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Researched Applications of Velocity Based Strength Training

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Copyright The Journal of Australian Strength and conditioning (JASC) is a refereed research publication that covers all aspects of Strength and
Conditioning. The aim of the Journal is to provide members and readers with the most up to date information. Each issue of JASC includes Peer-
Reviewed articles, From The Field articles and Level 2 Submission articles, on a wide variety of strength and conditioning topics. Contributors are
invited to submit their manuscripts, articles, opinions and newsworthy information to the National Office for review to Papers accepted for publication become the copyright of the ASCA. This enables the ASCA as publisher to
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Editor-in-chief Editorial Panel Contact and Mailing Details

Dr Greg Wilson PhD Dr Harry Brennan, PhD Ph. – 0755026911
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Welcome to the June issue of JASC. This issue is arguably the best collection of articles we have produced thus far,
an interesting mix of original scientific research papers, reviews of the literature and practical from the field
contributions, covering a wide range of topics and sports. I have included a paper on some of the considerations
associated with elite teenage weightlifting athletes preparing to compete in the Youth Olympic Games. The data
outlined in this paper should cause some reflection and consideration of the effects of policy, in regards to age limits
and competition rules, on long term athlete development.

The ASCA is in the process of moving towards an interactive journal format whereby members will be able to post
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I hope you enjoy the contents of this issue of JASC and find the information to be of great use in its application to your

Best regards

Dr Greg Wilson, PhD

Editor-in-Chief JASC

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Editorial Page 1

2014 ASCA International Conference on Applied Strength and Conditioning Information Page 3

From the Editor’s Desk Page 9

Olympic agenda 2020: Is the youth Olympic games facilitating the long term development of elite
weightlifting athletes?
Greg Wilson PhD

Original Scientific Research Study Page 16

Contribution of leg power to multidirectional speed in field sport athletes.
Robert G. Lockie, Adrian B. Schultz, Samuel J. Callaghan, Matthew D. Jeffriess & Tawni M. Luczo.

Original Scientific Research Study Page 26

Normative data for mechanical variables during loaded and unloaded countermovement jumps.
Sarah J. Taylor & Kristie-Lee Taylor

Original Scientific Research Study Page 35

A comparison of the yo-yo intermittent recovery test, 3-km distance run and a novel 2-km ‘down-
up’ test, in rugby union players.
Richard W. Deuchrass

TSACA Editorial Page 43

TSACA – A Review of the Literature Page 44

Physical preparation methods for combat operations: a narrative review of the literature.
Daniel R. Cooper

TSACA - Original Scientific Research Study Page 50

The impact of load carriage on the marksmanship of the tactical police officer: A pilot study.
Patrick D. Carbone, Simon D. Carlton, SGT Michael Stierli & Robin M. Orr PhD

From the Field Page 58

Researched applications of velocity based strength training.
Mladen Jovanović & Dr Eamonn P. Flanagan

Exercise Highlight Page 70

Depth jump.
Ryan Eckert & Ronald L. Snarr

Tips from the Top Page 75

Martin Buchheit PhD

A Review of the Literature Page 77

A comparison of strength qualities and their influence on sprint acceleration.
Brett A. Henricks

A Review of the Literature Page 85

A review of the effects of cold water immersion and contrast water therapy on enhancing athletic
performance and reducing perceived fatigue following team sport activity.
George P. Elias PhD

A Review of the Literature Page 91

Sodium bicarbonate and repeated swimming sprints.
Paul SR. Goods

A Review of the Literature Page 96

Taekwondo: A review of the physiology and current training practices, with a practical
application of a four-week training mesocycle.
Dale M. Harris

JASC Author Guidelines Page 110

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Super Early Bird Pricing Ends

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Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

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The ASCA is pleased to welcome the following dynamic and exciting presenters in 2014, from Australia and abroad,
who will be covering topics designed to place delegates at the cutting edge of strength and conditioning theory and
practice. Click on the presenter’s image to view their bio and further information about their topic and outline.

Keynote Presenters

Martin Buchheit PhD Tyler Goodale Shannon Turley John Noonan Special Presenter TBC
Practical Presentations

Justin Keogh PhD Ian McKeown PhD Nick Poulos Jan Legg Emily Nolan

Jeremy Sheppard PhD Brett Jones Peter Culhane

Lecture Sessions

Warren Young PhD Stephen Bird PhD John Mitchell Sophia Nimphius PhD Tim Mosey

Steuart Livingstone Mike McGuigan PhD Michael Davie Stuart Cormack PhD
Please note these presenters are subject to change.

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

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Conference Program

Olympic Atrium & Betty
Time Olympic Yarra
0615 – 0700
Female Coaches Breakfast
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Pre-Conf Tea & Coffee
0700 - 0830 Female Coaches Breakfast to be held in the Jim Stein A Room
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Martin Buchheit PhD
0900 - 1030 Tradeshow ‘Recent research and its application to AFL
1030 - 1100 Morning Tea In Trade Area
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Warren Young PhD Richard Gorey
1330 - 1410
‘Training agility for invasion sports.’ ‘Fire Fighter Wellness – A new Approach.’
(40min) (40min)
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Rob Orr PhD
Stephen Bird PhD
1420 - 1500 ‘Military Instructor Skills for Conditioning
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Large Groups.’
Afternoon Tea In Trade
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Practical Presentation TSACA
Jeremy Sheppard PhD & Tai Tran Tim Doyle
1530 - 1610 'Squat variations to improve athleticism and ‘The development of physical employment
increase performance.' standards in the military.’
(40min) (40min)
Practical Presentation TSACA
Ian McKeown PhD Mick Stierli
1620 - 1700
'Assessing athletic ability in sport.' Topic TBC
(40min) (40min)
1700 - 1730
Keynote Presentation
Tyler Goodale
‘Vertical integration of training methods from
1730 - 1900
developmental to advanced athletes in a
multi-sport environment; lessons learnt.’
Cocktail Function In Trade
1900 - 2100

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Olympic Atrium &
Time Olympic Yarra
Betty Cuthbert
Tea & Coffee In
0730 – 0800
Trade Area
Keynote Presentation
0800 – 0930 Tradeshow TBC
Morning Tea In
0930 – 1000
Trade Area
Showcase Lecture Presentation
Fusion Sport John Mitchell
1000 – 1040 'Rugby 7’s - Challenging the Strength and
Power Paradigm.'
(40min) (40min)
Practical Presentation Showcase
Nick Poulos Premium Physio Solutions
1050 – 1130
Tradeshow Topic TBC
(40min) (40min)
Lecture Presentation
Showcase Sophia Nimphius PhD
Visual Coaching Pro ‘Assessing both coaches and athletes to
1140 – 1220
improve performance: Integrated sports
(40min) science approach.’
1220 – 1320 Lunch In Trade Area
Practical Presentation Showcase
Jan Legg & Emily Nolan Virus Action Sports Performance
1320 – 1400
‘Mobilise, Activate & Stimulate.’
(40min) (40min)
Round Table 1 Round Table 2
1410 – 1450
(40min) (40min)
Afternoon Tea In
1450 – 1520
Trade Area
Keynote Presentation
Shannon Turley
1520 – 1650 Tradeshow
‘Stanford football technician training.’
Conference Gala
1900 - 2330

Olympic Atrium &
Time Olympic Yarra
Betty Cuthbert
Tea & Coffee In
0800 – 0830
Trade Area
Practical Presentation
Lecture Presentation
Justin Keogh PhD
Tim Mosey
‘Gluteal and Posterior Chain Exercise:
0830 – 0910 ‘S&C Challenges of the Travelling Skeleton
Applications to Athletic Performance and
Injury Prevention.’
Tradeshow (40min)
Lecture Presentation
Lecture Presentation
Stuart Cormack PhD
Steuart Livingston
0920 – 1000 ‘Monitoring Load and Fatigue – From Research
Topic TBC
to Application.’
Morning Tea In
1000 – 1030
Trade Area
Keynote Presentation
1030 – 1200 Tradeshow John Noonan - UKSCA
1200 – 1300 Lunch In Trade Area
Lecture Presentation
Lecture Presentation
Peter Culhane
Mike McGuigan PhD
‘Why Thoracic Rotation Limitations Are
1300 – 1340 'Applied research in strength and
Important And What We can Do To Address
Them On The Gym Floor.’
Tradeshow (40min)
Lecture Presentation
Practical Presentation
Michael Davie
Brett Jones
1350 – 1430 ‘Physical preparation of Olympic Middle-
Topic TBC
Distance Swimmers’.
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1430 - 1500
Trade Area

Please note the Conference Program is subject to change.

Please visit www.strengthandconditioning for the most up-to-date Conference information.

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

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Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

From the editor’s desk: Olympic agenda 2020: is the Youth Olympic Games facilitating the long term development of elite weightlifting athletes?
J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)9-14. 2014 © ASCA.



Greg Wilson PhD

Editor-in-Chief JASC
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Indonesian Weightlifting Team


Lifting maximal weights throughout the early teenage years may limit the long term development of elite competitive

The purpose of this paper was to track the progress of the 33 medal winning weightlifting athletes who
competed in the 1 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) held in Singapore in August 2010. At this competition all
weightlifting athletes were between 16 to 17 years of age. Each lifters performance in International Weightlifting
Federation (IWF) competitions was recorded for the 3 year period from the YOG 2010 through to the end of 2013.
The number of these elite teenage weightlifters who compete in IWF events progressively decreased over time, such
that only 48% (16/33) competed in an IWF international competition in 2013; a dropout rate of 52%. 5 (15%) of the
medal winning weightlifting athletes never competed in an IWF competition after 2010. In assessing the progress of
the athletes, only 48% (16/33) of these teenage medal winning weightlifters improved by more than 10% above their
YOG 2010 performance over the following 3 years of competition. It is recommended that the IWF seriously consider
changing the weightlifting event at the YOG to a repetitions based competition involving the athletes performing as
many lifts as possible with a moderate load (i.e. the athletes bodyweight) in a 20 s period, rather than the 1 maximal
lift format that is currently used. It is also recommended that the minimum age requirement for the sport of
weightlifting for the Rio Olympic Games 2016 be increased from 14 to 18 years of age to enhance the long term
development of weightlifting athletes, and limit the high rates of athlete dropout and early stagnation experienced by
many elite teenage weightlifting athletes.

Keywords - Dropout rates, long term athlete development, qualification systems.


Earlier this year the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Dr Thomas Bach, called on National Olympic
Committees, International Federations and even members of the general public to make direct contributions to the
debate on the future of the Olympic Movement. He urged everyone to add their voice to the debate on Olympic
Agenda 2020 via email at The debate is focused on the future of the Olympic
movement and centred around the three areas of sustainability, credibility and youth, and is structured into five basic

1. Uniqueness of the Olympic Games

2. Athletes at the heart of the Olympic Movement
3. Olympism in action: keeping Olympism alive 365 days a year
4. The IOC’s role: unity in diversity
5. IOC structure and organization

The process will culminate in Monaco in December 2014 when proposals for Olympic Agenda 2020 will be presented
for approval to an IOC Extraordinary Session. The purpose of this paper is to bring attention to this process and to
consider some topics of relevance to the field of strength and conditioning. In particular, the focus of this paper is to
consider the effects of the recent introduction of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) on the long term development of
elite weightlifting athletes. The first YOG was held in Singapore in August 2010 and this paper tracks the progress of
the 33 medal winning weightlifting athletes from this competition through to the end of 2013, and examines what
changes in performance and dropout rate has been experienced by these elite teenage athletes over this 3 year


Indonesia has a proud weightlifting tradition and since the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games has always won at least one
Olympic weightlifting medal. At the first YOG held in Singapore in August 2010 Indonesia only won one bronze medal
and it was from the sport of weightlifting. A young 17 year old girl, Ms Dewi Safitri won the bronze medal in the 53 kg

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

class with a total of 171 kg. Four years later, Dewi is now 21 years of age, and should be approaching her prime
athlete years, but there has been little further progress. Even though Dewi has continued training and is very
committed to her weekly schedule, she has improved little over her performance at the YOG 2010.

Indonesia also had one male weightlifting competitor in the YOG 2010 named Zainudin. He competed in the 62 kg
class at the YOG 2010 and placed 5 with a total of 239 kg. Zainudin continued to compete in Indonesia for several
years after the YOG but also experienced little progress and retired from weightlifting competition towards the end of
his teenage years. After the YOG he never competed internationally again.

The main weightlifting qualification event for the YOG 2010 was held at the 1st Youth World Championships in
Thailand in May 2009. A young 14 year old Indonesian lifter named Sumariyanto totaled 237 kg in the 56 kg class,
achieving 3rd place. At this time there was much excitement about this young boys long term prospects and many
were projecting that by the Rio Olympic Games 2016 he would be reaching his peak as a 21 year old man and would
be a good prospect for an Olympic medal for Indonesia. Sumariyanto competed for a few more years but by the time
he was 17 years of age he retired from competition and is no longer training as a weightlifting athlete. Perhaps Dewi,
Zainudin and Sumariyanto started lifting heavy weights at too young an age to qualify and then prepare for the YOG
and this stunted their athletic development? The well respected principle of long term athlete development never had
a chance to be applied in their case (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6).

Indonesia is now preparing athletes to compete at the 2014 YOG and 2016 Olympics Games and we are finding that
there is a lack of talented young weightlifters coming through. It appears that in trying to qualify and prepare world
class teenage athletes for the weightlifting competitions in the 2010 and 2014 YOG that we have inadvertently lost
many of our most talented athletes through early burn out by training young teenage athletes for maximum lifting
competitions (6). Hence it is of interest to follow the progress of all 33 medal winning weightlifting athletes who
competed in the first YOG and see if our experiences in Indonesia have been replicated by other competitors.

Interest in this topic was additionally stimulated through the observation of elite Chinese weightlifter Mr Long
Qingquan. At the Beijing Olympic Games 2008 he was a young 17 year old and won the 56 kg class with a
remarkable total of 292 kg. He continues to compete but his performance has never improved over the result he
achieved as a 17 year old. At the 2013 World Weightlifting Championships, as a 22 year old, he totaled 287 kg. As a
17 year old weightlifting teenage superstar at the Beijing Olympics 2008, Long Qingquan seemed destined to be on
the path to break the world record in the 56 kg class. A record which was 305 kg and set by Turkish lifter Halil Mutlu
when he was 27 years of age. Surely over the next 10 years 17 year old Long Qingquan could find those extra 14 kg
needed to break this record. However, now it seems very unlikely that he will ever challange this record. Did lifting
very heavy weights as a teenage athlete limit Long Qingquan’s ability to continue to improve his performance as he
entered his 20’s, when weightlifting athletes should be achieving their peak performance (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)?


The results from the 1 YOG 2010 were obtained directly from the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) website
( and the names and winning total weights lifted for the top 3 medal
winning athletes in each weight class for both males and females were recorded. At the YOG 2010 there were 11
body weight classes; 6 for male (56, 62, 69, 77, 85 and 85+kg) and 5 for females (48, 53, 58, 63 and 63+ kg). To be
st st
eligible to compete in this competition the athletes had to be born between 1 January 1993 and 31 December 1994
and hence would have been between 16 to 17 years of age during the YOG, which was held in August 2010 in
Singapore. The top 3 medal winning athletes were followed over the next 3 years until the end of 2013 using the IWF
website athlete tracking function ( This function lists the performances
achieved by each athlete entered throughout their career for all IWF international events. These events include
World, Continental, regional and grand prix IWF events such as World senior, junior and youth championships, Asian,
Oceania, African and European games, South East Asian games, Commonwealth games etc. However, they do not
include national or local competitions. The current senior world weightlifting records were also retrieved from the IWF
website and the age of each world record holder was recorded.

Data Analysis
All 33 medal winning weightlifting athletes were followed from their performance at the YOG 2010 until the end of
2013 and their competitive performances in all IWF events were recorded. This data was used to determine the
number of athletes that were still internationally competing in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and their change in weightlifting

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning


Table 1 - Results for the YOG 2010 medal winning weightlifting athletes in the male 56 kg class over the next 3 years.

Bodyweight Best total in Best total in Best total in

Name and class (kg) and YOG 2010 total IWF IWF IWF
country placing in YOG lifted (kg) competiiton competiiton competiiton
2010 2011 (kg) 2012 (kg) 2013 (kg)
Mr Kim Tuan
56 kg – 1st 256 277 275 283
Thach (Vietnam)

Mr Jiawu Xie nd
56 kg – 2 254 - - -
Mr Smbat
Margaryan 56 kg – 3 243 245 231 241

Table 1 presents the data for the male 56 kg weight class. Mr Thach progressed well over the following 3 years and
recorded a 27 kg (10.5%) improvement over this period going from being the gold medal winner at the YOG 2010 to
winning 3rd place at the World senior weightlifting championships in 2013. An impressive improvement. However, Mr
Xie did not compete in an IWF competition after the YOG 2010 and Mr Margaryan continued to compete but recorded
little to no improvement over the next three years (Table 1). A similar pattern is seen in the female 53 kg data listed in
Table 2. After winning the YOG 2010 Ms Kostova does not enter another IWF competition. However, Ms Kuo
achieves substantial progress over the next 3 years. Even though she has gone up a weight class to the 58 kg
category her 67 kg (38.5%) improvement over her YOG total is impressive. Ms Safitri continues to compete but her
progress has been slow and relatively small at 9 kg (5.3%) over the 3 year period.

Table 2 - Results for the YOG 2010 female 53 kg class medal winning weightlifting athletes over the next 3 years.

Bodyweight Best total in Best total in Best total in

Name and class (kg) and YOG 2010 total IWF IWF IWF
country placing at YOG lifted (kg) competiiton competiiton competiiton
2010 2011 (kg) 2012 (kg) 2013 (kg)
Ms Boyanka
Kostova 53 kg – 1 192 - - -

Ms Hsing-Chun nd
53 kg – 2 174 212 (58 kg class) 232 (58 kg class) 241 (58 kg class)
Kuo (Taipei)

Ms Dewi Safitri rd
53 kg – 3 171 174 174 180

Table 3 - International competition information on YOG 2010 medal winners from the sport of weightlifting for the
years 2010 through to 2013.

Years Age range of athletes (years) Number of athletes competing in any IWF event (%)
2010 16-17 33 (100%)
2011 17-18 24 (73%)
2012 18-19 22 (67%)
2013 19-20 16 (48%)

Table 3 illustrates the number of YOG medal winning weightlifting athletes that competed in an IWF competition for
the 3 years following the YOG 2010. As can be seen the number of active athletes decreased progressively over the
3 year period until only about half of the 33 athletes were still competing 3 years after the YOG in 2013, a dropout rate
of 52%. Table 4 shows that of the 33 athletes who won medals at the YOG that approximately half (16/33) of these
athletes have improved by more than 10% over their performance at the YOG in IWF international competitions over
the next 3 years.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Table 4 - Progress of YOG 2010 weightlifting medal winners from 2010 to 2013. This table shows the best
improvement from each of the 33 medal winning weightlifting athletes from their 2010 YOG total lifted to any other
IWF international competition after this date in 2011, 2012 or 2013.

Change in total weight lifted over YOG 2010 total (%) Number of athletes
Never lifted again 5 (15%)
0-5% 8 (24%)
5-10% 4 (12%)
>10% 16 (48%)
Total 33 (100%)

Table 5 - Current (April 2014) Senior World Weightlifting Records for Men and Women and the age of the athlete at
the time of making the world record (data obtained from IWF website

Sex Body weight class (kg) Age of athlete (years) Total lifted (kg)
Female 48 24 217
Female 53 22 230
Female 58 27 251
Female 63 27 257
Female 69 23 286
Female 75 26 296
Female 75+ 22 334
Male 56 27 305
Male 62 23 327
Male 69 26 358
Male 77 29 380
Male 85 26 394
Male 94 24 418
Male 105 20 436
Male 105+ 22 472
Mean + SD 24.5 + 2.5

Table 5 outlines the current (April 2014) male and female world total senior weightlifting records. As can be seen, the
range of ages of the athlete when they set these world records was from 20 to 29 years, with a mean age of 24.5
years and a standard deviation of 2.5 years. This data is consistent with the proposition that the peak age for optimal
weightlifting performance is in the mid-twenties.


The YOG is a new phenomenon to international sport and it will take some time to determine what the overall effect is.
In particular it will be interesting to see how many of these 33 YOG 2010 medal winning weightlifting athletes are still
competing at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 and how many again make it to the podium and win Olympic medals in
this event. This remains to be seen. However, it does appear quite striking that 15% of the medal winning athletes
from the YOG have not again competed in an IWF international competition over the 3 year period since the YOG
(Table 4). It is also dissapointing to see such a large drop out rate from such talented teenage athletes with more than
50% of them not entering an IWF competition in 2013 (Table 3).

It is interesting to go through the individual data of each of the 33 athletes and see their progress, or lack there of.
There has been some remarkable improvements. For example, female Russian lifter Ms Olga Zubova won the YOG
2010 in the 63+ kg class with a 251 kg total. She then went on to win the World Junior Championships in 2011 and
2012 in the 75 kg class and proceeded to improve to win the World Senior Championships 2013 in the 75 kg class
with a total of 282 kg. This 31 kg (12.3%) progression from the YOG 2010 to senior world championship competition
in 2013 has certainly been successful in her case.

Similar successful transitions from the YOG to a gold medal at the Senior World Championships have also been
achieved by Ms Yuan Tian in the 48 kg class (2011), Ms Zulfiya Chinshanlo in the 53 kg class (2011 and 2012), Ms
Hsing-Chun Kua (2013) and Ms Wei Deng (2010) in the 58 kg class. Hence 5 female weightlifting medal winners at
the YOG 2010 have gone on to win gold medals at the Senior World Championships. The question remains what
happens to these teenage superstar weightlifters now? Do they continue to improve and maintain their world

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

championship position and progress on to set new world records? Or do they plateau and decline like 17 year old
Beijing Olympic 56 kg champion Long Qingquan? This remains to be seen and is certainly worth following.

The case of Ms Wei Deng is interesting, as at the tender age of 17 years she won the YOG 2010 in the 58 kg class
with a remarkable total of 242 kg (Snatch 110 kg and Jerk 132 kg) and then a few months later won the Senior World
Championships with a total of 237 kg. Her 242 kg total set at the YOG 2010 was only 9 kg lower than the World
Senior Record which is held by Ms Yanqing Chen from China, who was 27 years of age when she set this record (see
Table 5). In 2011 Ms Wei Deng won the Junior World Championships with a total of 243 kg and in 2012 her best total
at an IWF competition was 244 kg. At the World Senior Championships in 2013, at the age of 20, she bombed out
and did not record a total. She had completed a snatch of 108 kg but failed in three attempts with her Clean and Jerk
lift of 133 kg. Similar to Mr Long Qingquan in the 56 kg class, she has experienced very little progress since winning
the gold medal at the YOG 2010 as a 17 year old. One has to wonder that if Ms Wei Deng and Mr Long Qingquan
had their time again, and were progressed at a more measured pace in their early teenage years, whether they would
be setting new world senior records if they were brought to their peaks in their mid-twenties rather than their mid-

Whether our current crop of teenage superstar weightlifting athletes can continue to improve and challenge the current
world total senior records remains to be seen. It may be that by lifting maximal loads at very young ages these
athletes prematurely peaked and thus may never achieve their true physiological potential, which for many of these
remarkable athletes may have been to set new world records in their mid-twenties. This consideration should be
seriously contemplated by coaches of elite teenage athletes, as well as the senior management of the IWF.

From the data analysed in this study, more than 50% of the 33 medal winning athletes from the YOG 2010 did not
improve by more than 10% over their performances achieved at the YOG over the next 3 years (Table 4). Of greater
concern is the fact that more than 50% of these 33 athletes did not enter an IWF competition in 2013 (Table 3). These
results are cause for serious concern especially as they are based on the 33 medal winning athletes, who in reality are
the very cream of the crop of their generation. These are the athletes that are the future of weightlifting and most of
them are either dropping out of the sport or experiencing little or no progress in their teenage years. If these athletes
did not lift such heavy weights at such young ages could their performance have improved more? Would more of
them still be active weightlifting athletes?

YOG 2014 Nanjing

For the Nanjing YOG 2014 the age range for the weightlifting athletes has been extended by an additional year over
that originally adopted for the 2010 YOG and all athletes must be born between 1 January 1997 and 31 December
1999 (8). This means that at the time of the 2 YOG competition (August 2014) these athletes will be between 15 to
17 years of age. It is not clear why the IWF extended the age range to cover the lower 15 year age group at the 2
YOG. Given the data that has been examined in this paper, it may have been more prudent for the IWF to have
extended the age range upwards, not downwards and included athletes 17 to 18 years of age, not 15 to 17. The
International Federations for Boxing, Basketball, Equestrian, Rugby and Rowing have all specified that athletes
competing in the 2 YOG 2014 must be born between 1 January 1996 and 31 December 1997 and hence the
athletes will be 17 to 18 years of age at the 2 YOG. A similar option should have been adopted by the IWF.
The main qualification competition for weightlifting for the 2 YOG 2014 was the IWF World Youth Championships
held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from 7-13 April 2013. At this competition athletes eligible to complete in the YOG
Nanjing 2014 would have been between 13 to 16 years of age. In this qualification competition a young 13 year old
Chinese girl named Ms Linglong Yu won the 48 kg class with a 81 kg Snatch and 92 kg Clean and Jerk lift producing a
winning total of 173 kg. This 13 year old girl lifted almost 2 times her own bodyweight above her head. Does anyone
think this is a good idea? Does anyone think this remarkably talented young girl will still be an elite weightlifting
athlete when she reaches her physiological peak in her 20’s? It will be interesting to follow her progress over time. It
is also interesting to consider exactly when a 13 year old girl capable of lifting such heavy weights started heavy
training in preparation for this competition?

Swimming and Athletic events at the YOG

In the sport of athletics there is no 5000 m, 10,000 m or marathon running events in the YOG; not in the 2010 or 2014
YOG. It is understood by the International Athletics Federation that these events are too demanding for young
athletes to specialize in and hence they are left off the YOG program. Similarly there is no 10 km open water
marathon swimming and no 1500 m swimming events at the YOG. Using this same logic, would it be sensible for the
IWF to come up with a different format for the YOG which reduced the maximum loading on the young teenage lifters?
For example, rather than lift the maximum weight for 1 repetition, the load on the bar could be limited to the athlete’s
bodyweight and the athletes asked to do the maximum number of lifts in 20 seconds. Alternatively new bodyweight
type exercises could be used in the YOG such as the maximum number of handstand pushups, or some other
innovative modification which would reduce the maximum loading being applied on the young athletes musculo-
skeletal system. Such innovations may allow more athletes to avoid early dropout and stagnation and be more inline
with well accepted understandings of long term athlete development (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6). Many other sports should
also consider what they are asking young teenage athletes to perform in qualifying and competing in the YOG and

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

whether such activities are best for their long term development? A question that hopefully will make it onto the
Olympic 2020 Agenda.

Rio Olympic Games 2016

The IWF should also consider the age requirements for the Olympic Games. In the weightlifting qualification
guidelines for the Rio Olympic Games 2016, which are available from the IWF website (7), it states that:
“All athletes participating in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games must be born on/or before 31 December 2001.” (p 2, 7)
This means that a weightlifting athlete who is born in November 2001 would be able to compete at the Rio Olympic
Games which will be held in August 2016. This athlete would only be 14 years of age. A more enlightened view is
held by the International Boxing Association which restricts the minimum age for the Rio Olympics to athletes born
before 31 December 1997, 4 years older than the IWF requirements. Hence the youngest boxing athlete at the Rio
Olympic Games 2016 must be at least 18 years of age. The IWF would do well to follow the lead of boxing, both in
the Olympic and YOG.


It is recommended that all sports consider the long term development of their athletes and assess whether their
events and/or age ranges need to be modified for the elite teenage athletes that are competing in the YOG and
associated qualification competitions. The simple tracking of athlete performance, which has been employed in this
paper, should be used to assess the progress of all YOG athletes from the 1st YOG in Singapore 2010, when many
athletes were 16 or 17 years of age, through to the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 when they should be reaching their
physiological peak at 22 to 23 years of age. Efforts should be made to determine why such a high percentage of elite
talented teenage athletes are dropping out of sport before reaching their physiological peak in their mid twenties?
While more data is needed, it would seem prudent for the IWF to consider a modified weightlifting competition for the
YOG and associated qualification events that involved reduced loading. A repetitions based competition with a
reduced load, similar to the athletes bodyweight, would be a proposal worth considering. Thus the 56 kg class
athletes perform as many repetitions with a 56 kg load in a 20 s period. Or some similar type of modification to the
rules which would provide for a reduced maximum loading on the athletes young and developing musculo-skeletal
systems. It is also recommended that the minimum age requirement for the Rio Olympic Games 2016 for the sport of
weightlifting be modified from the current restriction of 14 years of age, so that only athletes 18 years and older can
compete in this event.

