The Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences has a strong and energetic research culture. In the RAE2008, a proportion of the Department’s research was considered to be “world-leading” and other esteem indicator scores designated 70% of staff submitted to the Sports-Related studies Unit of Assessment as being “ internationally excellent” or “world leading”. Its research activity can be divided into two distinct groups – Sociology of Sport and Exercise and Applied Sport and Exercise Sciences – which focus on advancing knowledge through high quality research that is of benefit to numerous recipients as a consequence of its impact on the exercising and sporting populations, society, public policy, culture and quality of life. Staff and postgraduate research is positively developed in an energetic environment which provides the opportunity to disseminate and discuss research through Department research seminars. This facilitates an interdisciplinary approach to a number of research questions which have evolved from identified real life problems.

Recent Submissions

  • From Surveillance to Intervention: Overview and Baseline Findings for the Active City of Liverpool Active Schools and SportsLinx (A-CLASS) Project

    McWhannell, Nicola; Foweather, Lawrence; Graves, Lee; Henaghan, Jayne; Ridgers, Nicola; Stratton, Gareth; University of Chester; Liverpool John Moores University, Laude Lady Elizabeth Junior School, Deakin University, Swansea University (MDPI, 2018-03-23)
    This paper outlines the implementation of a programme of work that started with the development of a population-level children’s health, fitness and lifestyle study in 1996 (SportsLinx) leading to selected interventions one of which is described in detail: the Active City of Liverpool, Active Schools and SportsLinx (A-CLASS) Project. The A-CLASS Project aimed to quantify the effectiveness of structured and unstructured physical activity (PA) programmes on children’s PA, fitness, body composition, bone health, cardiac and vascular structures, fundamental movement skills, physical self-perception and self-esteem. The study was a four-arm parallel-group school-based cluster randomised controlled trial (clinical trials no. NCT02963805), and compared different exposure groups: a high intensity PA (HIPA) group, a fundamental movement skill (FMS) group, a PA signposting (PASS) group and a control group, in a two-schools-per-condition design. Baseline findings indicate that children’s fundamental movement skill competence levels are low-to-moderate, yet these skills are inversely associated with percentage body fat. Outcomes of this project will make an important contribution to the design and implementation of children’s PA promotion initiatives.
  • Exercise, or exercise and diet for the management of polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis

    Kite, Chris; Lahart, Ian; Afzal, Islam; Broom, David; Randeva, Harpal; Kyrou, Ioannis; Brown, James (2019-02-12)
    Background: Typically, management of PCOS focuses on lifestyle changes (exercise and diet), aiming to alleviate symptoms, and lower the associated risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Our objective was to analyse evidence on the effectiveness of exercise in the management of PCOS, when compared to (i) usual care, (ii) diet alone, and (iii) exercise combined with diet, and also exercise combined with diet, compared to (i) control or usual care and (ii) diet alone. Methods: Relevant databases were searched (June 2017) with no time limit for trial inclusion. Eligible trials employed a randomised or quasi-randomised design to measure the chronic effects of exercise, or exercise and diet in women with PCOS. Results: Searches returned 2390 articles; of those, 27 papers from 18 trials were included. Results are presented as mean difference (MD) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). Compared with control, exercise had a statistical effect on change from baseline fasting insulin (MD − 2.44 μIU/mL, 95% CIs − 4.24 to − 0.64; very low-quality evidence), HOMA-IR (− 0.57, − 0.99 to − 0.14; very low-quality evidence), total cholesterol (− 5.88 mg/dL, − 9.92 to − 1.83; low-quality evidence), LDL cholesterol (− 7.39 mg/dL, − 9.83 to − 4.95; low-quality evidence), and triglycerides (− 4.78 mg/dL, − 7.52 to − 2.05; low-quality evidence). Exercise also improved VO2 max (3.84 ml/kg/min, 2.87 to 4.81), waist circumference (− 2.62 cm, − 4.13 to − 1.11), and body fat percentage (− 1.39%, − 2.61 to − 0.18) when compared with usual care. No effect was found for change value systolic/ diastolic blood pressure, fasting glucose, HDL cholesterol (all low-quality evidence), or waist-to-hip ratio. Many favourable change score findings were supported by post-intervention value analyses: fasting insulin (− 2.11 μIU/mL, − 3.49 to − 0.73), total cholesterol (− 6.66 mg/dL, − 11.14 to − 2.17), LDL cholesterol (− 6.91 mg/dL, − 12.02 to − 1.80), and VO2 max (5.01 ml/kg/min, 3.48 to 6.54). Statistically lower BMI (− 1.02 kg/m2, − 1.81 to − 0.23) and resting heart rate (− 3.26 beats/min − 4.93 to − 1.59) were also revealed in post-intervention analysis. Subgroup analyses revealed the greatest improvements in overweight/obese participants, and more outcomes improved when interventions were supervised, aerobic in nature, or of a shorter duration. Based on limited data, we found no differences for any outcome between the effects of exercise and diet combined, and diet alone. It was not possible to compare exercise vs diet or exercise and diet combined vs diet. Conclusion: Statistically beneficial effects of exercise were found for a range of metabolic, anthropometric, and cardiorespiratory fitness-related outcomes. However, caution should be adopted when interpreting these findings since many outcomes present modest effects and wide CIs, and statistical effects in many analyses are sensitive to the addition/removal of individual trials. Future work should focus on rigorously designed, well-reported trials that make comparisons involving both exercise and diet. Systematic review registration: This systematic review was prospectively registered on the Prospero International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (CRD42017062576)
  • Coaches’ philosophies on the transfer of strength training to elite sports performance

