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Espen Tønnessen, Erlend Hem, Svein Leirstein, Thomas Haugen and Stephen Seiler

Purpose:

The purpose of this investigation was to quantify maximal aerobic power (VO2max) in soccer as a function of performance level, position, age, and time of season. In addition, the authors examined the evolution of VO2max among professional players over a 23-y period.

Methods:

1545 male soccer players (22 ± 4 y, 76 ± 8 kg, 181 ± 6 cm) were tested for VO2max at the Norwegian Olympic Training Center between 1989 and 2012.

Results:

No differences in VO2max were observed among national-team players, 1st- and 2nd-division players, and juniors. Midfielders had higher VO2max than defenders, forwards, and goalkeepers (P < .05). Players <18 y of age had ~3% higher VO2max than 23- to 26-y-old players (P = .016). The players had 1.6% and 2.1% lower VO2max during off-season than preseason (P = .046) and in season (P = .021), respectively. Relative to body mass, VO2max among the professional players in this study has not improved over time. Professional players tested during 2006–2012 actually had 3.2% lower VO2max than those tested from 2000 to 2006 (P = .001).

Conclusions:

This study provides effect-magnitude estimates for the influence of performance level, player position, age, and season time on VO2max in men’s elite soccer. The findings from a robust data set indicate that VO2max values ~62–64 mL · kg−1 · min−1 fulfill the demands for aerobic capacity in men’s professional soccer and that VO2max is not a clearly distinguishing variable separating players of different standards.

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Lieselot Decroix, Kevin De Pauw, Carl Foster and Romain Meeusen

Aim:

To review current cycling-related sport-science literature to formulate guidelines to classify female subject groups and to compare this classification system for female subject groups with the classification system for male subject groups.

Methods:

A database of 82 papers that described female subject groups containing information on preexperimental maximal cycle-protocol designs, terminology, biometrical and physiological parameters, and cycling experience was analyzed. Subject groups were divided into performance levels (PLs), according to the nomenclature. Body mass, body-mass index, maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), peak power output (PPO), and training status were compared between PLs and between female and male PLs.

Results:

Five female PLs were defined, representing untrained, active, trained, well-trained, and professional female subjects. VO2max and PPO significantly increased with PL, except for PL3 and PL4 (P < .01). For each PL, significant differences were observed in absolute and relative VO2max and PPO between male and female subject groups. Relative VO2max is the most cited parameter for female subject groups and is proposed as the principal parameter to classify the groups.

Conclusion:

This systematic review shows the large variety in the description of female subject groups in the existing literature. The authors propose a standardized preexperimental testing protocol and guidelines to classify female subject groups into 5 PLs based on relative VO2max, relative PPO, training status, absolute VO2max, and absolute PPO.

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Espen Tønnessen, Thomas A. Haugen, Erlend Hem, Svein Leirstein and Stephen Seiler

Purpose:

To generate updated Olympic-medal benchmarks for V̇O2max in winter endurance disciplines, examine possible differences in V̇O2max between medalists and nonmedalists, and calculate gender difference in V̇O2max based on a homogeneous subset of world-leading endurance athletes.

Methods:

The authors identified 111 athletes who participated in winter Olympic Games/World Championships in the period 1990 to 2013. All identified athletes tested V̇O2max at the Norwegian Olympic Training Center within ±1 y of their championship performance. Testing procedures were consistent throughout the entire period.

Results:

For medal-winning athletes, the following relative V̇O2max values (mean:95% confidence intervals) for men/women were observed (mL · min–1 · kg–1): 84:87-81/72:77-68 for cross-country distance skiing, 78:81-75/68:73-64 for cross-country sprint skiing, 81:84-78/67:73-61 for biathlon, and 77:80-75 for Nordic combined (men only). Similar benchmarks for absolute V̇O2max (L/min) in male/female athletes are 6.4:6.1-6.7/4.3:4.1-4.5 for cross-country distance skiers, 6.3:5.8-6.8/4.0:3.7-4.3 for cross-country sprint skiers, 6.2:5.7-6.4/4.0:3.7-4.3 for biathletes, and 5.3:5.0-5.5 for Nordic combined (men only). The difference in relative V̇O2max between medalists and nonmedalists was large for Nordic combined, moderate for cross-country distance and biathlon, and small/trivial for the other disciplines. Corresponding differences in absolute V̇O2max were small/trivial for all disciplines. Male cross-country medalists achieve 15% higher relative V̇O2max than corresponding women.