In terms of the long term development of weightlifting athletes the following practical suggestions are made for
coaches of athletes in the early to middle teenage years (13 to 16 years of age):

1. Do not train young developing athletes with the same methods applied to mature elite athletes.
2. Never perform maximal lifts in training and limit the loading on the bar to a level which would be performed for
at least 3 repetitions.
3. Train only 1 session per day for a period not exceeding 90 minutes for a maximum of 5 days per week.
4. Include a wide variety of exercises in the weekly training schedule and ensure that at least 50% of the training is
performed on general strength and conditioning work and no more than 50% of the training is performed on the
weightlifting exercises such as snatch, clean and jerk and variations of these lifts.
5. Understand that the physiological peak for these athletes should be achieved in their mid-twenties and hence
consider a long term view to their development and resist the temptation to produce the teenage superstar by
using intense elite adult programs.


1. Balvi, I. Planning for Training and Performance - Part 4. 'The Australian Strength and Conditioning Association (ASCA) Journal
Training to Compete Phase" B.C. Coach, Winter/Spring, pp 9-14, of Australian Strength and Conditioning. Part 1 Vol 16(2): 45-54;
1996. Part 2 16(3): 58-74; Part 3 16(4): 52-82, 2008.
2. Balyi, I and Hamilton, A. Planning for Training and Performance - 7. Qualification system – games of the XXXI Olympiad – Rio 2016 by
Part 5 "The Training to Win Phase of Long Term Athlete the International Weightlifting Federation February 2014 pages 1-
Development." B.C. Coach, Summer pp 9-26, 1996. 10. Available from
3. Balyi, I. and Hamilton, A. Long Term Athlete Development Model
Macrocycle and Macrocycle Planning of the Annual Plan. Strength 2016-Qualification-System-FINAL140220-Weightlifting-EN.pdf
and Conditioning Coach 5(3): 3-10, 1998. accessed April 20th 2014.
4. Balyi, I. and Way, R. Planning for Training & Performance - Part 3. 8. Qualification system 2nd summer Youth Olympic Games Nanjing
Long Term Athlete Development Model, "The Training to Train 2014 by the International Weightlifting Federation July 2012 pages
Phase". B.C. Coach, Fall, pp 1-9, 1995. 1-4. Available from
5. Bompa, T. The Theory and Methodology of Training.
Kendall/Hunt. Dubuque, Iowa, 1983. 2014-Nanjing-Qualification-System.pdf accessed April 21st 2014.
6. Wilson, G.J., Bird, S., O’Connor, D and Jones, J. Resistance
training for Children and Youth: A position stand from the

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Contribution of Leg Power to Multidirectional Speed in Field Sport Athletes. J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)16-24. 2014 © ASCA.

Original Scientific Research Study

1 1 1 1 2
Robert G. Lockie , Adrian B. Schultz , Samuel J. Callaghan , Matthew D. Jeffriess & Tawni M. Luczo .
Exercise and Sport Science Department, School of Environmental and Life
Sciences, University of Newcastle, Ourimbah, Australia.
Kinesiology Department, California State University of Monterey Bay,
Monterey Bay, USA.

Multidirectional speed has been linked to vertical, horizontal, and reactive power, while minimal links have been
established with lateral power. This study investigated leg power relationships with multidirectional speed using
Pearson’s correlations (p < 0.05). Sixteen male field sport athletes (age = 23.31  5.34 years; height = 1.78  0.07
metres [m]; mass = 80.6  9.9 kilograms) completed countermovement jumps (CMJ; vertical); standing broad jumps
(SBJ; horizontal); left and right leg lateral jumps (LLJ and RLJ; lateral); and 40-centimetre drop jumps (flight and
contact time ratio (FTCT ); jump height and contact time ratio [reactive strength index; RSI]; reactive), to measure leg
power. 40-m sprint (0-10, 0-20, 0-40 m intervals), T-test, and Change-of-Direction and Acceleration Test (CODAT)
performance assessed speed. Stepwise multiple regressions (p < 0.05) were conducted for each speed test to
determine leg power predictors. Greater leg power was associated with faster speed. CMJ correlated with all speed
tests (r = -0.566--0.721), and predicted 0-10 m time (r = 0.520). SBJ correlated with the 0-40 m interval, T-test, and
2 -1
CODAT (r = -0.543--0.608), and predicted the T-test (r = 0.370). FTCT and RSI related to all speed tests (r = -
2 -1 2
0.506--0.709). RSI predicted 0-20 m time (r = 0.370). FTCT predicted CODAT time (r = 0.441). LLJ and RLJ
correlated with 0-40 m and CODAT time (r = -0.538--0.664). LLJ predicted 0-40 m time (r = 0.403). This study
reaffirmed the importance of vertical, horizontal, and reactive power for multidirectional speed. Lateral power will
contribute, but further understanding is required of this capacity. Field sport athletes must be direction-specific when
testing and training for power to enhance speed.

Keywords - Lateral jump, countermovement jump, reactive strength index, standing broad jump, agility.


Field-based team sports, which include sports such as the football codes and field hockey, place great demands on a
player’s ability to generate leg power. This includes not only jumping actions, but also power within the running gait.
The power that needs to be generated within the leg muscles will increase markedly when transitioning from running
to maximal sprinting (2). Furthermore, leg power has been related to both the initial acceleration (correlation
coefficient [r] = 0.80, p < 0.01), and peak velocity (r = 0.73, p < 0.05), during a maximal linear sprint (8). What is
important to note is that maximal sprints within field sports rarely just involve linear movements. The ability to change
direction, while still running at high speeds (i.e. multidirectional speed), is an essential quality for these sports. Soccer
players, for example, can complete over 600 direction changes during a 90-minute match (3). Agility describes the
ability to change direction during sport-specific situations, and is a rapid whole-body movement with change of velocity
or direction in response to a stimulus (39). Change-of-direction speed underpins agility, in that it combines the ability
to accelerate and decelerate rapidly, and change direction (39). As for linear speed, leg power is said to be an
essential component of agility and change-of-direction speed (7, 35, 39).

Leg power is commonly measured indirectly through performance in selected jump tests (e.g. countermovement jump,
standing broad jump). The influence of leg power on linear sprint performance has been widely analysed within the
research literature. For example, greater countermovement jump height related to faster 30-m sprint performance (r =
-0.56, p < 0.05) in rugby league players (10). Faster field sport athletes have been also found to have a greater
countermovement jump when compared to their slower counterparts (23). The standing broad jump (r = 0.425, p <
0.05) has been related to sprint acceleration over 20 yards in collegiate athletes (33). Greater reactive power as
measured by a 40-centimetre (cm) drop jump (r = 0.55, p = 0.01) has also been linked to faster linear acceleration
over 10 m in field sport athletes (23). Interestingly, there has been much less research conducted on lateral power (7).
Meylan et al. (30) did find that single-leg lateral jumps were a related to 10-m sprint performance in recreationally
active males (r = -0.457, p < 0.05), but not females (r = -0.059, p > 0.05). Nonetheless, more research is required to
ascertain relationships between lateral power and linear sprint performance. However, it could be argued that the
ability to generate power in the lateral plane could have more of an impact on an agility or change-of-direction speed
test that places a greater emphasis on lateral cutting.

Despite the suggested importance of leg power for agility and change-of-direction speed (35, 39), there have been
minimal investigations of the relationships between these qualities and components of leg power (7). Faster American
football players in change-of-direction speed tests, in this instance the pro-agility shuttle and three-cone drill, that

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

demand direction changes have been found to have greater leg power as measured by a countermovement jump (14,
25). However, the strength of the relationships between vertical power as measured by the jump height, and change-
of-direction speed, was not quantified. Speed and agility training has been shown to improve standing broad jump, 15-
m sprint and T-test performance (4), but the interaction between these variables was not established. Reactive power
as measured by a drop jump was found to contribute moderately to an 8-m sprint with various changes of direction,
but relationships were said to be inconsistent (40). Meylan et al. (30) also found that in addition to being a poor
predictor of linear 10-m sprint performance in recreationally active males and females, single-leg lateral jumps poorly
predicted a change-of-direction speed test that involved two up-and-back cuts over 5 m (r = -0.108--0.399). However,
Meylan et al. (30) suggested the poor predictive capability of lateral jump performance may have been due to the
relatively simple cuts that were used in their study. Given the expectation that lateral power should assist with making
lateral cuts and direction changes (19, 39), research should establish the strength of relationships between lateral
power as measured by jump performance, and multidirectional speed. This may require using a test that features
more direction-specific changes that could emphasise lateral power (i.e. the use of 45º cuts rather than 180º cuts).

Therefore, this research will investigate the interaction between different components of leg power and multidirectional
speed. Leg power will be measured indirectly through field tests assessing countermovement jump (vertical power),
standing broad jump (horizontal power), and lateral jump (lateral power) performance, and a laboratory-based drop
jump test (reactive power). Multidirectional speed will be measured by a 40-m sprint, T-test and change-of-direction
and acceleration test (CODAT). The T-test and CODAT will be used as they feature dynamic movements and
pronounced direction changes. It is hypothesised that there will be significant correlations between greater power, as
measured by jump heights and distances, and faster performance in the speed tests. Vertical, horizontal, and reactive
power will relate more to linear speed (i.e. 40-m sprint). Lateral power will correlate more with the change-of-direction
speed tests (i.e. T-test and CODAT). Determining the aspects of leg power that most strongly relate to the different
tests of multidirectional speed will illustrate how the components of leg power contribute to speed in particular
directions. This could then lead to field sport and strength and conditioning coaches selecting more applicable
plyometric exercises (e.g. incorporating more lateral jump exercises) when attempting to improve multidirectional
speed in their athletes.


Experimental Approach to the Problem

The aim of this study was to ascertain the degree of interaction between leg power, as measured by
countermovement, standing broad, lateral, and drop jumps, and multidirectional speed. The speed tests were a 40-m
sprint (linear speed), T-test and CODAT (change-of-direction speed). The change-of-direction speed tests were
chosen due to their emphasis on lateral shuffling, which is particularly the case with the T-test, and lateral cutting,
which is featured in the CODAT. A cross-sectional analysis of field sport athletes was conducted. Pearson’s
correlation analysis was used to determine the extent of the relationships between performance in the jump tests, and
with speed test times. The results from this study will demonstrate the strength of the relationships between the leg
power as measured through the jump tests that emphasise projection in a particular direction, and times from the
speed tests.

Sixteen males (age = 23.31  5.34 years; height = 1.78  0.07 m; mass = 80.6  9.9 kilograms) were recruited for this
study. This sample size is similar to (23, 40) or more than (29) other studies that have analysed speed and power
relationships in athletes. Subjects were recruited if they: were recreationally active in a field sport (e.g. soccer, rugby
league, rugby union, Australian football, touch, Oztag); had a general field sport training history (≥two timesweek )
extending over the previous 12 months; were currently training for a field sport (three hoursweek ); were available
for both testing sessions; and did not have any existing medical conditions that would compromise participation in the
study. The methodology and procedures used in this study were approved by the institutional ethics committee. All
subjects received a clear explanation of the study, including the risks and benefits of participation, and written
informed consent was obtained prior to testing.

Testing was conducted over two days, separated by 48 hours. Session 1 was conducted on an indoor basketball
court, and included the speed assessments, as well as the countermovement jump testing. Prior to data collection in
Session 1, the subject’s age, height, and mass were recorded. Height was measured barefoot using a stadiometer
(Ecomed Trading, Seven Hills, Australia), recorded to the nearest 0.01 centimetres (cm). Body mass was recorded to
the nearest 0.1 kg using digital scales (Tanita Corporation, Tokyo, Japan). A standardised warm-up, consisting of 10
minutes of jogging, 10 minutes of dynamic stretching of the legs, and progressive speed runs over the testing
distances, was then used during Session 1. For all the speed tests, three trials were used with three minutes recovery
between each trial, and the best time was used for the analysis. Time was recorded to the nearest 0.001 seconds (s)
for each interval in the 40-m sprint, and for the total time in the T-test and CODAT. Session 2 was conducted in the
biomechanics laboratory at the University of Newcastle, Ourimbah campus, and consisted of the standing broad jump,
lateral jump, and 40-cm drop jump assessments. The Session 2 warm-up consisted of 10 minutes of low-intensity
cycling on a bicycle ergometer, followed by 10 minutes of dynamic stretching of the legs, and practice jump trials. For

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all the jump tests, three trials were completed, with two minutes recovery between efforts. The best jump was used for
analysis. Subjects were assessed in the same order in both testing sessions.

40-m Sprint
A 40-m sprint was used to measure linear speed. 0-10 m, 0-20 m, and 0-40 m time was recorded by a timing lights
system (Fusion Sports, Coopers Plains, Australia), that has been previously found to be reliable (27, 32). Gates were
placed at 0 m, 10 m, 20 m, and 40 m. Sprints over 10 m (12, 23), 20 m (11, 12), and 40 m (12, 18) have been used in
the assessment of field sport athletes. Subjects began the sprint from a standing stance 30 cm behind the start line to
trigger the first gate (32), and were instructed to drive off from the start line and sprint through all sets of timing gates.
If the subject rocked backwards or forwards prior to starting, the trial was disregarded and repeated after the recovery

The T-test was assessed because it features anterior, posterior, and lateral movements, and is commonly used for
field sport athletes (13, 18, 37). The methodology was adapted from Semenick (34). Markers were positioned and
taped to the floor as shown in Figure 1, with a start line indicated by tape positioned on the floor. One timing gate
(Fusion Sports, Coopers Plains, Australia) was used for this test, and subjects were required to face forwards at all
times during the test. Subjects began the sprint from a standing start 30 cm behind the start line (Marker 1) (32).
Subjects sprinted forwards 9.14 m to touch the top of the middle marker. They then side-shuffled 4.57 m to the left to
touch the next marker, side-shuffled 9.14 m to the right to touch the next marker, side-shuffled 4.57 m to touch the
middle marker again, before back pedalling (i.e. backwards running) past the start line to finish the test. Subjects were
not to cross their feet when side-shuffling. If subjects did cross their feet, the trial was stopped and re-attempted after
the required rest period. Time was recorded from the first time the subject broke the gate, until they returned through
the gate following the last back pedal.
4.57 m 4.57 m

9.14 m
Timing Gate

Start Line
Figure 1 - Dimensions for the T-test. m = metres.

Change-of-Direction and Acceleration Test (CODAT)

The dimensions and movement direction for the CODAT is shown in Figure 2. The CODAT was used as it was based
upon movement patterns common to many field sports (i.e. sprinting forwards while completing lateral cuts), and has
been shown to be a valid and reliable assessment of change-of-direction speed (27). The tests feature two linear
sprints of 5 m and 10 m, and three 3-m sprints in between four direction changes. Two timing gates (Fusion Sports,
Coopers Plains, Australia) were used; one positioned at the start, and the other at the finish of the test. Subjects
started 30 cm behind the start line (32), were required to face forwards at all times during the CODAT, and stay
outside the markers when running. If subjects cut across or over the top of a marker, the trial was stopped and
another attempted after the required rest period.

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Timing Gate

3m 45


45 3 m


Start Line

Figure 2 - Change-of-Direction and Acceleration Test (CODAT) dimensions and completion route. m = metres.

Countermovement Jump
A Vertec apparatus (Yardstick, Swift Performance Equipment, Australia) was used to measure countermovement
jump performance and provide an indirect assessment of vertical power. Measuring countermovement jump
performance using an apparatus such as this has been previously found to be reliable (9). The subject initially stood
side-on to the Vertec (on the subjects’ dominant side), and while keeping their heels on the floor, reached upward as
high as possible, fully elevating the shoulder to displace as many vanes as possible. The last vane moved became the
zero reference. The subject then jumped as high as possible, with no preparatory or jab step, and height was recorded
from highest vane moved. No restrictions were placed on the knee angle attained during the eccentric phase of the
jump. Vertical jump height was calculated by subtracting the standing reach height from the jump height.

Standing Broad Jump

The standing broad jump was used as an indirect measure of horizontal power. This assessment involved the subject
placing the toes of both feet on the back of the starting line. With a simultaneous arm swing and crouch, the subject
then leapt as far forward as possible, ensuring a bilateral landing. Subjects had to ‘stick’ the landing for the trial to be
counted. If the subject did not do this, the trial was disregarded and another trial was completed. No restrictions were
placed on body angles attained during the preparatory phase of the jump. The distance was measured using a
standard tape measure from the front of the start line to the back of the back heel at the landing to the nearest 0.01 m

Lateral Jump
The use of lateral jumps off each leg served as indirect assessments of lateral power. For the lateral jump, the subject
started by standing on the testing leg with the foot at the start line and hands on the hips (30). No restrictions were
placed on standing leg knee or hip angles during the jump. The subject was allowed to self-select the distance of the
preparatory crouch before jumping laterally to the inside (e.g. the right leg jump involved a displacement towards the
left) as far as possible and landing on two feet. The distance jumped was measured to the nearest 0.01 m with a
standard tape measure. Each subject completed three trials for each leg. Bilateral differences in lateral jump
performance were expressed as a percentage through the formula: (powerful leg - weaker leg)/powerful leg x 100.
The more powerful leg was defined as the leg with the greater jump distance.

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Drop Jump – Reactive Strength Index (RSI)

A 40-cm drop jump was used to determine the subject’s RSI. This height was chosen as it has been recommended as
being optimal for training (5), and has been used in previous research (23). The drop jumps were performed on a
9281E force platform (Kistler, Winterthur, Switzerland), with data sampled at a rate of 1000 Hertz. The starting position
for the drop jump involved the subject standing upright on a 40-cm high box. They then were instructed to step off
from the height, and to ‘explode’ up off the force plate from two feet, attempting to minimise contact time (23). Contact
time (the length of the time in seconds the subject was in contact with the force platform following the drop) and the
flight time (the duration from take-off until touchdown) of the jump were recorded. The ratio between flight time and
-1 -1
contact time was computed (flight time·contact time ; FTCT ). Jump height was calculated using the formula Jump
2 -2
Height = (½a[t/2] ) (a = acceleration due to gravity [i.e. 9.8 ms ], and t = total flight time). Jump height and contact
time were used to determine RSI, through the equation: RSI = jump height∙contact time (23, 36).

Statistical Analysis
Means and standard deviations, as well as 90% confidence intervals, for all subjects were derived for the dependent
variables (i.e. speed test times, jump heights and distances, drop jump flight and contact time, RSI). The distribution of
the data for each variable was checked for normality with Q-Q plots. Pearson’s correlation analysis was used to
ascertain relationships between the jump and multidirectional speed tests. Significant correlations were reported at
alpha levels of p < 0.01 and p < 0.05 (33). The strength of the Pearson’s r value was designated an appropriate
descriptor as per Hopkins (17). A correlation coefficient between 0 to 0.3, or 0 to -0.3, was considered small; 0.31 to
0.49, or -0.31 to -0.49, moderate; 0.5 to 0.69, or -0.5 to -0.69, large; 0.7 to 0.89, or -0.7 to -0.89, very large; and 0.9 to
1, or -0.9 to -1, near perfect for predicting relationships. Stepwise multiple regression analyses (p ≤ 0.05) were also
conducted for the 40-m sprint intervals, T-test, and CODAT (each acted as a dependent variable), to ascertain the
measure of leg power (vertical jump, standing broad jump, the lateral jumps, and the different measures derived from
the 40-cm drop jump) that best predicted performance in the particular speed test. All statistical analyses were
computed using the Statistics Package for Social Sciences (Version 20.0; IBM Corporation, New York, USA).


The data for the 40-m sprint, T-test and CODAT times, vertical jump height, standing broad and lateral jump
distances, the percentage difference in jump distance between the legs, and the reactive power variables derived from
the drop jump, are shown in Table 1. The correlations between the measures of leg speed, and the multidirectional
speed test times, are displayed in Table 2. 28 out of 50 correlations were significant. Nine were significant at p < 0.01,
while 19 were significant at p < 0.05. Two significant correlations were very large (0-10 m and countermovement jump;
CODAT and FTCT ); the strength of all other significant correlations was large. The negative relationships indicated
that lower speed test times were associated with greater leg power.

Table 1 - Descriptive data (mean  standard deviation; 90% confidence intervals [CI]) for the 0-40 metre (m) sprint (0-
10, 0-20, and 0-40 m intervals), T-test, change-of-direction and acceleration test (CODAT), countermovement jump,
standing broad jump, lateral jump, and drop jump in field sport athletes.

Speed and Power Variables Subject Mean (n = 16) 90% CI

0-10 m (s) 1.761  0.048 1.740-1.782
0-20 m (s) 3.086  0.107 3.039-3.133
0-40 m (s) 5.511  0.213 5.418-5.605
T-test (s) 10.420  0.669 10.127-10.713
CODAT (s) 6.015  0.366 5.855-6.176
Countermovement Jump (m) 0.534  0.082 0.498-0.570
Standing Broad Jump (m) 2.182  0.166 2.109-2.255
Left Leg Lateral Jump (m) 1.785  0.183 1.705-1.865
Right Leg Lateral Jump (m) 1.684  0.185 1.603-1.765
Lateral Jump Between-Leg Difference (%) 5.869  6.231 3.139-8.600
Drop Jump Contact Time (s) 0.254  0.042 0.236-0.272
Drop Jump Flight Time (s) 0.437  0.065 0.409-0.466
1.771  0.400
-1 -1
Flight TimeContact Time (s·s ) 1.596-1.947
Drop Jump Height (m) 0.239  0.066 0.210-0.268
0.971  0.326
Reactive Strength Index (JHCT ) 0.828-1.113

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Table 2 - Correlations between countermovement jump, standing broad jump, right and left leg lateral jump (LJ),
between-leg LJ differences, drop jump (DJ) contact and flight time, flight and contact time ratio (FTCT ), drop jump
(DJ) height, and reactive strength index (DJ height·CT ), with the 0-10 metre (m), 0-20 m, and 0-40 m intervals, T-
test, and change-of-direction and acceleration test (CODAT). r = correlation coefficient; p = significance.

0-10 m 0-20 m 0-40 m T-test CODAT

Countermovement Jump r -0.721 -0.603 -0.629 -0.566 -0.612
p 0.002** 0.013* 0.009** 0.022* 0.012*
Standing Broad Jump r -0.440 -0.494 -0.543 -0.608 -0.566
p 0.088 0.052 0.030* 0.012* 0.022*
Left Leg LJ r -0.410 -0.439 -0.635 -0.466 -0.664
p 0.115 0.089 0.008** 0.069 0.005**
Right Leg LJ r -0.492 -0.430 -0.548 -0.366 -0.538
p 0.053 0.097 0.028* 0.163 0.031*
LJ Leg Difference r 0.130 -0.006 -0.101 -0.159 -0.156
p 0.630 0.983 0.710 0.556 0.563
DJ Contact Time r 0.481 0.228 0.404 0.445 0.611
p 0.060 0.397 0.120 0.084 0.012*
DJ Flight Time r -0.495 -0.559 -0.361 -0.380 -0.526
p 0.051 0.024* 0.169 0.147 0.036*
FTCT r -0.690 0.577 -0.558 -0.546 -0.709
p 0.003** 0.019* 0.025* 0.029* 0.002**
DJ Height r -0.516 -0.568 -0.384 -0.390 -0.519
p 0.041* 0.022* 0.141 0.135 0.040*
Reactive Strength Index r -0.680 -0.632 -0.536 -0.506 -0.638
p 0.004** 0.009** 0.032* 0.045* 0.008**
** Significant (p < 0.01) relationship between variables.
* Significant (p < 0.05) relationship between variables.
The 0-10 m interval significantly correlated with the countermovement jump, FTCT , drop jump height, and RSI. As
stated, the strongest correlation was with the countermovement jump (r = -0.721, p = 0.002). The 0-20 m interval
significantly correlated with the countermovement jump, drop jump flight time, FTCT , drop jump height, and RSI; the
strongest correlation was with the RSI (r = -0.632, p = 0.009). The 0-40 m interval significantly correlated with the
countermovement jump, standing broad jump, both lateral jumps, FTCT , and RSI. The strongest correlation for the
0-40 m interval was found with the countermovement jump as well (r = -0.629, p = 0.009). The T-test significantly
correlated with the countermovement jump, standing broad jump, FTCT , and RSI. The strongest correlation for the
T-test was with the standing broad jump (r = -0.608, p = 0.012). The CODAT significantly correlated with all measures
of leg power, except for the between-leg difference in lateral jumps. The strongest correlation for the CODAT was with
FTCT (r = -0.709, p = 0.002).

Stepwise linear regressions were conducted for each of the speed tests to determine the strongest power predictor
(Table 3). For each best predictive relationship, only one power variable for each speed test contributed to the
significant regression. For the intervals within the 40-m sprint, the most prominent leg power predictors were the
countermovement jump (0-10 m interval), standing broad jump (0-20 m interval), and left leg lateral jump (0-40 m
interval). The standing broad jump also most strongly predicted T-test performance, while the FTCT significantly
predicted CODAT time.

Table 3 - Stepwise linear regression analysis between 0-40 metre (m) sprint (0-10 m, 0-20 m, and 0-40 m intervals),
T-test, and change-of-direction and acceleration test (dependent variables), and countermovement jump, standing
broad jump, left and right leg lateral jump, and reactive strength index as measured by a 40-centimetre drop jump. r =
multiple regression correlation coefficient; p = significance.
Best Predictors of the Speed Tests r r Significance
0-10 m Interval
Countermovement Jump 0.721 0.520 p = 0.002
0-20 m Interval
Reactive Strength Index 0.632 0.399 p = 0.009
0-40 m Interval
Left Leg Lateral Jump 0.635 0.403 p = 0.008
Standing Broad Jump 0.608 0.370 p = 0.012
Change-of-Direction and Acceleration Test
Drop Jump Flight Time·Contact Time 0.709 0.502 p = 0.002

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning


This study analysed the relationships between leg power, as measured by field tests of vertical (countermovement
jump), horizontal (standing broad jump), and lateral (lateral countermovement jumps) power, and a laboratory-based
test of reactive power (40-cm drop jump), with multidirectional speed. Multidirectional speed was measured by a 40-m
sprint (linear speed), and the T-test and CODAT (change-of-direction speed). As was expected, the different
components of leg power correlated with each speed test. However, the strength of relationships between leg power
in particular directions and the speed tests differed depending on the demands of the test. The size of the correlations
from this study is similar to those from previous research that has analysed relationships between leg power and
speed (23, 30, 33). A limitation of correlation analyses is that factors such as body mass, physique, flexibility,
technique, and leg strength can have an effect on the statistical models (7). This would provide some explanation that
as to why only 28 of 50 correlations were deemed significant, which only two being classified as very large (Table 2).
Nonetheless, research provides an important progression for defining relationships between leg power and
multidirectional speed. The results of from this study have implications for field sport and strength and conditioning

As for previous research, countermovement jump performance was found to relate to linear sprint performance (Table
2). Indeed, vertical power as measured by a countermovement jump has been related to the acceleration phase of a
100-m sprint (6), the maximum speed phase of a sprint (21), and 30-m speed in rugby league players (10). Within the
context of the current study, greater countermovement jump height was related to faster times for each interval of the
40-m sprint, as well as the two change-of-direction speed tests. A very large correlation was established with 0-10 m
time (r = -0.721, p = 0.002), and the countermovement jump was also the strongest predictor of 0-10 m performance
(r = 0.520, p = 0.002; Table 3). The stretch-shortening capacities of the leg muscles contribute greatly to a maximal
vertical jump, as well as within the running step (29). This research provides further support for the need of vertical
power generation for linear sprint performance. The results also indicate that the vertical power contributes to agility
and change-of-direction speed, and reemphasises why the countermovement jump is a foundation in testing for many
different sports, as an indicator of leg power.
The FTCT and RSI both assess the ability of an individual to produce force rapidly under a high eccentric load,
which is provided by the drop jump. Both of these variables correlated with each multidirectional speed test (Table 2),
with a very large correlation found between the FTCT and CODAT (r = -0.709, p = 0.002). Greater jump heights
following the 40-cm drop also correlated with faster 0-10 m and 0-20 m sprint times. Additionally, the RSI best
2 -1 2
predicted 20-m sprint time (r = 0.399, p = 0.009; Table 3), while FTCT best predicted CODAT sprint time (r =
0.502, p = 0.002; Table 3). Drop jump performance has been related to short sprint speed over 10 m or less (23, 40).
Furthermore, the rapid force generation needed through the stretch-shortening capacities of the muscles contributes
greatly to maximal velocity sprinting (20). The results from this study indicate that reactive power is not only a
component of linear speed, but change-of-direction speed as well. Similarities in the mechanics of ground contact
during both the jump landing and take-off, and the sprint step (23, 40), would be a contributing factor in these
correlations. This would be especially the case from how the drop jump was performed in this study, where a short
contact time was emphasised. Shorter contact times have been linked to faster sprint performances in field sport
athletes (31). Although this relationship between reactive power and multidirectional speed supports practical theory
(35), coaches should be aware that the interplay with other factors, such as the athlete’s technique when completing
power-based activities (7), will affect this relationship.

