The back squat is widely used in strength training programs. Alternatively, the belt squat has been gaining popularity since it loads the weight on the hips, as opposed to the shoulders and spine. The purpose of this study was to determine whether using a belt squat would result in less lumbar extensor activation while providing similar excitation of other prime mover and stabilizer musculature. Ten participants (9 males, 1 female; age 29.3 ± 4.9 years; body mass 96.2 ± 17.8 kg) who regularly trained both belt squats and back squats performed three sets of 5 repetitions with 100% bodyweight for each exercise. Peak and integrated muscle activity was calculated and normalized to a maximum voluntary isometric contraction. A one-way ANOVA (p < 0.05) was used to compare conditions. Belt squatting decreased lumbar erector impulse (45.4%) and peak (52.0%) activation as compared to the back squat. Belt squatting did not alter activation of the lower extremities except for a decrease in the gluteus maximus (35.2% impulse and 32.1% peak), gluteus medius (54.1% impulse and 55.2% peak). Furthermore, belt squatting reduced activation of the rectus abdominus (44.3% impulse; 31.1% peak), and external obliques (45.8% impulse; 53.7% peak) as compared to back squatting. Our results suggest belt squatting provides similar muscular demands for the quadriceps, hamstrings, and plantar flexors, but is less demanding of trunk stabilizers, and gluteual muscles. Belt squats may be a suitable alternative to back squats in order to avoid stressing low back or trunk musculature.
This randomized cross-over study examined the effects of typical static and dynamic stretching warm-up protocols on repeated-sprint performance. Thirteen young female handball players performed a 5 min aerobic warm-up followed by one of three stretching protocols for the lower limbs: (1) static stretching, (2) dynamic-ballistic stretching, and (3) no stretching before performing five all-out sprints on a cycle ergometer. Each protocol was performed on a different occasion, separated by 2-3 days. Range of movement (ROM) was also measured before and after the warm-up protocols with a sit-and-reach test. Fixed and random effects of each stretching protocol on repeated sprint performance were estimated with mixed linear modeling and data were evaluated via standardization and magnitude-based inferences. In comparison to no stretching, there were small increases in ROM after dynamic stretching (12.7%, ±0.7%; mean, ±90% confidence limits) and static stretching (19.2%, ±0.9%). There were small increases in the average power across all sprints with dynamic stretching relative to static stretching (3.3%, ±2.4%) and no stretching (3.0%, ±2.4%) and trivial to small increases in the average power in the 1st and 5th trials with dynamic stretching compared to static stretching (3.9%, ±2.6%; 2.6%, ±2.6%, respectively) and no stretching (2.0%, ±2.7%; 4.1%, ±2.8%, respectively). There were also trivial and small decreases in power across all sprints with static relative to dynamic stretching (-1.3%, ±2.8%) and no stretching (-3.5%, ±2.9%). Dynamic stretching improved repeated-sprint performance to a greater extent than static stretching and no stretching.
Personality traits, especially in sport are modulatory factors of athletes’ behavior – his/ her conscientiousness, the will to achieve an aim, perseverance and motivation of activity. Not only are biological predispositions related to anatomical or biochemical traits of success, but they are also largely determined by personality traits that result from genetic factors. In our research we joined tests of athlete’s personality in correlation with genotypes of the dopamine transporter (DAT1) gene polymorphism. The selection of this polymorphism was based on previous reports connecting the influence of dopamine with motivation and numerous arguments supporting its correlation with human behavior. We observed significant differences among polymorphisms DAT 9/9, 9/10, 10/10 in terms of proportion of particular genotypes between athletes and the control group. We also found significant differences in the NEO FFI sten scale for conscientiousness. We noticed that anxiety was related with genotypic variants of DAT1, specifically the 9/10 VNTR variant, which conditioned lower levels of anxiety in the group of tested athletes. By contrast, the lower sten value of agreeability was statistically significant for the group of athletes that were carriers of the 10/10 VNTR genotype. Heterozygous 9/10 VNTR among athletes showed lower levels of anxiety in comparison with the control group, whereas agreeability determined using the NEO FFI scale represented a lower value among athletes that had the 10/10 polymorphism. We may thus conclude that the presence of polymorphic variants of the dopamine transporter gene corresponds to athletes’ personality traits.
