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Norbert Hagemann, Bernd Strauss and Rouwen Cañal-Bruland

A major element in expert sports performance, particularly racket-and-ball games, is excellent anticipatory skill. A prestudy combined the temporal and spatial occlusion paradigms to ascertain which key stimuli badminton players use for anticipating the direction of overhead shots. The main study then evaluated a program for training anticipatory skills; 200 video clips were employed to orient attention toward these key stimuli. Participants were 63 badminton novices, 20 national league players, and 21 local league players. A transparent red patch (exogenous orienting) was used to orient attention toward the trunk up to 160 ms before racket-shuttle contact; the arm, from 160 ms to 80 ms before contact; and the racket, from 80 ms before to actual contact. Results showed that badminton novices who trained with this program significantly improved their anticipatory skill between post- and retention test compared with controls. Whereas local league players improved from pre- to posttest, training had no effect on expert national league players. It is concluded that using red transparent patches to highlight the most informative cues in perceptual training programs is a promising way to improve anticipatory skill.

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Jae Kun Shim, Jeffrey Hsu, Sohit Karol and Ben F. Hurley

The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effects of finger strength training (ST) on finger strength, independence, force control, and adaptations in multifinger coordination. Thirty-three healthy, young (23.0 ± 2.9 years) subjects were randomly assigned into 4 groups. Group 1 (G1) trained all fingers together, Group 2 (G2) trained individual fingers without restricting movements of the non-training fingers, and Group 3 (G3) trained individual fingers while restricting the movement of the nontraining fingers. The control group (G0) did not undergo any training. A vertically hanging load was attached to a spring that passed through a pulley. The other end of the string extended to the horizontal plane and had thimbles attached to it. Subjects were asked to rest their forearm on the table and lift the load by inserting their fingers into the thimbles. The training protocol lasted 6 weeks. Identical experimental tests were conducted 4 times, biweekly, across the 6-week training. Force coordination and moment coordination, defined as synergies stabilizing the resultant force and the resultant moment of all finger forces, in a multifinger pressing task were quantified using the Uncontrolled Manifold (UCM) analysis. The UCM analysis allocates motor variability into two components, one in the null space of a motor task and the other perpendicular to the null space. During multifinger pressing tasks, multifinger coordination exists when the variability in the null space is greater than the variability in the subspace perpendicular to the null space. The multifinger coordination was quantified as the difference between the variance within the null space and that perpendicular to the null space, normalized by the total variance. Thus, the coordination measure in our analysis is a unitless variable. A greater coordination measure indicates better multifinger coordination. Moment-stabilizing multifinger coordination increased only in G1 (from 1.197 ± 0.004 to 1.323 ± 0.002, p < .01), and force-stabilizing coordination increased only in G3 (from 0.207 ± 0.106 to 0.727 ± 0.071, p < .01). Finger strength, measured by the maximal voluntary finger force of pressing 4 fingers, increased significantly in all training groups (from 103.7 ± 3.1 N to 144.0 ± 3.6 N for training groups, all p < .001). Finger-force errors, quantified by the deviations between the required force profiles (20% maximal voluntary force) presented to the subjects and the actual force produced, decreased significantly with ST for all the training groups (all p < .05). Finger independence also decreased significantly for all the training groups (p < .05). We conclude that the neuromuscular system adaptations to multifinger ST are specific to the training protocol being employed, yielding improvements in different types of multifinger coordination (i.e., coordination-specific ST), finger-force control, and finger strength and a decrease in finger independence. Finger independence, depending on the nature of the task, might or might not be favorable to certain task performances. We suggest that ST protocol should be carefully designed for the improvement of specific coordination of multieffector motor systems.

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W. Kerry Mummery and Leonard M. Wankel

This study examined the ability of the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to predict training adherence in a sample of adolescent competitive swimmers. Participants (N= 116, mean age = 14.8 years), who were drawn from 19 competitive swimming clubs from across Canada, completed measures relating to TPB before a major training cycle in their swim season. Results showed that training intention was significantly related to training behavior and that the direct measures of TPB (attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control) predicted a significant portion of the variance in the measure of training intention. Subsequently splitting the attitude measure into affective and instrumental components revealed that the instrumental portion of the attitudinal measure contributed significantly to predicting training intention, whereas the affective portion did not. These findings suggest that TPB offers insight into training behavior and that the two measures of evaluative attitude contribute differently to predicting training intention.