Concerning the linear sprint intervals, the standing broad jump related to only the 0-40 m interval in the 40-m sprint (r
= -0.543, p = 0.030; Table 2). Maximal velocity sprinting would be expected to exhibit a relationship with the standing
broad jump, as enhanced horizontal power can be linked to greater step length (24), and longer steps are important
for high running velocities (28). The standing broad jump also correlated with the T-test (r = -0.608, p = 0.012) and
CODAT (r = -0.566, p = 0.022). In addition, the T-test was best predicted by the standing broad jump (r = 0.370, p =
0.012; Table 3). Both change-of-direction speed tests feature linear accelerations of approximately 10 m. The standing
broad jump has been linked to faster linear sprint performance over distances of less than 30 m (1, 33), and
improvements in sprint performance over 10-15 m have been associated with increased horizontal power (4, 24, 36).
There is still a degree of unexplained variance between the standing broad jump and multidirectional speed, which is
not uncommon for horizontal power measurements (7). Unilateral horizontal jump performance may provide a better
indicator of how horizontal power could influence multidirectional speed, and may go some way to explaining the extra
variance. Nevertheless, the results from this study indicate that horizontal power contributes to multidirectional speed.
This was true more so for maximum velocity, or for situations when accelerations over short distances are required.
The ability to accelerate in field sports is often needed following a change of direction (38); greater horizontal power
should facilitate this.

One of the novel aspects of this study was the investigation of lateral power, as measured by lateral jumps off each
leg, and their relationship with multidirectional speed (Table 2). Lateral jump performance did not correlate with the 0-
10 m and 0-20 m intervals of the 40-m sprint. Despite the need for strength balance between the limbs to enhance
multidirectional speed (26, 35), no significant relationships were established between the lateral power differences
between the legs and any speed test. Interestingly, however, greater left and right leg lateral jump distance was linked

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning
to faster 0-40 m times (Table 2). In addition, the left leg lateral jump was the best predictor of 0-40 m time (r = 0.403,
p = 0.008; Table 3). Although a linear 40-m sprint will not feature lateral projection, there would be similarities in the
leg muscles recruited during a maximal sprint, and for a lateral jump. The quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles
are all active during a unilateral jump (16). These muscles are also recruited during the sprint step, especially with
increasing running velocity (22). Thus, similar recruitment of muscles required for maximal sprinting and lateral
jumping would provide some basis for the relationships found in this study. Further analysis of the primary muscles
involved with a lateral jump or cut would confirm this notion.

It was hypothesised that greater lateral power, indicated by greater lateral jump distances, would have a notable
impact on the change-of-direction speed tests. However, no significant relationships were established between lateral
jump distances for either leg with the T-test (Table 2). In addition to linear accelerations, the T-test also involves side-
shuffling and back pedalling. Although this mixture of different running kinematics makes the test very specific for field
sport athletes, the structure of the test actually results in a sprint distance greater than 36 m (Figure 1). In the current
study, this resulted in an average time of 10.42  0.67 s to complete the test. The longer duration of the T-test may
have limited the impact lateral power had on this test. Furthermore, given the impact an athlete’s technique can have
on speed and power relationships (7), the gait modifications required in the T-test may limit the impact lateral power
can have in this test. This may be particularly true for the side-shuffling present in the T-test, which may not place as
high a demand on maximal lateral power. Potentially, a test that features more dynamic, 45 zig-zag style cuts could
stress lateral power to a greater extent. This type of cut is featured in the CODAT.

The CODAT features four direction changes, which may be sufficient to induce greater lateral power involvement
within the test (30). Additionally, this test features more ‘explosive’ cuts when compared to the T-test, in that the
sprints are shorter following the direction changes. 3 m sprints follow after the lateral cuts in the middle of the test,
before the CODAT finishes with a 10-m sprint after the last direction change. It would be expected that these
movements would stress lateral power capacities to a great extent; the results from the current study indicated this
was the case (Table 2). Both greater left (r = -0.664, p = 0.005) and right (r = -0.538, p = 0.031) leg lateral jump
performance was associated with faster CODAT time (Table 2). This relates to coaching theory with regards to lateral
power development and how this should help improve an athlete’s change-of-direction speed (19, 35, 39). The
strength of the correlations between the right and left leg lateral jumps are similar to those established for vertical and
horizontal jump performance and linear sprint performance over 10 m in field sport athletes (23) and 18.29 m in
collegiate athletes (33), demonstrating the practical applicability of this data. However, neither lateral jump was found
to be a predictor of CODAT performance (Table 3). Although the correlation data illustrates that lateral power can
influence change-of-direction speed, in particular for movements involving 45 cutting, further investigation into lateral
power is required to understand the unexplained lateral jump-multidirectional speed variance. This could include
research that provides a greater understating of the movement kinematics, muscle activity, and ground kinetics
associated with a maximal lateral projection.

The results from the current study indicate that there are relationships between vertical, horizontal, reactive, and
lateral power, and multidirectional speed. While the relationships between running speed and vertical, horizontal, and
reactive power have been established, what has not been clearly defined is the influence of lateral power on speed.
Lateral power, as measured by maximal lateral jumps, was found to interact with maximal linear speed, in addition to
change-of-direction speed that featured distinct, 45 lateral cutting. Further research is needed into understanding the
interaction between lateral power and multidirectional speed, possibly through the analysis of lateral movement
mechanics. Nonetheless, the results from this study reemphasise the specificity of leg power, particularly in regards to
direction. Coaches and athletes should be conscious of this when attempting to assess and train leg power so as to
influence multidirectional speed.


The results from this study provide support to the need for vertical, horizontal, and reactive power within
multidirectional speed, and the specificity of their direction. The unique findings for this study demonstrate that lateral
power also contributes to multidirectional speed, although greater understanding of lateral movement mechanics is
required. What can be drawn from these results is that leg power development is specific in particular directions,
especially when analysing the influence power has on multidirectional speed. As a result, testing and training for leg
power must be specific. The value of the countermovement jump for the assessment of field sport athletes was
reaffirmed. The significant correlation and predictive results for RSI and FTCT with multidirectional speed emphasise
the need to integrate reactive power into testing for field sport athletes. There is also value for understanding the
lateral power capacities of field sport athletes. However, the measurement of lateral jump distance may not provide all
the necessary information for how lateral power could impact multidirectional speed. The movements associated with
a lateral projection, the primary muscles involved with a lateral jump or cut, and the stance kinetics of these actions,
need to be further elucidated. This would provide field sport and strength and conditioning coaches with a greater
understanding of lateral power, and whether to include an assessment of this capacity in testing for their athletes.

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning


The authors would like to acknowledge our subjects for their contribution to the study. This research project received
no external financial assistance. None of the authors have any conflict of interest.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Normative data for mechanical variables during loaded and unloaded countermovement jumps. J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)26-32. 2014 © ASCA.

Original Scientific Research Study

1,2 3
Sarah J Taylor & Kristie-Lee Taylor
ACT Academy of Sport; Strength and Conditioning Department.
University of Canberra; National Institute of Sport Studies.
School of Exercise and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia.

The primary purpose of this research was to develop normative data for the incremental power profile utilising
the countermovement jump (CMJ) and a linear position transducer. 32 state level athletes performed 5
repetitions of a CMJ at the following loads; BW, BW +10%, BW +20%, BW+30%, BW+40%, BW+50%, whilst
connected to a linear position transducer that recorded mean relative (W/kg) and absolute power values (W), jump
height (cm) and peak velocity (m/s). All athletes showed a decrease in the measured variables as the load placed
upon them was increased. The incremental power profile indicates that distinct performance differences exist between
all squads. As this was a single testing session it does not identify the limiting factors (e.g. chronological age, gender,
training age etc.) to athletic performance, but rather provides a baseline score for future comparison. Results from this
report are similar to those found in previous studies that have used a similar testing protocol. Coaches can use the
data as a baseline score for comparing athletes of similar characteristics within the same sport.

Keywords - Countermovement jump, vertical jump, normative data, power, incremental, loaded, unloaded.


The countermovement jump (CMJ) is one of the more popular tests used to assess vertical jump height and lower
body power, in both field and laboratory settings (4,17,18). The CMJ requires both concentric and eccentric muscle
actions to perform this movement, which signals the stretch shortening cycle (SSC) (18). This may provide a more
sport-specific measure of an athlete’s performance when compared to other forms of jump testing, such as the squat
jump (SJ) that emphasizes the concentric phase of jumping (4).

When testing it is important to ensure the tests used measure qualities, which are important for performance (e.g.
absolute and relative power, force, velocity and jump height are common qualities measured) and the results are valid
and reliable (2, 3, 4, 6, 11, 21, 22, 23). The incremental power profile for measuring strength and power has long
been seen as a useful and reliable way to assess athletic performance (15,18,22). This is due to its ability to assess
performance at body weight, and under varying loads (15). Enabling coaches to prescribe individualised training
loads based on an athlete’s average and peak power output (18).

Current research has shown it is possible to assess CMJ using a range of different technologies such as; force plates,
accelerometers, vertecs, contact mats, and linear position transducers (1,4,10). The linear position transducer is a
simple piece of equipment that can be utilised in laboratory and field settings for multiple forms of strength and power
testing (10). Although previous research has used a combination of technologies to assess power, research by
Hansen et al (10) has shown that either a force plate or linear position transducer technology can be used in the
collection of data as long as comparisons are not made between the data generated from the two.

The aim of this paper is to develop normative data using the incremental power profile across a variety of sports
utilising a linear position transducer to record data. This will provide information to coaches that will allow them to; (1)
compare and contrast athletes on performance outcomes, (2) provided a baseline score for future comparison, (3)
assess the long-term success of training programs and (5) assist in the manipulation of training loads and volume


A total of 32 individuals, female (n = 22) and male (n = 10) state/national representative athletes volunteered to
participate in this project. Volunteers had previous experience in performing the CMJ under varying loads and
previous strength training experience at a nationally identified training institute. The range on training experience at a
nationally identified training institute varied greatly between each athlete in the squads tested (Table 1). All subjects
were informed of any associated risk, and allowed to withdraw at any time. Ethical approval was obtained through the
University of Canberra’s Committee for Ethics in Human Research.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Table 1 - Subject descriptive data.

Number Age Training Age* Height (cm) Weight (kg)

Women’s Hockey 3 20.9 ± 2.3 0.5 - 5.5 165.6 ± 7.5 67.0 ± 6.0
Men’s Hockey 6 21.1 ± 2.7 0.5 - 5.5 179.5 ± 3.1 75.7 ± 9.1
Women’s Basketball 3 16.9 ± 0.6 2.5 - 3.5 178.6 ± 9.1 71.3 ± 6.4
Men’s Basketball 4 16.1 ± 0.8 1.5 - 2.5 184.9 ± 7.0 86.3 ± 12.6
Women’s Football 8 18.7 ± 1.2 1.5 - 6.5 167.3 ± 5.8 61.6 ± 4.1
Netball 8 18.9 ± 1.4 0.5 - 1.5 176.2 ± 5.4 66.2 ± 6.6
* Training age is the range (years) of time spent under a qualified strength and conditioning coach at a nationally
identified institute.

Testing protocols
Before each testing session each subject was instructed to perform a 10 minute dynamic warm-up consisting of
general whole body movements emphasising on increase in range of movement, a variety of running patterns and four
sets of three CMJ. Subjects were required to progressively increase the intensity of the exercises until the end of the
warm-up period, or until they felt they were capable of maximal performance.

Jump assessments consisted of each subject performing a countermovement jump (CMJ) at body weight and then
additional CMJ’s with an additional load that was calculated from a percentage of their body weight (i.e. a 60 kg
athlete will jump with an additional 6 kg load for a BW+ 10% jump). The subject was required to stand erect with the
bar positioned across his/her shoulders and instructed to jump for maximal height while keeping constant downward
pressure on the barbell to prevent the bar from moving independently of the body. Each subject performed five
repetitions of CMJ in the following increment order; BW, BW (rounded to the nearest 0.5 kg) + 10% on a bar placed
across the back of the shoulders, BW + 20%, BW + 30%, BW + 50% pausing for approximately 3-5 s between each
jump, with a minimum of 2 minutes rest between each set. System mass was inclusive of the athletes body weight and
the additional load that was placed upon the bar. Prior to each set the subject performed 1-2 practice jumps at each
load. No attempt was made to standardise or control the depth of CMJ’s performed. A displacement-time curve for
each jump was obtained by attaching a digital optical encoder via a cable (Gym Aware Power Tool, Kinetic
Performance Technologies, Canberra, Australia) to one side of the barbell. The Gymaware system records
displacement-time data using a signal driven sampling scheme where position points were time-stamped when a
change in position was detected. It then limits (down samples) this to a maximum of 50 points per second. The first
and second derivative of position with respect to time was taken to calculate instantaneous velocity and acceleration
respectively. Acceleration values were multiplied by the system mass to calculate force, and the given force curve
multiplied by the velocity curve to determine power. Mean and standard deviation values for both absolute (w) and
relative (w/kg) mean power (MP, average power output from each time point on the power-time curve) were
calculated over the concentric portion of the movement, as well as peak values for velocity (peak velocity; PV) (4).
Jump height was determined as the highest point on the displacement-time curve.

Statistical Analysis
Data was imported from Gymaware online software to Windows Microsoft Excel 2010, where descriptive statistics
were calculated as mean and standard deviations. It is the purpose of this paper to present a normative data set only
and therefore no statistical analysis will be reported.


Normative data for absolute and relative mean power, peak velocity and jump height are presented in Table 2.

Please note that this is not equivalent to a traditional 50 Hz continuous sampling system. A 50 Hz continuous
sampling system records data every 20 ms irrespective of the position.[26]

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Table 2 - CMJ normative data.

10% 20% 30% 40% 50%
Women’s Hockey (n = 3)
Mean Power (W) 2689 ± 489 2503 ± 481 2386 ± 511 2237 ± 441 2128 ± 325 2038 ± 359
Mean Power (W/kg) 40.4 ± 7.4 37.5 ± 6.6 35.6 ± 5.9 33.4 ± 4.7 31.8 ± 3.1 30.5 ± 4.1
Peak Velocity (m/s) 3.1 ± 0.4 2.9 ± 0.2 2.7 ± 0.2 2.5 ± 0.2 2.3 ± 0.1 2.2 ± 2.2
Jump Height (cm) 34 ± 4.5 33 ± 3.0 31 ± 2.7 29 ± 3.2 27 ± 2.0 27 ± 2.0

Netball (n = 8)
Mean Power (W) 2129 ± 500 2072 ± 422 1942 ± 345 1916 ± 309 1844 ± 359 1872 ± 92
Mean Power (W/kg) 31.9 ± 5.8 31.1 ± 4.4 29.3 ± 4.5 28.9 ± 3.7 28.5 ± 4.6 28.4 ± 2.7
Peak Velocity (m/s) 2.8 ± 0.2 2.6 ± 0.2 2.5 ± 0.2 2.3 ± 0.1 2.2 ± 0.2 2.1 ± 0.1
Jump Height (cm) 34 ± 4.2 33 ± 2.8 30 ± 2.7 28 ± 2.3 26 ± 2.5 36 ± 1.0

Women’s Football (n = 8)
Mean Power (W) 2479 ± 171 2304 ± 125 2031 ± 50 1973 ± 136 1930 ± 126 1760 ± 166
Mean Power (W/kg) 40.6 ± 4.7 37.6 ± 4.0 33.1 ± 2.5 32.2 ± 3.3 31.5 ± 3.3 28.9 ± 3.5
Peak Velocity (m/s) 3.0 ± 0.2 2.8 ± 0.2 2.5 ± 0.1 2.4 ± 0.1 2.3 ± 0.1 2.1 ± 0.1
Jump Height (cm) 38 ± 5.3 35 ± 4.3 34 ± 8.9 30 ± 3.3 28 ± 3.7 26 ± 4.1

Women’s Basketball (n = 3)
Mean Power (W) 2395 ± 103 2338 ± 235 2287 ± 239 2151 ± 176 2022 ± 43 1951 ± 77
Mean Power (W/kg) 33.6 ± 1.7 32.8 ± 2.2 32.1 ± 2.9 30.2 ± 2.8 28.4 ± 2.0 27.4 ± 1.5
Peak Velocity (m/s) 2.8 ± 0.2 2.7 ± 0.0 2.6 ± 0.0 2.4 ± 0.1 2.2 ± 0.0 2.1 ± 0.1
Jump Height (cm) 31 ± 2.3 30 ± 1.5 29 ± 2.1 27 ± 2.1 26 ± 2.1 24 ± 1.8

Men’s Hockey (n = 6)
Mean Power (W) 3407 ± 474 3192 ± 293 2867 ± 318 2827 ± 362 2613 ± 363 2552 ± 274
Mean Power (W/kg) 45.1 ± 6.1 42.2 ± 2.5 38.0 ± 3.8 37.4 ± 3.9 34.5 ± 3.3 33.1 ± 3.4
Peak Velocity (m/s) 3.2 ± 0.2 3.0 ± 0.2 2.8 ± 0.2 2.7 ± 0.2 2.5 ± 0.1 2.4 ± 0.1
Jump Height (cm) 43 ± 4.7 41 ± 3.3 38 ± 3.3 35 ± 2.7 33 ± 2.3 31 ± 1.9

Men’s Basketball (n = 4)
Mean Power (W) 3279 ± 568 3148 ± 699 3101 ± 551 2895 ± 515 2696 ± 481 2524 ± 561
Mean Power (W/kg) 40.1 ± 7.1 38.1 ± 6.3 37.6 ± 4.5 35.1 ± 3.5 32.7 ± 3.4 30.0 ± 4.9
Peak Velocity (m/s) 3.0 ± 0.1 2.8 ± 0.1 2.7 ± 0.1 2.6 ± 0.1 2.4 ± 0.1 2.3 ± 0.1
Jump Height (cm) 39 ± 3.9 36 ± 3.2 35 ± 2.8 33 ± 2.5 30 ± 2.0 29 ± 2.9

Women’s Sports
Results show womens hockey produced greater absolute and relative mean power outputs across the majority of
loads, excluding mean relative power at BW, BW + 10% where women’s football were able to produce similar outputs
before a decline in their performance is seen at loads of BW+20% and greater. Whilst womens basketball ranked
second when looking at the absolute values, they were surpassed by womens football when assessing outputs
relative to body weight. The results have shown Netball produced the lowest power outputs across both absolute and
relative values, though showed a minor increase when comapred to football (absolute) and basketball (relative) at BW
+ 50%. In both absolute and relative graphs womens football appear to have the greatest decrease in power output
when compared to other squads, though they produced the highest jump results (excluding BW + 50%).

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Figure 1 - Mean results for the incremental power profile between womens sports. A) absolute mean power (W). B)
relative mean power (W/kg). C) jump height (cm)

Men’s Sports
Results for men’s basketball and hockey have shown similar results across all loads for mean absolute values.
Though there appears to be a greater difference at BW +20% where basketball have a peak before a steady decline,
and hockey have a more substantial drop off from this point. This is again seen at mean relative power outputs at BW
+ 20%, though overall hockey still produce greater results than basketball. Men’s hockey also produced greater jump
heights across all loads than those recorded for men’s basketball. It is important to note that statistical tests were not
conducted, and due to the low number of test subjects differences observed can only be considered as potential
trends and require further research before conclusions can be made.

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Figure 2 - Mean results for the incremental power profile between mens sports. A) absolute mean power (W). B)
relative mean power (W/kg). C) jump height (cm).

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Individual Athlete Results

Figure 3 - Means for relative power output (W/kg) across all loads between individual athletes in the hockey squad .
A) Women’s squad. B) Men’s squad.

Results show distinct differences in mean relative power outputs between all players in both the men and women’s
squads across all loads. Women’s results (Figure 3a) showed that peak mean power output was achieved at BW for
both Athlete A and B, whereas Athlete C achieved peak mean power output at BW + 20%. Men’s results (Figure 3b)
showed that peak mean power output was achieved at BW for all athletes excluding Athlete E whom achieve peak
mean power output at BW + 10%.


As seen in similar studies, the results have shown highest absolute and relative power outputs were achieved at BW
with no external load (5,7). Results from this study have shown that as the external load was increased the mean
power (absolute and relative) outputs decreased. Peak velocity and jump height also peaked at BW before showing a
gradual decrease across all loads. Research has shown that the heavier the added mass in weighted jumps, the lower
jump height and the rate of force development are (7). The degree of decline across sports, genders and individuals
varies greatly, which may be as a result of chronological age, training age and physiological differences (e.g. strength,
muscle fibre type, muscle recruitment, maximal velocity of contraction, or ability to effectively use the SSC) commonly
seen between athletes (5,18).

Decreases in performance across the incremental power profile are often believed to be as a result of reduced velocity
as external load is increased, and athlete training status (5,17). As it has been suggested by Sheppard (22) that
stronger athletes can accelerate larger masses (or achieve higher peak velocities) than compared to weaker athletes.
It is then possible that due to a lower maximal strength level of the women’s football squad a decrease in their power
outputs was seen at BW + 20% and greater (22). This may be due to limited training exposure with moderate-heavy

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

loads, and therefore a reduced capacity for the athletes to handle these heavier loads during testing. Women’s
hockey out performed basketball and netball across all loads (W/kg), and results begin to highlight the differences that
may occur between athletes as a result of different training (Netball) and chronological ages (Basketball) (22). This
was also found when comparing men’s hockey and basketball. Whilst both squads have similar absolute mean power
outputs, for both relative mean power output and jump height hockey substantially outperformed basketball. Outside
of the expected differences due to training and chronological ages this is an interesting result, as basketball is noted
as a predominately jumping sport when compared to hockey. Results obtained by the male basketball athletes are
higher than those reported by Kellis et al. (14) who reported CMJ height of 33.6 - 37.6cm for 15 – 18 year olds (n=95).
The testing protocol used for the CMJ in Kellis (14) was unclear (not stated if arm swing was/was not included)
and the study by Kellis (14) had a greater testing population than used in the current study, making comparison
difficult. A recent review by Gal Ziv (25) has shown that vertical jumps for male basketball players can vary
between 40 to 75cm and 22 to 48cm in female athletes dependent on the protocols used for testing (25). This
variation showed a reduction when the same testing protocols are used, highlighting the need consistency when
testing (25).

Individual results (Figure 3) for both men’s and women’s hockey again highlight differences between athletes. Results
for women’s hockey show a distinct difference in power outputs between athlete C and athletes A and B. The
information obtained from these results can be utilised by strength and conditioning coaches in designing and
implementing individualised programs to increase power capabilities (18). Training at loads that produced the highest
relative power output as well as below and above is the most commonly used protocol when prescribing training loads
(18). Research by Markovic (15) has found that improvements can be made in jumping performance from training
at negative loads (lower than body weight) and that the magnitude of these improvement’s may actually be greater
than training at positive loads (greater than body weight). The results show how this can be applied in a practical
setting, as athletes that achieve peak outputs at BW, would be required to train at a negative load below BW as
suggested (15,18). This can be achieved through the use of elastic bands and cables to decrease the % of BW they
train at (15). Individual results obtained from the CMJ incremental power profile provide a perfect opportunity for
individualisation to occur when programming for athletes as it enables coaches to identify the appropriate range in
which each athlete should be training for optimum results (18). For athletes tested in women’s hockey the following is
an example of what a strength and conditioning coach could prescribe individually to improve power output; Athlete 1
and 2 train at loads below (negative load), at and above BW, whereas Athlete 3 would be prescribed to train at loads
at BW + 10% - BW + 30%. In order to assess the effectiveness of these prescribed loads it is recommended that post-
testing be completed to identify if there have been any changes in the athletes performance.

In conclusion the aim of this paper was to develop and present a normative data set using the incremental power
profile across a variety of sports utilising a linear position transducer to record data. This has allowed for differences
between sports and individual athletes to be identified and potential reasons for variations, and implications for training
discussed. Further research evaluating a greater number of athletes across varying levels, ages and sports is
recommended to further increase the normative data set that has so far been developed, providing a useful tool for
coaches to utilise.

Practical Applications
Normative data provided can allow coaches from associated sports to use as a baseline measure for squad and
athlete comparison. It provides a simple and relatively cost effective testing protocol that can be implemented by any
strength and conditioning coach at both field and laboratory locations. Most notably when assessing athlete
performance the information gathered will allow coaches to identify potential areas of weaknesses for each individual
athlete within their squad. This will enable coaches to prescribe individual loads for each athlete therefore optimising
training, performance and potentially results as well. It is recommended that pre and post testing is carried out to
ensure the effectiveness of training programs that are implemented, and to assess athletes’ ongoing performance.

The author would like to acknowledge and give special thanks to the staff and athletes at the ACT Academy of Sport
for their support and for partaking in the research. The author would also like to gratefully acknowledge and thank Dr
Nick Ball (National Institute of Sports Studies, University of Canberra) for his guidance and assistance.

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

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from ground reaction force data during countermovement jump and



Sydney Brisbane
Venue: IBM Centre, NSW Rugby, Sydney Football Stadium, Venue: Brisbane Grammar School, College Road, Spring Hill
Driver Road, Moore Park Dates: 18-19th & 25-26th October
Dates: 18–19th & 25–26th October
ACT Perth
Canberra Venue: Rugby WA, Western Force
Venue: Australian Institute Of Sport, Frank Stewart Training Dates: 11-12th & 18-19th October
Facility, Building 14, Leverrier Street, Bruce
Dates: 13-14th & 20-21st September SOUTH AUSTRALIA
VICTORIA Venue: South Australian Institute Of Sport, Findon Park
Melbourne Dates: 13-14th & 20-21st September, 2014
Venue: Carlton Football Club
Dates: 18-19th & 25-26th October TASMANIA
Venue: Tasmanian Institute Of Sport, Silverdome Complex,
Dates: 11-12th & 18-19th October

Volume 22 | Issue 2 | June 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Volume 21 | Issue 1 | March 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

A Comparison Of The Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test, 3-km Distance Run and a Novel 2-km ‘Down-Up’ Test, in Rugby Union Players.
J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)35-41. 2014 © ASCA.

Original Scientific Research Study


Richard W. Deuchrass
Recreation Centre, Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Most club coaches do not have the time or specific training to undertake the more complicated aerobic tests. It
has been suggested that the 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test might be a useful alternative. This research was undertaken
to compare this novel 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test with more commonly used aerobic field tests (Yo-Yo, 3-km). Twenty three
participants completed the study, average; age 19.3 ± 1.2 years (mean ± SD), bodyweight 92.3 ± 9.2 kg, body fat 20.6
± 5.4% and training hours per week 8.5 ± 2.6. Participants completed one 3-km running time trial (TT), one Yo-Yo
Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (IR L1) and one 2km ‘Down-Up’ test each separated by one week. Participants
then completed another 2km ‘Down-Up’ test two weeks later. Large to very large correlations were found between all
three fitness tests (r = -0.81 3-km vs. Yo-Yo, r = 0.95 3-km vs. ‘Down-Up’, r = -0.90 Yo-Yo vs. ‘Down-Up’). The
highest correlation was between the 3-km run and the Down-Up test (r=0.95). The subjects showed a very small
difference in mean scores between the first and second Down-Up test (0.002 ± 0.14 minutes, mean ± 90% confidence
limits) with a moderate level of agreement between tests as witnessed by the Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.67.
The 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test may be a useful alternative field based test to give an indication of aerobic fitness and
changes in aerobic fitness. This test is interspersed with static exertions more sports specific to rugby union and has
proven to be reliable. With its ease of use, it is hoped club coaches will be encouraged to carry out aerobic fitness
testing so that they may make informed decisions regarding the conditioning requirements of specific players as well
as the nature of the conditioning components of team trainings.