This study aimed to examine the interchangeability of two external training load (ETL) monitoring methods: arbitrary vs. individualized speed zones. Thirteen male outfield players from a professional soccer team were monitored during training sessions using 10-Hz GPS units over an 8-week competitive period (n = 302 observations). Low-speed activities (LSA), moderate-speed running (MSR), high-speed running (HSR) and sprinting were defined using arbitrary speed zones as <14.4, 14.4–19.8, 19.8–25.1 and ≥25.2 km·h-1, and using individualized speed zones based on a combination of maximal aerobic speed (MAS, derived from the Yo-yo Intermittent recovery test level 1), maximal sprinting speed (MSS, derived from the maximal speed reached during training) and anaerobic speed reserve (ASR) as <80% MAS, 80–100% MAS, 100% MAS or 29% ASR and ≥30% ASR. Distance covered in both arbitrary and individualized methods was almost certainly correlated in all speed zones (p < 0.01; r = 0.67-0.78). However, significant differences between methods were observed in all speed zones (p < 0.01). LSA was almost certainly higher when using the arbitrary method than when using the individualized method (p < 0.01; ES = 5.47 [5.18; 5.76], respectively). Conversely, MSR, HSR and sprinting speed were higher in the individualized method than in the arbitrary method (p < 0.01; ES = 5.10 [4.82; 5.37], 0.86 [0.72; 1.00] and 1.22 [1.08; 1.37], respectively). Arbitrary and individualized methods for ETL quantification based on speed zones showed similar sensitivity in depicting player locomotor demands. However, since these methods significantly differ at absolute level (based on measurement bias), arbitrary and individualized speed zones should not be used interchangeably.
The aims of the study were: a) to analyze the reproducibility of the Modified Agility Test (MAT) according to two types of displacement (i.e. constrained [MATtop] vs. free [MATfree]), b) to examine the explanatory capacity of anthropometric characteristics and neuromuscular performance on the ability to change the direction (CODA), c) to look into the practical consequences of the types of displacement from the perspective of an elite soccer academy. 118 male soccer players (age: 16 (13-25) years old) from the same elite Spanish soccer academy (U13 to senior) were tested twice on two versions of the MAT (MATtop and MATfree), with 48 hours between testing sessions. Moreover, they were tested on linear-sprint performance, over 5 m (S5m) and 15 m (S15m), and the vertical jump (VJ) (countermovement jump with [ACMJ] and without an arm swing [CMJ]). The main findings were: a) the type of displacement did not affect the reliability of the CODA test; b) weight, S15m, ACMJ and CMJ variables explained close to 60% of CODA performance; c) MATtop (i.e. constrained displacement) and MATfree (i.e. free-displacement) CODA tests could show different profiles of development along the age groups; and d) the impact of the task’s constraints was relatively higher in U16 and U17 groups. CODA seems to have a variable meaning depending on the characteristics of the test and the age of the participants.
Numerous oral ketone supplements are marketed with the claim that they will rapidly induce ketosis and improve exercise performance. The purpose of this study was to assess exercise performance time and related physiological, metabolic and perceptual responses of recreational endurance runners after ingestion of a commercially available oral ketone supplement. Recreational endurance runners (n = 10; age: 20.8 ± 1.0 years; body mass: 68.9 ± 5.6 kg; height: 175.6 ± 4.9 cm) participated in a double-blind, crossover, repeated-measures study where they were randomized to 300 mg.kg-1 body weight of an oral β-hydroxybutyrate-salt + Medium Chain Triglyceride (βHB-salt+MCT) ketone supplement or a flavor matched placebo (PLA) 60 min prior to performing a 5-km running time trial (5KTT) on a treadmill. Time, HR, RPE, affect, RER, VO2, VCO2, and VE were measured during the 5-km run. The Session RPE and affect (Feeling Scale) were obtained post-5KTT. Plasma glucose, lactate and ketones were measured at baseline, 60-min post-supplement, and immediately post-5KTT. Plasma R-βHB (endogenous isomer) was elevated from baseline and throughout the entire protocol under the βHB-salt+MCT condition (p < 0.05). No significant difference (58.3 ± 100.40 s; 95% CI: -130.12 – 13.52; p = 0.100) was observed between the βHB-salt+MCT supplement (1430.0 ± 187.7 s) and the PLA (1488.3 ± 243.8 s) in time to complete the 5KTT. No other differences (p > 0.05) were noted in any of the other physiological, metabolic or perceptual measures.
The aim of this study was to examine changes in the kinematic and kinetic parameters of female athletes performing a forward drop jump to a vertical jump under muscle fatigue condition. Twelve female college athletes performed a forward drop jump to a vertical jump with and without muscle fatigue conditions. A motion capture system and two AMTI force plates were used to synchronously collect kinematic and kinetic data. Inverse dynamics were implemented to calculate the participant’s joint loading, joint moment, and energy absorption. A paired sample t-test was used to compare statistical differences between pre-fatigue and post-fatigue conditions (α = .05). The forward trunk lean angle at initial foot contact, as well as the knee range of motion, total negative work and energy absorption contribution of the knee joint during the landing phase were significantly decreased under post-fatigue condition. The increased peak vertical ground reaction force and peak tibial anterior shear forces were also found under post-fatigue condition. These results indicated that muscle fatigue caused participants to change their original landing posture into stiff landing posture and decrease the energy absorption ability, which increased the tibial anterior shear forces. Therefore, female athletes should appropriately increase the knee flexion angle under muscle fatigue condition to reduce the risk of anterior cruciate ligament injuries.