    Burnie, Louise; Barratt, Paul; Davids, Keith; Stone, Joseph; Worsfold, Paul; Wheat, Jon; Sheffield Hallam University; English Institute of Sport; University of Chester (Sage, 2017-12-07)
    The objective of the study was to explore coaches’ philosophies regarding strength training (repetitive muscle actions against high loads) and the transfer of strength training to sports performance. Thirteen world class coaches and athletes from track cycling, BMX, sprint kayaking, rowing and athletics sprinting were interviewed using an open-ended, semi-structured approach. Participants were asked about their coaching philosophies, design of athlete training programmes, strength training and its transfer to sports performance. A thematic analysis was conducted. Data trustworthiness was enhanced by methods of member checking and analyst triangulation. Coaches believed that task-specific strength is essential for sports performance. They reported that non-specific strength training (“traditional” gym-based strength exercises that are not specific to a sport movement) is important for increasing athletes’ muscle size and strength. This is typically used in conjunction with resisted sport movement training (for example, increased resistance running, pedalling or rowing), believed to achieve an effective transfer of enhanced muscle strength to sports performance. Coaches described the transfer process as complex, with factors associated with fatigue and coordination having particular significance. The importance that coaches place on coordination is supported by a theoretical model that demonstrates increases in muscle strength from strength training may need to be accompanied with a change in inter-muscular coordination to improve sport performance. The idea that each athlete needs to adapt intermuscular coordination in response to a change in his/her unique set of “organism constraints” (e.g. muscle strength) is well described by the theory of ecological dynamics and Newell’s model of constraints.
  • Internal loads, but not external loads and fatigue, are similar in young and middle-aged resistance trained males during high volume squatting exercise.

    Fernandes, John; Lamb, Kevin; Twist, Craig; University of Chester (MDPI Basel, 2018-08-22)
    Little is known about the internal and external loads experienced during resistance exercise, or the subsequent fatigue-related response, across different age groups. This study compared the internal (heart rate, OMNI ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), session RPE) and external loads (peak velocity and power and volume load) during high volume squatting exercise (10 10 at 60% one-repetition maximum (1RM)) and the fatigue-related response (maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), voluntary activation (VA), resting doublet force, peak power, and blood lactate) in young (n = 9; age 22.3 1.7 years) and middle-aged (n = 9; age 39.9 6.2 years) resistance-trained males. All internal load variables and peak velocity illustrated unclear differences between groups during exercise. Peak power and volume load were likely higher in the young group compared to their middle-aged counterparts. The unclear differences in MVC, VA and blood lactate between groups after exercise were accompanied by very likely greater decrements in resting doublet force and peak power at 20 and 80% 1RM in the middle-aged group compared to the young group. These data indicate that internal load is not different between young and middle-aged resistance-trained males, though certain external load measures and the fatigue response are.
  • An analysis of the three-dimensional kinetics and kinematics of maximal effort punches among amateur boxers.