This study was aimed at comparing a 2km ‘Down-Up’ aerobic fitness testing protocol with other more commonly
established aerobic tests for amateur club rugby players and to assess whether the ‘Down-Up’ test would be a useful
tool for indicating fitness change. In club rugby there is always demands placed upon resources and time allowances
for testing players. The 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test could be a potential alternative aerobic fitness test which can be
performed on a regular 100-m rugby ground with only a stop watch. The ease with which players could self-test at
any rugby ground with a stop watch (subject to weather and ground conditions for repeatability) makes this an
attractive alternative for amateur players and coaches alike.

Along with factors such as quality and experience of the team, technical and tactical directions provided by the coach,
physical qualities of players developed through training and competition also play an important role in success (5).
Rugby is primarily anaerobic, although the aerobic system is utilised during rest periods to replenish energy stores (6).
Regardless of position, the development of physical qualities including ‘the aerobic’ energy system is fundamental to
the progression of rugby players (5). A challenge for fitness trainers, and in particular coaches at a club level, is to
develop a base of endurance fitness, together with anaerobic qualities, such that players can attain and reproduce
high levels of work output during repeated high-intensity efforts (5).

Minimum work to rest ratios of 1:4, 1:3, 1:4 and 1:5 have been found for front row and back row forwards, and inside
and outside backs respectively. Forwards are often required to perform work bouts of approximately 20 -25 seconds,
the corresponding figure for backs, 12 – 14 seconds (4). Duthie et al. (5), however, suggest that the majority of work
periods across all positions was less than 4 seconds long and rest periods of less than 20 seconds were most
common (7). As an example of ‘work periods’, one aspect of rugby that separates it from most other intermittent high-
intensity sports is the large horizontal (pushing) component of the game, seen in ‘static exertion’ activities such as
rucking, mauling, scrimmaging, and tackling. Forwards in particular spend 8 – 10 minutes of match time actively
engaged in these activities, representing 80 – 90% of their total high-intensity work component (4). This is
substantially greater than backs (4 minutes) (7) which is similar to the static exertions for club level players (6).
However, there is a distinct role for back row forwards and inside backs with a higher incidence of tackling (4). The
high number of work efforts of short duration (4 seconds) described in the literature reinforce the notion that rugby is
an interval-based sport. Aerobic conditioning is predominantly required to facilitate the recovery between high-
intensity bouts where energy is derived from predominantly anaerobic sources (7).

Increasing work capacity however is just one of the critical elements for improving the physical development of
players. The game of rugby union is multi-disciplinary and many conditioning elements and energy systems must be
considered. If players score well in an aerobic test, they can demonstrate to coaches that more effective use of time
would be spent in the gym for the purpose of strength and lean body mass gains. Strength, power, speed, and
optimising body size and muscularity are also important in rugby athletes (5). The structure or nature of rugby requires
players to not only produce force but also absorb it i.e., physical contact. On average, a scrum, lineout, ruck or maul in

Volume 21 | Issue 1 | March 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

which collisions normally occur, happen every 33 seconds during a rugby match (11). Excessive time spent on
exercises aimed at improving or maintaining fitness on a typical training night for example, could reduce gains of the
specific qualities mentioned above e.g., excessive energy expenditure may be detrimental to a player trying to
increase body size. All players therefore should be tested to determine their respective strengths and weaknesses so
that training can be catered for the individual’s needs.

Often in amateur club rugby, resources are limited and the availability of portable stereos and testing CD’s for the Yo-
Yo Intermittent Recovery Test can be restrictive. Without a 400-m running track the ability to mark out 3-km has it’s
obvious difficulties with large groups. The 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test is proposed as an alternative as it is easy to administer
and standardise, it is also quick and easy to explain. As with all fitness testing, the 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test also needs to
be repeatable and meaningful in terms of giving a clear indication of the value of a position-specific fitness training
programme (13). Table 1. for example, shows clear rugby position specific differences in the mean distance covered
during the Southern Hemisphere Professional Super Rugby 14 Competition (1).

Table 1 - Mean total distance covered during a Super 14 rugby match. (1)

Rugby Playing Position Total Distance (m) Striding and Sprinting Distance (m)
Front Row Forward 4662 1445
Back Row Forward 5262 1683
Inside Back 6095 2316
Outside Back 4774 1575

Previous research has suggested that the approximate distance of 2000-m, run at high intensity, is sufficiently
accurate to be of use to coaches to help structure their training programmes for rugby union (11) and also supports
the 2-km distance covered in the ‘Down-Up’ test. However, to the authors knowledge, no research has been
undertaken to assess the validity or reliability of the 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test.


Approach to the Problem

Most club coaches do not have the time or specific training to undertake the more complicated aerobic tests used in
some disciplines. It has been suggested that the 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test might be a useful alternative, but the validity
and reliability of this test is unknown. This research was undertaken to compare this novel 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test with
more commonly used aerobic field tests (Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test, 3-km distance run).

Twenty-six males who all played rugby for Lincoln University Rugby Football Club and were at various representative
levels participated in the present study. The participants were a good representation of high performing young rugby
union players and represented a cross-section of the various playing positions (Table 2.). The majority of the
participants were either playing Premiership Colt (U21) or Senior Division 1 Club Rugby in the Christchurch
competition. Of the 23 participants, 17 had also played a ‘representative’ form of rugby (provincial for their respected
region or higher). Three participants did not complete all of the required testing, one ‘hooker’ withdrew due to time
commitments, one hooker and one outside back withdrew because of injury. Of the 23 participants that completed the
study, the average; age was 19.3 ± 1.2 years (mean ± SD), bodyweight 92.3 ± 9.2 kg, body fat 20.6 ± 5.4% and
training hours per week 8.5 ± 2.6.

Table 2 - Distribution of participants in the various rugby playing positions.

Rugby Playing Position Number of Participants

Prop 3
Hooker 2
Lock 5
Loose Forward 7
Inside Back 4
Outside Back 2

Informed voluntary written consent was obtained from each participant prior to the start of the study. Participants were
asked to complete one 3-km run time trial (TT), one Yo- Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (IR L1) and one 2km
‘Down-Up’ test each separated by one week. Participants then completed another 2km ‘Down-Up’ test two weeks
later to examine the reliability of the test. Each test was preceded by a 3-5 minute aerobic warm-up consisting of light
jogging followed by self-selected dynamic stretches working through major movements and muscle groups for the
lower body. Instruction was given for example, squat, lunge, hamstrings, adductors, calves and so on. To avoid the
effect of diurnal variation on performance, all tests were completed between 1230 and 1400 on each testing day.

Volume 21 | Issue 1 | March 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

The 3-km run (TT) which is a validated aerobic fitness field test (8) was performed outside on an asphalt road surface.
Participants completed two laps of a 1.5km course. The day was fine but cloudy, with an ambient temperature of

The Yo-Yo IR L1 focuses on the capacity to carry out intermittent exercise leading to a maximal activation of the
aerobic system. This test consists of 2 x 20m shuttle runs at increasing speeds, interspersed with a 10-second period
of active recovery (controlled by audio signals from a compact disc player). An individual continues to run until they
are unable to maintain the speed, and the distance at that point is noted. For a trained person, the Yo-Yo IR L1 test
lasts 10-20 minutes (2). In our study the Yo-Yo IR L1 test was performed indoors on an artificial astro-grass surface.
The day was ‘fine’, with an ambient temperature of 20C.

The experimental 2km ‘Down-Up’ test involves a timed run of 20 lengths of a 100m rugby field. Excluding the start
and completion of the test, a ‘Down-Up’ motion is completed as the player crosses the 100m line and turns to face
back towards the start line and vice versa. A ‘Down-Up’ is where the player must turn, then drop into a push up
position where the hips and chest are grounded before accelerating back in the direction they started (see Figure 1.).

Figure 1 - Picture representation of the ‘down-up’ movement.

Therefore a total of 19 ‘Down-Ups’ are completed during the test. The two Down-Up tests were completed on grassed
Lincoln University Rugby grounds in training boots. Weather conditions for the first test included light showers with an
ambient temperature 15C, the surface was firm. The second test included a light breeze with an ambient temperature
of 15C, the surface was firm.

For all tests, participants were encouraged to give their maximal effort throughout each test. They were also asked to
abstain from heavy physical exercise and alcohol for the 24 hour period prior to any testing. They were also advised
not eat a heavy meal or consume caffeine for 4 hours prior to each testing session. Participants were able to maintain
their normal level of training throughout the length of the study.

Statistical Analyses
Data was analysed using an excel spread sheet. Means and standard deviations were computed with the spread
sheets along with paired t-test results and simple liner regression analysis. Uncertainty in the estimate of changes
was presented as 90% confidence intervals and as likelihoods that the true value of the effect was a substantial
positive or negative difference. Pearson correlations were computed between selected maximal physiological
variables collected during each test to provide an indication of overall agreement between the three protocols.


Time to complete the three field tests is presented in Table 3.

Table 3 - Mean performance of the individuals in the 3 field tests.

Raw data results from the 3 field tests completed.

Test Type Test result Level Shuttle
3-km distance run (min) 12.3 ± 1.2 * N/A
Yo-Yo IR L1 test (min) 15.7 ± 3.1 * 18.5 ± 1.3
Down-Up test (min) 9.2 ± 0.9 N/A
Data are mean ± SD. *Significantly different between Down-Up test.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

The 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test required a significantly shorter period of time to complete compared to the Yo-Yo IR L1 test
and the 3-km distance run (p < 0.05). Large to very large correlations were found between all three fitness tests
(Table 4). The highest correlation was between the 3-km run and the 2-km Down-Up test.
Table 4 - Agreement between the field tests.

3-km run vs. Yo-Yo IRL1 3-km run vs. Down-Up Yo-Yo vs. Down-Up
-0.81 0.95 -0.90
Pearson correlations were calculated on time taken for 3-km run and Down-Up test, and level
attained in the Yo-Yo IR Level 1 test. All correlations were statically significant at 0.05 levels.

The subjects showed a very small difference in mean scores between the first and second 2-km Down-Up test (0.002
± 0.14 minutes, mean ± 90% confidence limits) with a moderate level of agreement between tests as witnessed by the
Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.67 (Figure 2).


First Down-Up Test (min)



8.5 y = 0.7234x + 2.4977

8 8.5 9 9.5 10 10.5
Second Down-Up Test (min)

Figure 2 - Agreement between the first and second Down-Up field test.

The linear regression analysis between the 2-km Down-Up and the 3-km distance run tests is given in Figure 3. This
analysis was used to extrapolate desired fitness standards from the 3-km distance run for the new 2-km Down Up test.

2-km 'Down-Up' Test Time (min)

12.0 y = 0.6642x + 1.0845
10.0 10.5 11.0 11.5 12.0 12.5 13.0 13.5 14.0 14.5 15.0 15.5 16.0 16.5 17.0
3-km Distance Run Time (min)

Figure 3 - Linear regression between 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test and 3-km Distance Run.


Field tests are designed to be implemented in the typical training environment. Their convenience is that they do not
necessarily require a visit to a laboratory and can be performed without complex monitoring equipment. The
underlying assumption is that any change in performance measured in the field test has relevance for performance
capability in a competitive context (12). The results of this study indicate that the 2-km Down-Up test is similar in terms
of performance results to the 3-km distance run and the Yo-Yo IR L1. The high correlation between the 3-km distance

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

run and the 2-km Down-Up test is probably due to the similarity in the test protocols of the two field tests (both use
continuous running). The slightly lower correlation between 2-km Down-Up and the Yo-Yo IR L1 (-0.81) is likely to be
due to the intermittent nature of the Yo-Yo IR L1.

It has been observed that the acceleration and deceleration that occurs in the Yo-Yo IR L1 test replicates movements
of the game of rugby more specifically than the constant speed running of the 3-km distance run (6). With this noted,
a benefit of the 2-km ‘Down-Up’ Test is that it combines continuous running, interspersed with brief weight bearing
physical exertions of effort as well as an acceleration and deceleration component. It also involves a movement which
is very specific to the game of rugby as often players end up on the ground and must get up quickly.

Conversely, a major limitation of the 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test is the expectation that players will give a maximal effort. If
this expectation is not met, then the usefulness of this test as with all such tests may be questioned. A 3-km distance
run along with the 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test are limited by being self-paced: it is not possible to know whether the player
may have been able to go faster (13).

The reliability of the 2-km Down-Up test was lower than expected (0.67). Previous research has found higher reliability
in similar-level rugby players over a standard 3-km distance run (0.80) when tested 1 week apart (9), or in elite-level
multisport athletes tested 3 weeks apart (0.97) (8). Higher reliability has also been reported in the Yo-Yo IR L1 (0.95-
0.98) (10). Weather conditions may have played a part in the results by increasing the variability between participants
scores. The initial testing day was wet and may have caused some sliding into or out-of the turns. In addition, factors
such as injury, time of testing, fatigue and hydration levels may have also influenced the results. While a correlation of
0.67 indicates a large association between scores using Cohen’s scale (3), it is suggested the following be kept in
mind to try and improve the reliability of the 2-km Down-Up test even further. Have participants complete at least two
familiarisation trials of the test procedure prior to any official measure to allow for the learning and pacing effects.
Make sure participants are fully hydrated, are free from injury or previous training fatigue, and use similar garments
and footwear during testing. Finally, ensure testing is held under similar climatic and surface conditions.


For club level coaches, time on the training field needs to be maximised to ensure adequate skill development, playing
patterns, game strategy and team cohesion. One of the major benefits of the this novel 2-km ‘Down-Up’ aerobic
fitness test is that that when compared to other more common field based tests, it takes less time to administer and
only requires a stop watch.

In terms of setting position based aerobic fitness standards, we can consider existing data albeit unpublished, but
‘from the field’. Below are desired or suggested fitness standards for more common aerobic fitness tests for rugby
union players.

Table 5 - Desired performance standards for the 3-km Distance Run Test. (14)

Rugby Union Position Time (mins:sec)

Front Row  12:15
Locks  12:00
Back Row  11:30
Inside Backs  11:15
Outside Backs 11:45

Table 6 - Desired fitness standards for the 3-km Distance Run Test: New Zealand Rugby Super 12 Competition. (16)

Rugby Union Position Time (mins:sec)

Props  12:30
Hookers  12:15
Locks  12.10
Loose Forwards  11:50
Half Backs  11:30
1 Fives  11:40
2nd Fives, Centre  12:00
Wings  12:15
Full Backs  11:50

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Table 7 - New Zealand Rugby Union Academy 2011 Yo-Yo IR L1 statistics. (17)

Rugby Union Position Median Speed Level Median Meters Run (m)
Props 16.4 1240
Hookers 17.3 1520
Locks 17.3 1520
Loose Forwards 17.7 1660
Half Backs 18.2 1800
1 Fives 19.1 2080
Midfield 18.2 1800
Outside Back 18.1 1760

A larger sample size across all positions would be required to set position specific fitness standards based purely
around the results from a 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test. However, a linear regression was performed (Figure 3) and,
presented in Table 8 are the equivalent 2-km Down-Up standards estimated from the 3-km distance run standards.

Table 8 - Position specific 2-km ‘Down-Up’ standards calculated from the linear regression based on the 3-km
Distance Run Test.

Rugby Union Position 2-km ‘Down-Up’ Standard (min:sec)

Props < 9:23
Hookers < 9:13
Locks < 9:10
Loose Forwards < 8:56
Half Backs < 8:43
1 Fives < 8:50
Midfield < 9:03
Wings < 9:13
Full Backs < 8:56

The closest distance and time fitness standards are the ‘Crusaders’ Super Rugby Franchise 2.4-km time trial position
standards 2010/2011 which are listed in Table 9. If these standards where to be used for the 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test, a
large assumption would be that the extra 400-m ran equated to the time it took a player to perform 19 – ‘down-ups’
and the time associated with the deceleration and acceleration components associated around the ‘down-up’
movement. For example if the mean time to complete the 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test was 9 minutes 2 seconds (542
seconds), thus the average speed being 3.69 m/s. This would assume 5.71 seconds to decelerate perform the’ down-
up’ movement and accelerate back in the opposite direction.

Table 9 - Crusaders desired fitness standards for the 2.4-km Time Trial Test: Position standards 2010/2011. (15)

Rugby Union Position Time (mins:sec)

Tight Forward  9.30 – 9.45
Hookers  9.15 – 9.30
Loose Forwards  8.30 – 8.45
Inside Backs  8.45 – 9.00
Outside Backs  9.00 – 9.15

The 2-km ‘Down-Up’ test may be a useful alternative field based test to not only measure aerobic fitness but also
change in aerobic fitness. This test is interspersed with static exertions more sports specific to rugby union and has
adequate reliability. A larger sample size would be required to set accurate position specific standards for rugby
union. Nevertheless, the 2-km ‘Down-Up’ standards could be used as a guide to contribute to building an individual
player profile. It is hoped that nature of this test will encourage club coaches to carry out aerobic fitness testing during
pre-season and throughout the competition period, so that they may make informed decisions regarding the
conditioning requirements of specific players as well as the nature of the conditioning components of team trainings.

Dr. Mike Hamlin - Associate Professor of Exercise and Sport Science. Department of Social Science, Parks,
Recreation, Tourism and Sport Faculty of Environment Society and Design, Lincoln University, Christchurch, New

Mark Drury - Head Strength and Conditioning Coach. Crusaders Rugby, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Lincoln University Rugby Football Club - Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning


1. Austin, D., Gabbett, T., and Jenkins, D. The Physical Demands of recovery of repeated sprint and 3-km running performance in rugby
Super 14 Rugby Union. Journal of Science and Medicine in union players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Sport. 14: 259-263. 2011. 26(11): 2975-2982. 2012.
2. Bangsbo, J., Iaia, F.M. and Krustrup, P. The Yo-Yo Intermittent 11. Krustrup, P., Mohr, M., Amstrup, T., Rysgaard, T., Johansen, J.,
Recovery Test: A Useful Tool for Evaluation of Physical Steensberg, A., et al. The Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test:
Performance in Intermittent Sports. – Review Article. Sports Physiological response, reliability, and validity. Medicine and
Medicine. 38 (1): 37-51. 2008. Science in Sports and Exercise. 35(4): 697-705. 2003.
3. Cohen, J. Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences 12. McLean, D.A. Analysis of the physical demands of international
4. (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum. 1988. rugby union. Journal of Sports Sciences. 10: 285-296. 1992
5. Deutsch, M.U., Kearney, G.A., and Rehrer, N.J. Time – motion 13. Reilly, T. Assessment of Sports Performance With Particular
analysis of professional rugby union players during match-play. Reference to Field Games. European Journal of Sports Science.
Journal of Sports Sciences. 25 (4): 461-472. 2007. 1 (3): 1-12. 2001.
6. Duthie, G.M. A Framework for the Physical Development of Elite 14. Scott, A.C., Roe, N., Coats, A.J.S., and Piepoli, M.F. Aerobic
Rugby Union Players. International Journal of Sports exercise physiology in a professional rugby union team.
Physiology and Performance. 1: 2-13. 2006. International Journal of Cardiology. 87: 173-177. 2003.
7. Duthie, G., Pyne, D. and Hooper, S. Applied Physiology and Game 15. Tong, R.J. and Wiltshire, H.D. Rugby Union. In: Sport and
Analysis of Rugby Union. – Review Article. Sports Medicine. 33 Exercise Physiological Testing Guidelines: The British
(13): 973-991. 2003. Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences Guide. Winter, E.M. et
8. Duthie, G., Pyne, D. and Hooper, S. Time motion analysis of 2001 al, eds. Routledge, 2007. pp 262-271.
and 2002 super 12 rugby. Journal of Sports Sciences. 23 (5): 16. Unpublished: Crusaders Desired Fitness Standards for the 2.4-km
523-530. 2005. Time Trial Test: Position Standards 2010/2011
9. Hamlin, M. J., & Hellemans, J. Effect of intermittent normobaric 17. Unpublished: Desired Fitness Standards: New Zealand Rugby
hypoxic exposure at rest on haematological, physiological and Super 12 Competition
performance parameters in multi-sport athletes. Journal of Sports 18. Unpublished: New Zealand Rugby Union Academy 2011 Yo- Yo
Sciences. 25(4): 431-441. 2007. Statistics
10. Hamlin, M. J., Mitchell, C. J., Ward, F. D., Draper, N., Shearman, J.
P., & Kimber, N. E. Effect of compression garments on short-term

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Volume 21 | Issue 1 | March 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning


In this edition, we are pleased publish to publish a paper from Daniel Cooper, a military Physical Training Instructor
with the Australian Army. Daniel reviews the literature investigating physical conditioning and preparation of personnel
for combat operations. Focussing on the police service, continuing research on the impact of load carriage on
specialist police is presented. The paper by Carbone, et al. investigates the impact of operational loads on the
marksmanship of police officers when engaging a target with a sidearm. The results are surprising when compared to
previous research within military populations.

I hope the look across our tactical services provides some insights into the conditioning requirements of these
specialist athletes in light of their occupational requirements. After all, the tactical operators we condition today could
be saving your life tomorrow.

Fit to serve
Dr Rob Orr, PhD
Section Editor TSACA

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Physical preparation methods for combat operations: A narrative review of the literature. J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)44-49. 2014 © ASCA.

TSACA – A Review of the Literature


Daniel R. Cooper
Department of Defence.

Training tactical athletes for combat operations is increasing in popularity within the field of strength and
conditioning. The degree of difficulty in accurately defining the physical requirements and characteristics has
created opportunity for anecdotal evidence to emerge alongside evidence-based results in preparing combat soldiers
for occupational tasks. A search was conducted of several databases to find relevant research identifying the
predominant issues in preparing soldiers for combat tasks and information that would help guide intervention
strategies. Current issues include high musculoskeletal injury rates in soldiers, and that current physical training
protocols have been shown to contribute to increased risk of injury. External load carriage has a negative effect on
physical performance and task specific skills. Program design demonstrates that periodised programs have a greater
increase in occupational related tasks and fitness tests than non-periodised programs. Training interventions best
suited to achieve improved levels of performance consist of periodised concurrent training programs, aimed at
improving maximal strength and aerobic capacity concurrently. Increases in overall fitness levels can lower injury
potential and improve performance on occupational tasks. These programs should allow adequate rest to maintain
high levels of preparedness and can be integrated into the daily occupational training cycle.

Keywords - Load carriage, military tasks, tactical athlete, combat operations.


Dedicated training for the tactical athlete in preparation for occupational roles has become increasingly popular over
the last decade. Of these tactical athletes, military populations contribute to a large percentage of this field. Within the
military there is a diverse range of occupational roles including combat operations conducted by infantry units and
special operations units (7). It could be argued that these combat operations are among the most demanding tasks
conducted by any individual and require high levels of athleticism and preparedness in order to provide the best
chance of mission success. These tasks are generally done while carrying external loads consisting of combat
equipment (approx. 21.6kg) or heavier military packs for extended duration patrols (> 55kg) (17, 20). As a result of
recent advances in ballistic safety and force protection measures, soldiers are required to wear individual amour at all
times adding further weight to this load.

In attempting to increase performance there are several factors that may impede a physical preparation program.
These include the tactical training requirements of daily employment that need to be considered within the total
daily/weekly training volume, lack of structured routine within annual training, field exercises and overseas
deployments that impact on designing training plans. The requirement for certain units to maintain a heightened state
of readiness further complicates the training plan as preparedness levels are required to be maintained for extended
periods (1). Therefore combat soldiers need to obtain and maintain a high level of physical preparedness around
employment limitations. Combined with minimal occurrence of acute or chronic injury that may impede performance or
degrade the ability of a unit to complete its mission.

This requirement for improving performance and maintaining preparedness has become the focus of several training
systems aimed at individual preparation for combat operations, including both anecdotal and evidence based
programs (2, 10, 11, 12, 18). The unpredictable nature of operations and the invasiveness of collection equipment is a
likely cause leading to the minimal amount of data currently available. This appears to have caused the void to be
filled by data collected during training activities that are planned and have an element of choreography to them (9, 10
,20), empirical recollections of personal experience or in some cases by mere speculation. This may be a factor
responsible for the large variations in training methodologies and systems that have emerged to improve performance
in combat soldiers.

The aim of this paper is to review the current methods used to prepare individuals for combat operations and provide
the most appropriate methodologies that are supported by current literature.


A search was conducted using several databases including the Edith Cowan University database, Defence Intranet
and PUBMED for suitable articles. Key words included external load carriage, combat operations, military, military
injuries and combat preparation. Inclusion of the literature was selected upon several criteria, relevant articles on the
conduct of military activities, original research and articles identifying specific current military issues in injury and

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physical preparation were used to focus the task specific requirements and limitations. A selection of research on both
evidence based methods and emerging training methodologies were then selected to compare intervention strategies
and develop the best method for physical preparation. The preliminary search identified 34 papers that fitted these
criteria of which 26 were suitable for inclusion.


The results of the review suggest several key themes; Injuries, load carriage, Periodised and Non Periodised
programming, occupational training and gender. Each of these themes will be discussed individually.

Throughout modern conflicts the number of non-combat related hospital treatments has far exceeded those resulting
from enemy actions (6, 15) (Table 1). A large number of these non-combat injuries are attributed to musculoskeletal
injuries. Skeletal injuries and soft tissue trauma continue to dominate the number of treated soldiers whilst at home
garrison and during tactical and physical training (4, 14, 17). These injuries can result in a large number of days
missed in both training and during missions (4, 6, 14, 15, 17, 25 & 27). The loss of unit members could then critically
impact the cohesion and effectiveness of the team.

The main risk factors involved in increased likely hood of injury appear to be, low fitness scores on the Army physical
fitness test (APFT) (3.2km run, push ups & sit ups) (16 & 21). Overtraining, including volume loads in excess of an
individual’s physiological threshold and increased running distances. Up to 125% increase in injuries from running for
45 minutes compared to 30 minutes (4, 26). Prior injury & female gender (13, 15 & 27). However these factors have
shown to be mitigated regardless of gender with the use of a periodised physical training program that incorporates
progressive overload, reductions in running volume, agility training and allows for periods of reduced volume for
recovery (16). Limiting weekly running distance to 27 km and reducing it by 32 km has seen reductions in injuries of
33% and 20% respectively (4).

Table 1 - Reported Injury mechanisms among combat soldiers.

Study Rate per 1000 Musculoskeletal injury Combat related injuries

Smith et al. (25) Army = 142 Army = 19.7% 5%
Jones et al.(14) Army = 155 Army = 20%, Marines = 35% 4% - 5%

Load Carriage
The demands of modern warfare have seen the weight of external loads carried by modern soldiers increase from that
required for conflicts of our past (17, 20 & 25). Today’s average weights of light patrol order (PO) for modern combat
operations has increased to be approximately 21.6.kilograms (kg) while long distance patrols where marching order
(MO) is required can average in excess of 55kg (20). The use of MO order is generally confined to long approach
marches or multi day extended patrols covering large distances and exposes individuals to large time periods under
tension (1). Single day patrols, direct combat operations and contacts are all conducted in PO exposing individuals to
less weight for dynamic movement (1). Research into the negative effects of load carriage on physical performance
have demonstrated a greater VO2 demand at a lower relative work rate, decreased time to fatigue and increased rate
of perceived exertion (RPE) (3 & 8). Load carriage also has been shown to have negative effects on task specific
performance. Load carriage activities conducted prior to specific tactical training, which required engaging targets,
resulted in a decrease in marksmanship accuracy and increased time to target engagement (9). Both are critical
components of surviving combat, where speed and accuracy of engagement can ultimately determine the final
outcome (Table 2).