Conclusions:

This study provides updated benchmark V̇O2max values for Olympic-medal-level performance in winter endurance disciplines and can serve as a guideline of the requirements for future elite athletes.

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Glen E. Duncan, Anthony D. Mahon, Cheryl A. Howe and Pedro Del Corral

This study examined the influence of test duration and anaerobic capacity on VO2max and the occurrence of a VO2 plateau during treadmill exercise in 25 boys (10.4 ± 0.8 years). Protocols with 1-min (P1) and 2-min (P2) stages, but identical speed and grade changes, were used to manipulate test duration. On separate days, VO2max was measured on P1 and P2, and 200-m run time was assessed. At maximal exercise, VO2, heart rate (HR), and pulmonary ventilation (VE) were similar between protocols, however, respiratory exchange ratio (RER) and treadmill elevation were higher (p < .05) on P1 than on P2. Plateau achievement was not significantly different. On P1, there were no differences between plateau achievers and nonachievers. On P2, test duration and 200-m run time were superior (p < .05), and relative VO2max tended to be higher (p < .10) in plateau achievers. Indices of aerobic and anaerobic capacity may influence plateau achievement on long, but not short duration tests.

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Kevin De Pauw, Bart Roelands, Stephen S. Cheung, Bas de Geus, Gerard Rietjens and Romain Meeusen

Purpose:

The aim of this systematic literature review was to outline the various preexperimental maximal cycle-test protocols, terminology, and performance indicators currently used to classify subject groups in sportscience research and to construct a classification system for cycling-related research.

Methods:

A database of 130 subject-group descriptions contains information on preexperimental maximal cycle-protocol designs, terminology of the subject groups, biometrical and physiological data, cycling experience, and parameters. Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, 1-way ANOVA, post hoc Bonferroni (P < .05), and trend lines were calculated on height, body mass, relative and absolute maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), and peak power output (PPO).

Results:

During preexperimental testing, an initial workload of 100 W and a workload increase of 25 W are most frequently used. Three-minute stages provide the most reliable and valid measures of endurance performance. After obtaining data on a subject group, researchers apply various terms to define the group. To solve this complexity, the authors introduced the neutral term performance levels 1 to 5, representing untrained, recreationally trained, trained, well-trained, and professional subject groups, respectively. The most cited parameter in literature to define subject groups is relative VO2max, and therefore no overlap between different performance levels may occur for this principal parameter. Another significant cycling parameter is the absolute PPO. The description of additional physiological information and current and past cycling data is advised.

Conclusion:

This review clearly shows the need to standardize the procedure for classifying subject groups. Recommendations are formulated concerning preexperimental testing, terminology, and performance indicators.

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Thomas A. Haugen, Espen Tønnessen, Erlend Hem, Svein Leirstein and Stephen Seiler

Purpose:

To quantify VO2max among female competitive soccer players as a function of performance level, field position, and age. In addition, the evolution of VO2max among world-class players over an 18-y period was quantified.

Methods:

Female players (N = 199, 22 ± 4 y, 63 ± 6 kg, height 169 ± 6 cm), including an Olympic winning squad, were tested for VO2max at the Norwegian Olympic Training Center between 1989 and 2007.

Results:

National-team players had 5% higher VO2max than 1st-division players (P = .042, d = 0.4), 13% higher than 2nd-division players (P < .001, d = 1.2), and 9% higher than junior players (P = .005, d = 1.0). Midfielders had 8% higher VO2max than goalkeepers (P = .048, d = 1.1). No significant differences were observed across outfield players or different age categories. There was a trend toward lower relative VO2max across time epochs.

Conclusions:

This study demonstrated that VO2max varies across playing-standard level in women’s soccer. No significant differences in VO2max were observed across outfield positions and age categories. Over time, there has been a slight negative development in VO2max among elite Norwegian soccer players.