    Stanley, Edward; Thomson, Edward; Smith, Grace; Lamb, Kevin; University of Chester (Routledge, 2018-09-27)
    The purpose of this study was to quantify the 3D kinetics and kinematics of six punch types among amateur boxers. Fifteen males (age: 24.9 ± 4.2 years; stature: 1.78 ± 0.1 m; body mass: 75.3 ± 13.4 kg; boxing experience: 6.3 ± 2.8 years) performed maximal effort punches against a suspended punch bag during which upper body kinematics were assessed via a 3D motion capture system, and ground reaction forces (GRF) of the lead and rear legs via two force plates. For all variables except elbowjoint angular velocity, analysis revealed significant (P < 0.05) differences between straight, hook and uppercut punches. The lead hook exhibited the greatest peak fist velocity (11.95 ± 1.84 m/s), the jab the shortest delivery time (405 ± 0.15 ms), the rear uppercut the greatest shoulder-joint angular velocity (1069.8 ± 104.5°/s), and the lead uppercut the greatest elbow angular velocity (651.0 ± 357.5°/s). Peak resultant GRF differed significantly (P < 0.05) between rear and lead legs for the jab punch only. Whilst these findings provide novel descriptive data for coaches and boxers, future research should examine if physical and physiological capabilities relate to the key biomechanical qualities associated with maximal punching performance.
  • A comparison of the FitroDyne and GymAware rotary encoders for quantifying peak and mean velocity during traditional multi-jointed exercises

    Fernandes, John; Lamb, Kevin; Clark, Cain; Moran, Jason; Drury, Ben; Garcia-Ramos, Amador; Twist, Craig; University of Chester & Hartpury University (National Strength and Conditioning Association, 2018-11-01)
    The FitroDyne and GymAware rotary encoders are being increasingly used in resistance training to monitor movement velocity, but how closely their velocity outcomes agree is unknown. Consequently, this study aimed to determine the level of agreement between the FitroDyne and GymAware for the assessment of movement velocity in three resistance training exercises. Fifteen males performed three repetitions of bench press, back squat and bent-over-row exercises at 10% one repetition maximum increments (from 20 to 80%). For each repetition, the FitroDyne and GymAware recorded peak and mean barbell velocity (cm.s-1). Though strongly correlated (r = 0.79 to 1.00), peak velocity values for the GymAware were significantly lower than the FitroDyne for all exercises and loads. Importantly, the random errors between the devices, quantified via Bland and Altman's 95% limits of agreement, were unacceptable, ranging from ± 3.8 to 25.9 cm.s-1. Differences in mean velocity were smaller (and non-significant for most comparisons) and highly correlated (r = 0.86 to 1.00) between devices. Notwithstanding smaller random errors than for the peak values, mean values still reflected poor agreement (random errors between ± 2.1 to 12.0 cm.s-1). These findings suggest that the FitroDyne and GymAware cannot record peak or mean velocity with acceptable agreement, and should neither be employed interchangeably nor their data compared.
  • A comparison of load-velocity and load-power relationships between well-trained young and middle-aged males during three popular resistance exercises