Contact itself and the related drills are conducted whilst in PO and utilize short explosive bounds moving between
covered firing positions; these can be either advancing or withdrawing and generally conducted in light to heavy
vegetated areas over uneven ground (1). Soldiers generally start from a prone position and accelerate over short
distance often changing direction with restricted use of their arms (1). It is unlikely they will reach top speed due to the
danger of extended exposures and surface limitations. The required physical attributes of explosive power,
acceleration and sprint speed have all shown to be negatively affected by external loads (20) reducing the
performance of individuals to conduct these drills. The increase in weight of external load has also contributed to the
number of soft tissue and back injuries treated on operation deployments (14, 15, & 17). Positive indicators associated
with ability to carry external loads and decreased rates of injury include greater maximal squat (143.6kg), maximal
. -1. -1
strength, relative VO2, (55ml kg min ) isometric lower back strength and greater contributions of fat free mass (FFM)
(2, 5, 18, 19 & 24). Absolute bodyweight has also been found to have a positive relationship with load carriage ability
and lighter individuals experience higher cardiovascular strain, oxygen cost and decrements in neuromuscular
function (8). Results from a Canadian elite level selection course conducted over several days of high physical
. -1. -1
demand found that candidates with a higher relative VO2 (55ml kg min ) and absolute maximal squat strength
(143.6kg) had an increased chance of success by 5.9 and 5.2 times, respectively (5). The authors concluded that an
absolute maximal squat greater than 145kg was encouraged to be the standard for testing candidates (5). Although
these values are for Special Forces selection, similar arduous tasks could be expected during combat operations by

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regular infantry troops and highlight the possible impact that minimum standards of fitness may have on the combat
effectiveness of the lesser-fit individuals.

Table 2 - Effects of Load carriage on 2 soldiering tasks.

Load weight
Study Subjects Age Task comparison Results
Laing Treloar 12 m, 5 f 24.5 21.6 5 x repeated Sprint time m = 29% in mean sprint
and Billing (21) 30m sprints. time, f = 36% in mean
sprint time
Frykmen et al. 12 m, 25.6 35.8 Cadence box lift Marksmanshi 69% in lifting task, in shot
(20) to failure p dispersion, 14% in LAT
(12bpm, 1.55m
lift) 27m box
carry (20.5kg)
m = males, f = females, LAT = time to engage a target

Periodised and Non Periodised Programming

Planning is a large part of the military; the equivalent of a plan for improving physical performance is periodisation.
The ability to allow periodisation within an occupational framework that has little structure to either long-term training
or mission requirements has presented as a major limitation in improving physical performance while trying to
maintain mission preparedness. These factors may have likely led to the development of several training systems and
modified periodization models that are anecdotally being utilised within combat orientated populations.

One that has gained popularity through advances in communication mediums is Extreme Conditioning Programs
(ECP). ECP as defined by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) are programs that use high volume, high
intensity exercises often performed to maximal ability with limited rest periods (3). There are a number of commercially
marketed companies claiming to be the most suitable for combat operations through use of functional fitness.
Although there appears to be no peer reviewed evidence to support their claims one study conducted by the U.S.
Army was reviewed internally and approved for public release (22). The article had little supporting evidence to the
claims made that ECP improved attributes associated to combat success and failed to have a comparison group to
measure effectiveness. The small cohort group demonstrated improvements in the ECP specific activities however
results from the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) were not included in the paper and no load carriage testing was
conducted. The authors concluded that some of these gains were due to neuromuscular adaptations and further
demonstrated that the least fit individuals had a greater magnitude of response to increased physical training (22).
Increases in power were calculated on total work done over time but no evidence in improvements of rate of force
development (RFD) maximal muscle contraction was demonstrated. No improvement in explosive power, acceleration
or sprint speed performance was indicated, all of which were previously designated as attributes related to combat
actions (20). There is abundant published literature correlating improvements in these characteristics available and is
not required to be further investigated within this review.

Several studies on concurrent training have been conducted to show improvements in performance on several relative
tests. An 8 week study comparing strength training (ST), endurance training (ET) and normal basic training (NT) found
improvements in isometric force in ST and ET but increases in RFD by ST only (23) (Table 3)(Figure 1). Another 8
week study compared aerobic endurance training (E), ST and combined strength/endurance training group (SE). The
results indicated SE training could have as significant improvements in strength and power improvements as ST and
similar VO improvements as ET. Military specific training programs had greater overall improvement than ET or ST
alone in military specific fitness tests (12). Similar research over 12 weeks looked at the effects of SE, ST and E on
muscle cross sectional area (CSA), myosin heavy chain isoform content and fibre type transitions. The results found
that SE group had positive increases in CSA with improvements in both Type I and Type IIa fiber content without the
majority shift of toward either type IIa or Type I as seen in either the ST or E groups respectively (26). This could
prove to be effective when taking into account the positive effect of increasing FFM on load carriage ability (18).

Using combined strength and endurance training with load carriage tasks has been shown to increase both upper and
lower body strength increase FFM and improve aerobic capacity. Although the gains are not as large as strength
training or endurance training alone the transfer to occupational tasks is of greater magnitude (12, 18, 19 & 23).

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Table 3 - Effects of various Interventions on Army physical fitness test (APFT).

Push Up Sit Up 2 mile Run

Study Subjects Duration Group
(% Increase) (% Increase) (% Increase)
Kraemer et al. 35 12 weeks RT + ET 38.9 22.9 9
(19) UB + ET 35.6 24.7 11.9
RT 43.4 37.6 0
ET 17.8 15.5 13
Paine et 14 6 Weeks ECP 7.3 4.8 Not retested
RT + ET = Resistance + endurance training, UB + ET = Upper body + endurance training, RT = Resistance training,
ET = Endurance training, ECP = Extreme conditioning program

% Improvement in APFT performance


40 R + ET
10 ECP

2 MileRun Sit up Push up

Figure 1 - Percentage improvements in APFT performance between resistance + endurance training (R+ET), upper
body + endurance training (UB+ET), resistance training (RT), endurance training (ET) and extreme conditioning
program (ECP) (18 & 21).

Occupational training
The daily occupational training undertaken by combat soldiers can be considered as the tactical /technical training
component. The daily training tasks are usually conducted with operational loads and should be considered in regard
to training load and volume within the constructs of the physical training program. Research has shown that the more
elite the unit, the greater this training impacts on both physical readiness and injury and can result in a decrease in
physical performance. A demanding military skills and tactical training cycle conducted over 9 weeks resulted in
decreased performance due to physical and mental burnout (26).

With recent changes in Defence Policy combat roles that were traditionally restricted to female applicants are now
unrestricted to gender. As part of this re-classification physical requirements have been re-assessed and are being
replaced with gender-neutral testing measures in an attempt to ensure a single standard based on occupational
requirements. Some considerations to this include the already highlighted increased risk of injury for being of female
gender (13 & 27), which has been proposed to be due in part to lower levels of physical fitness. Raising fitness of
females has shown reductions in injury rates to that of their male counterparts (16) and a 6 month concurrent training
program demonstrated improvements in both strength and aerobic capacity that transferred into occupational tasks to
the equivalent level of the untrained male control group (18). Further consideration should be given to those that wish
to move to more elite levels due to the advanced physical requirements of both absolute strength and VO2, which can
generally have high fall out rates even for well-trained males.


The training of tactical athletes presents a complex task of physically preparing individuals to meet the high demand of
operational requirements. Without impeding the level of preparedness or ability to concurrently increase the essential
tactical skills required for their craft. The identification of these tasks and the underlying attributes should be used to

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drive the selection of intervention and training exercises. The use of correctly planned training strategies utilizing
heavy resistance work with intervals and progressive load carriage activities will best increase attributes related to the
high performance of combat tasks. These programs should be constructed around the known occupational demands
without excess fatigue. Total volume load of combined daily occupational training and supplementary strength and
conditioning should be calculated carefully, to provide adequate stimulus to promote adaptation without excess load
increasing the risk of injury. Manipulation of intensity and volume should allow the maintenance of an acceptable level
of preparedness and soldiers to concurrently improve tactical skills as part of the daily training. Sequencing training to
allow increases in FFM, targeted strength and improving power should see a reduction in injury likelihood and
development of occupation related attributes and increased occupational ability. Although likely female recruits will
enter at a lower standard of fitness, a structured training plan will play a key role in mitigating injury and preparing for
occupational tasks. Programs should be focused on improving identified physical attributes in a sequential fashion that
focus on the weakest attribute first and incorporating injury prevention. This will allow the best path for long term
development of soldiers and highest likely hood of both survival and mission success. Further research into physical
requirements for combat related occupations should be conducted to improve the available evidence based research
available for strength coaches. With the constant improvements in data collection devices a quantifiable needs
analysis should be achievable and will aid in mitigating the impact of anecdotal programs on soldier occupational
readiness and career longevity.


The use of blocked periodization structured around annual training cycles can be integrated with maintenance
schedules to allow the continued development of combat soldiers (see Tables 4 and 5). Carefully planned programs
periodised around tactical training schedules can be organized to allocate adequate recovery periods. Allowing the
reduction of injury potential and maintain a high level of readiness throughout an annual training cycle.

Table 4 - Examples of monthly cycles with variation in training load with.

Occupational Demands
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Low Low Med Heavy Rec
Med Heavy Heavy Med Rec
Work Work
High Low Heavy Heavy Rec
Work Work
Heavy Heavy Heavy Heavy Rec
Work Work Work
Low = low training stimulus, Med = medium training stimulus, High = high
training stimulus, Rec = recovery training stimulus

Table 5 - Examples of weekly cycles with training focus around occupational load.

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri

Very low Res ESD Res ESD Spec

Low ESD Res Heavy Rec Spec

Med Res/ESD Heavy Rec Heavy Spec
Work Work
High Res/ESD Heavy Heavy Heavy Spec
Work Work Work
Very High Heavy Heavy Heavy Heavy Rec
Work Work Work Work
Resistance training (Res), energy system development (ESD), recovery (Rec) and specific (Spec)

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

1. Army, A. Manual of Land Warfare 2.1. 1. The Infantry Battalion, 1- army trainees. The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 21(5),
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Strassels, S. A. Diagnoses and factors associated with medical R. U., Patton, J. F., et al. Effects of concurrent resistance and
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9. Frykman, P. N., Merullo, D. J., Banderet, L. E., Gregorczyk, K., & Command and General Staff College, 1-34. 2010.
Hasselquist, L. Marksmanship Deficits Caused by an Exhaustive 23. Santtila, M., Kyröläinen, H., & Häkkinen, K. Changes in maximal
Whole-Body Lifting Task With and Without Torso-Borne Loads. The and explosive strength, electromyography, and muscle thickness of
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11. Heinrich, K. M., Spencer, V., Fehl, N., & Carlos Poston, W. S. 25. Smith, G. S., Dannenberg, A. L., & Amoroso, P. J. Hospitalization
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The Impact of Load Carriage on the Marksmanship of the Tactical Police Officer: A Pilot Study. J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)50-57. 2014 © ASCA.

TSACA - Original Scientific Research Study

1 1 2 1
Patrick David Carbone , Simon David Carlton , SGT Michael Stierli & Robin Marc Orr PhD
Bond Institute of Sport and Health, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond
University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
Sydney Police Centre, Surry Hills, New South Wales, Australia.


The authors would like to thank the Tactical Operations Unit of the New South Wales Police Department for
volunteering their time and resources for the completion of this study.


The operational loads carried by specialist tactical response officers may not reduce, but rather improve, their
marksmanship and lethality when engaging targets at close range with a side arm.

Tactical police officers are typically required to carry loads as part of their occupation. While carrying this load,
these specialist police officers may be required to rapidly and accurately engage a target with lethal or stopping
force. The primary objective of this research was to investigate the impact of load carriage on the marksmanship of
specialist police officers. Marksmanship performance of six tactical operations police officers were investigated in both
static standing and following a mobile task. Officers engaged a discoid target at a range of 6m with a 9mm Glock pistol
in one of two randomised load conditions, unloaded or tactically loaded (m=22.8 kg). While mean marksmanship
scores showed general improvement when officers were tactically loaded, significance was only attained in the
horizontal (X axis) shot dispersion (p=0.047) measure following the static trial. Tactical loads carried by specialist
police officers do not reduce, but may improve, pistol marksmanship at close range. A potential stabilising effect of
body armour combined with specific methods of training may provide potential reasons for this result.

Keywords - Occupational load, marksmanship, load carriage, SWAT, body armour, lethality.


Specialised police units, such as Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units or Tactical Operations Units (TOU) are
often required to carry occupational equipment vital for their survivability and operational success. Depending on
operational demands this equipment, which includes chest rigs, body armour and communications systems, makes up
an external physical load of up to 27 kg that they are required to carry. Apart from causing injuries, carrying this type
of load has been found to increase the physical demands of performing a task (2). In addition, the speed of movement
can further magnify these physical demands (2). This can be of concern to specialist police as these physical
demands can manifest as increases in heart rates and respiratory rates (8), which are factors that have been
associated with decreasing marksmanship (3, 7, 11, 20). In addition, load carriage has the potential to increase
postural stability demands through increasing inertial moments and counter-moments (12). As the act of accurately
firing a pistol with precision requires high control of postural sway (1) the postural requirements of load carriage
likewise have the potential to impact on marksmanship.

These potential impacts of load carriage on marksmanship have been reported in several studies. Of the six identified
studies investigating the impact of load carriage on marksmanship performance, four reported reductions in shooting
performance associated with load carriage tasks (6-8, 10, 17). In three separate studies, Knapik, et al. (6, 7, 10) found
a decline in shooting performance with an M16 Assault Rifle (weighing 3.5 kg) following the completion of load
carriage tasks (20 km march carrying loads of up to 61 kg). Likewise, Rice, et al. (17) found a decrease in
marksmanship ability following a stretcher carry task, with reductions in both accuracy and speed and accuracy when
firing an M16 fitted with a laser firing simulator.

Conversely, Patterson, et al. (16) found no significant difference in shooting performance in seven of eight paired
marksmanship trials (2 male cohorts, 2 female cohorts, 2 trials [standing and prone] paired pre- and post-load carriage
event). In that study, male and female participants fired an F88 Austeyr Assault Rifle (weighing 3.6 kg) during a laser
simulated range practice approximately 30 minutes after their load carriage task (15 km march carrying 35 kg).
Similarly, Knapik et al. (2) reported no significant differences in the marksmanship of Special Forces (SF) soldiers,
following a 20 km march carrying loads of 34, 48 and 61 kg. However, in this study a very brief increase in vertical
shot dispersion (distance between lowest and highest round strikes on target, see Figure 4) was found when the first

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of the four targets was engaged. This study is of particular note as, unlike the previously mentioned studies, it
consisted of specialist personnel.

Given these literature findings, the research evidence does suggest that load carriage may have a negative impact on
marksmanship. As SWAT weapon systems and, hence marksmanship, may be employed in tense, dangerous, high-
pressure situations (13), effective marksmanship is vital for tactical police officers. After all these officers may be
required to fire their weapon systems in situations where failure to accurately engage a target could result in the loss
of life (21).

Considering this, the reviewed research on marksmanship while carrying load, while valid in military populations
where occupational duties require heavy load carriage over long distances (15), may not accurately reflect the
requirements of a tactical police officer. Likewise, all the studies reviewed had subjects engaging targets with rifles
rather than side arms. As such, the purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of occupational load carriage
on the marksmanship of tactical police officers engaging a target with a sidearm during both a static trial and following
a simulated tactical movement scenario.


Approach to the Problem

To evaluate the effect of load carriage on marksmanship performance both in static standing and following a dynamic
tactical approach, the subjects performed a single static and mobile trial in an unloaded (UL) and a tactically loaded
(TL) condition. These conditions were randomized. The static shoot trials (SUL and STL) were conducted first,
followed by the mobile tactical approach trials (MUL and MTL). All trials were conducted sequentially approximately 30
minutes apart and were completed on the same day. The independent variable of the study was the load conditions
whilst the dependent variable was marksmanship accuracy.

The study subjects were six active male officers of a police Tactical Operations Unit (TOU) who volunteered to
participate (mean age=33.3±4.13 years, mean height = 177.0±11.8 cm, mean body weight = 89.2±13.2 kg). Mean
years of experience in the police force was 10.9 years (±5.1 years) and on the specialist tactical team was 4.0 years
(±2.8 years). While individual fitness standards for each subject were unavailable, each subject was required to
maintain a given standard for employment in the TOU. This standard included, 10 Chin Up repetitions, 40 Push Up
repetitions, 15 Dip repetitions, Level 10-6 on the Progressive Shuttle Run (‘Beep’) test and a 10 km pack march with
20 kg in under 90 mins.

Ethics approval for this research was provided by Bond University Human Resources Ethics Committee. All subjects
provided informed and voluntary consent to participate in the study.

Load. The subjects underwent testing in an UL and a TL condition. The UL condition consisted of the officer dressed
in police issued fatigues, boots, primary weapon (M4 carbine assault rifle) and a secondary weapon (9 mm Glock
pistol) (see Figure.1a). The TL condition consisted of the UL condition plus full standard tactical assault clothing and
equipment. This included body armour and helmet (see Figure.1b) but excluded other specialist equipment, like
respirators and breathing equipment. The mean weight of the TL was 22.8 kg (±1.8 kg) ranging from 20.6-25.6 kg
comprising a mean 20.5% percent of body weight ranging from 19.7- 23.6%. The small variations in TL were due to
differences in officer size (larger body armour with larger plates) and minor preferential differences in equipment
configuration (weapon sighting systems for example) and team roles.

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Figure 1 - (a). A tactical officer dressed in the unloaded (UL), and (b) tactically loaded (TL) condition.

Marksmanship Measures
The marksmanship test was performed within a police shooting range with the officer’s personally assigned weapons.
The static shoot required officers to engage a center discoid target comprising a central aiming circle of a 25 mm
diameter encapsulated by a circular perimeter of a 160 mm diameter (see Figure 2). Targets were engaged from a
distance of 6 m using secondary weapon (Glock pistol) systems. Officers were cued to engage the target by the
range safety officer on “target up” at which participants slung their primary weapon (M4 carbine rifle), un-holstered
their secondary weapon and fired five single, deliberate, well aimed rounds from the standing unsupported firing
position. This ‘deliberate’ rate of fire is a trained target engagement speed and as such no specific rate of fire was
given to the participants. To ensure rate of fire consistency, target engagement duration was timed from the firing of
the first shot to the firing of the fifth shot with any stoppages recorded.

Figure 2 - The centre discoid target (21x30cm).

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The mobile tactical approach consisted of a 25 m course. This course incorporated a 10m straight-line sprint followed
by a tactical move through two doorways, a descent of seven stairs, movement through another doorway and then a
target approach (see Figure 3). Primary weapons were carried in the ‘shouldered’ position with muzzles raised. On
arriving at the firing line the “target up” command was given at which time the primary weapon was slung, and the
secondary weapon upholstered. The target was then engaged in the same manner as the static trial.

Figure 3 - Schematic layout of the tactical mobility and marksman course.

Marksmanship measures evaluated were shot accuracy, horizontal dispersion (X) and vertical dispersion (Y). Shot
accuracy was defined as the mean of the sum of distances measured from the centre of the 25 mm discoid target to
the centre of the fall-of-shot (distance to centre of target or DCOT) for each bullet, recorded to the nearest millimeter.
The X dispersion was defined as the distance between the two farthest horizontally displaced falls-of-shot measured
in millimeters and Y dispersion as the distance between the two farthest vertically displaced falls-of-shot. X and Y
dispersions were used to increase sensitivity of the marksmanship results through isolating potential influencing
factors along these two axes.

Figure 4 - Measurement process for marksmanship showing DCOT, X dispersion and Y dispersion.

Statistical Analysis
Before any comparative analyses were conducted, consideration was given to the assumption of normality by using
the Kolmogorov Smirnov test and the assumption of homogeneity of variances by using Levene’s test (18). Once
normality was assured standard statistical tests, such as paired t-tests, were employed on the data set. To evaluate
the difference between the means of the UL and TL marksmanship measures (DCOT, X, Y dispersion) in the static
and mobile trials, SPSS Version 20 statistical software package (19) was used to undertake paired t-tests.
Significance was set at p <0.05.


Due to occasional loss of fifth rounds off the target space (n=4 from all trials), only the four most accurate falls of shot
were used for all measures. Application of fire times were not standardized however, there were no significant
differences between the shooting periods from each condition (static trials, UL mean = 2.92 ±0.79s, TL mean = 2.90

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±0.56s, p=0.68: mobile trials, UL mean = 2.70 ±0.52s, TL mean = 2.68 ±0.41s, p=0.30). The results from the
marksmanship tasks from both static and mobile trials are presented in Table 1.

Table 1 - Marksmanship results from all four conditions by DCOT, X Dispersion and Y Dispersion.

DCOT (mm) X Dispersion (mm) Y Dispersion (mm)

Static Marksmanship
Unloaded 64.57 ± 26.6 78.33 ± 31.10 81.0 ± 12.72
Tactically Loaded 57.83 ± 22.98 45.50 ± 22.47 * 76.0 ± 38.95
Mobile Marksmanship
Unloaded 69.7 ± 34.98 116.66 ± 57.83 84 .33 ± 25.93
Tactically Loaded 63.75 ± 33.75 78.16 ± 40.44 89.83 ± 44.85
* Statistically significant differences between unloaded and tactically loaded condition. p<0.05.

Marksmanship DCOT
When compared to the UL condition, DCOT measures improved when the officers were TL. However, this
improvement failed to reach significance. No significant difference in DCOT (t[5]=0.739, p= 0.493) was found between
the UL (M=64.5 mm ± 26.6 mm) and TL (M=57.83 mm ± 22.98 mm) conditions during the static trials. Similarly, no
significant difference was observed in DCOT ( t[5]= 0.456, p=0.667) between the UL (M=69.7 mm ± 34.98 mm) and
TL (M=63.75 mm ± 33.75 mm) conditions following the mobile trials.

Figure 5 - Box Plot of DCOT scores in both the unloaded and loaded trials following the static and mobility trials (The
dark black lines within the boxes representing the median scores with the top and bottom of the boxes representing
th th
the 75 and 25 percentile accordingly. The whiskers represent the range of scores both highest and lowest).

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X Axis Shot Dispersion

A statistically significant difference in X dispersion (t[5] = 2.621, p= 0.047) was observed between the UL (M=78.33
mm ± 31.10 mm) and TL (M=45.50 mm ± 22.47 mm) conditions in the static shoot scenario. This is a finding that was
not carried over to the mobile scenario in which UL (M= 116.66 mm ± 57.83 mm) and TL (M= 78.16 mm ± 40.44 mm)
conditions whilst increased, failed to display any significance (t[5] = 1.388, p=0.224).

Y Axis Shot Dispersion

No significant difference in means (t[5] = 0.408, p= 0.700) was observed in Y dispersions between the UL (M=81.0
mm ± 12.72 mm) and TL (M=76.0 mm ± 38.95 mm) conditions following the static shoot. This finding was carried over
to the mobile scenario where again, no significant difference was found (t[5] -0.224, p= 0.831) between conditions
(UL: M=84.33 mm ± 25.93 mm; TL: M=89.83 mm; SD=±44.85 mm).


Results of this study show that when loaded with occupational loads and engaging a target with a pistol, the DCOT
marksmanship measures of tactical police, while improved, were not significantly different. Likewise, X dispersion,
while improved, did not reach significance in the loaded mobile task. These X dispersion improvements did however
reach significance in the loaded static task. In the Y dispersion trials, no significant difference in marksmanship were
found although scores tended towards improved marksmanship performance in the loaded static trial but reduced
performance in the loaded trial mobile task.

Overall the findings in this research are generally supported by the only other known study employing specialised
personnel, in this instance United States SF soldier populations (8). In the study by Knapik et al. (8) no significant
difference were found in SF soldiers following 20 km road marches while carrying loads varying from 34-61 kg. One
variance in these results was an initial increase in vertical shot dispersion when firing on the first of four targets, with
rapid regression to baseline values occurring for the remaining three targets. Proposed reasons for this variance in the
results were post exercise factors that can cause small movements of the rifle. Muscle fatigue in the musculature
around the shoulder girdle required to vertically stabilize the rifle (20) serves as an example. While this hypothesis is
plausible, it should be noted that the soldiers had a 10 minute rest interval between completing the march and
beginning the marksmanship task. This rest interval, which did not exist in our study, may have allowed for some
degree of muscle recovery, hence mitigated the potential impacts of fatigue from the load carriage task.

One proposed factor as to why the results in this study and the study by Knapik et al. (8) found no decrement in
marksmanship when carrying load, was the high level of fitness associated with these specialist personnel. In addition,
these personnel are known to undertake training exercises, including marksmanship, while wearing their occupational
loads. This approach to negating the negative impact of load carriage on key military tasks (which includes
marksmanship) has been discussed in the literature (14).

Considering the similarities between this study and that of Knapik, et al. (8) and the differences between other studies
that found a significant decrement in marksmanship performance with load carriage, five of the six measures (UL or
TL for DCOT, X dispersion and Y dispersion) in this study, observed a small improvement in marksmanship when the
officers were TL. Two potential reasons for this difference exist; body armour worn and an ‘operational mindset’.
Unlike, the previous studies investigating the impact of load carriage on marksmanship, (5, 8, 10, 16, 17) the
participants in this study wore body armour. It can be hypothesized that the weight of the body armour provided a
stabilizing effect on the torso, particularly on the shoulder girdle. EMG studies looking into shoulder girdle stabilization
in subjects carrying load found that standing with loads of 5.4 kg and 10.4 kg resulted in contraction force of between
1- 3% maximal voluntary contraction of the trapezius muscles (4). This low-level muscle activation may have provided
some stabilizing effect, offering an explanation as to why X axis shot dispersion improved in the TL trials. In addition,
the potential thickness of the body armor vest in relation to the axilla could also be viewed as a contributing factor. In
studies involving a split back pack / front pack system, Knapik, et al. (9) observed that the thickness of the front pack
system had the potential to restrict the ability of soldiers to fire their rifles.

Considering the firing position of the tactical operator when engaging targets with a pistol, this restriction of horizontal
movement, may serve as a means of stabilization when body armor, which is less thick (anteriorly) than a front pack
system, is worn. A potential operational effect may also exist. Discussions with the senior TOU specialist overseeing
the event revealed that, when TL, the mindset of the officers would change. The senior specialist considered the
officers to become more focused and familiar with their movements as the officers typically trained and enacted
operations when TL: A concept warranting further research.

Analysis of Y dispersion (vertical axis) failed to reach significance in differences between UL and TL conditions.
However, when carrying load, a trend towards improvement of Y dispersion marksmanship was found in the static
task with a decrease in marksmanship found following the mobile task. Excess post exercise oxygen consumption
(EPOC) provides a potential explanation for this finding. Following an anaerobic burst activity, heart rate and
respiratory rate can increase in the period immediately following the activity (22). The explosive nature of the mobility
task, enhanced by the addition of load, can be expected to place the body under acute oxidative stress leading to an
initial oxygen deficit (22). Immediately following the task the body attempts to recover this oxygen deficit through
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elevation of respiratory rate in a physiological response termed EPOC (22). This spike in respiratory rate together with
an elevated heart rate has been proposed to be the reason for increases in vertical axis dispersion in shot dispersion
(20). The short duration of the task used in this scenario may have limited the degree to which this physiological effect
had on Y dispersion, hence its failure to reach significance. Conversely, while the SF soldiers in the study of Knapik,
et al. (8) completed a 20 km march with heavier loads, they had a 10 minute break between the march and the shoot.
This rest may have allowed some EPOC recovery and limited the physiological impact of the march to only the initial
spike in vertical dispersion observed in the first of the four targets engaged.

While employing only a small sample size, this study is unique due to key elements of difference between this study
and other studies investigating marksmanship and load carriage. Elements of difference between this current study
and previous studies include, the choice of firearms used, the distances from the target, the firing position adopted by
the shooters, and the nature (e.g. body armour) and weight of the loads carried. These differences could have
significantly altered the results of this study in comparison to previous studies. For example, in the current study
officers fired a 9 mm pistol (Glock) at a target 6 m away from a standing unsupported position while dressed in body
armour with equipment weighing around 22 kg. However in the study by Knapik, et al. (8) soldiers fired a 5.56 mm rifle
(M16) at distances ranging from 175 m to 300 m from a prone unsupported position with their elbows resting on the
ground following a 20 km march with loads of up to 61 kg predominantly in a backpack.

