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Nick Dobbin, Jamie Highton, Samantha L. Moss and Craig Twist

Purpose: To determine the utility of running-only and rugby-specific, in-season sprint interval interventions in professional rugby league players. Methods: Thirty-one professional academy rugby players were assigned to a rugby-specific (SITr/s, n = 16) or running-only (SITr, n = 15) sprint interval training group. Measures of speed, power, change of direction ability, prone Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test (Yo-Yo IR1) performance, and heart rate recovery were taken before and after the 2-week intervention as were submaximal responses to the prone Yo-Yo IR1. Internal, external, and perceptual responses were collected during SITr/s and SITr, with well-being and neuromuscular function assessed before each session. Results: Despite contrasting (possible to most likely) internal, external, and perceptual responses to the SIT interventions, possible to most likely within-group improvements in physical characteristics, heart rate recovery, and submaximal responses to the prone Yo-Yo IR1 were observed after both interventions. Between-group analysis favored the SITr/s intervention (trivial to moderate) for changes in 10-m sprint time, countermovement jump, change of direction, and medicine ball throw as well as submaximal (280–440 m) high metabolic power, PlayerLoad, and acceleration distance during the prone Yo-Yo IR1. Overall changes in well-being or neuromuscular function were unclear. Conclusions: Two weeks of SITr/s and SITr were effective for improving physical characteristics, heart rate recovery, and submaximal responses to the prone Yo-Yo IR1, with no clear change in well-being and neuromuscular function. Between-group analysis favored the SITr/s group, suggesting that the inclusion of sport-specific actions should be considered for in-season conditioning of rugby league players.

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Nick Dobbin, Jamie Highton, Samantha L. Moss and Craig Twist

Purpose: To assess whether a standardized testing battery can differentiate anthropometric and physical qualities between youth, academy, and senior rugby league players and determine the discriminant validity of the battery. Methods: A total of 729 rugby league players from multiple clubs in England categorized as youth (n = 235), academy (n = 362), and senior (n = 132) players completed a standardized testing battery that included the assessment of anthropometric and physical characteristics during preseason. Data were analyzed using magnitude-based inferences and discriminant analysis. Results: Academy players were most likely taller and heavier than youth players (effect size [ES] = 0.64–1.21), with possibly to most likely superior countermovement jump, medicine-ball throw, and prone Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (Yo-Yo IR1) performance (ES = 0.23–1.00). Senior players were likely to most likely taller and heavier (ES = 0.32–1.84), with possibly to most likely superior 10- and 20-m sprint times, countermovement jump, change of direction, medicine-ball throw, and prone Yo-Yo IR1 than youth and academy players (ES = −0.60 to 2.06). The magnitude of difference appeared to be influenced by playing position. For the most part, the battery possessed discriminant validity with an accuracy of 72.2%. Conclusion: The standardized testing battery differentiates anthropometric and physical qualities of youth, academy, and senior players as a group and, in most instances, within positional groups. Furthermore, the battery is able to discriminate between playing standards with good accuracy and might be included in future assessments and rugby league talent identification.

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Nura Alwan, Samantha L. Moss, Kirsty J. Elliott-Sale, Ian G. Davies and Kevin Enright

Physique competitions are events in which aesthetic appearance and posing ability are valued above physical performance. Female physique athletes are required to possess high lean body mass and extremely low fat mass in competition. As such, extended periods of reduced energy intake and intensive training regimens are used with acute weight loss practices at the end of the precompetition phase. This represents an increased risk for chronic low energy availability and associated symptoms of relative energy deficiency in sport, compromising both psychological and physiological health. Available literature suggests that a large proportion of female physique athletes report menstrual irregularities (e.g., amenorrhea and oligomenorrhea), which are unlikely to normalize immediately postcompetition. Furthermore, the tendency to reduce intakes of numerous essential micronutrients is prominent among those using restrictive eating patterns. Following competition, reduced resting metabolic rate, and hyperphagia, is also a concern for these female athletes, which can result in frequent weight cycling, distorted body image, and disordered eating/eating disorders. Overall, female physique athletes are an understudied population, and the need for more robust studies to detect low energy availability and associated health effects is warranted. This narrative review aims to define the natural female physique athlete, explore some of the physiological and psychological implications of weight management practices experienced by female physique athletes, and propose future research directions.