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W. Jack Rejeski, Edward Gregg, Amy Thompson and Michael Berry

In this investigation, we examined the role of acute aerobic exercise (AE) in buffering physiological responses to mental stress. Twelve trained cyclists participated in three counterbalanced treatment conditions on separate days: attention control, light exercise (50% of VO2max for 30 min), and heavy exercise (80% of VO2max for 60 min). After a 30-min rest period following each condition, subjects completed a modified Stroop task. Blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were monitored for (a) baseline responses, (b) task reactivity, and (c), 5 min of recovery following the stressor. Mean arterial pressure (MAP) revealed that reactivity was attenuated by both heavy- and light-exercise conditions as compared to responses in the control condition. Moreover, heavy exercise was more effective in reducing MAP reactivity than light exercise. Systolic BP during the task was significantly higher in the control and light-exercise conditions than following heavy exercise; diastolic BP was significantly higher in the control condition than in either exercise condition. There were no significant effects for HR. These results suggest that there is a dose-response relationship between acute AE and the attenuation of psychophysiological reactivity during stress.

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Kelly R. Rice, Catherine Gammon, Karin Pfieffer and Stewart Trost

Purpose:

The OMNI perceived exertion scale was developed for children to report perceived effort while performing physical activity; however no studies have formally examined age-related differences in validity. This study evaluated the validity of the OMNI-RPE in 4 age groups performing a range of lifestyle activities.

Methods:

206 participants were stratified into four age groups: 6-8 years (n = 42), 9-10 years (n = 46), 11-12 years (n = 47), and 13-15 years (n = 71). Heart rate and VO2 were measured during 11 activity trials ranging in intensity from sedentary to vigorous. After each trial, participants reported effort from the OMNI walk/run scale. Concurrent validity was assessed by calculating within-subject correlations between OMNI ratings and the two physiological indices.

Results:

The average correlation between OMNI ratings and VO2 was 0.67, 0.77, 0.85, and 0.87 for the 6-8, 9-10, 11-12 and 13-15 y age groups, respectively.

Conclusion:

The OMNI RPE scale demonstrated fair to good evidence of validity across a range of lifestyle activities among 6- to 15-year-old children. The validity of the scale appears to be developmentally related with RPE reports closely reflecting physiological responses among children older than 8 years.

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Sara Dean, Andrea Braakhuis and Carl Paton

Researchers have long been investigating strategies that can increase athletes’ ability to oxidize fatty acids and spare carbohydrate, thus potentially improving endurance capacity. Green-tea extract (epigallocatechin-3-gallate; EGCG) has been shown to improve endurance capacity in mice. If a green-tea extract can stimulate fat oxidation and as a result spare glycogen stores, then athletes may benefit through improved endurance performance. Eight male cyclists completed a study incorporating a 3-way crossover, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, diet-controlled research design. All participants received 3 different treatments (placebo 270 mg, EGCG 270 mg, and placebo 270 mg + caffeine 3 mg/kg) over a 6-day period and 1 hr before exercise testing. Each participant completed 3 exercise trials consisting of 60 min of cycling at 60% maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) immediately followed by a self-paced 40-km cycling time trial. The study found little benefit in consuming green-tea extract on fat oxidation or cycling performance, unlike caffeine, which did benefit cycling performance. The physiological responses observed during submaximal cycling after caffeine ingestion were similar to those reported previously, including an increase in heart rate (EGCG 147 ± 17, caffeine 146 ± 19, and placebo 144 ± 15 beats/min), glucose at the 40-min exercise time point (placebo 5.0 ± 0.8, EGCG 5.4 ± 1.0, and caffeine 5.8 ± 1.0 mmol/L), and resting plasma free fatty acids and no change in the amount of carbohydrate and fat being oxidized. Therefore, it was concluded that green-tea extract offers no additional benefit to cyclists over and above those achieved by using caffeine.

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Sonya L. Cameron, Rebecca T. McLay-Cooke, Rachel C. Brown, Andrew R. Gray and Kirsty A. Fairbairn

Purpose:

This study investigated the effect of ingesting 0.3 g/kg body weight (BW) of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) on physiological responses, gastrointestinal (GI) tolerability, and sprint performance in elite rugby union players.

Methods:

Twenty-five male rugby players, age 21.6 (2.6) yr, participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial. Sixty-five minutes after consuming 0.3 g/kg BW of either NaHCO3 or placebo, participants completed a 25-min warm-up followed by 9 min of high-intensity rugby-specific training followed by a rugby-specific repeated-sprint test (RSRST). Whole-blood samples were collected to determine lactate and bicarbonate concentrations and pH at baseline, after supplement ingestion, and immediately after the RSRST. Acute GI discomfort was assessed by questionnaire throughout the trials, and chronic GI discomfort was assessed during the 24 hr postingestion.