Study limitations
Limitations for this research include a) the size of the sample group, and b) the use of the fall of four shots rather than
five. Due to operational restrictions, sample size was limited, resulting in limited ability to draw concrete conclusions
on the impact of occupational load carriage in this specific population. The use of the fall of four shots rather than five
due to the loss of the occasional fifth shot off the target space potentially mitigates the true data skew that may have

Future implications for research

Future research in this field would benefit from larger sample sizes allowing for greater data strength. Likewise,
multiple trials may increase data sensitivity. Larger target areas (for example a B-27c 32x47cm target) to capture
larger fall-of-shot group sizes would limit potential ‘loss of rounds’ off the target and thereby increase data accuracy.
Further investigation into the potential stabilizing effect of body armour may be of interest to both tactical officers and
body armour developers and suppliers. Finally, research investigating the ‘operational mindset’ of tactical officers
when performing tasks while wearing TL may provide some insight into psychological impacts of load carriage on task


This study found that the pistol marksmanship ability of elite tactical operations police officers generally improved
when they carried occupational loads of around 22 kg and performed short duration tasks. The elite fitness and
method of training of these specialist officers and the equipment (body armour) worn provide potential reasons for this


For the tactical strength and conditioning coach responsible for the conditioning of specialist police officers, the results
of this research suggest that tactical police officers required to carry occupational loads and potentially apply lethal or
stopping force need to not only be physically fit and capable, but more importantly need to train their marksmanship
while carrying these occupational loads. While this requirement may increase logistic and administration workloads
failure to provide this specialist training may impact on the marksmanship ability of these officers when applied in an
operational situation.

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1. Dickin, D. and Doan, J., Postural stability in altered and unaltered 12. Mononen, K., Konttinen, N., Viitasalo, J., and Era, P., Relationships
sensory environments following fatiguing exercise of lower between postural balance, rifle stability and shooting accuracy
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Issues in Handgun Safety and Forensics. CRC Press. 2007. 14. Orr, R.M., Load carriage for the tactical operator: Impacts and
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Proceedings 56: Soldier Mobility: Innovations in Load Carriage 15. Orr, R.M., Pope, R., Johnston, V., and Coyle, J., The operational
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5. Ito, M., Sharp, M., Johnson, R., Merullo, D., and Mello, R., Rifle Canberra, Australia. 2012.
shooting accuracy during recovery from fatiguing exercise, DTIC 16. Patterson, M.J., Roberts, W.S., Lau, W.M., and Prigg, S.K., Gender
Document. 1999. and Physical Training Effects on Soldier Physical Competencies
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marching: influence of load mass and load distribution. Mil Med, Organisation: p. 65. 2005.
162(1): p. 62-7. 1997. 17. Rice, V.J., Sharp, M., Tharion, W.J., and Williamson, T., Effects of a
7. Knapik, J.J., et al., Frequency of Loaded Road March Training and Shoulder Harness on Litter Carriage Performance and Post-Carry
Performance on a Loaded Road March. T13-90. Military Fatigue of Men and Women. Military Performance Division. US
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Environmental Medicine, Natick: p. 52. 1990. 76. 1999.
8. Knapik, J.J., et al., Road March Performance of Special Operations 18. Rovai, A.P., Baker, J.D., and Ponton, M.K., Social Science
Soldiers Carrying Various Loads and Load Distributions. T14-93. Research Design and Statistics: A Practitioner's Guide to
Military Performance Division. US Army Research Institute of Research Methods and IBM SPSS. Watertree Press LLC. 2013.
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Med, 169(1): p. 45-56. 2004. high altitude and exercise on marksmanship. Aviation, space, and
10. Knapik, J.J., et al., Soldier performance and mood states following environmental medicine, 63(2): p. 114-117. 1992.
a strenuous road march. Mil Med, 156(4): p. 197-200. 1991. 21. Vila, B.J. and Morrison, G.B., Biological limits to police combat
11. McNab, C. and Keeter, H., Tools of Violence: Guns, Tanks and handgun shooting accuracy. Am. J. Police, 13: p. 1. 1994.
Dirty Bombs. Osprey Publishing. 2008. 22. Wilmore, J.H., Costill, D.L., and Kenney, L., Physiology of sport
and exercise 4th ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 2008.

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Researched applications of velocity based strength training. J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)58-69. 2014 © ASCA.

From the Field

1 2
Mladen Jovanović & Dr Eamonn P. Flanagan
Hammarby Fotboll AB / Hammarby IF Fotbollförening Veterinärgränd 6 121 63 Johanneshov Sweden.
Irish Rugby Football Union, 10-12 Lansdowne Road, Dublin 4, Ireland.


A Strength training is a critical exercise stimulus for inducing changes in muscular strength, size and power (6).
Recently, linear position transducers have gained in popularity as a means to monitor velocity in strength
training exercises. The measurement error of such devices has been shown to be low and both relative and
absolute reliability have been shown to be acceptable (2, 7, 11). The purpose of this article is to provide the
overview and benefits of monitoring movement velocity in strength training exercises, along with providing the basis
for novel “velocity-based” strength training prescription. We have covered the following practical applications:
Guidelines to develop a velocity/load profile for athletes; Using the velocity load/profile to predict and monitor changes
to maximal strength; Using velocity monitoring to control fatigue effects of strength training; Using velocity monitoring
as an immediate performance feedback to promote the highest level of effort in specific training exercises and
stronger adaptive stimuli. Linear position transducers are reliable and valid tools to help strength and conditioning
practitioners monitor and optimize their strength training programs.

Keywords – Strength, velocity, bench press, squat, linear position transducer.


Strength training is a critical exercise stimulus for inducing changes in muscular strength, size and power (6).
Traditionally, several acute training variables have been identified and utilized for strength training program design
and prescription: exercise type and order, intensity or load, number of repetitions and sets, and rests between sets
(10, 18). Manipulation of these variables shapes the magnitude and type of physiological responses and, ultimately,
the adaptations to strength training (6, 10, 18).

Exercise intensity or load is generally acknowledged as the most important stimulus related to changes in strength
levels and has been commonly identified with relative load (percentage of one-repetition maximum, % of 1RM) (6, 10).
This approach, named “traditional” or “percent-based” in the current article, requires coaches to individually assess the
1RM values for each athlete and each core exercise utilized in the training program. In practice this is usually done by
direct 1RM assessment, or performing reps to failure with submaximal loads. With the former method, coaches and
athletes utilize various established tables (repetition maximum continuum) to estimate 1RM from the load and number
of reps being performed.

When 1RMs for each athlete’s core exercises are known, coaches proceed with training program design utilizing
percent-based prescription. This traditional approach in strength training prescription revolves around prescribing
relative loads (% of 1RMs) and utilizing established 1RMs to calculate the absolute weight that needs to be lifted for a
given number of reps and sets.

This traditional approach has multiple shortcomings in practical settings. Direct assessment of 1RM may be
associated with injury when performed incorrectly or by novice athletes and it is time consuming and impractical for
large groups (10). Furthermore, the actual 1RM can change quite rapidly after only a few training sessions, especially
with novice athletes, and often the obtained values are not the athletes’ true maximum (10). This also involve
changes in day-to-day readiness that are caused by a normal biological variability, training related fatigue or life-style
factors, like sleep, stress and nutrition. Utilizing 1RMs that were estimated before the training program commenced
will not take this into account. Additionally, changes in 1RM might not reflect the whole changes taking places along
the load/velocity continuum. Hence, it is important for coaches and researches to monitor and report changes in
load/velocity profiles alongside changes in 1RM values.

The aforementioned limitations suggest trying to find better ways to objectively monitor training load during resistance
exercise (10). Movement velocity is another variable which should be of interest for monitoring exercise intensity but it
has been vaguely mentioned in most studies (10). The lack of use of this variable is likely because until recently it was
not possible to accurately measure velocity in typical strength training exercises (10).

Therefore, the purpose of this article is to provide the overview and benefits of monitoring movement velocity in
strength training exercises, along with providing the basis for novel “velocity-based” strength training prescription.

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Clarifying exercise terminology

To provide clarity in terminology used, in the current article we utilize the following components of “intensity” in strength

The term “load” relates to the weight the athlete is lifting in a given exercise expressed as the percentage of the known
1RM (% of 1RM), e.g., if an athlete is performing bench press with 100kg, and the known 1RM is 110kg, then the load
is 90%.

The term “effort” relates to the athlete’s intent to perform a repetition of a given exercise with maximum possible
acceleration and speed in the concentric phase. In the current article we assume maximal effort expressed by the
athlete for each repetition in the set unless otherwise stated.

The term “exertion” is related to the proximity of failure in a given set. It seems reasonable that the degree or level of
exertion is substantially different when performing, e.g., 8 of 12 possible repetitions (12RM) with a given load (8[12])
compared with performing maximum number of repetitions (12[12]) (18). Exertion, in strength coaches’ jargon, is
usually expressed as “reps left in the tank”. Using the previous example, performing 8 reps with 12RM load represents
submaximal exertion with 4 reps left in the tank. Performing 12 reps with 12RM represents maximal exertion with no
reps left in the tank.


The velocity of lifting can now be easily and reliably measured in many basic strength training exercises using
commercially available linear position transducers (LPT) (12). These devices typically take the form of a central
processing unit that attaches to the resistance training equipment (such as a barbell) via a retractable, measuring
cable (12). LPT devices convert physical attributes (the length of the measuring cable) into electrical signals to yield
the displacement of an object, in this case the barbell, other resistance training equipment or the athletes themselves.
Velocity can then be calculated from the displacement and time [velocity = displacement (d) / time (t)]. Acceleration
can then be calculated from changes in velocity over time [acceleration = velocity (v) / time (t)] (12).

LPT devices display live, velocity-based feedback via a display screen or via a secondary device (such as personal
computer or tablet device). The measurement error of such devices has been shown to be very low and both relative
and absolute reliability have been shown to be acceptable (2, 7, 11). A comprehensive review of the technology
underpinning this equipment is available (12).

When measuring velocity during basic non-ballistic strength training exercises such as the bench press or the squat,
Jidovtseff et al. (14) has suggested measuring mean concentric velocity and not peak concentric velocity. Mean
velocity is seen to better represent the ability of the athlete to move the load through the entire concentric phase (14).
In the current article, the term “velocity” refers to the mean concentric velocity unless otherwise stated.

Training with the intention to move the load with the highest effort is believed to drive adaptations to training and is
important during strength training designed to improve power output regardless of contraction type, load or
actual/absolute movement velocity of the exercises (1, 5, 6). A number of thorough reviews of the relevant literature
have been presented by different authors and it is suggested that there is also a velocity specific response to training
(5, 6). Velocity specific improvements in strength and power are more likely elicited by utilizing that actual movement
velocity in training (5, 6). Therefore the intention to move the load with the highest effort and the actual movement
velocity are both vital stimuli required to drive and optimize adaptation (5). Linear position transducers can assist
coaches and athletes in achieving both of these training goals. Regardless of the load being lifted, LPTs provide
athletes with immediate feedback on actual movement velocity, which can help encourage them to attempt to express
maximal effort. The direct measurement of velocity also allows coaches to optimize and monitor velocity specific
training. It has also been shown that providing immediate real-time performance feedback (such as peak velocity) for
jump squats yields higher consistency between sessions (17) and greater adaptation and larger training effects to
non-feedback training (16).

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The LPT can be used to develop a “load/velocity” profile for an athlete in a particular exercise. There exists an
inextricable relationship between load and velocity that can allow practitioners to use one to estimate the other. The
velocity of concentric muscle action decreases with increasing force output and with increasing load (8, 10, 14, 19).

To establish the load/velocity profile the athlete performs repetitions at a number of pre-determined relative or
absolute loads. Having assessed the available published research and from our own practical experience we
recommend measuring mean concentric velocity over at least 4-6 increasing intensities of load ranging from 30-85%
of actual or estimated 1RM. Along with other authors, we recommend at least 3 minutes of passive recovery between
sets (3). It is suggested a large enough “spread” of loading should be used to ensure a decrease in velocity of 0.5m/s
between the lightest and heaviest loads (14). It has been recommend in the research to perform 3 reps at lighter loads
(where velocity > 1.0m/s), 2 reps at moderate loads (0.65 – 1.0 m/s) and 1 rep at heavy loads (<0.65m/s) (19). The
highest velocity recorded at each load is included in the analysis of the load/velocity profile (19).

Load/velocity profile protocol

2-3 reps @ 30-40% 1RM

2 reps @ 40-50% 1RM
1-2 reps @ 60-70% 1RM
1 rep @ 70-80% 1RM
1 rep @ 80-85% 1RM

Figure 1 - Example load/velocity profile protocol for bench press.

When conducting this procedure athletes must be instructed to express maximal effort on every repetition regardless
of the load being lifted. With lighter loads (<50% 1RM) our observations have been that lifting technique may be
altered, so coaches should encourage athletes to maintain consistent technique across load ranges.

An example of an athlete’s load/velocity profile in the bench press exercise can be seen in Figure 2 where the load (%
1RM) is plotted on the x-axis and the achieved velocity is plotted on the y-axis.

Figure 2 - Example load/velocity profile for bench press. Mean concentric velocity values (m/s) are displayed on the
graph. Load is expressed as % 1RM. The athlete’s 1RM is 110kg.

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Table 1 - The raw data used to generate Figure 2, where MV = mean concentric velocity.

1RM 110
Load MV
(kg) (m/s)
20 18% 1.41
40 36% 1
60 55% 0.76
80 73% 0.56
90 82% 0.4
100 91% 0.32
105 95% 0.24
110 100% 0.1

Research has shown a very strong relationship between velocity and load (3, 10, 14, 18, 19). The relationship
between load and velocity can be described by simple linear regression that yields slope and intercept of the line. The
strength of this relationship can be described by the correlation coefficient (r), coefficient of determination (R ), or
standard error of the estimate (SEE) (20). Standard Error of the Estimate (SEE) is the measure of the accuracy of
predictions (20). All of these statistics are easily calculated via common spreadsheet software programs.
Badillo and Sanchez-Medina (10) reported a very strong relationship between velocity and load when fitted with a 2
order polynomial regression, with individual curve fits giving an R ranging from 0.993 to 0.999. Anecdotally, our own
work in professional rugby and football have shown linear regressions to also be very well fitted to load/velocity
profiles and with R values of >0.95 commonly observed. Other published research has also used linear regression for
load/velocity profiles (3).

Practitioners should note that the more data points tested, the stronger the predicted relationship via regression
analysis (20). While some authors have used a fifteen point test protocol with repetitions performed at every 5%
interval from 30—100% of 1RM (10); such an extensive assessment of the load/velocity profile is often not feasible in
the practical domain where there can be limited training time and conflicting training demands.

While we recommend using 4-6 different intensities of load ranging from 30-85% of 1RM (or estimated/predicted
1RM), coaches should assess what testing protocol works best for them in the context of their athlete group and
training demands. When comparing load/velocity profiles over time, practitioners should try to keep the same or
similar protocol of testing to maximize reliability of estimates.

Creating a load/velocity profile in an identified key training exercise allows coaches the opportunity to track an
athlete’s progress, over time, across a spectrum of velocity demands. This is particularly applicable for coaches who
are interested in velocity specific adaptation to training and not solely focused on maximal strength development.
Creating a load/velocity profile also allows coaches to compare athletes against each other across the velocity
spectrum. Load/velocity profiling can also be used to predict 1RM values using sub-maximal loads. This may be of
great interest to coaches and athletes if true maximal testing is not viable or appropriate. Measuring velocity with sub-
maximal loads during sessions allows coaches to estimate daily 1RM values which can be used to assess the efficacy
of training programs and the training status of the athlete.


As can be seen from the Figure 2 and Table 1, maximal load (1RM) attempts are associated with a specific velocity
that is termed “1RM velocity” or the “minimal velocity threshold (MVT)”. The MVT is the mean concentric velocity
produced on the last successful repetition of a set to failure performed with maximal lifting effort. MVT has been
shown to be exercise specific with approximate mean concentric velocities of 0.15 m/s for bench press and 0.30 m/s
for back squat being reported (10, 13) (see Figure 3).

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Figure 3 - Different load/velocity profiles for bench press and squat for a single individual. Note the different velocities
at 1RM load (MVT).

There appears to be no statistical differences between velocity in 1RM attempts and velocity produced on the last
successful repetition in sets to failure at sub-maximal loads. Izquierdo et al. (13) had subjects perform repetitions to
failure in both the bench press and the half squat exercises at a range of sub-maximal loads: 60%, 65%, 70% and
75% of 1RM with maximal effort. In this study, no significant differences were seen in MVT regardless of relative load
or number of repetitions per set to failure.

The range of repetitions per set was from 17 (±2) reps at 60% 1RM to 9 (±2) reps at 75% 1RM in the bench press
exercise. The MVT across the 4 fatigue protocols in the bench press exercise was 0.175 (±0.05) m/s. There were
also no statistically significant differences observed between MVT in the sub-maximal sets to failure and MVT
observed in true 1RM attempts (0.15 ±0.05) m/s. Other authors have also demonstrated similar MVT values in 1RM
bench press testing of 0.16 (±0.04) m/s (10).

Izqueirdo et al. (13) observed the same trends in MVT in the parallel squat exercise: there were no statistically
significant differences observed between MVT in the sub-maximal sets to failure and MVT observed in true 1RM half
squat attempts. However the MVT values observed were significantly different between exercises. The MVT across
the 4 fatigue protocols in the parallel squat exercise was 0.32 (±0.06) m/s and in 1RM testing was 0.27 (±0.06) m/s.

The MVT of an exercise also appears to remain stable when absolute maximal strength increases (10). Research by
González-Badillo and Sánchez-Medina (10) observed significant increases in maximal strength in the bench press
exercises after a 6-week training period but mean concentric velocity at that relative 1RM load did not change with
training. This suggests that there appears to be a stable, exercise specific MVT required to make successful reps
regardless of intensity of load or number of repetitions performed per set. This observation opens up a number of
practical inferences for coaches.

Athletes’ MVT for a particular exercise such as bench press can be individually assessed using either 1RM test or a
set to failure with a submaximal load. Research suggests that the exact percentage load to be used in this
assessment can be left to the coach’s discretion. A load, which is likely to elicit a number of repetitions relevant to the
current training phase, can be selected. The individual athlete’s MVT is assessed as the mean concentric velocity on
their last complete repetition before failure. Figure 4 demonstrates an example of such a protocol. The athlete in
question performs repetitions to failure with approximately 75% of his 1RM and produces an MVT of 0.1m/s. While a
high rep protocol was used here, a higher load (and resultantly less repetitions) could also be used.

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Figure 4 - A repetitions to failure protocol can identify an athlete's minimum velocity threshold for a specific exercise.

This individualized MVT becomes a key piece of information for coaches. One application is using it to assess if 1RM
testing reps are true maximums or not. Some authors have suggested only considering a true 1RM effort for those lifts
whose mean concentric velocity is less than 0.2 m/s, assuming maximal effort on every repetition. Having such a
threshold can help coaches make informed decisions on whether or not to push athletes towards additional attempts
on 1RM testing days.


As previously explained, the study by Izquierdo et al. (13) looked at velocities of individual reps in the sets performed
to failure at 60%, 65%, 70% and 75% of 1RM with maximal effort. Since MVT for a given exercise is not statistically
different between 1RM and the last rep in a set to failure, we wished to assess if the velocities were similar between
same exertion level expressed as “reps in the tank” (number of reps shy of failure) across different loads (% of 1RM
By digitalizing figures from Izquierdo et al. (13) and reorganizing data we were able to gain additional insights. In the
Table 2 and Table 3 is the data for squat on the Figure 4 there is graphical representation of the data.

Table 2 - Digitalized data for squat from Izquierdo et al. (13).

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Table 3 - Reorganized data for squat from Izquierdo et al. (13). Velocity for each rep is organized based on load used
and exertion level expressed as reps shy of failure (“reps in the tank”).

Figure 5 - Chart done using digitalized and reorganized data from Izquierdo et al. (13).

What is insightful from this way of presenting data is that regardless of the load being used (% of 1RM), velocities at
the same exertion level (rep left in the tank) are very similar (CV from 3 to 6%). The practical significance of this is that
by monitoring repetition velocities during the set (assuming maximal effort) one can estimate the proximity of failure
and exertion expressed by the athlete for a given set. Along with MVT, this observation opens up a number of
practical inferences for coaches. Exertion/velocity profile could be created for a single individual and exercise by
combining load/velocity profile, MVT and repetitions to failure protocol or by using established repetition maximum


Understanding load/velocity profile, minimal velocity threshold (MVT) and exertion/load profile are crucial in applying
velocity-based strength training. Application of velocity-based approach doesn’t involve all-or-nothing implementation,
where you either use traditional percent-based or novel velocity-based approach. Contrary to that, velocity-based
approach involves different levels of implementation that could be used together with a traditional approach as a way
to overcome its shortcomings. In the current article we are going to present a couple of such implementations of
velocity-based approach and velocity monitoring in strength training.

Practical application 1 - Comparing individuals using load/velocity profile and monitoring changes over time
Creating a load/velocity profile in an identified key training exercise allows coaches the opportunity to track an
athlete’s progress, over time, across a spectrum of velocity demands. This is particularly applicable for coaches who
are interested in velocity specific adaptation to training and not solely focused on maximal strength development.
Creating a load/velocity profile also allows coaches to compare athletes against each other across the velocity
spectrum, instead of only using 1RM. Figure 6 demonstrates such a comparison. Both athletes are high-level rugby
union players, playing in the same position with a similar bench press 1RM of approximately 125kg. Of the two
players, player 2 demonstrates higher velocities at sub-maximal loads, suggesting he has greater velocity
characteristics, which might yield additional transfer to athletic performance. This observation is not possible with
measuring 1RM solely.

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Figure 6 - The difference in load/velocity profile of two rugby union players with same 1RM (approx. 125kg) in bench

Having a load/velocity profile might inform training decisions such as spending more time in developing power or
velocity specific characteristics rather than maximal strength with certain athletes, or vice versa. By monitoring an
athlete’s load/velocity profile over time, coaches can measure velocity specific adaptations to training and assess if
the training program is improving adaptation holistically across the whole velocity/load spectrum.

Practical application 2 - Estimating 1RM from sub-maximal loads.

We have recommend measuring mean concentric velocity at 4-6 increasing intensities of load ranging from 30-85% of
actual or estimated 1RM to estimate load/velocity profile. To estimate 1RM for an individual, coaches need to know
the MVT of the exercise which could be assessed through traditional 1RM test or reps to failure test. Once the MVT is
known for a given exercise and individual, traditional 1RM tests could be repeated only occasionally to test the real
changes in 1RM. Because of the high stability of MVT across time (10) one could reliably use sub-maximal testing to
estimate 1RM.

Using velocities from sub-maximal loads and known MVT, regression equation of the line can be used to predict or
estimate current 1RM strength levels. If individual MVTs are not known, coaches can use 0,15m/s for bench press and
0,3m/s for squat as a general rule of thumb (13).

The equation of the line takes the following format (20)

Load = m(Velocity) + b ± Z(SEE)

Where, m is the slope of the line b is the intercept Z represents the desired level of confidence (LOC) where 1.645 is
used for a 90% LOC and 1.96 is used for a 95% LOC (20)
SEE is the standard error of the estimate

Using the data from the Table 1 and entering it into a spreadsheet software application, such as Microsoft Excel, we
can calculate the slope, intercept and SEE of the load/velocity relationship for the bench press (or squat).

Figure 7 - Calculating Slope, Intercept and SEE of load/velocity profile in Microsoft Excel. Formulas are shown in
column E. Data is taken from Table 1.

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Using these parameters one can estimate 1RM using a known MVT for a given exercise and individual. Using the data
from Table 1 we can estimate 1RM at 0.15m/s (MVT for bench press):

Load = m(Velocity) + b ± Z(SEE)

Load = -74.1 x 0.15 + 120 ± Z(SEE)
Load = 108.9 ± Z(SEE)

Calculated 1RM using a known MVT (0,15m/s) is 108.9 kg in this case. As can be seen from the Table 1, the “real”
1RM is 110kg which is around 1% difference and not practically significant.

In Microsoft Excel the trend function (“=TREND”) can be used to calculate this estimation.

Figure 8 - Estimating 1RM (est1RM) from load/velocity profile using MVT in Microsoft Excel. Data is from Table 1.

To add confidence intervals for this estimate, the SEE can be calculated from the linear regression. For a 90% level of
confidence, the SEE is multiplied by 1.645 (20). An example of how this calculation is conducted is as follows:

Load = 108.9 ± Z(SEE)

Load = 108.9 ± 1.645 x 4.1
Load = 108.9 ± 6.7 kg
Load = 102.2 to 115.6kg [90% LOC]

As stated previously, SEE represents the measure of the accuracy of predictions. In the case of tracking estimated
1RMs for predicting and monitoring changes in maximal strength for a single individual over time, confidence intervals
calculated from SEE could be visualized using error bars on the graph (see Figure 8).

Using SEE allows us to assess the accuracy of our estimates. With lower SEE we get better predictions for the
estimates of 1RM. For traditional exercises like bench press and squat used with free weights or guided barbells
(smith machine) the use of load/velocity relationship to predict the 1RM appears accurate (14) and is highly correlated
with actual 1RM (3). However, some studies have high correlations but with largely different 1RM values (3).
Considering this, the 1RM estimated from the submaximal load/velocity profile is an appropriate measure to monitor
training induced adaptations (3). However, our recommendation is that actual 1RM and predicted 1RM values are not
used interchangeably and the predicted values from the load/velocity protocol should only be compared to themselves
to monitor progress. It still important to occasionally perform traditional 1RM test to verify the changes evaluated using
estimated 1RM.

This is not the only method by which to monitor training induced adaptation via the load/velocity profile. According to
González-Badillo et al. (10) if velocity at a given absolute load improves by more than 0.07 – 0.09 m/s, this
corresponds to an improvement in 1RM of approximately 5%. While this will be dependent on some inherent
characteristics of the athlete in question, from our experience in professional team sports (rugby, football) this is a
good general approximation to assess how changes in velocity characteristics may affect maximal strength

Practical application 3 - Estimating daily readiness or daily 1RM.

Using an abbreviated version of 1RM estimation, in this case using 3-4 progressive warm-up sets, coaches are able to
quickly estimate daily readiness or daily 1RM without interfering with the prescribed training session.

Figure 9 visualizes the estimated 1RMs from warm-up sets in the squat over the duration of a training block. This
training block was a novel high-frequency block for an athlete which he was not accustomed to. Error bars represent
90% confidence intervals for the estimated 1RM. Dotted line represent pre-training block 1RM used to prescribe
weights for the squat using traditional approach (% 1RM). The 1RM was tested couple of weeks preceding the
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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

beginning of high-frequency block and might have been lower than 1RM at the beginning of the training block. As
explained in the introduction section of the current article, this represents one of the shortcomings of the traditional

As can be seen from Figure 9, daily estimated 1RMs tend to be different from the pre-training block 1RM. Estimating
daily 1RMs is very useful in monitoring changes in maximum strength, but it could also be used to prescribe daily
weights taking into account daily variability in maximum strength, instead of relying on pre training block 1RM

Figure 9 - Estimating 1RMs from warm-up sets for the squat over duration of the training block. Dotted line represent
pre-cycle 1RM use to plan training weights. Error bars represent 90% confidence intervals.

Using regular (daily or weekly) estimated 1RMs may help coaches to adjust workouts if percentages of 1RM are used
to program training load. This approach would allow coaches to assess day-to-day variability in training readiness and
adjust training plans accordingly.

This estimated 1RM from load-velocity regression during warm-up sets could be used to control the training process
through mathematical modelling (4) and provide individualized periodization approach to allow optimal loading and
peaking strategies. Further research using this approach for mathematical modelling is warranted.

Practical Application 4 - Using velocity monitoring and exertion/velocity profile to control fatigue and exertion
Velocity monitoring can be used to limit the amount of metabolic by-product accumulation incurred during resistance
training sets. Research has demonstrated that by monitoring repetition velocity during training it is possible to
reasonably estimate the metabolic stress induced by resistance training (18). Velocity naturally slows during a set of
repetitions as fatigue develops (3, 13, 14, 18) (see Figures 4 and 5).

