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Ina Garthe, Truls Raastad and Jorunn Sundgot-Borgen

Context:

When weight loss (WL) is needed, it is recommended that athletes do it gradually by 0.5–1 kg/wk through moderate energy restriction. However, the effect of WL rate on long-term changes in body composition (BC) and performance has not been investigated in elite athletes.

Purpose:

To compare changes in body mass (BM), fat mass (FM), lean body mass (LBM), and performance 6 and 12 mo after 2 different WL interventions promoting loss of 0.7% vs. 1.4% of body weight per wk in elite athletes.

Methods:

Twenty-three athletes completed 6- and 12-mo postintervention testing (slow rate [SR] n = 14, 23.5 ± 3.3 yr, 72.2 ± 12.2 kg; fast rate [FR] n = 9, 21.4 ± 4.0 yr, 71.6 ± 12.0 kg). The athletes had individualized diet plans promoting the predetermined weekly WL during intervention, and 4 strength-training sessions per wk were included. BM, BC, and strength (1-repetition maximum) were tested at baseline, postintervention, and 6 and 12 mo after the intervention.

Results:

BM decreased by ~6% in both groups during the intervention but was not different from baseline values after 12 mo. FM decreased in SR and FR during the intervention by 31% ± 3% vs. 23% ± 4%, respectively, but was not different from baseline after 12 mo. LBM and upper body strength increased more in SR than in FR (2.0% ± 1.3% vs. 0.8% ± 1.1% and 12% ± 2% vs. 6% ± 2%) during the intervention, but after 12 mo there were no significant differences between groups in BC or performance.

Conclusion:

There were no significant differences between groups after 12 mo, suggesting that WL rate is not the most important factor in maintaining BC and performance after WL in elite athletes.

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Ernst A. Hansen, Bent R. Rønnestad, Geir Vegge and Truls Raastad

The authors tested whether heavy strength training, including hip-flexion exercise, would reduce the extent of the phase in the crank revolution where negative or retarding crank torque occurs. Negative torque normally occurs in the upstroke phase when the leg is lifted by flexing the hip. Eighteen well-trained cyclists either performed 12 wk of heavy strength training in addition to their usual endurance training (E+S; n = 10) or merely continued their usual endurance training during the intervention period (E; n = 8). The strength training consisted of 4 lower body exercises (3 × 4–10 repetition maximum) performed twice a week. E+S enhanced cycling performance by 7%, which was more than in E (P = .02). Performance was determined as average power output in a 5-min all-out trial performed subsequent to 185 min of submaximal cycling. The performance enhancement, which has been reported previously, was here shown to be accompanied by improved pedaling efficacy during the all-out cycling. Thus, E+S shortened the phase where negative crank torque occurs by ~16°, corresponding to ~14%, which was more than in E (P = .002). In conclusion, adding heavy strength training to usual endurance training in well-trained cyclists improves pedaling efficacy during 5-min all-out cycling performed after 185 min of cycling.

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Live S. Luteberget, Truls Raastad, Olivier Seynnes and Matt Spencer

Fast acceleration is an important performance factor in handball. In addition to traditional sprint training (TST), resisted-sprint training (RST) is a method often used to improve acceleration. However, studies on RST show conflicting results, and underlying mechanisms have not been studied.

Purpose:

To compare the effects of RST, by sled towing, against TST on sprint performance and muscle architecture.

Methods:

Participants (n = 18) were assigned to either RST or TST and completed 2 training sessions of RST or TST per week (10 wk), in addition to their normal team training. Sprint tests (10 and 30 m) and measurements of muscle architecture were performed pre- and posttraining.

Results:

Beneficial effects were found in the 30-m-sprint test for both groups (mean; ±90% CL: TST = −0.31; ±0.19 s, RST = −0.16; ±0.13 s), with unclear differences between the groups. Only TST had a beneficial effect on 10-m time (−0.04; ±0.04 s), with a likely difference between the 2 groups (85%, ES = 0.60). Both groups had a decrease in pennation angle (−6.0; ±3.3% for TST and −2.8; ±2.0% for RST), which had a nearly perfect correlation with percentage change in 10-m-sprint performance (r = .92). A small increase in fascicle length (5.3; ±3.9% and 4.0; ±2.1% for TST and RST, respectively) was found, with unclear differences between groups.

