591 ± 72 W, ES = 1.037) and CRL players (521 ± 71 W, ES = 1.867). The differences in speed (NRL = 345 ± 31 W, SRL = 319 ± 29 W, CRL = 303 ± 29 W; ES = 0.884 and 1.409, respectively) and strength-endurance (NRL = 36 ± 7 reps, SRL = 32 reps ± 7, CRL = 24 ± 5 reps; ES = 0.521 and 1.984, respectively) were not as pronounced.

Conclusions:

Of the tests undertaken, maximal strength best describes players who attain NRL ranking. Maximum power and strength-endurance were also strong descriptors of attainment of NRL level. Upper body speed appears less likely to strongly discriminate between players who attain NRL level and those who do not. These results tended to hold true across the different team positional groupings.

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Stuart J. Cormack, Robert U. Newton and Michael R. McGuigan

Purpose:

To examine the acute and short-term responses of variables obtained during a single countermovement jump (CMJ1); repeated countermovement jump involving 5 consecutive efforts without a pause (CMJ5); and cortisol, testosterone, and testos-terone-to-cortisol ratio (T:C) to an elite Australian Rules Football (ARF) match with a view to determining which variables may be most useful for ongoing monitoring.

Methods:

Twenty-two elite ARF players participating in a preseason cup match performed a CMJ1 and a CMJ5 and provided saliva samples 48 h before the match (48pre), prematch (Pre), postmatch, 24 h post (24post), 72 h post (72post), 96 h post (96post), and 120 h post (120post). The magnitude of change in variables at each time point compared with Pre and 48pre was analyzed using the effect size (ES) statistic.

Results:

A substantial decrement in the pre- to postmatch comparison occurred in the ratio of CMJ1 Flight time:Contraction time (ES −0.65 ± 0.28). Cortisol (ES 2.34 ± 1.06) and T:C (ES −0.52 ± 0.42) displayed large pre- to postmatch changes. The response of countermovement variables at 24post and beyond compared with pre-match and 48pre was varied, with only CMJ1 Flight time:Contraction time displaying a substantial decrease (ES −0.32 ± 0.26) postmatch compared with 48pre. Cortisol displayed a clear pattern of response with substantial elevations up to 24post compared with Pre and 48pre.

Conclusion:

CMJ1 Flight time:Contraction time appears to be the most useful variable for monitoring neuromuscular status in elite ARF players due to its substantial change compared with 48pre and prematch. Monitoring cortisol, due to its predictable pattern of response, may provide a useful measure of hormonal status.

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Daniel A. Galvão, Robert U. Newton and Dennis R. Taaffe

Resistance training has been shown to be the most effective exercise mode to induce anabolic adaptations in older men and women. Advances in imaging techniques and histochemistry have increased the ability to detect such changes, confirming the high level of adaptability that remains in aging skeletal muscle. This brief review presents a summary of the resistance-training studies that directly compare chronic anabolic responses to training in older (>60 years) men and women. Sixteen studies are summarized, most of which indicate similar relative anabolic responses between older men and women after resistance training. Relatively small sample sizes in most of the interventions limited their ability to detect significant sex differences and should be considered when interpreting these studies. Future research should incorporate larger sample sizes with multiple measurement time points for anabolic responses.

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Ecosse L. Lamoureux, Aron Murphy, Anthony Sparrow and Robert U. Newton

This study examined the effects of improved strength on an obstacle course (OC) simulating gait tasks commonly encountered by community-living older adults. Forty-five adults (mean age 68.2 ± 1.5 years) were randomly assigned to a control (10 women, 5 men) or an experimental group (EXP; 19 women, 10 men) and trained 3 days/week for 12 weeks. Using a 1-repetition-maximum (1-RM) method, 6 leg-strength measures were evaluated pre- and posttest. The times to walk an OC of 4 gait tasks (stepping over and across an obstacle, negotiating a raised surface, and foot targeting) set at 3 progressively challenging levels were also assessed. Significant Group × Time interactions were found on all 1-RM tests, with only EXP recording significant improvements (124–147%; p < .001). Strength gains in EXP were accompanied by significant improvements in the times to negotiate all gait stations and walk the entire OC (6-15%; p = .001–.014). This study showed that improving strength is an effective strategy to improve community locomotion, which might decrease the risks of falls in community-living older adults.

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Kieran P. Young, G. Gregory Haff, Robert U. Newton, Tim J. Gabbett and Jeremy M. Sheppard

Purpose:

To evaluate whether the dynamic strength index (DSI: ballistic peak force/isometric peak force) could be effectively used to guide specific training interventions and detect training-induced changes in maximal and ballistic strength.

Methods:

Twenty-four elite male athletes were assessed in the isometric bench press and a 45% 1-repetition-maximum (1RM) ballistic bench throw using a force plate and linear position transducer. The DSI was calculated using the peak force values obtained during the ballistic bench throw and isometric bench press. Athletes were then allocated into 2 groups as matched pairs based on their DSI and strength in the 1RM bench press. Over the 5 wk of training, athletes performed either high-load (80–100% 1RM) bench press or moderate-load (40–55% 1RM) ballistic bench throws.

Results:

The DSI was sensitive to disparate training methods, with the bench-press group increasing isometric bench-press peak force (P = .035, 91% likely), and the ballistic-bench-throw group increasing bench-throw peak force to a greater extent (P ≤ .001, 83% likely). A significant increase (P ≤ .001, 93% likely) in the DSI was observed for both groups.