Strong relationships have been observed between velocity loss during lifting and metabolic measures of fatigue (18).
Research has shown that post-exercise lactate concentration linearly increases as the number of performed
repetitions in each set approaches a maximum (18). Increases in ammonia concentrations follow a curvilinear trend in
relation to velocity loss. From a velocity loss of approximately 35% (of initial velocity) in the bench press and 30% in
the squat exercise, blood ammonia levels started to increase steadily above resting levels. Significant rises in
ammonia are associated with accelerated purine nucleotide degradation, which necessitates longer recovery times

The gradual decrease in repetition velocity that occurs during resistance training sets can be interpreted as evidence
of impaired neuromuscular function (13, 18). Its measurement affords coaches and athletes a simple means of
controlling the extent of fatigue. This could be done by prescribing “velocity stops” for each set. Velocity stops are
estimated from exertion/velocity profile (see Table 3 and Figure 5) and are highly correlated with how much exertion
the athlete is experiencing and proximity to failure. Since the load/velocity profile and MVT are more stable than 1RM
over time, this makes velocity stops a stable individual parameter, and provides key information in controlling the
exertion levels and fatigue being generated. A practical example would involve performing multiple sets with 80% 1RM
in the squat, keeping velocity above 0.45m/s, which is approximately 2 reps away from failure (see Table 3). This can

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

be a useful tool for coaches and athletes over multiple sets and provides an easy way to auto-regulate training volume
based on daily readiness of the athlete. The level of velocity stops will be subject to periodized training plans and will
be based on the objective of the training session and planned workload for a given individual and exercise. In certain
training sessions, where the objective might be to induce higher levels of fatigue, velocity stops will be very close to
MVT (or no velocity stops will be used). In other cases where the coach wants to minimize the extent of fatigue,
velocity stops will be set at high velocities, well above the exercise’s MVT. This might be particularly useful in periods
of peaking or tapering when athletes wish to maintain (or enhance) accrued strength gains as effectively as possible
while minimizing the fatigue effects of training.

A similar approach has been examined in an intervention study to assess if high effort training and minimizing velocity
loss during the set can significantly influence muscular strength. Padulo et al. (15) had a group of experienced
strength trainers perform the bench press with a predetermined load of 85% 1RM. This training group performed an
open-ended number of sets and reps with each set terminated when velocity dropped below a threshold of 20%
velocity loss. The athletes ended the training session when they were unable to achieve the velocity threshold for that
load for any reps within a set. Athletes in the control group completed 7-9 sets of 2-3 repetitions across the three-week
intervention period. The training group significantly increased maximal strength (via 1RM testing) compared to
baseline levels with very large effect sizes observed in comparison to a control group who trained with a more
traditional “reps to failure” training approach. This study suggests that training with maximal effort and minimizing
velocity loss can positively influence muscular strength.

These three research papers together (13, 15, 18) suggest that if appropriate velocity thresholds are implemented in
resistance training that metabolic fatigue can be limited, maximal velocities can be maintained and maximal strength
may be enhanced in short peaking training phases.

Practical Application 5 - Using velocity to prescribe exercise load.

Taking these recommendations further, instead of traditional exercise prescription of relative or absolute load and
number of repetitions and sets (e.g. 100kg x 5 reps x 5 sets) one could prescribe loading using velocity bands and
velocity stops (e.g. sets at 0.4 m/s initial velocity until rep velocity falls below 0.36m/s). This velocity-based approach
has numerous advantages, such as being sensitive to day-to-day readiness fluctuations and changes in 1RM over
longer training blocks. Velocity-based approaches also allows for auto-regulating and individualizing training volume
and load using velocity bands and velocity stops for both reps (within-set) and sets (between sets using “average set
velocity stops”). This also provides immediate real-time feedback which research suggests motivates athletes to apply
consistent maximal lifting effort which has been associated with positive training effects (1, 16, 17). Further research
on the benefits of velocity-based strength training compared to more traditional forms of strength training is warranted.


Mean concentric velocity measured via a LPT is a reliable and appropriate measure of movement velocity in basic
strength training exercises such as the bench press and the squat. To establish a load/velocity profile for a specific
exercise coaches should measure mean concentric velocity at 4-6 increasing intensities of load ranging from 30-85%
of actual or estimated 1RM. Established load/velocity profile allows for more insightful comparison of the individuals,
their monitoring over time and making informed training decisions.

Minimal velocity threshold (MVT) is the velocity associated with 1RM and last repetition of a set performed to failure
regardless of the load being used. MVT is exercise specific and remains stable with changes in maximal strength
(1RM) over time. Exertion/velocity profiles demonstrate that velocities at the same rep left in the tank are very similar
(CV from 3 to 6%), regardless of the load being used (% of 1RM). The practical significance of this is that by
monitoring repetition velocities during the set (assuming maximal effort) one can estimate the proximity of failure and
exertion expressed by the athlete for a given set regardless of the load being used.

Knowing the MVT for a given individual and exercise allows for 1RM estimation using submaximal loads. This allows
for monitoring day-to-day readiness or daily 1RMs and making training adjustments along with monitoring changes in
maximal strength without imposing fatigue and interfering with normal training process. Easy monitoring of daily
1RMs allows for potential mathematical modelling of the training process and providing an individualized approach in
load prescription and training block durations

Utilizing velocity stops in a given set allows the control of fatigue and exertion during strength training. Velocity
monitoring also provides immediate real-time feedback which research suggests motivates athletes to apply
consistent maximal lifting effort which has been associated with positive training effects. Using velocity bands to
prescribe training load is a novel approach that is sensitive to day-to-day readiness fluctuations and changes in 1RM
over longer training blocks. Together with velocity stops, utilizing velocity bands is a novel approach to strength
training prescription that allows for auto-regulating and individualizing training volume and load.

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1. Behm, D.G. & Sale, D.G. Intended rather than actual movement force-time variables during a loaded jump squat in elite athletes.
velocity determines velocity-specific training response. Journal of Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25: 1447 -
Applied Physiology. 74: 359-368. 1993. 1456. 2011.
2. Bosco, C., Belli, A., Astrua, M., Tihanyi, J., Pozzo, R., Kellis, S., 12. Harris, N. K., Cronin, J., Taylor, K., Boris, J., Sheppard, J.
Tsarpela, O., Foti, C., Manno, R., Tranquilli, C. A dynamometer for Understanding position transducer technology for strength and
evaluation of dynamic muscle work. European Journal of Applied conditioning practitioners. Strength and Conditioning Journal.
Physiology. 70: 379: 386. 1995. 32: 66-79. 2010.
3. Bosquet, L., Porta-Benache, J., Blais, J. Validity of a commercial 13. Izquierdo M., Gonzalez-Badillo J.J., Häkkinen K., Ibañez J.,
linear encoder to estimate bench press 1RM from the force-velocity Kraemer W.J., Altadill A., Eslava J., Gorostiaga E.M. Effect of
relationship. Journal of Sport Science and Medicine. 9: 459-463. loading on unintentional lifting velocity declines during single sets of
2010. repetitions to failure during upper and lower extremity muscle
4. Clarke D.C., Skiba P.F.. Rationale and resources for teaching the actions. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 27: 718–724.
mathematical modeling of athletic training and performance. 2006.
Advances in Physiology Education. 37: 134–152, 2013. 14. Jidovtseff, B., Harris, N.K.., Crielaard, J.M., Cronin, J.B. Using the
5. Cormie, P., McGuigan, M.R., Newton, R.U. Developing maximal load-velocity relationship for 1RM prediction. Journal of Strength
neuromuscular power. Part 2 – Training considerations for and Conditioning Research . 25: 267-270. 2011.
improving maximal power production. Sports Medicine. 41: 125- 15. Padulo, J., Mignogna, P., Mignardi, S., Tonni, F., Ottavio, S.D.
146. 2011. Effect of different pushing speeds on bench press. International
6. Crewther, B., Cronin, J. and Keogh, J. Possible stimuli for strength Journal of Sports Medicine. 33: 376-380. 2012.
and power adaptation. Acute Mechanical Responses. Sports 16. Randell, A.D., Cronin, J.B., Keogh, J.W., Gill, N.D., Pedersen, M.C.
Medicine. 35: 967-989. 2005. Effect of instantaneous performance feedback during 6 weeks of
7. Cronin, J.B., Hing, R.D., McNair, P.J. Reliability and validity of a velocity-based resistance training on sport-specific performance
linear position transducer for measuring jump performance. tests. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25: 87 –
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 18:590 - 593. 93. 2011
2004. 17. Randell A.D., Cronin J.B., Keogh J.W., Gill N.D., Pedersen M.C.
8. Cronin, J.B., McNair, P.J. and Marshall, R.N. Force-velocity Reliability of performance velocity for jump squats under feedback
analysis of strength-training techniques and load: implications for and nonfeedback conditions. Journal of Strength and
training strategy and research. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 25: 3514 - 3518. 2011
Conditioning Research. 17: 148-155. 2003. 18. Sanchez-Medina, L., & González-Badillo, J.J. Velocity loss as an
9. González-Badillo, J.J., Marques, M.C., Sánchez-Medina, L. The indicator of neuromuscular fatigue during resistance training.
importance of movement velocity as a measure to control Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 43: 1725–1734.
resistance training intensity. Journal of Human Kinetics Special 2011.
Issue. 15-19. 2011. 19. Sanchez-Medina, L., Perez, C.E., Gonzalez-Badillo, J.J.
10. González-Badillo, J.J., Sánchez-Medina, L. Movement velocity as a Importance of the propulsive phase in strength assessment.
measure of loading intensity in resistance training. International International Journal of Sports Medicine. 31: 123 – 129. 2010.
Journal of Sports Medicine. 31: 347 – 352. 2010 20. Vincent, W., Weir, J. Statistics in Kinesiology – 4th Edition.
11. Hansen, K.T., Cronin, J.B., Newton, M.J. The reliability of linear Champaign. IL: Human Kinetics. 2012.
position transducer and force plate measurement of explosive

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Depth Jump. J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)70-74. 2014 © ASCA.

Exercise Highlight

Ryan Eckert, NSCA-CPT & Ronald L. Snarr, M.Ed., CSCS


This column provides a detailed description, as well as photographs and videos, of the proper exercise technique for
the depth jump.


The depth jump is an advanced, high-intensity plyometric exercise designed to increase muscular power and
efficiency of force absorption in the lower extremities (1,4,5,7). This movement may provide benefits ranging from an
increase in athletic performance (1,6,11) to injury prevention (5,10).


Primary muscles involved with performing this exercise include: gluteus maximus, quadriceps group (vastus lateralis,
vastus intermedius, vastus medialis, rectus femoris), hamstrings group (semimembranosus, semitendinosus, biceps
femoris), gastrocnemius, soleus (3).


The depth jump is an advanced, lower body plyometric exercise that can be utilized in a strength and conditioning
program to increase power output (1,6) and sprint performance (11). The strong eccentric loading component
associated with the depth jump may prove to be effective in the prevention of lower body injuries (10). Eccentric
loading has also been shown to increase eccentric strength, tendon stiffness, passive force production, and the ability
of the muscle to generate force at greater lengths (10). When incorporated into a properly designed plyometric
program, the depth jump may also improve the ability of the lower extremities to effectively absorb force (5).

The proper technique of the depth jump is described as follows. Since the depth jump is a high-intensity exercise,
pre-requisites to participation in a plyometric program, as well as the proper landing and exercise technique are
described below.


In order to safely and effectively participate in a plyometric program including high-intensity exercises such as the
depth jump, an individual must meet various criteria in regards to overall strength, balance, speed, and posture. The
following guidelines were developed by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (2) in order to determine
the readiness of an individual for participation in a plyometric program that involves high-intensity, lower body

 The athlete must exhibit proper landing technique before beginning any plyometric exercises.
 High-intensity plyometrics are contraindicated for, prepubescent youth with an age ≤ 13 years and older adults
with an age ≥ 60 years.
 High-intensity plyometrics may not be appropriate for individual’s weighing ≥ 100 kg.
 The athlete should have at least 3 months of resistance training experience.
 The athlete should have a 1-repetition maximum full-depth, back squat that is ≥ 1.5 times the individual’s body
 The athlete should be able to properly perform 5 repetitions of a full-depth, back squat with 60% of their body
weight in ≤ 5 seconds.
 The athlete should be able to hold a proper double-leg half-squat position for 30 seconds.
 The athlete should not have any current injuries to the lower extremities.

High-intensity plyometrics are exercises that place a relatively high amount of stress on the musculoskeletal system
and require a great amount of skill and technique, as well as neuromuscular control. For those individuals in which
high-intensity plyometric exercises (such as the depth jump) are not appropriate or contraindicated, suitable
alternative exercises may include low-intensity plyometrics such as ankle flips, double-leg vertical jumps, and box

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Before attempting to perform any plyometric exercises, proper landing is essential for the athlete. The following
technique when performing plyometric exercises will reduce the risk of injury as well as improve performance during
the exercise, and therefore maximize potential benefits (4,8,9). Proper landing technique includes slight dorsiflexion at
the ankle, along with slight flexion at the knees and hips. The athlete’s shoulders, knees, and toes should be aligned
in the landing position as well. The athlete should also learn to land softly with the weight of the body being placed
mid-foot and towards the balls of the feet (4,8,9).

Figure 1 - Proper landing technique.


Starting Position
 The individual begins atop an appropriately selected plyometric box (see Plyometric Box Selection below).
 Assume a fully-erect standing position with the feet hip-width apart and facing forward.
 The head and spine should be in neutral position (Figure 2).

Figure 2 - Starting position.

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PHASE 1 - Step From Box

 Inhale while stepping forward off of the box with one foot.
 Land on the floor with both feet at the same time with slight dorsiflexion of the ankles and slight flexion at the hips
and knees, roughly a quarter-squat position.
 The shoulders, knees, and toes should be aligned when in proper landing position.
 The head and spine should remain in neutral position upon landing (Figure 1).

PHASE 2 – Landing Into Jump

 Immediately upon landing on the floor, exhale while quickly extending the hips, knees and ankles to propel the
body from the floor into a vertical jump.
 Be sure to fully extend the joints of the lower extremities in unison.
 The head and spine should remain in neutral position (Figure 3).

Figure 3 - Jump after stepping off box.

The amortization phase in the depth jump is the time spent between the eccentric (muscular loading) and concentric
(jumping/muscular unloading) phases after stepping from the initial starting box. While there are no set standards, aim
to limit the amount of time spent in the amortization phase of the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) in order to increase
the amount of force produced during the subsequent jump as well as the effectiveness of the exercise. Completing
this phase as quickly as possible with minimal ground contact time, while still maintaining proper technique, should be
the primary focus of the athlete (1,7,9).

PHASE 3 – Landing From Jump

 Upon landing, assume slight flexion of the hips, knees and ankles with the shoulders, knees and toes aligned
(Figure 1).
 After landing, extend the hips, knees and ankles to an upright standing position.
 To complete the next repetition, step back onto the plyometric box and assume the initial starting position.

Video 1 - Depth jump.

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When determining the appropriate box height for the athlete, it is important to consider the overall quality of the
movement as well as the ability to transfer from the loading to unloading phase at a rapid rate (4,5,8,9). An
appropriate box height is one that allows the athlete to perform the movement with proper technique and landing form
as well as with a quick ground-contact time, yet is still challenging to the individual. Typically, the box height used to
perform a depth jump range from 30 to 107 cm (5). It should be important to note that high-intensity plyometrics may
not be appropriate for individuals weighing ≥ 100 kg. However, if deemed appropriate for those individuals’ to perform
depth jumps, then a box height of ≤ 18 inches is advised.


Once an athlete can properly perform a depth jump without a breakdown in technique for the prescribed number of
sets and repetitions, an advanced variation may be advised. This variation involves the use of a second, smaller,
plyometric box placed in front of the initial box. The boxes should be far enough apart so that the athlete can
successfully step down from the first box and jump directly onto the second box. In order to perform the advanced
variation, the athlete will step down from the first box and then immediately jump up onto the second box (Figure 4).
The athlete should remember to execute a proper landing position when landing both on the floor and on the second
box. After completing the depth jump onto a box, the athlete should step down from the box rather than jump down as
this may increase the risk for injury due to an increase in intensity and fatigue. Due to the increased skill and
technique involved, athletes should be aware of the increased potential injury of attempting to land upon a second
box. Therefore, it is the authors’ recommendations that this exercise be performed with a spotter or in open area with
safety mats provided in case the athlete missteps during the jump.

Figure 4 - Advanced variation of depth jump onto a box.

Video 2 - Depth jump – Advanced variation.

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The depth jump is an advanced, high-intensity exercise implemented into a plyometric program in order to improve an
athlete’s power output. Therefore the following guidelines are consistent with athletic power development (2):

 Power: 1-6 sets, 3-6 repetitions, 2-5 minute rest period (intermediate and advanced training status individuals

With a high-intensity plyometric exercise, such as the depth jump, there should be a short recovery between
repetitions (e.g., 5 to 10 seconds). Intermediate individuals are advised to begin with 1-3 sets, while more advanced
individuals may perform upwards of 6 sets.

When prescribing plyometric exercises, ground contacts (e.g., landings) are often used in conjunction with the set and
repetition prescription in order to estimate the total volume being performed during a given workout. Any landing an
athlete performs is considered a ground contact. In order to avoid overtraining and reduce the risk of injury from
fatigue, it is recommended that an athlete not perform more than the following number of recommended ground
contacts associated with their age range (2):

 14-17 years: 80-100 ground contacts

 18-30 years: 120-140 ground contacts
 31-40 years: 100-120 ground contacts
 41-60 years: 80-100 ground contacts

Due to the high-demands of plyometric training and the maximal efforts that are associated with this type of exercise,
it is recommended that the athlete is provided with 48-72 hours of recovery time between training sessions, while
performing 1-3 sessions per week (2).


The depth jump should be carefully incorporated into a plyometric program as it is a high-intensity exercise that can be
potentially dangerous to an athlete not yet ready to perform such an advanced movement. However, when performed
properly the depth jump can prove to have numerous benefits ranging from an increase in overall athletic performance
and power output to lower body injury prevention (1,4,5,6,7,11). Athletes participating in basketball, volleyball, football,
sprinting, and baseball can benefit from implementing the depth jump into their training program.

1. Bobbert, M., Huijin, P. Jan Van Ingun Schenau, G. Drop jumping. I. 7. Lundin, P., Berg, W. A review of plyometric training. Strength &
The influence of jumping technique on the biomechanics of Conditioning Journal. 13(6): 22-30. 1991.
jumping. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 19(4): 332- 8. Meira, E., Brumitt, J. Plyometric Training Considerations to Reduce
338. 1987. Knee Injuries. Strength & Conditioning Journal. 27(2): 78-80.
2. Coburn, J., W. & Malek, M., H. (Eds.). NSCA’s Essentials of 2005.
Personal Training. 2nd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2012. 9. Myszka, S. Common Mistakes in the implementation of
3. Graham, J. Wall Squat with Stability Ball and Dumbbells. Strength Plyometrics. NSCA Education.
& Conditioning Journal. 31(1): 48-49. 2009.
4. Hefflefinger, T. Touchdown Before Takeoff. NSCA Education. Implementation-of-Plyometrics/ Accessed January 10, 2013. 10. National Strength and Conditioning Association. Eccentrics and
Takeoff/. Accessed January 10, 2013. Prevention of Hamstring Injury in Sport. NSCA Education.
5. Infantolino, G. Power Development Using Boxes. Tactical
Strength & Conditioning Report. 4: 4.3-4.4. 2008 Prevention-of-Hamstring-Injury-in-Sport/. Accessed January, 2013.
6. Luebbers, P., Potteiger, J., Hulver, M., Thyfault, J., Carper, M., 11. Rimmer, E., Sleivert, G. Effects of a Plyometrics Intervention
Lockwood, R. Effects of Plyometric Training and Recovery on Program on Sprint Performance. Journal of Strength &
Vertical Jump Performance and Anaerobic Power. Journal of Conditioning Research. 14(3): 295-301. 2000.
Strength & Conditioning Research. 17(4): 704-709. 2003.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Tips from the top: A brief interview, the dirty dozen questions J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)75-76. 2014 © ASCA

Tips from the Top


Column Editor
Daniel Baker PhD

In this section of JASC we introduce a column that we hope is informative to the development of aspiring strength &
conditioning coaches. Many lay people, let alone fans and aspiring coaches, know the name of Australia’s leading
sports coaches, be they football, swimming, netball coaches etc. That is because they recognize the undoubted
contribution that a sports coach makes to an athlete’s or team’s success. You only have to watch the coaching
hiring/firing dramas unfold in AFL, NRL, rugby union etc. or watch the UK “pilfer” (read that as actually paying the
appropriate wages) our rowing and swimming coaches before the last Olympics to recognize this fact. But what about
the associated staff, such as the strength & conditioning and physical performance staff? Every astute sports coach
now knows that their own strength & conditioning staff underpin their success, but who knows who the strength &
conditioning are? Do aspiring strength & conditioning coaches know the name or stories behind some of the ASCA’s
leading strength & conditioning coaches? Do they know how they attained their lofty positions, what they had to learn,
do and practise to achieve their success?

So this column is designed to introduce readers to some of the ASCA’s and the world’s leading strength &
conditioning coaches. I have emailed some of the ASCA’s leading strength & conditioning coaches 12 questions that
they have gladly volunteered to answer, regarding their S & C careers, experience and knowledge and what they
believe aspiring S & C coaches may need to do to improve their careers. As it is not in the nature of Australians or
New Zealanders to “talk themselves up” like it is in other countries or cultures, it has been quite difficult to get these
coaches to actually write down their incredible coaching achievements. I often have had to request that the coaches
put a bit more detail of their achievements, as typically they are quiet achievers and not big-talking boasters and do
not want to be seen to be bragging. But their knowledge and experience is incredible and not given due regard in the
wider Australian media, let alone in their own professional association.

Astute readers should look not only for the uniqueness of each individual’s situation and journey but there also
appears to be some commonalities that these coaches share in this series of brief interviews. If you aspire to a full-
time career in strength & conditioning, please read these interviews carefully and attempt to absorb what these
coaches did and went through to attain their positions. Ignore their wisdom at your peril.


(2014 ASCA International Conference on Applied Strength & Conditioning – Keynote Presenter)

1. What is your current job and what does it entail?

I am a sport scientist at the Aspire Academy, Doha, Qatar (since 2009). Today, I coordinate all the applied Strength &
Conditioning research projects.

2. What are some of the key work experiences that you have had that have led to where you are now?
I have worked with the French Handball and Football (soccer) national teams, and several Football (soccer), Rugby
and AFL teams both as a Strength & Conditioning coach and/or Sport Scientist.

3. What are your academic and formal coaching qualifications?

I have a PhD in exercise physiology, 2 Masters in Strength & Conditioning, 1 Master in Statistics and first level
coaching certificate in Handball, Ski and Tennis

4. What is your sporting or training background?

I was a passionate Handball player (French 4th league after youth talent centre for several years) but have now
moved to ultra-trail running to keep me challenged.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

5. Who have been your most influential writers/researchers on strength & conditioning and/or who do you
read or respect (from previous research)?
Philippe Lambert (previous Strength & Conditioning coach of the French Football national team, now Paris SG), Alain
Quintallet (Strength & Conditioning coach of the French Handball national team), Alberto Mendez Villanueva (my
Spanish Sport Scientist and Strength & Conditioning mate at Aspire), Paul Laursen (Head Physiologist Endurance
Sports New Zealand) and Will Hopkins (the father of our applied stats, Auckland University) have all changed my life.

6. Who have been your most influential past mentors in the practical coaching sense and now who do you
listen to, or go to for advice for when faced with practical coaching problems?
Same as above

7. What are the biggest professional challenges have you had to face (i.e. Problems with the head coach,
admin or athletes)?
Working with (mainly Football) coaches that have been extremely successful in the past, without strength &
conditioning coaches and/or sport scientists. You start with such a handicap!

8. What has been the biggest innovation in training that you have seen during the course of your career and
where is the biggest room for innovation in training athletes?
The fact that every component of (physical) performance can today be monitored continuously, from the gym (e.g.,
encoders) to the field (e.g., GPS). The future is definitely in making use of all these (and there is room for
improvement in there…). Innovation will need to make all these sensors smaller and less disruptive to training

9. With the rise of the internet strength & conditioning / fitness “expert”, how do you discern good
information from poor or irrelevant information?
Coaching is about social interaction, so based on this, internet coaching can’t be valuable. You can advise and consult
remotely, but then you need a physical presence with who you are coaching at 100%. But then don’t consider you as
a coach in the strict sense of the term! Since coaching is generally highly demanding in time, my feeling is that the
more active in social media you are, the less likely you (are a good) coach!?

10. What do you see, currently and in the near future, as the biggest problems facing younger Strength &
Conditioning Coaches?
Every year, Universities produce hundreds of qualified strength & conditioning coaches in each country, while the offer
at the professional level is very limited  only a very small fraction will make it. Nothing replaces experience, which is
another issue for beginners.

11. What advice would or do you give to younger Strength & Conditioning Coaches who wish to attain a full-
time career in S & C?
Don’t count your hours, be passionate, do what you like and what you believe in, experience EVERYTHING by
yourself, listen, be humble and try to make your own way to stand out

12. Should all testing and training be sport-specific?

My personal view is that specific testing and training is a rip off. Obviously, the principle of specific with respect to
muscle contractions and/or (loco)motor coordination can’t be ignored, but this doesn’t mean that you need to replicate
every component of the sport in the gym to assess and train your athletes. First, nothing can be compared to
competition in terms of intensity and commitment, and nothing is as complex as competition when it comes to decision
making and stress management; so by nature, the so called sport-specificity can’t be replicated out of the actual
context of competition. Additionally, each athlete has his own gestural signature, its own style of play, which is driven
by tactics, pace and score line, etc., so how could all this be replicated when testing or training different athletes?
What is specific testing? What is specific training in practice?

Second, if you take the example of team or racquet sport players, who generally compete every week (sometime more
often), do you really think that they miss this specific training stimulus? Do you really need to test something that you
can see every weekend? Do you need to confirm the evidence?

My take is that when you have just a few sessions to test/develop a given physical capacity, you may be better to
make sure you ‘touch’ the right quality or something that can’t be ‘touched’ during competition. Often to do so, you
may have to do something that is poorly specific (squats, sprint at top speed). And if you were to manage to ‘touch’
the quality with a somehow sport-specific test/exercise, the reliability of the responses would be poorer than with a
generic type of exercise, so, again, what is the point?

For all the above mentioned reasons, I believe that sport-specific testing and training stricto sensu is first unrealistic,
and more importantly, that a too large emphasis on this testing/training philosophy may have counterproductive
training effects.

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A Comparison of Strength Qualities and their Influence on Sprint Acceleration. J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(1)77-84. 2014 © ASCA

A Review of the Literature


Brett A. Henricks

The purpose of this paper is to review previous research to investigate if there is a relationship between
maximum strength, power / speed strength, Olympic lifts, plyometrics, resisted sprints, and free sprints, and
their influence on sprint acceleration performance. Optimal loads to elicit peak power, peak force, peak velocity, rate
of force development, and the stretch shortening cycle were also examined. Results showed that when strength and
power are expressed in relative terms they significantly relate to acceleration performance (r = -0.43 to -0.66, P <
0.05). This suggests that the main objective to improve acceleration is to develop an athlete’s power to weight ratio.
Other findings suggest a combined approach to strength training will allow an athlete to develop their power
capabilities over a broad spectrum of loads and velocities. Most importantly specific strength through the use of
resisted and free sprinting is vital for the appropriate transfer of all strength qualities to the sports specific movement
and conditioning requirements for acceleration.

Keywords - Strength, acceleration, optimal loads, power.


Acceleration up to distances including 40 metres is a crucial element to the success of most team, court and field
sports (18, 20). For these sports it could be considered that initial acceleration speed is of a greater importance than
maximal speed for successful performance (9). Maximal effort sprints are often too short to allow attainment of peak
velocity for athletes in these sports (14). As a result, the acceleration phase of sprinting becomes an important focus
for these athletes training programs. Accelerating from a stationary or a moving start requires high force generation to
overcome the inertia of the athletes’ body mass (13). The most efficient and effective strength training methods to
improve an athletes’ acceleration ability is widely argued and investigated in sports science literature.