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Ralph Beneke, Renate M. Leithäuser and Oliver Ochentel

A link between lactate and muscular exercise was seen already more than 200 years ago. The blood lactate concentration (BLC) is sensitive to changes in exercise intensity and duration. Multiple BLC threshold concepts define different points on the BLC power curve during various tests with increasing power (INCP). The INCP test results are affected by the increase in power over time. The maximal lactate steady state (MLSS) is measured during a series of prolonged constant power (CP) tests. It detects the highest aerobic power without metabolic energy from continuing net lactate production, which is usually sustainable for 30 to 60 min. BLC threshold and MLSS power are highly correlated with the maximum aerobic power and athletic endurance performance. The idea that training at threshold intensity is particularly effective has no evidence. Three BLC-orientated intensity domains have been established: (1) training up to an intensity at which the BLC clearly exceeds resting BLC, light- and moderate-intensity training focusing on active regeneration or high-volume endurance training (Intensity < Threshold); (2) heavy endurance training at work rates up to MLSS intensity (Threshold ≤ Intensity ≤ MLSS); and (3) severe exercise intensity training between MLSS and maximum oxygen uptake intensity mostly organized as interval and tempo work (Intensity > MLSS). High-performance endurance athletes combining very high training volume with high aerobic power dedicate 70 to 90% of their training to intensity domain 1 (Intensity < Threshold) in order to keep glycogen homeostasis within sustainable limits.

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Renato Barroso, Ronaldo K. Cardoso, Everton Crivoi Carmo and Valmor Tricoli

Session rating of perceived exertion (SRPE) is a practical method to assess internal training load to provide appropriate stimuli. However, coaches and athletes might rate training sessions differently, which can impair performance development. In addition, SRPE might be influenced by athletes’ training experience. The authors studied 160 swimmers of different age groups and different competitive swimming experience and 9 coaches. SRPE was indicated by the swimmers 30 min after the end of a training session and before the training session by the coaches. Training-session intensities were classified into easy (SRPE <3), moderate (SRPE 3–5), and difficult (SRPE >5), based on coaches’ perception. We observed that the correlation between coaches’ and athletes’ SRPE increased with increased age and competitive swimming experience, r = .31 for the 11- to 12-y-old group (P < .001), r = .51 for the 13- to 14-y-old group (P < .001), and r = .74 for the 15- to 16-y-old group (P < .001). In addition, younger swimmers (11–12 y, P < .01; 13–14 y, P < .01) rated training intensity differently from coaches in all 3 categories (easy, moderate, and difficult), while the older group rated differently in only 1 category (difficult, P < .01). These findings suggest that the more experienced swimmers are, the more accurate their SRPE is.

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Robin T. Thorpe, Anthony J. Strudwick, Martin Buchheit, Greg Atkinson, Barry Drust and Warren Gregson

Purpose:

To quantify the mean daily changes in training and match load and any parallel changes in indicators of morningmeasured fatigue across in-season training weeks in elite soccer players.

Methods:

After each training session and match (TL), session ratings of perceived exertion (s-RPE) were recorded to calculate overall session load (RPE-TL) in 29 English Premier League players from the same team. Morning ratings of fatigue, sleep quality, and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), as well as submaximal exercise heart rate (HRex), postexercise heart-rate recovery (HRR%), and heart-rate variability (HRV) were recorded before match day and 1, 2, and 4 d postmatch. Data were collected for a median duration of 3 wk (range 1–13) and reduced to a typical weekly cycle including no midweek match and a weekend match day. Data were analyzed using withinsubject linear mixed models.

Results:

RPE-TL was approximately 600 arbitrary units (AU) (95% confidence interval 546–644) higher on match day than following day (P < .001). RPE-TL progressively decreased by »60 AU per day over the 3 days before a match (P < .05). Morning-measured fatigue, sleep quality, and DOMS tracked the changes in RPE-TL, being 35–40% worse on postmatch day vs prematch day (P < .001). Perceived fatigue, sleep quality, and DOMS improved by 17–26% from postmatch day to 3 d postmatch, with further smaller (7%–14%) improvements occurring between 4 d postmatch and prematch day (P < .01). There were no substantial or statistically significant changes in HRex, HRR%, or HRV over the weekly cycle (P > .05).

Conclusions:

Morning-measured ratings of fatigue, sleep quality, and DOMS are clearly more sensitive than HR-derived indices to the daily fluctuations in session load experienced by elite soccer players in a standard in-season week.

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Victoria L. Bowden and Robert G. McMurray

The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a difference between the way in which aerobically trained and untrained women metabolize fats and carbohydrates at rest in response to either a high-fat or high-carbohydrate meal. Subjects, 6 per group, were fed a high CHO meal (2068 kJ, 76% CHO. 23% fat, 5% protein) and a high fat meal (2093 kJ, 21% CHO, 72% fat, 8% protein) in counterbalanced order. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) was measured every half-hour for 5 hours. RMR was similar between groups. Training status had no overall effect on postprandial metabolic rate or total energy expenditure. The high fat meal resulted in no significant differences in RMR or respiratory exchange ratio (RER) between groups. However, after ingesting a high CHO meal, trained subjects had a peak in metabolism at minute 60, not evident in the untrained subjects. In addition, postprandial RER from minutes 120-300 were lower and fat use was greater after the high CHO meal for the trained subjects. These results suggest that aerobically trained women have an accelerated CHO uptake and overall lower CHO oxidation following the ingestion of a high CHO meal.

