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Christina Carr, John J. McMahon and Paul Comfort

Purpose:

Previous research has investigated changes in athletes’ strength, power, and speed performances across the competitive season of many sports, although this has not been explored in cricketers. The aim of this study was to investigate changes in lower-body strength and jump and sprint performances across an English county cricket season.

Methods:

Male cricketers (N = 12; age 24.4 ± 2.3 y, body mass 84.3 ± 9.9 kg, height 184.1 ± 8.1 cm) performed countermovement jumps (CMJs) and 20-m sprints on 4 separate occasions and back-squat strength testing on 3 separate occasions across a competitive season.

Results:

Both absolute (12.9%, P = .005, effect size [ES] = 0.53) and relative lower-body strength (15.8%, P = .004, ES = 0.69) and CMJ height (5.3%, P = .037, ES = 0.42) improved significantly over the preseason training period, although no significant change (1.7%, P > .05) in sprint performance was observed. In contrast, absolute (14.3%, P = .001, ES = 0.72) and relative strength (15.0%, P = .001, ES = 0.77), CMJ height (4.2%, P = .023, ES = 0.40), and sprint performance (3.8%, P = .012, ES = 0.94) declined significantly across the season.

Conclusions:

The results of this study show that neither the demands of the competitive cricket season nor current in-season training practices provide a sufficient stimulus to maintain strength, jump, and sprint performances in these cricketers. Therefore, coaches should implement a more-frequent, higher-load strength-training program across the competitive cricket season.

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George J. Salem, Man-Ying Wang and Susan Sigward

In order to obtain joint-specific baseline strength characteristics in older adults, clinicians and researchers must have knowledge regarding the relative stability of the various strength tests (the strength difference between repeated measures) and the number of prebaseline practice sessions required to obtain consistent data. To address these needs, the relative multiple-test stability and reliability associated with lower extremity isokinetic and 1-repetition-maximum (1RM) strength measures were assessed in a sample of older adults (N = 30, 65.2 ± 6.3 years), over 4 weeks (T1-T4). Isokinetic ankle plantar-flexion (30°/s) strength and 1RM ankle plantar-flexion, leg-press, and knee-flexion strength exhibited poor stability between Weeks T1 and T2 but stabilized between Weeks T2 and T3 and Weeks T3 and T4. The measures exhibited low incidence of injury and induced low levels of residual muscle soreness. Findings suggest that the 1RM measures require at least 1 prebaseline training session in order to establish consistent baseline performance and are more reliable than isokinetic ankle plantar-flexion tests.

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Andrew C. Fry, Carol C. Irwin, Justin X. Nicoll and David E. Ferebee

To determine absolute and relative (adjusted for body mass) strength, mean power, and mean velocity for upper and lower body resistance exercises, forty-seven young boys and girls participated in maximal strength testing. Healthy young boys and girls, ages 3- to 7-years old, were tested for one-repetition maximum (1-RM) strength, and 70% of 1-RM to determine mean power and mean velocity on the chest press and leg press exercises. Adult weight machines were modified to accommodate the smaller size and lower strength levels of the children. A 2 × 4 (sex × age) ANOVA was used to determine age and sex differences in performance. No interaction or sex differences were observed for any variable at any age. 1-RM strength, mean power, and mean velocity significantly increased across ages (p ≤ .05). When adjusted for body mass, the changes were insignificant, with one exception. Relative mean power for the bench press increased with age. Data indicated children from 3-7 years of age are capable of performing strength and power tests, but may require more attempts at maximal loads compared with adults. It appears that muscular strength and velocity during this stage of development are primarily dependent on increasing body mass, whereas power is influenced by additional variable(s).

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Jenni Kulmala, Tiia Ngandu, Satu Pajala, Jenni Lehtisalo, Esko Levälahti, Riitta Antikainen, Tiina Laatikainen, Heikki Oksa, Markku Peltonen, Rainer Rauramaa, Hilkka Soininen, Timo Strandberg, Jaakko Tuomilehto and Miia Kivipelto

Background:

Physical activity (PA) has beneficial effects on older age physical functioning, but longitudinal studies with follow-ups extending up to decades are few. We investigated the association between leisure-time PA (LTPA) and occupational PA (OPA) from early to late adulthood in relation to later life performance-based physical functioning.