    Fernandes, John; Lamb, Kevin; Twist, Craig; University of Chester (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2018-05-01)
    This study examined the load-velocity and load-power relationships among 20 young (age 21.0 ± 1.6 y) and 20 middle-aged (age 42.6 ± 6.7 y) resistance trained males. Participants performed three repetitions of bench press, squat and bent-over-row across a range of loads corresponding to 20 to 80% of one repetition maximum (1RM). Analysis revealed effects (P < 0.05) of group and load x group on bar velocity for all three exercises, and interaction effects on power for squat and bent-over-row (P < 0.05). For bench press and bent-over-row, the young group produced higher barbell velocities, with the magnitude of the differences decreasing as load increased (ES; effect size 0.0 to 1.7 and 1.0 to 2.0, respectively). Squat velocity was higher in the young group than the middle-aged group (ES 1.0 to 1.7) across all loads, as was power for each exercise (ES 1.0 to 2.3). For all three exercises, both velocity and 1RM were correlated with optimal power in the middle-aged group (r = .613 to .825, P < 0.05), but only 1RM was correlated with optimal power (r = .708 to .867, P < 0.05) in the young group. These findings indicate that despite their resistance training, middle-aged males were unable to achieve velocities at low external loads and power outputs as high as the young males across a range of external resistances. Moreover, the strong correlations between 1RM and velocity with optimal power suggest that middle-aged males would benefit from training methods which maximise these adaptations.
  • Slowing the Reconstitution of W′ in Recovery With Repeated Bouts of Maximal Exercise

    Chorley, Alan; Bott, Richard; Marwood, Simon; Lamb, Kevin; University of Chester; Liverpool Hope University (Human Kinetics, 2019-02-01)
    Purpose: This study examined the partial reconstitution of the work capacity above critical power (W′) following successive bouts of maximal exercise using a new repeated ramp test, against which the fit of an existing W′ balance (W'bal) prediction model was tested. Methods: Twenty active adults, consisting of trained cyclists (n = 9; age 43 [15] y, V˙ O2max 61.9 [8.5] mL·kg−1·min−1) and untrained cyclists (n = 11; age 36 [15] y, V˙ O2max 52.4 [5.8] mL·kg−1·min−1) performed 2 tests 2 to 4 d apart, consisting of 3 incremental ramps (20 W·min−1) to exhaustion interspersed with 2-min recoveries. Results: Intratrial differences between recoveries demonstrated significant reductions in the amount of W′ reconstituted for the group and both subsets (P < .05). The observed minimal detectable changes of 475 J (first recovery) and 368 J (second recovery) can be used to monitor changes in the rate of W′ reconstitution in individual trained cyclists. Intertrial relative reliability of W′ reconstitution was evaluated by intraclass correlation coefficients for the group (≥.859) and the trained (≥.940) and untrained (≥.768) subsets. Absolute reliability was evaluated with typical error (TE) and coefficient of variation (CV) for the group (TE ≤ 559 J, CV ≤ 9.2%), trained (TE ≤ 301 J, CV ≤ 4.7%), and untrained (TE ≤ 720 J, CV ≤ 12.4%). Conclusions: The reconstitution of W′ is subject to a fatiguing effect hitherto unaccounted for in W'bal prediction models. Furthermore, the W'bal model did not provide a good fit for the repeated ramp test, which itself proved to be a reliable test protocol.
  • The discriminant validity of standardised testing battery and its ability to differentiate anthropometric and physical characteristics between youth, academy and senior professional rugby league players

    Dobbin, Nick; Moss, Samantha; Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; University of Chester (Human Kinetics, 2019)
    Purpose: To assess a standardised testing battery’s ability to differentiate anthropometric and physical qualities between youth, academy and senior rugby league players, and determine the discriminant validity of the battery. Methods: A total of 729 rugby league players from multiple clubs within England categorised as youth (n = 235), academy (n = 362) and senior (n = 132) players completed a standardised testing battery that included the assessment of anthropometric and physical characteristics during preseason. Data was analysed using magnitude-based inferences and discriminant analysis. Results: Academy players were most likely taller and heavier than youth players (effect size (ES) = 0.64 to 1.21), with possibly to most likely superior CMJ, medicine ball throw and prone Yo-Yo IR1 performance (ES = 0.23 to 1.00). Senior players were likely to most likely taller and heavier (ES = 0.32 to 1.84), with possibly to most likely superior 10 and 20 m sprint times, CMJ, CoD, medicine ball throw and prone Yo-Yo IR1 compared to youth and academy (ES = -0.60 to 2.06). The magnitude of difference appeared to be influenced by playing position. For the most part, the battery possessed discriminant validity with an accuracy of 72.2%. Conclusion: The standardised testing battery differentiates anthropometric and physical qualities of youth, academy and senior players as a group and, in most instances, within positional groups. Furthermore, the battery is able to discriminate between playing standards with good accuracy and might be included in future assessments and rugby league talent identification.
  • ‘Just stretch it out and try to dance’: Young Irish dancers’ views and experiences of pain and injury

