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  • Author: Romuald Lepers x
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Hervé Assadi and Romuald Lepers

Purposes:

To compare the physiological responses and maximal aerobic running velocity (MAV) during an incremental intermittent (45-s run/15-s rest) field test (45-15FIT) vs an incremental continuous treadmill test (TR) and to demonstrate that the MAV obtained during 45-15FIT (MAV45-15) was relevant to elicit a high percentage of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) during a 30-s/30-s intermittent training session.

Methods:

Oxygen uptake (VO2), heart rate (HR), and lactate concentration ([La]) were measured in 20 subjects during 2 maximal incremental tests and four 15-min intermittent tests. The time spent above 90% and 95% VO2max (t90% and t95% VO2max, respectively) was determined.

Results:

Maximal physiological parameters were similar during the 45-15FIT and TR tests (VO2max 58.6 ± 5.9 mL · kg−1 · min−1 for TR vs 58.5 ± 7.0 mL · kg−1 · min−1 for 45-15FIT; HRmax 200 ± 8 beats/min for TR vs 201 ± 7 beats/min for 45-15FIT). MAV45-15 was significantly (P < .001) greater than MAVTR (17.7 ± 1.1 vs 15.6 ± 1.4 km/h). t90% and t95% VO2max during the 30-s/30-s performed at MAVTR were significantly (P < .01) lower than during the 30-s/30-s performed at MAV45-15. Similar VO2 during intermittent tests performed at MAV45-15 and at MAVTR can be obtained by reducing the recovery time or using active recovery.

Conclusions:

The results suggested that the 45-15FIT is an accurate field test to determine VO2max and that MAV45-15 can be used during high-intensity intermittent training such as 30-s runs interspersed with 30-s rests (30-s/30-s) to elicit a high percentage of VO2max.

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Romuald Lepers, Paul J. Stapley and Thomas Cattagni

Background: Age-related declines in sport performance are characteristic of all endurance and sprinting disciplines. However, it is not known if the mode of locomotion (ie, swimming, cycling or running) influences the age-related decline in sport performance in sprinting and endurance events. Methods: To examine the age-related decline in 3 different modes of locomotion (ie, swimming, cycling, and running) for endurance and sprint events, the world-best performances achieved for men in the age groups 18–39, 40–44, 45–49, 50–54, 55–59, 60–64, 65–69, 70–74, 75–79, and 80–84 y were compared in swimming (1500 and 50 m), cycling (1 h and 200 m), and running (10 and 100 m). Each performance was considered as an average speed (throughout the distance), and the age-related decline in performance was expressed as a percentage of the world record (regardless of age group) for that discipline. Results: The age-related decline in 1-h track cycling is less pronounced than in 1500-m swimming and 10-km running after 60 y. In contrast, the age-related decline was similar among the 3 locomotion modes for the sprinting events. Conclusion: The data show that the maintenance of high performance in cycling persists longer into old age than in running and swimming.

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Benjamin Pageaux, Jean Theurel and Romuald Lepers

Purpose: To describe the effects of uphill walking versus cycling exercises on knee-extensor (KE) neuromuscular properties and subsequent running exercise. Methods: Nine athletes performed 4 different sessions (1 familiarization and 3 experimental sessions, visit 2–4). Visit 2 (cycling +10-km condition) consisted of the completion of 1-h cycling followed by a 10-km running time trial. Visit 3 consisted of the completion of 1-h uphill walking followed by a 10-km running exercise (RE). During the fourth visit, athletes only ran 10 km. Visits 3 and 4 were randomized. The uphill walking and cycling exercises were performed at the same intensity, and pacing of the RE was similar between conditions. Neuromuscular function of the KE was assessed before warm-up, after first exercise, and after RE. Heart rate and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded during all exercises. Results: RPE during RE was greater following the 1-h cycling and uphill walking exercises than during RE alone. KE force (−21%), twitch torque (−20%), doublet torque (−16%), and twitch rate of force development (−13%) significantly decreased following cycling exercise and not after uphill walking exercise. Postactivation potentiation was observed after uphill walking and RE. KE force-production capacity partially recovered after running in the cycling +10-km condition. Conclusion: Uphill walking and running induced postactivation potentiation, limiting the decrease in KE force postexercise. Despite different alterations in force-production capacity induced by cycling and uphill walking, both exercises increased perception of effort during the subsequent RE.