Methods:

The study involved 1260 people aged 60 to 79 years who took part in assessments of physical functioning (Short Physical Performance Battery [SPPB] test, 10-m maximal walking test, and grip strength test). Participants’ data on earlier life LTPA/OPA (age range 25 to 74 years) were received from the previous studies (average follow-up 13.4 years). Logistic, linear, and censored regression models were used to assess the associations between LTPA/OPA earlier in life and subsequent physical functioning.

Results:

A high level of LTPA earlier in life was associated with a lower risk of having difficulties on the SPPB test (odds ratio [OR]: 0.37; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.24–0.58) and especially on the chair rise test (OR: 0.42; 95% CI, 0.27–0.64) in old age. Heavy manual work predicted difficulties on SPPB (OR: 1.91; 95% CI, 1.22–2.98) and the chair rise test (OR: 1.75; 95% CI, 1.14–2.69) and poorer walking speed (β = .10, P = .005).

Conclusions:

This study highlights the importance of LTPA on later life functioning, but also indicates the inverse effects that may be caused by heavy manual work.

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Irineu Loturco, Lucas A. Pereira, Ciro Winckler, Weverton L. Santos, Ronaldo Kobal and Michael McGuigan

Purpose: To examine the relationships between different loading intensities and movement velocities in the bench-press exercise (BP) in Paralympic powerlifters. Methods: A total of 17 national Paralympic powerlifters performed maximum dynamic strength tests to determine their BP 1-repetition maximum (1RM) in a Smith-machine device. A linear position transducer was used to measure movement velocity over a comprehensive range of loads. Linear-regression analysis was performed to establish the relationships between the different bar velocities and the distinct percentages of 1RM. Results: Overall, the correlations between bar velocities and %1RM were strong over the entire range of loads (R 2 .80–.91), but the precision of the predictive equations (expressed as mean differences [%] between actual and predicted 1RM values) were higher at heavier loading intensities (∼20% for loads ≤70% 1RM and ∼5% for loads ≥70% 1RM). In addition, it seems that these very strong athletes (eg, 1RM relative in the BP = 2.22 [0.36] kg·kg−1, for male participants) perform BP 1RM assessments at lower velocities than those previously reported in the literature. Conclusions: The load–velocity relationship was strong and consistent in Paralympic powerlifters, especially at higher loads (≥70% 1RM). Therefore, Paralympic coaches can use the predictive equations and the reference values provided here to determine and monitor the BP loading intensity in national Paralympic powerlifters.

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Taina Rantanen, Pertti Era, Markku Kauppinen and Eino Heikkinen

This study analyzes the associations of socioeconomic status (SES), health, and physical activity with maximal isometric strength in 75-year-old men (n = 104) and women (n = 191). Maximal isometric strength was measured with dynamometers; the forces were adjusted using body weight. The maximal forces for women varied from 66% (trunk flexion) to 73% (knee extension) of those of the men. SES was not associated with muscle force. For men the trunk forces and elbow flexion force correlated negatively with the number of chronic diseases, index of musculoskeletal pain, and self-rated health. For women all the strength test results correlated with self-rated health; the other health indicators showed significant correlation with trunk extension force only. For both sexes the physically more active exhibited greater strength. The index of musculoskeletal symptoms explained the variance on trunk force factor in both sexes. It was concluded that a higher level of everyday physical activity and good values in the state-of-health indicators were the most important variables explaining greater strength among the elderly.

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Gregory M. Gutierrez, Catherine Conte and Kristian Lightbourne

Head impacts are common in contact sports, but only recently has there been a rising awareness of the effects of subconcussive impacts in adolescent athletes. A better understanding of how to attenuate head impacts is needed and therefore, this study investigated the relationship between neck strength, impact, and neurocognitive function in an acute bout of soccer heading in a sample of female high school varsity soccer players. Seventeen participants completed the ImPACT neurocognitive test and had their isometric neck strength tested (flexion, extension, and bilateral flexion) before heading drills. Each participant was outfitted with custom headgear with timing switches and a three-dimensional accelerometer affixed to the back of the head, which allowed for measurement of impact during heading. Participants performed a series of 15 directional headers, including 5 forward, 5 left and 5 right headers in a random order, then completed the ImPACT test again. Neurocognitive tests revealed no significant changes following heading. However, there were statistically significant, moderate, negative correlations (r = −0.500:−0.757, p < .05) between neck strength and resultant header acceleration, indicating that those with weaker necks sustained greater impacts. This suggests neck strengthening may be an important component of any head injury prevention/reduction program.