    Pentith, Rebecca; McEvilly, Nollaig; University of Chester (Graduate Journal of Sport, Exercise & Physical Education Research, 2018-11-16)
    Dancers frequently experience pain and injury due to the physical demands of performance. Previous research primarily focuses on professional dancers over the age of 18 years, and Irish dance has been largely unexplored, with research from a sociological perspective particularly lacking. To address these gaps, the purpose of this study was to explore the influence of the culture of Irish dance on young female dancers’ views and experiences of pain and injury. Data were generated through semi-structured interviews with eight girls (aged 11-16 years) from an Irish dance academy in the North West of England. We analysed the data by engaging in thematic analysis, and drew on Bourdieu’s concepts (habitus and capital, in particular) to explain our findings. Key themes within the data were: the values of Irish dance; trust and teamwork; and strength and weakness. The findings show that Irish dancers make sacrifices to achieve success, and the culture of Irish dance encourages them to dance through pain and injury in order to appear strong. While dancers recognise the potential consequences of injury and believe it is beneficial to take time away from training to recover, they are often encouraged (and encourage each other) to persevere through pain and injury. The findings suggest that there are some potentially harmful consequences of the Irish dance culture, as pain and injury are normalised. We suggest that coaches (and parents/guardians) should encourage young dancers to engage with self-care, and ensure they are not risking their future health and wellbeing by dancing through pain and injury.
  • Associations between selected training stress measures and fitness changes in male soccer players

    Rabbani, Alireza; Kargarfard, M; Castagna, C; Clemente, F; Twist, Craig; University of Chester (Human Kinetics, 2019)
    Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship of accumulated Global Positioning System (GPS)-accelerometer-based and heart rate (HR)-based training metrics to changes in high-intensity intermittent running capacity during an in-season phase in professional soccer players. Method: Eleven male professional players (mean ± SD, age: 27.2 ± 4.5 years) performed the 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test (30-15IFT) before and after a five-week in-season training phase, and the final velocity (VIFT) was considered as players’ high-intensity intermittent running capacity. During all sessions, Edwards’ training impulse (Edwards’ TRIMP), Banister’s TRIMP, Z5 TRIMP, training duration, total distance covered, New Body Load (NBL), high-intensity running performance (distance covered above 14.4 km•h-1), and very high-intensity running performance (distance covered above 19.8 km•h-1) were recorded. Results: The players’ VIFT showed a most likely moderate improvement (+4.3%, 90% confidence limits [3.1; 5.5%], effect size ES, 0.70 [0.51; 0.89]). Accumulated NBL, Banister’s TRIMP and Edwards’ TRIMP showed large associations (r = 0.51 to 0.54) with changes in VIFT. Very large relationship was also observed between accumulated Z5 TRIMP (r= 0.72) with changes in VIFT. Large-to-nearly perfect within-individual relationships were observed between NBL and some of the other training metrics (i.e., Edwards’ TRIMP, Banister’s TRIMP, training duration, and total distance) in 10 out of 11 players. Conclusions: HR-based training metrics can be used to monitor high-intensity intermittent running capacity changes in professional soccer players. The dose-response relationship is also largely detected using accelerometer-based metrics (i.e., NBL) to track changes in high-intensity intermittent running capacity of professional soccer players.
  • Pacing during a cross-country mountain bike mass-participation event according to race performance, experience, age and sex.