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Thomas Cattagni, Vincent Gremeaux and Romuald Lepers

Purpose: To examine the cardiorespiratory, muscular, and skeletal characteristics of an 83-year-old champion female master athlete (called DL in this study) who had set multiple world running records in the 80-to-84-year-old age group. Methods: Measures of maximal oxygen uptake, maximal heart rate, maximal isometric torque for knee extensor muscles, thigh and triceps surae muscle volumes, and bone mineral density (BMD) of the proximal femur region were evaluated. Based on previously published equations, physiological age was determined for maximal oxygen uptake, maximal heart rate, and maximal isometric torque. Muscle volumes for the dominant leg were compared with previously published sex- and age-matched data using z scores. For BMD, T score and z score were calculated. Results: DL had the highest maximal oxygen uptake (42.3 mL·min−1·kg−1) ever observed for a female older than 80 years of age, which gave her a remarkable physiological age (27 y). By contrast, she had a physiological age closer to her biological age for maximal isometric torque (90 y) and maximal heart rate (74 y). The z scores for thigh (0.4) and triceps surae (1.1) muscle volumes revealed that DL’s leg muscles were affected almost as much as her sex- and age-matched peers. The T score (−1.7) for BMD showed that DL had osteopenia but no osteoporosis, and the z score (0.7) showed that DL’s BMD was similar to that of females of the same age. Conclusion: This single case study shows that the remarkable cardiorespiratory fitness coupled with intensive endurance training observed in a female master athlete was not associated with specific preservation of her muscular and skeletal characteristics.

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Beat Knechtle, Thomas Rosemann, Romuald Lepers and Christoph Alexander Rüst

Purpose:

Recent studies suggested that women’s and men’s ultraswim performances may be similar for distances of ~35 km. The current study investigated both the gender difference and the age of peak ultraswim performance between 1983 and 2013 at the 46-km Manhattan Island Marathon Swim with water temperatures <20°C.

Methods:

Changes in race times and gender difference in 551 male and 237 female finishers were investigated using linear-, nonlinear-, and hierarchical multilevel-regression analyses.

Results:

The top 10 race times ever were significantly (P < .0001) lower for women (371 ± 11 min) than for men (424 ± 9 min). Race times of the annual fastest and annual 3 fastest women and men did not differ between genders and remained stable across years. The age of the annual 3 fastest swimmers increased from 28 ± 4 y (1983) to 38 ± 6 y (2013; r 2 = .06, P = .03) in women and from 23 ± 4 y (1984) to 42 ± 8 y (2013; r 2 = .19, P < .0001) in men.

Conclusions:

The best women were ~12–14% faster than the best men in a 46-km open-water ultradistance race with temperatures <20°C. The maturity of ultradistance swimmers has changed during the last decades, with the fastest swimmers becoming older across the years.

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Christoph Alexander Rüst, Beat Knechtle, Thomas Rosemann and Romuald Lepers

Purpose:

The sex difference in ultraendurance performance has been investigated in swimmers, runners, and triathletes but not in cyclists. The purpose of this study was to examine the sex difference in the longest ultracycling race in the world, the Race Across America (RAAM).

Methods:

Cycling speed of female and male finishers in the RAAM between 1982 and 2012 was compared.

Results:

A total of 452 athletes including 404 men (89.4%) and 48 women (10.6%) finished. Mean cycling speed was 19.4 ± 2.0 km/h for men and 17.5 ± 2.0 km/h for women. Men were riding 1.9 ± 2.0 km/h (10.9%) faster than women. The fastest cycling speed ever was 24.77 km/h for men and 21.27 km/h for women, with a sex difference of 14.2%. Between 1982 and 2012, cycling speed was 22.7 ± 1.1 km/h for the annual fastest men and 18.4 ± 1.6 km/h for the annual fastest women, with an unchanged sex difference of 19.4% ± 7.3% (P > .05). For the annual top 3 men, cycling speed was 21.8 ± 0.9 km/h with no change across years (P > .05). The annual top 3 women achieved a cycling speed of 16.6 ± 1.0 km/h with no change over time (P > .05). The sex difference of 24.6% ± 3.0% showed no change across years (P > .05).

Conclusions:

In the last 30 y, men crossed America faster than women, and it seems unlikely that women will overtop men in the near future in the RAAM. However, the sex difference was only 14–15% among top competitors. Future studies need to analyze anthropometric, psychological, and physiological characteristics of successful female and male ultracyclists.