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Strength and Conditioning Research the TL;DR Version – April 2016


The Reliability of Functional Movement Screening and In-Season Changes in Physical Function and Performance Among Elite Rugby League Players

Waldron et al looked at the correlation between the functional moment screening tests (12 in total) in relation to performance indicators namely 1 RM squat, 1 RM bench press, jump height and 10-40m sprint times.  They tested 12 elite male under 19 rugby league players during the course of a season they were tested pre, mid and post season on all of the factors.

During the study the FMS was shown to be a reliable measure however it failed to show any correlation with changes in any of the physical fitness components being monitored all of which improved over the season.

TL;DR – what does the functional movement test actually assess apart from your ability to perform the test?

Changes in Maximal Strength, Velocity, and Power After 8 Weeks of Training With Pneumatic or Free Weight Resistance

18 resistance trained men had their baseline levels of barbell velocity, peak force and peak power performing 4 reps of 15, 30, 45, 60, 75 and 90% RM.  They were then randomly assigned to either pneumatic or free weights training groups where they performed 3x a week 90 minute training sessions performing the exact same programme but with either pneumatic resistance or free weights.

Both groups exhibited increases in pneumatic and free weight 1RM, all load force output, velocity and power outputs however the trend was for pneumatic training group to be better on average on these measures.  The pneumatic group also showed greater power and once outputs using the 15% and 30% external loads.

TL;DR – Pneumatic strength training may offer some benefits to a programme where a varying force-velocity profile may be required such as in sport.


Comparison of Kinematics and Muscle Activation in Free-Weight Back Squat With and Without Elastic Bands

20 resistance trained women took part in the study where they performed their 6 RM squat using either external load only or variable resistance (weights and bands).  The squat was split into three sections –

  • Pre Sticking Point – Variable resistance 98% of constant resistance
  • Sticking Point – Variable resistance 105% of constant resistance.
  • Post Sticking Point – Variable resistance 113% of constant resistance.

Pre sticking point barbell velocity was 21% greater pre-sticking point and 22.8% slower post sticking point.  The researchers didn’t find any differences in the EMG activity from both conditions they showed a greater barbell displacement post sticking point for the squat with bands.

The authors recommend using bands when lifting heavy loads however recommended heavier bands or the use of chains.

TL;DR – Squats with bands seem to provide a better overload utilising a 6RM load in female athletes.  Could be something worth considering for anyone who wants to overload their squat.


Impact of Fitness Characteristics on Tennis Performance in Elite Junior Tennis Players

In a cross sectional study of rare population specificity and size Alexander Ulbrict et al looked at the physical attributes of 902 male and female junior tennis players (aged 11-16) and how it related to their ranking nationally as a competitive tennis player.  Players where tested for the following

  • Grip test
  • 10 and 20m sprint times
  • Tennis specific sprint
  • Serve Velocity
  • Medicine ball throws
  • Tennis specific endurance test.

Serve velocity and upper body power as measured from medicine ball throwing where shown to be the most predictive factors on tennis performance.   Nationally selected players showed better physical standards in Serve velocity, Upper body power and Tennis specific endurance than their regional level counterparts.

TL;DR – Upper body power and serve velocity are important factors for youth tennis player either in their training programme or in talent ID as it is a likely key factor in their performance.


Autonomic Responses to an Acute Bout of High-Intensity Body Weight Resistance Exercise vs. Treadmill Running

In one of the more technical studies in this months Journal of strength and conditioning research Brian Kilszczewicz et all looked at the effects of two different exercise protocols

  • High intensity interval running
  • High intensity training utilising bodyweight resistance

They tried to measure the effect these training protocols had on the autonomic nervous system utilising a combination of heart rate monitoring (using differences in R-R waves and high frequency power) to determine a change.  They also utilised blood levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine to determine endocrine (hormonal) change in adrenaline response.

10 physically fit males took part in the study.  The researchers showed that high intensity bodyweight exercise had a significantly larger disruption in heart rate measures and a higher level of adrenaline after exercise.

TL;DR – Bodyweight high intensity training is more fatiguing that treadmill running that is matched for intensity.


Force-Velocity-Power Assessment in Semiprofessional Rugby Union Players

Daniel McMaster et al set out to determine the differences in upper body strength, power and velocity profiles of 20 semi professional rugby union players.  They tested the players for the following upper body strength qualities –

  • Maximum bench press
  • Bench Throw (max power, max force and velocity) utilising 15, 30, 45, 60 and 75% of the players 1 rep max.

They showed that the forwards where moderately stronger, more powerful and produced better force outputs than the backs.  They showed little to no difference between the two when it came to velocity components.

TL;DR – Forwards are stronger than backs, Stronger people are more powerful than weaker people and someone decided this was a worthwhile study.


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