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Michael P. Corcoran, Miriam E. Nelson, Jennifer M. Sacheck, Kieran F. Reid, Dylan Kirn, Roger A. Fielding, Kenneth K.H. Chui and Sara C. Folta

This cluster-randomized trial was designed to determine the efficacy of a 6-month exercise-nutritional supplement program (ENP) on physical function and nutritional status for older adults and the feasibility of implementing this program in a senior living setting. Twenty senior-living facilities were randomized to either a 3 day per week group-based ENP led by a trained facility staff member or a health education program (SAP). Participants (N = 121) completed a short physical performance battery, 400-m walk, handgrip strength test, and mini-nutrition assessment. 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], insulin-like growth-factor 1 (IGF-1), and activity level were also measured. The ENP did not significantly improve physical function or nutritional status compared with the SAP. Compared with baseline, participants in the ENP engaged in 39 min less physical activity per week at 6 months. Several facility characteristics hindered implementation of the ENP. This study highlights the complexity of implementing an evidence-based program in a field setting.

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Rodrigo Antunes Lima, Lisbeth Runge Larsen, Anna Bugge and Lars Bo Andersen

Purpose: The current investigation aimed to investigate the longitudinal association between physical fitness and academic performance over 3 years in adolescents. A secondary aim was to determine to what extent waist circumference mediated the association between physical fitness and academic performance. Methods: For the current study, 1020 students from first grade [mean age: 7.87 (0.34) y] to fifth grade [mean age: 11.87 (0.37) y] were monitored annually for 3 years (2010–2013). Physical fitness was assessed using the Andersen test, 5 × 5-m shuttle run, jump height, and grip strength tests and by constructing a composite score combining all 4 fitness tests. Academic performance was assessed by national standardized tests in Danish language and math. Generalized structural equation modeling was used to evaluate the relationships between these variables. Results: The Andersen test (standardized β = 0.15 SD), shuttle run (β = −0.18 SD), jump height (β = 0.10 SD), and the fitness composite score (β = 0.23 SD) were positively associated with academic performance over 3 years. In addition, waist circumference partially mediated the association between physical fitness and academic performance. Conclusion: Thus, physical fitness abilities should be stimulated during childhood and early adolescence because of their positive association with academic performance.

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Christopher Thomas, Paul Comfort, Paul A. Jones and Thomas Dos’Santos

Purpose:

To investigate the relationships between maximal isometric strength, vertical jump (VJ), sprint speed, and change-of-direction speed (CoDS) in academy netball players and determine whether players who have high performance in isometric strength testing would demonstrate superior performance in VJ, sprint speed, and CoDS measures.

Method:

Twenty-six young female netball players (age 16.1 ± 1.2 y, height 173.9 ± 5.7 cm, body mass 66.0 ± 7.2 kg) from a regional netball academy performed isometric midthigh pull (IMTP), squat jumps (SJs), countermovement jumps (CMJs), 10-m sprints, and CoDS (505).

Results:

IMTP measures displayed moderate to strong correlations with sprint and CoDS performance (r = –.41 to –.66). The VJs, which included SJs and CMJs, demonstrated strong correlations with 10-m sprint times (r = –.60 to –.65; P < .01) and CoDS (r = –.60 to –.71; P = .01). Stronger players displayed significantly faster sprint (ES = 1.1–1.2) and CoDS times (ES = 1.2–1.7) and greater VJ height (ES = 0.9–1.0) than weaker players.

Conclusion:

The results of this study illustrate the importance of developing high levels of lower-body strength to enhance VJ, sprint, and CoDS performance in youth netball players, with stronger athletes demonstrating superior VJ, sprint, and CoDS performances.