Conclusions:

The DSI can be used to guide specific training interventions and can detect training-induced changes in isometric bench-press and ballistic bench-throw peak force over periods as short as 5 wk.

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Stuart J. Cormack, Robert U. Newton, Michael R. McGuigan and Prue Cormie

Purpose:

To examine variations in neuromuscular and hormonal status and their relationship to performance throughout a season of elite Australian Rules Football (ARF).

Methods:

Fifteen elite ARF players performed a single jump (CMJ1) and 5 repeated countermovement jumps (CMJ5), and provided saliva samples for the analysis of cortisol (C) and testosterone (T) before the season commenced (Pre) and during the 22-match season. Magnitudes of effects were reported with the effect size (ES) statistic. Correlations were performed to analyze relationships between assessment variables and match time, training load, and performance.

Results:

CMJ1Flight time:Contraction time was substantially reduced on 60% of measurement occasions. Magnitudes of change compared with Pre ranged from 1.0 ± 7.4% (ES 0.04 ± 0.29) to −17.1 ± 21.8% (ES −0.77 ± 0.81). Cortisol was substantially lower (up to −40 ± 14.1%, ES of −2.17 ± 0.56) than Pre in all but one comparison. Testosterone response was varied, whereas T:C increased substantially on 70% of occasions, with increases to 92.7 ± 27.8% (ES 2.03 ± 0.76). CMJ1Flight time:Contraction time (r = .24 ± 0.13) and C displayed (r = −0.16 ± 0.1) small correlations with performance.

Conclusion:

The response of CMJ1Flight time:Contraction time suggests periods of neuromuscular fatigue. Change in T:C indicates subjects were unlikely to have been in a catabolic state during the season. Increase in C compared with Pre had a small negative correlation with performance. Both CMJ1Flight time:Contraction time and C may be useful variables for monitoring responses to training and competition in elite ARF athletes.

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Stuart J. Cormack, Robert U. Newton, Michael R. McGuigan and Tim L.A. Doyle

Purpose:

To establish the reliability of various measures obtained during single and repeated countermovement jump (CMJ) performance in an elite athlete population.

Methods:

Two studies, each involving 15 elite Australian Rules Football (ARF) players were conducted where subjects performed two days, separated by one week, of AM and PM trials of either a single (CMJ1) or 5 repeated CMJ (CMJ5). Each trial was conducted on a portable force-plate. The intraday, interday, and overall typical error (TE) and coefficient of variation (CV%) were calculated for numerous variables in each jump type.

Results:

A number of CMJ1 and CMJ5 variables displayed high intraday, interday, and overall reliability. In the CMJ1 condition, mean force (CV 1.08%) was the most reliable variable. In the CMJ5, fight time and relative mean force displayed the highest repeatability with CV of 1.88% and 1.57% respectively. CMJ1Mean force was the only variable with an overall TE < smallest worthwhile change (SWC).

Conclusion:

Selected variables obtained during CMJ1 and CMJ5 performance can be used to assess the impact of both acute and chronic training and competition. Variables derived from the CMJ5 may respond differently than their CMJ1 counterparts and should provide insights into differential mechanisms of response and adaptation.

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Rajni Rai, Michelle I. Jongenelis, Ben Jackson, Robert U. Newton and Simone Pettigrew

According to ecological models of behavior, the physical environment can influence physical activity engagement by a series of mediating and moderating processes. This study tested such a model to identify factors relevant to older adults’ engagement in moderate–vigorous physical activity. Sociodemographic, psychological, physical, and environmental factors were assessed in 432 Western Australians aged 60 and older. Moderate–vigorous physical activity was measured objectively using accelerometers. No environmental variables were related to engagement in moderate–vigorous physical activity either directly or indirectly. However, various individual-level factors were significant, indicating that these may be more important than environmental factors in locations such as Australia that have generally conducive environments and ambient conditions.

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Aron J. Murphy, Greg J. Wilson, John F. Pryor and Robert U. Newton

The purpose of this investigation was to determine the relationship between isometric measures of muscular function at two different joint angles and dynamic performance. Thirteen experienced weight trainers performed two isometric tests in a bench press position, at elbow angles of 90 and 120°. Performance was assessed by a one repetition maximum (1-RM) bench press and a series of upper body bench press throws at loads of 15, 30, and 60% of the 1-RM load. The results clearly show that changing the joint angle from 120 to 90° improved the relationship between most of the tests and performance by more than 100%, possibly due to differences in motor unit recruitment patterns and differing muscle mechanics (e.g., length-tension), at varying joint angles. It was suggested that the best angle at which to assess isometric function may be the joint angle at which peak force is developed in the performance of interest.

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Robert U. Newton, William J. Kraemer, Keijo Häkkinen, Brendan J. Humphries and Aron J. Murphy

The aim of this study was to investigate the kinematics, kinetics, and neural activation of the traditional bench press movement performed explosively and the explosive bench throw in which the barbell was projected from the hands. Seventeen male subjects completed three trials with a bar weight of 45% of the subject's previously determined 1RM. Performance was significantly higher during the throw movement compared to the press for average velocity, peak velocity, average force, average power, and peak power. Average muscle activity during the concentric phase for pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, triceps brachii, and biceps brachii was higher for the throw condition. It was concluded that performing traditional press movements rapidly with light loads does not create ideal loading conditions for the neuromuscular system with regard to explosive strength production, especially in the final stages of the movement, because ballistic weight loading conditions where the resistance was accelerated throughout the movement resulted in a greater velocity of movement, force output, and EMG activity.