Results:

After supplement ingestion and immediately after the RSRST, blood HCO3 concentration and pH were higher for the NaHCO3 condition than for the placebo condition (p < .001). After the RSRST, blood lactate concentrations were significantly higher for the NaHCO3 than for the placebo condition (p < .001). There was no difference in performance on the RSRST between the 2 conditions. The incidence of belching, stomachache, diarrhea, stomach bloating, and nausea was higher after ingestion of NaHCO3 than with placebo (all p < .050). The severity of stomach cramps, belching, stomachache, bowel urgency, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach bloating, and flatulence was rated worse after ingestion of NaHCO3 than with placebo (p < .050).

Conclusions:

NaHCO3 supplementation increased blood HCO3 concentration and attenuated the decline in blood pH compared with placebo during high-intensity exercise in well-trained rugby players but did not significantly improve exercise performance. The higher incidence and greater severity of GI symptoms after ingestion of NaHCO3 may negatively affect physical performance, and the authors strongly recommend testing this supplement during training before use in competitive situations.

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Laura Capranica and Mindy L. Millard-Stafford

A prevailing theory (and practical application) is that elite performance requires early childhood skill development and training across various domains, including sport. Debate continues whether children specializing early (ie, training/competition in a single sport) have true advantage compared with those who sample various sports early and specialize in a single sport later (adolescence). Retrospective data and case studies suggest either model yields elite status depending upon the sport category (ie, situational: ball games, martial arts, fencing; quantitative: track and feld, swimming, skiing; or qualitative: gymnastics, diving, figure skating). However, potential risks of early specialization include greater attrition and adverse physical/emotional health outcomes. With the advent of the IOC Youth Olympic Games, increased emphasis on global youth competition has unknown implications but also represents a potential platform for investigation. Modification of youth competition formats should be based upon multidisciplinary research on psycho-physiological responses, and technical-tactical behaviors during competition. The assumption that a simple scaled-down approach of adult competitions facilitates the development of technical/tactical skills of youth athletes is not necessarily substantiated with field-based research. Relatively little evidence exists regarding the long-term effects of rigorous training and competitive schedules on children in specific sports. It is clear that more prospective studies are needed to understand the training dose that optimally develops adaptations in youth without inducing dropout, overtraining syndrome, and/or injury. Such an approach should be sport specific as well as gender based. Until such evidence exists, coaches and sport administrators will continue to rely upon their sport-specific dogma to influence programmatic development of our most vulnerable population.

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Alexandre Dellal, Carlos Lago-Penas, Del P. Wong and Karim Chamari

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to examine the influence of the number of ball touches authorized per possession on the physical demands, technical performances and physiological responses throughout the bouts within 4 vs. 4 soccer small-sided games (SSGs).

Methods:

Twenty international soccer players (27.4 ± 1.5 y, 180.6 ± 2.3 cm, 79.2 ± 4.2 kg, body fat 12.7 ± 1.2%) performed three different 4 vs. 4 SSGs (4 × 4 min) in which the number of ball touches authorized per possession was manipulated (1 touch = 1T; 2 touches = 2T; Free Play = FP). The SSGs were divided in 4 bouts (B1, B2, B3 and B4) separated by 3 min of passive recovery. The physical performances, technical activities, heart rate responses, blood lactate and RPE were analyzed.

Results:

The FP rule presented greater number of duels, induced the lowest decreases of the sprint and high-intensity performances, and affected less the technical actions (successful passes and number of ball losses) from B1 to B4 as compared with 1T and 2T forms. Moreover, the SSG played in 1T form led to reach higher solicitation of the high-intensity actions while players presented more difficulty to perform a correct technical action.

Conclusions:

The modification of the number of ball touches authorized per possession affects the soccer player activity from the first to the last bout of SSG, indicating that the determination of this rule has to be precisely planned by the coach according to the objectives of the training.

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Martin Buchheit, Bachar Haydar, Karim Hader, Pierre Ufland and Said Ahmaidi

Purpose:

To examine physiological responses to submaximal feld running with changes of direction (COD), and to compare two approaches to assess running economy (RE) with COD, ie, during square-wave (SW) and incremental (INC) exercises.

Methods:

Ten male team-sport athletes performed, in straight-line or over 20 m shuttles, one maximal INC and four submaximal SW (45, 60, 75 and 90% of the velocity associated with maximal pulmonary O2 uptake [vVO2pmax]). Pulmonary (VO2p) and gastrocnemius (VO2m) O2 uptake were computed for all tests. For both running mode, RE was estimated as the O2 cost per kilogram of bodyweight, per meter of running during all SW and INC.

Results:

Compared with straight-line runs, shuttle runs were associated with higher VO2p (eg, 33 ± 6 vs 37 ± 5 mL O2·min–1·kg–1 at 60%, P < .01) and VO2m (eg, 1.1 ± 0.5 vs 1.3 ± 0.8 mL O2·min–1·100 g–1 at 60%, P = .18, Cohen’s d = 0.32). With COD, RE was impaired during SW (0.26 ± 0.02 vs 0.24 ± 0.03 mL O2·kg–1·m–1, P < .01) and INC (0.23 ± 0.04 vs 0.16 ± 0.03 mL O2·kg–1·m–1, P < .001). For both SW and INC tests, the changes in RE with COD were related to height (eg, r = .56 [90%CL, 0.01;0.85] for SW) and weekly training/competitive volume (eg, r = –0.58 [–0.86;–0.04] for SW). For both running modes, RE calculated from INC was better than that from SW (both P < .001).