    Moss, Samantha L.; Francis, Ben; Calogiuri, Giovanna; Highton, Jamie (2018-12-15)
    This study describes pacing strategies adopted in an 86-km mass-participation cross-country marathon mountain bike race (the 'Birkebeinerrittet'). Absolute (km·h ) and relative speed (% average race speed) and speed coefficient of variation (%CV) in five race sections (15.1, 31.4, 52.3, 74.4 and 100% of total distance) were calculated for 8182 participants. Data were grouped and analysed according to race performance, age, sex and race experience. The highest average speed was observed in males (21.8 ± 3.7 km/h), 16-24 yr olds (23.0 ± 4.8 km/h) and those that had previously completed >4 Birkebeinerrittet races (22.5 ± 3.4 km/h). Independent of these factors, the fastest performers exhibited faster speeds across all race sections, whilst their relative speed was higher in early and late climbing sections (Cohen's d = 0.45-1.15) and slower in the final descending race section (d = 0.64-0.98). Similar trends were observed in the quicker age, sex and race experience groups, who tended to have a higher average speed in earlier race sections and a lower average speed during the final race section compared to slower groups. In all comparisons, faster groups also had a lower %CV for speed than slower groups (fastest %CV = 24.02%, slowest %CV = 32.03%), indicating a lower variation in speed across the race. Pacing in a cross-country mountain bike marathon is related to performance, age, sex and race experience. Better performance appears to be associated with higher relative speed during climbing sections, resulting in a more consistent overall race speed.
  • Passive heat maintenance after an initial warm-up improves high intensity activity during an interchange rugby league match simulation protocol.

    Fairbank, Matthew; Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; University of Chester (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2018)
    This study examined using passive heat maintenance to maintain core temperature after a warm-up and its effect on first half running performance in rugby players. Thirteen male rugby players completed this randomized crossover study. Tympanic temperature was taken before a warm-up and then after a further 15 minutes passive recovery either with (PHM) or without (CON) a passive heat maintenance garment. Participants then completed 23 min of the rugby league match simulation protocol (RLMSP-i). Differences in tympanic temperature were unclear between CON and PHM before (35.7 ± 1.3 cf. 36.0 ± 1.1oC; ES = 0.20) and during exercise (34.5 ± 0.1 cf. 35.2 ± 0.1oC; ES = 0.26-0.35). High-intensity running (ES = 0.27) and peak sprint speed were higher (ES = 0.46-0.56) during the PHM compared to the CON trial. Time spent above 20 W.kg-1 also increased in the first quartile of PHM compared to CON trial (ES = 0.18). All other between trial comparisons of performance were unclear. HRmean (ES = 0.38) was higher in PHM compared to CON, while differences in RPEmean (ES = -0.19) were unclear. There are small to large increases in high intensity work performed during a playing bout when rugby players wear a PHM garment after a warm-up. Rugby players should consider PHM during extended periods of time between a warm-up and starting a match.
  • The reproducibility and external validity of a modified rugby league movement simulation protocol for interchange players

    Norris, Jonathan; Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; University of Chester (2018)
    Purpose: The study assessed the reliability and external validity of a rugby league movement simulation protocol for interchange players that was adapted to include physical contact between participants Methods: Eighteen rugby players performed two trials of a modified rugby league movement simulation protocol for interchange players (RLMSP-i), seven days apart. The simulation was conduced outdoors on artificial turf with movement speeds controlled using an audio signal. Micro-technology was used to measure locomotive and accelerometer (i.e. PlayerLoadTM) metrics for both bouts (~23 min each) alongside heart rate and RPE. Results: Reported for each bout, total distance (102 ± 3 and 101 ± 3 m.min-1), low-speed distance (77 ± 3 and 79 ± 4 m.min-1), high-speed distance (25 ± 3 and 22 ± 4 m.min-1), PlayerLoadTM (10 ± 1 and 10 ± 1 AU.min-1), PlayerLoadTM slow (3.2 ± 0.6 and 3.2 ± 0.6 AU.min-1), PlayerLoadTM 2D (6.0 ± 0.9 and 5.7 ± 0.8 AU.min-1) and heart rate (86 ± 5 and 84 ± 6 %HR max) were similar to match play. The coefficient of variation (%CV) for locomotive metrics ranged from 1.3 to 14.4%, accelerometer CV% 4.4 to 10.0%, and internal load 4.8 to 13.7%. All variables presented a CV% less than the calculated moderate change during one or both bouts of the simulation except high-speed distance (m.min-1), %HRpeak and RPE (AU). Conclusion: The modified RLMSP-i offers a reliable simulation to investigate influences of training and nutrition interventions on the movement and collision activities of rugby league interchange players.
  • Factors affecting the anthropometric and physical characteristics of elite academy rugby league players: a multi-club study.