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Alex J. Wadley, Ida S. Svendsen and Michael Gleeson

Altitude exposure can exaggerate the transient increase in markers of oxidative stress observed following acute exercise. However, these responses have not been monitored in endurance-trained cyclists at altitudes typically experienced while training. Endurance trained males (n = 12; mean (± SD) age: 28 ± 4 years, V̇O2max 63.7 ± 5.3 ml/kg/min) undertook two 75-min exercise trials at 70% relative V̇O2max; once in normoxia and once in hypobaric hypoxia, equivalent to 2000m above sea level (hypoxia). Blood samples were collected before, immediately after and 2 h postexercise to assess plasma parameters of oxidative stress (protein carbonylation (PC), thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), total antioxidant capacity (TAC) and catalase activity (CAT)). Participants cycled at 10.5% lower power output in hypoxia vs. normoxia, with no differences in heart rate, blood lactate or rating of perceived exertion observed. PC increased and decreased immediately after exercise in hypoxia and normoxia respectively (nmol/mg/protein: Normoxia—0.3 ± 0.1, Hypoxia + 0.4 ± 0.1; both p < .05). CAT increased immediately postexercise in both trials, with the magnitude of change greater in hypoxia (nmol/min/ml: Normoxia + 12.0 ± 5.0, Hypoxia + 27.7 ± 4.8; both p < .05). CAT was elevated above baseline values at 2 h postexercise in Hypoxia only (Normoxia + 0.2 ± 2.4, Hypoxia + 18.4 ± 5.2; p < .05). No differences were observed in the changes in TBARS and TAC between hypoxia and normoxia. Trained male cyclists demonstrated a differential pattern/ timecourse of changes in markers of oxidative stress following submaximal exercise under hypoxic vs. normoxic conditions.

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Dean G. Higham, David B. Pyne, Judith M. Anson and Anthony Eddy

Although the characteristics of 15-a-side rugby union players have been well defined, there is little information on rugby sevens players.

Purpose:

The authors profiled the anthropometric, physiological, and performance qualities of elite-level rugby sevens players and quantified relationships between these characteristics.

Methods:

Eighteen male international rugby sevens players undertook anthropometric (body mass, height, sum of 7 skinfolds, lean-mass index), acceleration and speed (40-m sprint), muscle-power (vertical jump), repeatedsprint- ability (6 × 30-m sprint), and endurance (Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery test and treadmill VO2max) testing. Associations between measurements were assessed by correlation analysis.

Results:

Rugby sevens players had anthropometric characteristics (body mass 89.7 ± 7.6 kg, height 1.83 ± 0.06 m, sum of 7 skinfolds 52.2 ± 11.5 mm; mean ± SD) similar to those of backs in international 15-player rugby union. Acceleration and speed (40-m sprint 5.11 ± 0.15 s), muscle-power (vertical jump 66 ± 7 cm), and endurance (VO2max 53.8 ± 3.4 mL · kg−1 · min−1 ) qualities were similar to, or better than, those of professional 15-a-side players. Coefficients of variation ranged from 2.5% to 22%. Relative VO2max was largely correlated with Yo-Yo distance (r = .60, .21−.82; 90% confidence interval) and moderately correlated with 40-m sprint time (r = −.46, −.75 to −.02) and repeated-sprint ability (r = −.38, −.72 to .09).

Conclusions:

International rugby sevens players require highly developed speed, power, and endurance to tolerate the demands of competition. The small between-athletes variability of characteristics in rugby sevens players highlights the need for relatively uniform physical and performance standards in contrast with 15-a-side players.

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Thomas Rowland

observed during submaximal exercise in the report by Park et al. In a later study with a similar design, Kriemler et al ( 5 ) compared peak HR and VO 2max during a maximal progressive cycle test in 20 prepubertal children and their fathers at 450-m altitude and again at 3450 m. Mass-relative VO 2max

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Avish P. Sharma, David J. Bentley, Gaizka Mejuto and Naroa Etxebarria

). We observed a very large difference between the groups in relative VO 2 max (ES = 2.04; ±0.82), translating to a 13% (5%) difference. Relative Power Output Overall, national cyclists performed the VCT at a substantially higher relative power output compared with their club-level counterparts (3.60 [0