Conclusion:

Although RE is impaired during feld running with COD, team-sport players of shorter stature and/or presenting greater training/competitive volumes may present a lower RE deterioration with COD. Present results do not support the use of INC to assess RE in the feld, irrespective of running mode.

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Michael J. Hartman, Brandon Clark, Debra A. Bemben, J. Lon Kilgore and Michael G. Bemben

Context:

Many elite athletes use increased daily training frequencies as a means to increase training load without substantial published literature to support this practice.

Purpose:

To compare the physiological responses to twice- and once-daily training sessions with similar training volumes.

Methods:

Ten nationally competitive male weightlifters (age 20.5 ± 1.2 y, body mass 92.9 ± 23.6 kg, training history 5.5 ± 1.5 y) were matched on body mass and training experience, then randomly assigned to train either once or twice daily for 3 wk. Isometric knee-extension strength (ISO), muscle cross-sectional area, vertical-jump peak power, resting hormone concentrations, neuromuscular activation (EMG), and weightlifting performance were obtained before and after the experimental training period.

Results:

All dependent measures before the training intervention were similar for both groups. A 2-way repeated-measures ANOVA did not reveal any significant main effects (group or trial) or interaction effects (group × trial) for any of the dependent variables. There were also no significant group differences when parameters were expressed as percentage change, but the twice-daily training group had a greater percentage change in ISO (+5.1% vs +3.2%), EMG (+20.3% vs +9.1%), testosterone (+10.5% vs +6.4%), and testosterone:cortisol ratio (−10.5% vs +1.3%) than did the once-daily training group.

Conclusions:

There were no additional benefits from increased daily training frequency in national-level male weightlifters, but the increase in ISO and EMG activity for the twice-daily group might provide some rationale for dividing training load in an attempt to reduce the risk of overtraining.

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Matt B. Brearley and James P. Finn

Background:

Despite the thermal challenge of demanding workloads performed in high cabin temperatures while wearing heavy heat-retardant clothing, information on physiological responses to racing V8 Supercars in hot conditions is not readily available.

Purpose:

To describe the thermal, cardiovascular, and perceptual strain on V8 Supercar drivers competing in hot conditions.

Methods:

Thermal strain was indicated by body-core temperature using an ingested thermosensitive pill. Cardiovascular strain was assessed from heart rate, hydration status, and sweat rate. Perceptual strain was estimated from self-rated thermal sensation, thermal discomfort (modified Gagge scales), perceived exertion (Borg scale), and perceptual strain index.

Results:

Prerace body-core temperatures were (mean ± SD) 37.7°C ± 0.4°C (range 37.0°C to 38.2°C), rising to 39.0°C ± 0.4°C (range 38.4°C to 39.7°C) postrace. Driver heart rates were >160 and >170 beats/min for 85.3% and 46.7% of racing, respectively. Sweat rates were 1.06 ± 0.12 L/h or 13.4 ± 1.2 mL · kg−1 · h−1, and postrace dehydration was 0.6% ± 0.6% of prerace body mass. Drivers rated thermal sensation as hot (10.3 ± 0.9), thermal discomfort as uncomfortable (3.1 ± 1.0), and perceived exertion as very hard to very, very hard (8.7 ± 1.7) after the races. Overall physiological and perceptual strain were 7.4 ± 1.0 and 7.1 ± 1.2, respectively.

Conclusions:

Despite the use of cooling, V8 Supercar drivers endure thermal, cardiovascular, and perceptual strain during brief driving bouts in hot conditions.

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Thomas Zochowski, Elizabeth Johnson and Gordon G. Sleivert

Context:

Warm-up before athletic competition might enhance performance by affecting various physiological parameters. There are few quantitative data available on physiological responses to the warm-up, and the data that have been reported are inconclusive. Similarly, it has been suggested that varying the recovery period after a standardized warm-up might affect subsequent performance.

Purpose:

To determine the effects of varying post-warm-up recovery time on a subsequent 200-m swimming time trial.

Methods:

Ten national-caliber swimmers (5 male, 5 female) each swam a 1500-m warm-up and performed a 200-m time trial of their specialty stroke after either 10 or 45 min of passive recovery. Subjects completed 1 time trial in each condition separated by 1 wk in a counterbalanced order. Blood lactate and heart rate were measured immediately after warm-up and 3 min before, immediately after, and 3 min after the time trial. Rating of perceived exertion was measured immediately after the warm-up and time trial.

Results:

Time-trial performance was significantly improved after 10 min as opposed to 45 min recovery (136.80 ± 20.38 s vs 138.69 ± 20.32 s, P < .05). There were no significant differences between conditions for heart rate and blood lactate after the warm-up. Pre-time-trial heart rate, however, was higher in the 10-min than in the 45-min rest condition (109 ± 14 beats/min vs 94 ± 21 beats/min, P < .05).

Conclusions:

A post-warm-up recovery time of 10 min rather than 45 min is more beneficial to 200-m swimming time-trial performance.