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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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Stephen Seiler and Øystein Sylta

The purpose of this study was to compare physiological responses and perceived exertion among well-trained cyclists (n = 63) performing 3 different high-intensity interval-training (HIIT) prescriptions differing in work-bout duration and accumulated duration but all prescribed with maximal session effort. Subjects (male, mean ± SD 38 ± 8 y, VO2peak 62 ± 6 mL · kg–1 · min–1) completed up to 24 HIIT sessions over 12 wk as part of a training-intervention study. Sessions were prescribed as 4 × 16, 4 × 8, or 4 × 4 min with 2-min recovery periods (8 sessions of each prescription, balanced over time). Power output, HR, and RPE were collected during and after each work bout. Session RPE was reported after each session. Blood lactate samples were collected throughout the 12 wk. Physiological and perceptual responses during >1400 training sessions were analyzed. HIIT sessions were performed at 95% ± 5%, 106% ± 5%, and 117% ± 6% of 40-min time-trial power during 4 × 16-, 4 × 8-, and 4 × 4-min sessions, respectively, with peak HR in each work bout averaging 89% ± 2%, 91% ± 2%, and 94% ± 2% HRpeak. Blood lactate concentrations were 4.7 ± 1.6, 9.2 ± 2.4, and 12.7 ± 2.7 mmol/L. Despite the common prescription of maximal session effort, RPE and sRPE increased with decreasing accumulated work duration (AWD), tracking relative HR. Only 8% of 4 × 16-min sessions reached RPE 19–20, vs 61% of 4 × 4-min sessions. The authors conclude that within the HIIT duration range, performing at “maximal session effort” over a reduced AWD is associated with higher perceived exertion both acutely and postexercise. This may have important implications for HIIT prescription choices.

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Rob Duffield, Monique King and Melissa Skein

Purpose:

This study investigated the effects of hot conditions on the acute recovery of voluntary and evoked muscle performance and physiological responses following intermittent exercise.

Methods:

Seven youth male and six female team-sport athletes performed two sessions separated by 7 d, involving a 30-min exercise protocol and 60-min passive recovery in either 22°C or 33°C and 40% relative humidity. The exercise protocol involved a 20-s maximal sprint every 5 min, separated by constant-intensity exercise at 100 W on a cycle ergometer. Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and a resting evoked twitch (Pf) of the right knee extensors were assessed before and immediately following exercise and again 15, 30, and 60 min post exercise, and capillary blood was obtained at the same time points to measure lactate, pH, and HCO3. During and following exercise, core temperature, heart rate and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were also measured.

Results:

No differences (P = 0.73 to 0.95) in peak power during repeated sprints were present between conditions. Post exercise MVC was reduced (P < .05) in both conditions and a moderate effect size (d = 0.60) indicated a slower percentage MVC recovered by 60 min in the heat (83 ± 10 vs 74 ± 11% recovered). Both heart rate and core temperature were significantly higher (P < .05) during recovery in the heat. Capillary blood values did not differ between conditions at any time point, whereas sessional RPE was higher 60 min post exercise in the heat.

Conclusions:

The current data suggests that passive recovery in warm temperatures not only delays cardiovascular and thermal recovery, but may also slow the recovery of MVC and RPE.

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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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Maria Konstantaki, Edward Winter and Ian Swaine

Context:

Forward propulsion in freestyle swimming is predominantly achieved through arm action. Few studies have assessed the effects of arm training on arm power and swimming performance, yet there have not been any investigations on the effects of arms-only swimming training on swimming performance and physiological responses to arm exercise.

Purpose:

To investigate the changes in arms-only and full-stroke swimming performance, movement economy and aerobic power after an arms-only swimming training program.

Methods:

Fifteen male county level swimmers were assigned either to an experimental (ES, n = 8) or control group (CS, n = 7). For six weeks ES performed arms-only freestyle swimming exercises for 20% of their weekly training distance three times per week, whereas CS performed their usual swimming training. Before and after the training program, both groups performed a) two time trials, 186 m using arms-only (186ARMS) and 372 m using full-stroke (372FULL) freestyle swimming, and b) an incremental arm-pulling exercise test. The time to complete the trials was recorded. Peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), peak exercise intensity (EIpeak) submaximal oxygen uptake at 60 W (VO2−60) and exercise intensity at ventilatory threshold (VTW) were determined from the exercise test.

Results:

After training, ES had improved in 186ARMS (−14.2 ± 3.6%, P = .03), VO2−60 (−22.5 ± 2.3%, P = .04), EIpeak (+17.8 ± 4.2%, P = .03), and VTW (+18.9 ± 2.3%, P = .02), but not in VO2peak (P = .09) or in 372FULL (P = .07). None of the measures changed in CS (P > .05).

Conclusion:

Arms-only swimming training at 20% of the weekly training distance is an effective method to improve arm conditioning during the preparatory phase of the annual training cycle.

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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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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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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.

Open access

Øyvind Sandbakk

validating or using technology to gain valuable insights into sport physiology and performance. Technology-driven digital solutions may provide knowledge beyond what standard measurements have previously allowed. Positioning systems, inertial movement units, and various sensors that measure physiological

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Tatiane Piucco, Fernando Diefenthaeler, Rogério Soares, Juan M. Murias and Guillaume Y. Millet

become biomechanically or technically difficult to skate fast enough to fully challenge the cardiovascular system. 11 As an alternative, some researchers investigated physiological responses obtained during low walking on an oversized motor-driven treadmill, which simulated the posture used in speed