    Dobbin, Nick; Moss, Samantha; Highton, Jamie; Twist, Craig; University of Chester (Human Kinetics, 2018-12)
    Purpose: To investigate the factors affecting the anthropometric and physical characteristics of elite academy rugby league players. Methods: One hundred and ninety-seven elite academy rugby league players (age = 17.3 ± 1.0 years) from five Super League clubs completed measures of anthropometric and physical characteristics during a competitive season. The interaction between, and influence of contextual factors on characteristics was assessed using linear mixed modelling. Results: Associations were observed between several anthropometric and physical characteristics. All physical characteristics improved during preseason and continued to improve until mid-season where thereafter 10 m sprint (η2 = 0.20 cf. 0.25), CMJ (η2 = 0.28 cf. 0.30) and prone Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test (Yo-Yo IR) (η2 = 0.22 cf. 0.54) performance declined. Second (η2 = 0.17) and third (η2 = 0.16) years were heavier than first years, whilst third years had slower 10 m sprint times (η2 = 0.22). Large positional variability was observed for body mass, 20 m sprint time, medicine ball throw, countermovement jump, and prone Yo-Yo IR1. Compared to bottom-ranked teams, top demonstrated superior 20 m (η2 = -0.22) and prone Yo-Yo IR1 (η2 = 0.26) performance whilst middle-ranked teams reported higher CMJ height (η2 = 0.26) and prone Yo-Yo IR1 distance (η2 = 0.20), but slower 20 m sprint times (η2 = 0.20). Conclusion: These findings offer practitioners designing training programmes for academy rugby league players insight into the relationships between anthropometric and physical characteristics and how they are influenced by playing year, league ranking, position and season phase.
  • No Effect of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on 100-m and 200-m Swimming Performance in Moderately-Trained Swimmers.

    Esen, Ozcan; Nicholas, Ceri; Morris, Mike; Bailey, Stephen J (2018-11-14)
    Dietary nitrate supplementation has been reported to improve performance in kayaking and rowing exercise which mandate significant recruitment of the upper body musculature. Since the effect of dietary nitrate supplementation on swimming performance is unclear, the purpose of this study was to assess the effect of dietary nitrate supplementation on 100-m and 200-m swimming freestyle time-trial (TT) performance. In a double blind, randomized crossover design, ten moderately-trained swimmers underwent two separate 3-day supplementation periods, with a daily dose of either 140 mL nitrate-rich (BRJ; ~800 mg/d nitrate) or nitrate-depleted (PLA) BRJ. Following blood sampling on day 3, the swimmers performed both 200-m and 100-m freestyle swimming TTs, with 30 min recovery between trials. Plasma nitrite concentrations was greater after BRJ relative to PLA consumption (432 ± 203 nmol/L, 111 ± 56 nmol/L, respectively, p = 0.001). Systolic BP was lowered after BRJ compared to PLA supplementation (114 ± 10, 120 ± 10 mmHg, respectively p = 0.001), but time to complete the 200-m (BRJ: 152.6 ± 14.1 s, PLA: 152.5 ± 14.1 s) and 100-m (BRJ: 69.5 ± 7.2 s, PLA: 69.4 ± 7.4 s) freestyle swimming TTs were not different between BRJ and PLA (p > 0.05). While 3 days of BRJ supplementation increased plasma nitrite concentration and lowered blood pressure, it did not improve 100-m and 200-m swimming TT performance. These results do not support an ergogenic effect of nitrate supplementation in moderately-trained swimmers, at least for 100-m and 200-m freestyle swimming performance.
  • Glutamine supplementation reduces markers of intestinal permeability during running in the heat in a dose-dependent manner