The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of oral branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) intake on muscular (creatine kinase and myoglobin) and central (serotonin) fatigue during an incremental exercise protocol and to determine the time to exhaustion. Sixteen male long-distance runners (25.7 ± 2.0 yrs) performed two trials, 14 days apart. Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised crossover design, participants ingested either 20 g of BCAAs (BCAA trial) or a placebo 1 hour prior to performing an incremental exercise session on a treadmill. The starting speed was 8 km/h and this was increased by 1 km/h every 5 minutes until volitional exhaustion. Blood analysis indicated that plasma levels of serotonin were lower in the BCAA trial (259.3 ± 13.5 ng/ml) than the placebo trial (289.1 ± 14.5 ng/ml) (p < 0.05). There was a similar pattern of results for free fatty acid (p < 0.05). The creatine kinase level was higher in the BCAA trial (346.1 ± 33.7 U/L) than the placebo trial (307.3 ± 30.2 U/L). No significant difference between trials was observed regarding the level of myoglobin (p = 0.139). Time to exhaustion was longer in the BCAA trial (50.4 ± 2.3 min) than the placebo trial (46.6 ± 3.2 min). In conclusion, oral intake of 20 g of BCAAs 1 hour prior to an incremental treadmill exercise session increased time to exhaustion, probably due to the reduction in serotonin concentration. As myoglobin levels were within the normal range in both trials, we conclude that the participants did not reach muscular fatigue.
Different tempos of movement can be used during resistance training, but programming them is often a trial-and-error practice, as changing the speed at which the exercise is performed does not always correspond with the tempo at which the 1-repetition-maximum occurred. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the effect of different movement tempos during the bench press (BP) exercise on the one-repetition maximum (1RM) load. Ninety men (age = 25.8 ± 5.3 years, body mass = 80.2 ± 14.9 kg), with a minimum one year of resistance training experience took part in the study. Using a randomized crossover design, each participant completed the BP 1RM test with five different movement tempos: V/0/V/0, 2/0/V/0, 5/0/V/0, 8/0/V/0 and 10/0/V/0. Repeated measures ANOVA compared the differences between the 1RM at each tempo. The 1RM load was significantly greater during V/0/V/0 and 2/0/V/0 compared to 5/0/V/0, 8/0/V/0, and 10/0/V/0 (p < 0.01). Furthermore, the 1RM load was significantly greater during 5/0/V/0 compared to 8/0/V/0 and 10/0/V/0 (p < 0.01), but there were no differences between either V/0/V/0 and 2/0/V/0 (p = 0.92) or between 8/0/V/0 and 10/0/V/0 (p = 0.08). Therefore, different movement tempos used during training should be accompanied by their own tempo-specific 1RM testing, as slower eccentric phases significantly decrease maximal concentric performance. Furthermore, 1RM test procedures should include information about the movement tempo used during the test protocol. In addition, the standardization of the tempo should be taken into account in investigations that use the 1 RM test to assess the effects of any treatment on maximal muscle strength.
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) has been typically used to monitor athletes’ physical fitness readiness. The supine position maximizes parasympathetic tone, which is important for monitoring in continuous aerobic sports, however, this is not the case of team sports that rely on anaerobic intermittent bouts, thus increasing sympathetic activation and vagal withdrawal. We hypothesized that HRV during sympathetic activation and vagal withdrawal would be a useful marker to evaluate perceived physical fitness in team sports. HRV was measured in both supine and standing positions during the mornings of 4 match days in 14 professional players. The supine Root Mean Square of the Successive Differences (RMSSD), as well as spectral analysis indices were recorded. Perceived physical fitness was assessed after each match by means of a visual analogue scale (VAS). Supine RMSSD was moderately correlated with perceived physical fitness (rho = 0.416), however, larger correlations were observed for supine and standing spectral indices (rho > 0.5). Correlation between RMSSD and Total Power was very large, thus questioning the usual interpretation of RMSSD (rho > 0.7). Standing Spectral HRV analyses may be a useful method for evaluating perceived physical fitness in the context of team sports. RMSSD may reflect the overall variability of HR and not only the parasympathetic influence, as observed in the current study.