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Robin T. Thorpe, Anthony J. Strudwick, Martin Buchheit, Greg Atkinson, Barry Drust and Warren Gregson

Purpose:

To determine the sensitivity of a range of potential fatigue measures to daily training load accumulated over the previous 2, 3, and 4 d during a short in-season competitive period in elite senior soccer players (N = 10).

Methods:

Total highspeed-running distance, perceived ratings of wellness (fatigue, muscle soreness, sleep quality), countermovement-jump height (CMJ), submaximal heart rate (HRex), postexercise heart-rate recovery (HRR), and heart-rate variability (HRV: Ln rMSSD) were analyzed during an in-season competitive period (17 d). General linear models were used to evaluate the influence of 2-, 3-, and 4-d total high-speed-running-distance accumulation on fatigue measures.

Results:

Fluctuations in perceived ratings of fatigue were correlated with fluctuations in total high-speed-running-distance accumulation covered on the previous 2 d (r = –.31; small), 3 d (r = –.42; moderate), and 4 d (r = –.28; small) (P < .05). Changes in HRex (r = .28; small; P = .02) were correlated with changes in 4-d total high-speed-running-distance accumulation only. Correlations between variability in muscle soreness, sleep quality, CMJ, HRR%, and HRV and total high-speed-running distance were negligible and not statistically significant for all accumulation training loads.

Conclusions:

Perceived ratings of fatigue and HRex were sensitive to fluctuations in acute total high-speed-running-distance accumulation, although sensitivity was not systematically influenced by the number of previous days over which the training load was accumulated. The present findings indicate that the sensitivity of morning-measured fatigue variables to changes in training load is generally not improved when compared with training loads beyond the previous day’s training.

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Andrew J.R. Cochran, Frank Myslik, Martin J. MacInnis, Michael E. Percival, David Bishop, Mark A. Tarnopolsky and Martin J. Gibala

Commencing some training sessions with reduced carbohydrate (CHO) availability has been shown to enhance skeletal muscle adaptations, but the effect on exercise performance is less clear. We examined whether restricting CHO intake between twice daily sessions of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) augments improvements in exercise performance and mitochondrial content. Eighteen active but not highly trained subjects (peak oxygen uptake [VO2peak] = 44 ± 9 ml/kg/min), matched for age, sex, and fitness, were randomly allocated to two groups. On each of 6 days over 2 weeks, subjects completed two training sessions, each consisting of 5 × 4-min cycling intervals (60% of peak power), interspersed by 2 min of recovery. Subjects ingested either 195 g of CHO (HI-HI group: ~2.3 g/kg) or 17 g of CHO (HI-LO group: ~0.3 g/kg) during the 3-hr period between sessions. The training-induced improvement in 250-kJ time trial performance was greater (p = .02) in the HI-LO group (211 ± 66 W to 244 ± 75 W) compared with the HI-HI group (203 ± 53 W to 219 ± 60 W); however, the increases in mitochondrial content was similar between groups, as reflected by similar increases in citrate synthase maximal activity, citrate synthase protein content and cytochrome c oxidase subunit IV protein content (p > .05 for interaction terms). This is the first study to show that a short-term “train low, compete high” intervention can improve whole-body exercise capacity. Further research is needed to determine whether this type of manipulation can also enhance performance in highly-trained subjects.

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Jack M. Burns, Jeremiah J. Peiffer, Chris R. Abbiss, Greig Watson, Angus Burnett and Paul B. Laursen

Purpose:

Manufacturers of uncoupled cycling cranks claim that their use will increase economy of motion and gross efficiency. Purportedly, this occurs by altering the muscle-recruitment patterns contributing to the resistive forces occurring during the recovery phase of the pedal stroke. Uncoupled cranks use an independent-clutch design by which each leg cycles independently of the other (ie, the cranks are not fixed together). However, research examining the efficacy of training with uncoupled cranks is equivocal. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of short-term training with uncoupled cranks on the performance-related variables economy of motion, gross efficiency, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), and muscle-activation patterns.

Methods:

Sixteen trained cyclists were matched-paired into either an uncoupled-crank or a normal-crank training group. Both groups performed 5 wk of training on their assigned cranks. Before and after training, participants completed a graded exercise test using normal cranks. Expired gases were collected to determine economy of motion, gross efficiency, and VO2max, while integrated electromyography (iEMG) was used to examine muscle-activation patterns of the vastus lateralis, biceps femoris, and gastrocnemius.

Results:

No significant changes between groups were observed for economy of motion, gross efficiency, VO2max, or iEMG in the uncoupled- or normal-crank group.

Conclusions:

Five weeks of training with uncoupled cycling cranks had no effect on economy of motion, gross efficiency, muscle recruitment, or VO2max compared with training on normal cranks.