    Pugh, Jamie N.; Sage, Stephen; Hutson, Mark; Doran, Dominic A.; Fleming, Simon C.; Highton, Jamie; Morton, James P.; Close, Graeme L.; email: g.l.close@ljmu.ac.uk (Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2017-10-20)
    AbstractPurposeTo examine the dose–response effects of acute glutamine supplementation on markers of gastrointestinal (GI) permeability, damage and, secondary, subjective symptoms of GI discomfort in response to running in the heat.MethodsTen recreationally active males completed a total of four exercise trials; a placebo trial and three glutamine trials at 0.25, 0.5 and 0.9 g kg−1 of fat-free mass (FFM) consumed 2 h before exercise. Each exercise trial consisted of a 60-min treadmill run at 70% of V˙O2max in an environmental chamber set at 30 °C. GI permeability was measured using ratio of lactulose to rhamnose (L:R) in serum. Plasma glutamine and intestinal fatty acid binding protein (I-FABP) concentrations were determined pre and post exercise. Subjective GI symptoms were assessed 45 min and 24 h post-exercise.ResultsRelative to placebo, L:R was likely lower following 0.25 g kg−1 (mean difference: − 0.023; ± 0.021) and 0.5 g kg−1 (− 0.019; ± 0.019) and very likely following 0.9 g kg− 1 (− 0.034; ± 0.024). GI symptoms were typically low and there was no effect of supplementation.DiscussionAcute oral glutamine consumption attenuates GI permeability relative to placebo even at lower doses of 0.25 g kg−1, although larger doses may be more effective. It remains unclear if this will lead to reductions in GI symptoms. Athletes competing in the heat may, therefore, benefit from acute glutamine supplementation prior to exercise in order to maintain gastrointestinal integrity.
  • Exercise-induced muscle damage: what is it, what causes it and what are the nutritional solutions?

    Owens, Daniel J; Twist, Craig; Cobley, James; Howatson, Glyn; Close, Graeme; Liverpool John Moores University; University of Chester; Northumbria University (Taylor & Francis, 2018-08-15)
    Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) is characterised by symptoms that present both immediately and for up to 14 days after the initial exercise bout. The main consequence of EIMD for the athlete is the loss of skeletal muscle function and soreness. As such, numerous nutrients and functional foods have been examined for their potential to ameliorate the effects of EIMD and accelerate recovery, which is the purpose of many nutritional strategies for the athlete. However, the trade-off between recovery and adaptation is rarely considered. For example, many nutritional interventions described in this review target oxidative stress and inflammation, both thought to contribute to EIMD but are also crucial for the recovery and adaptation process. This calls into question whether long term administration of supplements and functional foods used to target EIMD is indeed best practice. This rapidly growing area of sports nutrition will benefit from careful consideration of the potential hormetic effect of long term use of nutritional aids that ameliorate muscle damage. This review provides a concise overview of what EIMD is, its causes and consequences and critically evaluates potential nutritional strategies to ameliorate EIMD. We present a pragmatic practical summary that can be adopted by practitioners and direct future research, with the purpose of pushing the field to better consider the fine balance between recovery and adaptation and the potential that nutritional interventions have in modulating this balance.
  • When transport policy becomes health policy: A documentary analysis of active travel policy in England

    Bloyce, Daniel; White, Chris; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2018)
    There has been a succession of policy documents related to active travel published by the British government since the implementation of a National Cycle Network (NCN) in 1995. However, as the latest National Travel Survey (NTS) reveals, the number of journeys made by bike in the UK has remained steadfastly around only 2% (Department for Transport [DfT], 2018a). By using documentary analysis of the available official policy documents and statements, the aim of this paper is to make sense of the policies that have been published concerning active travel (AT) in England. This is done from a figurational sociological perspective. Three key themes emerge from the analysis: (1) the rhetorical, advisory level of the vast majority of the policies; (2) the reliance on a wide network of local authorities to implement AT policy; and (3) the focus placed on individuals to change their behaviour. Furthermore, the analysis reveals that despite a large number of policy publications from a range of government departments claiming to promote AT, little has actually changed in this time period in terms of a national agenda. Despite the successive policies, it seems there is little appetite on behalf of recent governments to make widespread infrastructural changes, where instead the focus has largely been on persuading the individual to seek more active modes of travel, increasingly for their own, individual ‘health’ gains.

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