Discussion:

TST appears to be more effective than RST in enhancing 10-m-sprint time. Both groups showed similar effects in 30-m-sprint time. A similar, yet small, effect of sprint training on muscle architecture was observed in both groups.

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Ina Garthe, Truls Raastad, Per Egil Refsnes, Anu Koivisto and Jorunn Sundgot-Borgen

When weight loss (WL) is necessary, athletes are advised to accomplish it gradually, at a rate of 0.5–1 kg/wk. However, it is possible that losing 0.5 kg/wk is better than 1 kg/wk in terms of preserving lean body mass (LBM) and performance. The aim of this study was to compare changes in body composition, strength, and power during a weekly body-weight (BW) loss of 0.7% slow reduction (SR) vs. 1.4% fast reduction (FR). We hypothesized that the faster WL regimen would result in more detrimental effects on both LBM and strength-related performance. Twenty-four athletes were randomized to SR (n = 13, 24 ± 3 yr, 71.9 ± 12.7 kg) or FR (n = 11, 22 ± 5 yr, 74.8 ± 11.7 kg). They followed energy-restricted diets promoting the predetermined weekly WL. All athletes included 4 resistance-training sessions/wk in their usual training regimen. The mean times spent in intervention for SR and FR were 8.5 ± 2.2 and 5.3 ± 0.9 wk, respectively (p < .001). BW, body composition (DEXA), 1-repetition-maximum (1RM) tests, 40-m sprint, and countermovement jump were measured before and after intervention. Energy intake was reduced by 19% ± 2% and 30% ± 4% in SR and FR, respectively (p = .003). BW and fat mass decreased in both SR and FR by 5.6% ± 0.8% and 5.5% ± 0.7% (0.7% ± 0.8% vs. 1.0% ± 0.4%/wk) and 31% ± 3% and 21 ± 4%, respectively. LBM increased in SR by 2.1% ± 0.4% (p < .001), whereas it was unchanged in FR (–0.2% ± 0.7%), with significant differences between groups (p < .01). In conclusion, data from this study suggest that athletes who want to gain LBM and increase 1RM strength during a WL period combined with strength training should aim for a weekly BW loss of 0.7%.

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Torstein E. Dæhlin, Ole C. Haugen, Simen Haugerud, Ivana Hollan, Truls Raastad and Bent R. Rønnestad

Background:

Combined plyometric and strength training has previously been suggested as a strategy to improve skating performance in ice hockey players. However, the effects of combined plyometric and strength training have not previously been compared with the effects of strength training only.

Purpose:

To compare the effects of combined plyometric and strength training on ice hockey players’ skating sprint performance with those of strength training only.

Methods:

Eighteen participants were randomly assigned to 2 groups that completed 5 strength-training sessions/wk for 8 wk. One group included plyometric exercises at the start of 3 sessions/wk (PLY+ST), and the other group included core exercises in the same sessions (ST). Tests of 10- and 35-m skating sprints, horizontal jumping, 1-repetition-maximum (1 RM) squat, skating multistage aerobic test (SMAT), maximal oxygen consumption, repeated cycle sprints, and body composition were performed before and after the intervention.

Results:

The participants increased their 1RM squat, lean mass, and body mass (P < .05), with no difference between the groups. Furthermore, they improved their 3×broad jump, repeated cycle sprint, and SMAT performance (P < .05), with no difference between the groups. PLY+ST gained a larger improvement in 10-m on-ice sprint performance than ST (P < .025).

Conclusion:

Combining plyometric and strength training for 8 wk was superior to strength training alone at improving 10-m on-ice sprint performance in high-level ice hockey players.