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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.

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Jocelyn K. Mara, Kevin G. Thompson and Kate L. Pumpa

Purpose:

To investigate the physical and physiological response to different formats of various-sided games.

Methods:

Eighteen elite women’s soccer players wore 15-Hz global positioning system devices and heart-rate (HR) monitors during various-sided games (small, 4 vs 4 and 5 vs 5; medium, 6 vs 6 and 7 vs 7; large, 8 vs 8 and 9 vs 9).

Results:

Players covered more relative sprinting distance during large-sided games than in small-sided (P < .001, d = 0.69) and medium-sided (P < .001, d = 0.54) games. In addition, a greater proportion of total acceleration efforts that had a commencement velocity <1 m/s were observed in small-sided games (44.7% ± 5.5%) than in large-sided games (36.7% ± 10.6%) (P = .018, d = 0.94). This was accompanied by a greater proportion of acceleration efforts with a final velocity equivalent to the sprint threshold in large-sided games (15.4% ± 7.7%) than in small-sided games (5.2% ± 2.5%) (P < .001, d = 1.78). The proportion of time spent in HR zone 4 (>85% maximum HR) was greater during small-sided games (69.8% ± 2.5%) than in medium- (62.1% ± 2.8%, d = 2.90) and large-sided games (54.9% ± 3.1%) (P < .001, d = 5.29).

Conclusions:

The results from this study demonstrate that coaches can use small-sided games as an aerobic conditioning stimulus and to develop players’ explosiveness and repeat-sprint ability over short durations. Large-sided games can be used to maintain aerobic capacity and develop maximum speed over longer distances.

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Kerry McGawley and Hans-Christer Holmberg

Purpose:

Cross-country-ski races place complex demands on athletes, with events lasting between approximately 3 min and 2 h. The aim of the current study was to compare the aerobic and anaerobic measures derived from a short time trial (TT) between male and female skiers using diagonal cross-country skiing.

Methods:

Twenty-four highly trained cross-country skiers (12 male and 12 female, age 17.4 ± 1.4 y, body mass 68.2 ± 8.9 kg, height 174 ± 8 cm) participated. The submaximal VO2–speed relationship and VO2max were derived from an incremental ramp test to exhaustion (RAMP), while the accumulated oxygen deficit (AOD), peak VO2, and performance time were measured during a 600-m TT.

Results:

The female skiers took longer to complete the TT than the males (209 ± 9 s vs 166 ± 7 s, P < .001) and exhibited a lower relative anaerobic contribution (20% ± 4% vs 24% ± 3%, P = .015) and a higher fractional utilization of VO2max (84% ± 4% vs 79% ± 5%, P = .007) than males. Although there was no significant difference in AOD between the sexes (40.9 ± 9.5 and 47.3 ± 7.4 mL/kg for females and males, respectively; P = .079), the mean difference ± 90% confidence intervals of 6.4 ± 6.0 mL/kg reflected a likely practical difference (ES = 0.72). The peak VO2 during the TT was significantly higher than VO2max during the RAMP for all participants combined (62.3 ± 6.8 vs 60.5 ± 7.2 mL · kg−1 · min−1, P = .011), and the mean difference ± 90% confidence intervals of 1.8 ± 1.1 mL · kg−1 · min−1 reflected a possible practical difference (ES = 0.25).

Conclusions:

These results show that performance and physiological responses to a self-paced TT lasting approximately 3 min differ between sexes. In addition, a TT may provide a valid measure of VO2max.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Paola Zamparo, Ivan Zadro, Stefano Lazzer, Marco Beato and Luigino Sepulcri

Shuttle runs can be used to study the physiological responses in sports (such as basketball) characterized by sprints (accelerations/decelerations) and changes of direction.

Purpose:

To determine the energy cost (C) of shuttle runs with different turning angles and over different distances (with different acceleration/deceleration patterns).

Methods:

Nine basketball players were asked to complete 6 intermittent tests over different distances (5, 10, 25 m) and with different changes of direction (180° at 5 and 25 m; 0°, 45°, 90°, and 180° at 10 m) at maximal speed (v ≍ 4.5 m/s), each composed by 10 shuttle runs of 10-s duration and 30-s recovery; during these runs oxygen uptake (VO2), blood lactate (Lab), and C were determined.

Results:

For a given shuttle distance (10 m) no major differences where observed in VO2 (~33 mL · min−1 · kg−1), Lab (~3.75 mM), and C (~21.2 J · m−1 · kg−1) when the shuttle runs were performed with different turning angles. For a given turning angle (180°), VO2 and Lab were found to increase with the distance covered (VO2 from 26 to 35 mL · min−1 · kg−1; Lab from 0.7 to 7.6 mM) while C was found to decrease with it (from 29.9 to 10.6 J · m−1 · kg−1); the relationship between C and d (m) is well described by C = 92.99 × d 0.656, R 2 = .971.

Conclusions:

The metabolic demands of shuttle tests run at maximal speeds can be estimated based on the running distance, while the turning angle plays a minor role in determining C.