Research on track sprinters has identified that the first few ground contact phases during acceleration are dominated
by propulsive forces and by concentric muscle contractions. The average horizontal impulse during the propulsive
phase of the first ground contact show significant correlations with initial running velocity when expressed relative to
body weight (r = -0.64, P < 0.05) (19). These findings indicate the dominance of maximal force production compared
to movement velocity during the first few foot contacts during acceleration (19). Therefore, increasing muscular peak
force during concentric contractions relative to body weight may result in improved acceleration performance (22).

Strength is the ability to exert maximum force or torque, and it varies for different muscle actions such as eccentric,
concentric, and isometric. Pure 1RM strength is only required in a few sports. It has been discovered that during a
traditional 1RM squat lift the bar decelerates by as much as 24% during the concentric movement. Most sports require
strength at higher velocities (18). Power exercises are categorised by a rapid initiation of force production and focus
on movement acceleration through an entire range of motion, which results in near maximal or maximal movement
forces and velocities (11). Explosive power performance is a multi-dimensional physical and coaching challenge and
represents many training factors including muscular force, velocity, muscle actions, rate of force development (RFD),
stretch shortening cycle (SSC), inter- and intra- muscular contributions, and sports specific skills. It is believed that
power output capabilities are among the most crucial factors involved in jumping and sprinting performances (11).
Explosive exercises generally utilise very high rates of force development values and maximise an athletes’ ability to
generate high rates of acceleration (11).

Force and velocity share an inverse relationship and act concurrently in all muscle actions. As the velocity of a
movement increases, so does the velocity of the muscle shortening; as a result, the force that can be generated
during the movement decreases. Similarly, as the resistance increases, the ability to generate force during the
concentric contractions is enhanced, with a simultaneous decrease in velocity of muscle shortening. Because of this
association, termed the force – velocity relationship, power output varies according to the load applied to the
movement (6). Therefore strength qualities can be separated by the load lifted and the speed at which they are lifted.
For this paper strength qualities will be separated into four categories (16):

1. Maximum Strength (maximal force, slow velocity)

2. Power / Speed strength (varied force, varied velocity)
3. Plyometrics (low force, fast velocity)
4. Sports specific: Resisted sprints and unloaded sprints (low to medium force, fast velocity)

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The effects of these different training modes and their influence on acceleration, peak power, peak force, peak
velocity, rate of force development, and the stretch shortening cycle will be discussed throughout this paper. Also
suggestions of optimal loads to elicit the most effective outcomes from these training modes will be discussed.


Komi and Hakkinen (18) suggested that training age has an influence on adaptations made to strength training
protocols. Novice athletes make considerable adaptations to any training stimulus initially but should be exposed to
developing a solid strength base before undertaking more ballistic forms of strength training. Whereas, athletes with a
high training age will require maintenance of their maximum strength levels and should be exposed to training
stimulus more specific to their sports movements, force, and velocity requirements. Although specificity of resistance
training is important, general strength training is useful for hypertrophy, developing a strength foundation, reducing the
risk of injuries, correcting muscle imbalances, and for control and stability. But to gain transfer the use of traditional
lifting should be combined with activities specific to sports performance and skills (3). The majority of research related
to resistance training methods to improve sprint acceleration focus on activities performed in the vertical plane with
bilateral movements. Research has shown that performing unilateral plyometrics in the horizontal plane are of greater
significance towards improving sprint acceleration performance. Rimmer & Sleivert (as cited by Young 23) found that
8 weeks of unilateral horizontal plyometric training induced a significant improvement (2.6%) in 10m sprint time.
Another 9 week unilateral horizontal plyometric program also recorded significant improvements in the 10m sprint and
this study also found an improvement in 100m performance. These results are compared to other studies that used
bilateral vertical movements which found improvements of between 12-17% in countermovement jumps (vertical
plane) and only 1-2% changes in sprint performance (horizontal plane).

McBride et al. (16) compared the strength and power characteristics between power lifters (PL), Olympic lifters (OL),
and sprinters (S). They tested these well trained subjects with a 1RM squat, jump squat tests, and vertical jumps with
various loads. Results showed no significant differences in the 1RM squat between the OL & PL although the OL were
slightly stronger in absolute terms. There was a significant difference between the OL and the S groups for the same
test but not between the PL and S groups when expressed as an absolute value. Although when the 1RM values are
expressed in relative terms the PL group performs best. On average the PL group lifts 2.88 x BW, OL group 2.85 x
BW, and S group 2.66 x BW. Therefore, the PL group were as strong as the OL and S groups but they scored
significantly lower in tests for peak power, peak velocities, and jump heights at all loads. The OL group were the most
powerful across all loaded tests including the VJ tests. The S group was not as powerful but recorded the highest
peak velocities and jump heights. The results indicated what the authors hypothesised due to power lifters performing
heavy loads at low speeds (maximum absolute and relative strength), Olympic lifters performing heavy loads at high
velocities (maximum absolute and relative strength plus power across a wide spectrum of loads), and sprinters using
light loads at high velocities (specific fast track work at bodyweight). These results support the training variable of
specificity and the force – velocity relationship. They concluded that a combination approach should be used with an
emphasis on using training methods, velocities and loads specific to the athlete and sport. All results from this study
are displayed in Table 1.

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Table 1. Comparing Strength and Power Characteristics between Power Lifters, Olympic Lifters,
Table 1 – Comparing strength and power characteristics
and Sprinters
between power lifters, Olympic lifters and sprinters.

Subject Characteristics
Variable Power Lifters Olympic Lifters Sprinters Controls
Age (y) 24.1 ± 1.2 20.2 ± 1.1 19.8 ± 0.8 22.3 ± 0.8
Height (cm) 173.9 ± 1.4 172.0 ± 2.9 182.1 ± 1.7 181.1 ± 1.9
Weight (kg) 78.2 ± 3.7 85.3 ± 9.5 76.9 ± 2.6 75.6 ± 3.3
Body Fat (%) 8.7 ± 1.3 10.4 ± 2.8 5.6 ± 0.2 9.5 ± 1.6
Training Age (y) 4.8 ± 1.1 3.1 ± 0.8 3.8 ± 0.6 0

1 Repetition Maximum Strength

1RM Squat (kg) 225.5 ± 10.8 243.9 ± 12.8 204.3 ± 12.5 161.3 ± 10.9

Countermovement Vertical Jumps (mean ± SD)

Peak Force (N) 1,842 ± 49.4 2,022.9 ± 58.8 1,924.9 ± 57.2 1,741.0 ± 49.8
Peak Velocity (m/s ) 2.86 ± 0.07 3.18 ± 0.08 3.17 ± 0.08 2.68 ± 0.07
Peak Power (W) 4,447.1 ± 192.0 5,377.8 ± 228.2 4,906.2 ± 222.3 3,737.7 ± 193.6
Jump Height (cm) 39.7 ± 2.3 48.2 ± 2.8 49.9 ± 2.7 33.7 ± 2.3
Peak Force (N) 2,036.1 ± 42.3 2,226 ± 50.3 2,012.9 ± 48.9 1,867.8 ± 42.7
-1 2.55 ± 0.06 2.89 ± 0.07 2.83 ± 0.07 2.41 ± 0.06
Peak Velocity (m/s )
Peak Power (W) 4,452.4 ± 146.1 5,386.4 ± 173.7 4,809.3 ± 169.1 3,789.6 ± 147.4
Jump Height (cm) 30.4 ± 1.4 35.6 ± 1.7 36.5 ± 1.7 25.8 ± 1.5
Peak Force (N) 2,190.8 ± 34.0 2,357.0 ± 40.4 2,140.7 ± 39.3 1,981.4 ± 34.3
Peak Velocity (m/s ) 2.25 ± 0.05 2.48 ± 0.06 2.51 ± 0.06 2.10 ± 0.05
Peak Power (W) 4,301.0 ± 144.9 5,050.0 ± 172.3 4,747.4 ± 167.6 3,631.7 ± 146.1
Jump Height (cm) 22.1 ± 1.1 26.4 ± 1.3 27.3 ± 1.3 18.2 ± 1.1

Jump Squats (mean ± SD)

Peak Force (N) 2,565.8 ± 55.9 2,874.4 ± 66.5 2,692.0 ± 64.7 2,170.5 ± 56.4
Peak Velocity (m/s ) 1.43 ± 0.05 1.49 ± 0.06 1.35 ± 0.06 1.50 ± 0.05
Peak Power (W) 3,426.2 ± 126.7 3,857.1 ± 150.6 3,249.1 ± 146.5 3,087.6 ± 127.7
Jump Height (cm) 15.6 ± 1.4 18.9 ± 1.7 23.9 ± 1.6 18.7 ± 1.4
Peak Force (N) 3,010.3 ± 84.1 3,287.7 ± 100.0 2,986.8 ± 97.3 2,482.6 ± 84.8
Peak Velocity (m/s ) 1.01 ± 0.05 1.06 ± 0.05 1.02 ± 0.05 1.18 ± 0.05
Peak Power (W) 2,888.3 ± 137.7 3,297.8 ± 163.8 2,848.6 ± 159.4 2,780.8 ± 138.9
Jump Height (cm) 9.7 ± 0.8 12.4 ± 1.0 14.1 ± 0.9 14.4 ± 0.8
Peak Force (N) 3,478.5 ± 100.2 3,717.3 ± 119.2 3,240.2 ± 116.0 2,687.9 ± 101.1
Peak Velocity (m/s ) 0.69 ± 0.04 0.73 ± 0.05 0.75 ± 0.05 0.83 ± 0.04
Peak Power (W) 2,324.2 ± 133.4 2,595.0 ± 158.6 2,266.1 ± 154.3 2,127.6 ± 134.5
Jump Height (cm) 6.0 ± 0.9 7.4 ± 1.0 10.6 ± 1.0 8.9 ± 0.9

Based on data by McBride et al. (16).

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Sleivert & Taingahue (19) investigated the relationship between acceleration performance (5m time) and strength and
power variables. They measured power outputs for concentric jump squats, using both a traditional squat and split
squat technique, at a range of external loads from 30-70% of 1RM. Average and peak power were similar during both
forms of jump squats and both techniques were significantly related to 5m sprint times. The highest correlations to
sprint times were the split squats average power (50% of 1RM, r = -0.68. P < 0.05), and traditional squat peak power
(60% of 1RM, r = -0.66. P < 0.05). In the traditional squat, peak force was more substantially related to 5m sprint time
rather than peak velocity. This could suggest that during the sprint start, the body has to be accelerated quickly from
stationary and the propulsive impulse to overcome the body’s inertia is large, so there could be a greater reliance on
high force production as opposed to high movement velocity. The limitations to this study include only using loads
from 30-70% of 1RM in testing. A wider spectrum of loads may have influenced the findings and given more
comprehensive data.

Hori et al. (12) investigated whether an athlete who has a high performance in a hang power clean, also has a high
performance in sprinting and jumping. The study was conducted on twenty-nine semi-professional Australian Football
players and they were tested for one repetition maximum (1RM) hang power clean, 1RM front squat, power output
during countermovement jump (CMJ) with 40kg barbell, CMJ with body weight, and 20m sprint time. Results
suggested a significant correlation between most of, but not all, combinations of performances of hang power clean,
jumping, sprinting, maximum strength, and power. These findings suggest that there are some common strength
characteristics between all of these activities. The correlations between each of these measurements among all
subjects are presented in Table 2. The limitations of this study include that only the relationships between the results
of these exercises were compared to each other. There was no investigation or discussion on practical training
programs to discover what training methods could improve these performances.

Table 2 – Relationship between each measurement (Pearson’s r)

Table 2 : Relationship between each measurement (Pearson's r)
1RM / 1RM / 40PP / COD
1RM 1RM 40PP PP PP/BM Height Sprint
HPC 1RM/BM 0.68
FS 1RM 0.39 0.25
FS 1RM/BM 0.08 0.55 0.70
CMJ 40PP 0.58 0.13 0.32 -0.11
CMJ 40PP/BM 0.38 0.60 0.26 0.45 0.63
CMJ PP 0.21 0.13 -0.15 -0.21 -0.01 -0.09
CMJ PP/BM 0.30 0.58 0.11 0.38 0.50 0.92 -0.26
CMJ Height 0.41 0.51 0.29 0.34 0.54 0.75 -0.12 0.81
20m Sprint -0.58 -0.57 -0.60 -0.51 -0.49 -0.62 0.19 -0.58 -0.69
COD -0.41 -0.34 -0.51 -0.37 -0.39 -0.38 -0.13 -0.27 -0.42 0.52
HPC = Hang Power Clean, /B = relative to body mass, FS = Front Squat, CMJ 40 = countermovement
jump with 40kg, PP = Peak Power,

Based on data from Hori et al. (12)

Cormie et al. (6) compared the impact of power training (body weight plyometrics only) versus strength-power training
(squats at 90% of 1RM plus plyometrics). They conducted pre- and post- 12 week training tests for peak power
relative to body mass (PP), jump height (JH), peak force relative to body mass (PF), and peak velocity (PV) across a
spectrum of loads including 0, 20, 40, 60, and 80kg. The plyometric only group recorded significant increases in PP at
0 and 20kg, whereas the strength power group had significant increases across the whole load spectrum. Similar
findings for the JH were found with the power group recording increases at the lower loads (0, 20 & 40kg) and the
strength-power group at all loads. Although significant improvements were found in all other testing there was no
significant difference between training groups. They concluded that the combined approach was more effective in
producing an all-round improvement to the load-power relationship for the jump squat.

Tricoli et al. (21) compared the short term effects of heavy resistance training combined with either a vertical jump (VJ)
or Olympic lifting (OL) program on participants squat jump (SJ), countermovement jump (CMJ), 10m and 30m sprint
times, and half squat 1RM. The eight week training program for the OL group included 3 x 6RM high pull, 4 x 4RM
power clean, and 4 x 4RM clean and jerk. The VJ program was 6 x 4 double leg hurdle hops, 4 x 4 alternated single
leg hurdle hops, 4 x 4 single leg hurdle hops, and 4 x 4 40cm drop jumps. Additionally, both groups performed 4 x
6RM half squats. Results showed the OL group were the only group to improve their 10m sprint and SJ. Both training
groups improved the countermovement jump but the OL group had the greater improvement. The VJ group showed a

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greater improvement in the 1RM squat. The study concluded that the results may indicate that OL develops a broader
range of athletic ability due to the coordination required to perform the lifts. Therefore they may have a better transfer
to athletic and acceleration performance.

Cronin et al. (9) investigated the relationship between a 3RM squat (strength), 30kg Jump Squat (power),
countermovement (SSC) and drop jumps (reactive strength), and 5m (first step quickness), 10m (acceleration), and
30m (maximum speed) sprint times. They found no significant correlation between 3RM, drop jump, and the three
measures of speed. There was a significant correlation between the jump squat (height & relative power output),
countermovement jump, and the three speed measures (r = -0.43 to -0.66, P < 0.05). They concluded that improving
an athletes’ power to weight ratio, plyometric training involving countermovement jumps, and loaded jump squat
training may be effective for enhancing sports speed. Baker and Nance (as cited by Cronin et al. 9) also discussed
that their findings agreed with other studies (9, 19, 22) that found maximum strength and power output expressed as
an absolute value has no correlation to speed performance. But, when these values were expressed in relative terms
there were strong correlations (r = -0.66 to -0.76, P < 0.05) which emphasised that the power to weight ratio is a
determining factor in acceleration performance.

Cormie et al. (7) researched the influence of various loads on power output in the jump squat (JS), squat (S), and
power clean (PC) to determine the optimal load that maximises the power output in each lift. They tested twelve
division one athletes for peak force, velocity, and power using loads of 0, 12, 27, 42, 56, 71, and 85% of subjects 1RM
in the JS and S. These loading conditions were used because they represent 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90% of
Maximal Dynamic Strength (MDS = 1RM + [body mass – shank mass]) in the JS and S. This is because the mass of
the body is incorporated with the external load when calculating the total system mass during lower body movements.
They used loads at 10% intervals from 30 to 90% of 1RM for the PC. Results indicated the optimal loads as follows:

Jump Squat: 0% of 1RM (30% of MDS) produced the highest peak power both as an absolute and relative value.
Maximum peak velocity was also recorded at 0% of 1RM. Peak force was recorded at 85% 1RM.
Squat: Maximum power output was recorded at 56% of 1RM (70% MDS) but was not significantly different to
the other loads tested. Maximum force was at 85% of 1RM and maximum velocity at 0% of 1RM.
Power Clean: Both absolute and relative peak power occurred at 80% of 1RM. Force and velocity results mirrored
those found for JS and S. The highest load of 90% of 1RM produced peak force and the lightest load
of 30% 1RM produced the peak velocity.


Lockie et al. (13) studied the effects of free sprint training (FST), weight training (WT), plyometric training (PT), and
resisted sprint training (RST) on acceleration kinematics, speed (5m & 10m), horizontal power (5 bound test), reactive
power (40cm drop jump), and strength (3RM absolute and relative) results in field athletes. All groups improved their 5
and 10m sprint times but the authors concluded that these changes occurred specific to training stimulus. The WT
group improved both their absolute and relative strength results. The FST were the only group to improve their
horizontal power and stride length. The FST, PT, and RST groups all improved in the reactive strength test. Due to all
groups gaining positive results the authors recommended a combined approach with an emphasis placed on reactive
and horizontal power. There were many limitations to this study, including the training experience of the participants
and the exact training loads for each group. The training intervention was only six weeks in duration which may deem
most of the adaptations being neural and specific to training movements.

Alcaraz et al. (1) examined optimal loads for resisted sprint training that would maximise the specific strength outcome
while reducing the detrimental effects on sprint biomechanics. Resisted sprint training has become popular for teams
and athletes and can involve the athlete towing a sled, tyre, speed parachute, or a weighted belt or vest (2, 14). The
training principle of specificity states that for an exercise to be effective, it must maintain similar characteristics to the
sport requirements. Different studies suggest that to maintain load specificity in resisted sprints, the horizontal velocity
should not fall below 90% of the athletes maximum velocity (1, 14). This study produced a regression equation to
calculate the load for both acceleration and maximum speed. The equation was:

% body mass = (-0.8674 x % velocity) + 87.99.

The authors stated that this equation was determined using well trained national level track and field athletes on a
synthetic running track while wearing track spikes. This equation will be effected by the coefficient of friction between
the sled and the running surface (1). A practical example using this equation follows:

An 80kg athlete wishing to maintain 90% of maximum velocity:

% body mass = (-0.8674 x % velocity) + 87.99
% body mass = (-0.8674 x 90%) + 87.99
% body mass = -78.066 + 87.99
% body mass = 9.924%

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Therefore the weight required for the 80kg athlete to maintain 90% of maximum velocity will be (80kg x 0.09924 =
7.94kg). Coaches will have to take into consideration the weight of the sled before adding the remaining load.

Lockie et al. (14) investigated the effects of resisted sled towing with loads of 12.6% and 32.2% of body mass on
sprint kinematics. Results indicated a decrease in horizontal velocity when under both loads due to a reduction in
stride length and stride frequency (2, 14). Stride frequency only reduced slightly under both loads, whereas, stride
length, contact time and flight time were far greater affected. The authors agreed with earlier studies that the training
effect of resisted sprints is an eventual increase in stride length, due to the increase in the propulsive force generated
by the leg musculature when pushing off during the longer ground contacts when towing (14, 20). The researchers
produced a regression equation that predicted an optimal load that enhanced hip flexion and did not negatively affect
hip extension. The equation found that a load of 12-13% of body mass also allowed the athlete to maintain 90% of
maximum velocity. The regression equation is:

% body mass = (-1.96 x % velocity) + 188.99.

Another finding of this study was an increase in arm action over the initial few steps when using the heavier load of
32.2% of body mass. Many sprint coaches place a large technical emphasis on a vigorous action of the upper limbs
when accelerating to assist forward drive. Thus, coaches may find the use of heavier loads effective in promoting
positive changes in arm drive over the first few steps of acceleration. Using the equation from this study we will apply
the same example from the last paragraph.

An 80kg athlete wishing to maintain 90% of maximum velocity:

% body mass = (-1.96 x % velocity) + 188.99
% body mass = (-1.96 x 90%) + 188.99
% body mass = -176.4 + 188.99
% body mass = 12.6%

Therefore the weight required for the 80kg athlete to maintain 90% of maximum velocity will be (80kg x 0.126 =

Alcaraz et al. (2) investigated the change in sprint kinematics when using different resisted sprint devices including, a
sled, parachute, and weighted belt. They found that the sled and parachute when attached to a chest harness caused
the participant to significantly change their trunk forward lean. When the harness was attached to the waist only the
changes to the sprint kinematics were not significant (see Figure 1). This suggests when using resisted sprint devices
they should be attached close to the participants centre of gravity.

Figure 1 - An illustration of the difference in upper body lean during the take-off phase. The comparison is between a
loaded sprint attached to either a chest, or a waist harness.

Spinks et al. (20) examined the effects of a resisted sprint (RS) program versus a free sprint (FS) program on
acceleration performance (0-15m), leg power (countermovement jump [CMJ], 5 bound test [5BT]), 50cm drop jump
(50DJ),and running gait (foot contact time, stride length, stride frequency, and flight time). Results indicated that the
RS program (a) significantly improved acceleration and leg power (CMJ & 5BT) but is no more effective than FS
training. (b) RS significantly improved reactive strength (50DJ), and (c) has minimal impact on running gait and
kinematics during the acceleration phase. The authors concluded that this study showed no significant differences
between the two different training modalities except for the RS programs influence on reactive strength. This may be

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

due to the overload stimulus and recruitment of hip and knee flexors and extensors resulting in greater application of
horizontal power.

Markovic et al. (15) evaluated the effects of sprint training (ST) versus that of plyometric training (PT) over a 10 week
period. Participants were tested pre and post training with maximal isometric squat strength, squat jump (SJ),
countermovement jump (CMJ), 30cm drop jump (30DJ), standing long jump, 20m sprint, and 20m agility shuttle.
Results found that both groups improved in jumping height, jumping distance and stretch shortening cycle
performance. But only the ST group significantly improved leg extensor strength, SJ and CMJ power, and sprint and
agility performance. During the 30 DJ both groups significantly reduced ground contact time, but only the sprint group
improved flight time. These results suggest that both training methods induce positive outcomes and that sprint
training is comparable if not superior to plyometrics in developing dynamic athletic performance.


Finding the most effective training methods and optimal loads to elicit peak power, peak force, peak velocity, rate of
force development, and enhancing the stretch shortening cycle are important factors in improving specific sports
performance including acceleration. Results discussed throughout this paper suggest that strength and power values
expressed in relative terms are significant to acceleration performance. The investigation suggests that initial
acceleration is largely effected by relative peak force and rate of force development more than the velocity of
movement. Therefore it could be suggested that developing an athlete’s maximum strength as well as anthropometric
considerations including minimizing body fat percentages to allow for a greater power to weight ratio, are influential in
improving acceleration performance.

Speed strength, also known as power, has traditionally been trained using heavy (high force) slow (low velocity)
strength training exercises and unloaded plyometric (low force, high velocity) jumping exercises. This paper suggests
a combined approach including maximum strength, Olympic lifting, speed strength, plyometrics, resisted and unloaded
sprints would allow for greater power adaptations across a wider spectrum of loads.

Traditional strength training is vital for developing a strength foundation before undertaking more ballistic forms of
training. It is important to combine this strength foundation with more specific training modes to ensure transference
of strength qualities to sports specific movements, conditioning requirements, and technical skills (3). Maximum
strength training involves deceleration at the end of movements whereas power training involves acceleration through
an entire range of motion. Most athletic endeavours require force application at varied velocities for eccentric and
concentric contraction. The force velocity relationship indicates that the faster the velocities of concentric contractions
the lower the force production. Several studies show that maximal power output occurs at approximately 30% of 1RM

Plyometrics have a positive influence on the stretch shortening cycle and rate of force development at light loads.
Unilateral, horizontal plyometrics involving counter movements may be more specific to sprinting and they also allow
assessment of any strength and power imbalances between left and right (17).

The benefits of resisted sprinting is that it recruits a large amount of muscle fibre, requires more neural activation, and
increases the load on hip extensors and flexors specific to sprinting mechanics. This method is believed to enhance
an athletes’ stride length in the long term due to an increase of force production at ground contact. An optimal load of
10 – 13% has been suggested to maintain 90% of an athlete’s maximum velocity without any detrimental effect to
kinematics. It has also been suggested that heavier loads may promote a more aggressive arm drive over the first few
steps of acceleration which may be an advantage. Further studies are required to determine if this conclusion is valid.


In summary the following suggestions (see Table 3) may be derived from the research discussed in this paper. The
suggestions will focus on optimal loads identified to elicit peak power, force, and velocity for maximum strength,
Olympic lifts, power exercises, plyometrics, and resisted sprint training.

Table 3 - Optimal Loads to elicit Peak Power, Peak Force, and Peak Velocity.

Strength Quality Peak Power Peak Force Peak Velocity

Maximum Strength - 85% 0%
Power 30% (MDS) 85% 0%
Olympic Lifts 80% 90% 30%
Plyometrics 0% 0% 0%
Resisted Sprints 10 -13% 10 -13% 10 -13%

*These values are percentages of 1RM.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Power exercise (squat jumps, bench throws etc.) should involve forces and velocities similar to those required to
perform specific sporting movements. Maximal Dynamic Strength (MDS) is used to calculate a whole system mass
during jump squats because the athlete needs to lift the external load plus their bodyweight. The calculation for MDS
is: MDS = 1RM + (body mass – shank mass). Shank mass is calculated as 12% of body mass.

Plyometrics should be specific to the sport task in regards to bilateral versus unilateral, and horizontal versus vertical.
The volume of plyometric activities should also be a consideration for programming and is out of the scope of this

Finally, transference of strength qualities to sports specific movements and conditioning is vital for successful
performance. Therefore to improve acceleration, resisted and unloaded sprints should be performed to maximise
speed potential.


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4. Bruce-Low, S., and Dave Smith. Explosive exercises in sports Metikos. Effects of sprint and plyometric training on muscle function
training: A critical review. Journal of Exercise Physiology online and athletic performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning
(JEPonline) 10(1) : 21-33. 2007. Research 21(2) : 543-549. 2007.
5. Chaouachi, Anis., Matt Brughelli, Karim Chamari, Greg T. Levin, 16. McBride, JM., T. Triplett-McBride, A. Davie, and R.U. Newton. A
Nidhal Ben Abdelkrim, Louis Laurencelle, and Carlo Castagna. comparison of strength and power characteristics between power
Lower limb maximal dynamic strength and agility determinants in lifters, Olympic lifters, and sprinters. Journal of Strength and
elite basketball players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Conditioning Research 13(1) : 58-66. 1999.
Research 23(5): 1570-1577. 2009. 17. Newton Robert U., and Eric Dugan. Application of strength
6. Cormie, Prue., Grant O. McCaulley, Jeffery M. McBride. Power diagnosis. NSCA Journal 24(5) : 50-59. 2002.
versus strength-power jump squat training: Influence on the load- 18. Newton, Robert U., William J. Kraemer. Developing explosive
power relationship. Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise muscle power: Implications for a mixed methods training strategy.
39(6): 996-1003. 2007. NSCA Journal, 1994: 20-30.
7. Cormie, Prue., Grant O. McCaulley, N. Travis Triplett, and Jeffery 19. Sleivert, Gordon., and Matin Taingahue. The relationship between
McBride. Optimal loading for maximal power output during lower- maximal jump-squat power and sprint acceleration in athletes.
body resistance training. Medicine and Science in Sports & European Journal of Applied Physiology 91: 46-52. 2003.
Exercise 39(2): 340-349. 2006. 20. Spinks, Christopher D., Aron J. Murphy, Warwick I. Spinks, and
8. Cormie, Prue., Jeffery M. McBride, and Grant O. McCaulley. Robert G. Lockie. The effects of resisted sprint training on
Power-time, force-time, and velocity-time curve analysis of the acceleration performance and kinematics in soccer, rugby union,
countermovement jump: Impact of training. Journal of Strength and australian football players. Journal of Strength and
and Conditioning Research 23(1): 177-186. 2009. Conditioning Research 21(1) : 77-85. 2007.
9. Cronin, John B., and Keir T. Hansen. Strength and Power 21. Tricoli, Valmor., Leonardo Lamas, Roberto Carnevale, and Carlos
Predictors of Sports Speed. Journal of Strength and Ugrinowitsch. Short-term effects on lower-body functional power
Conditioning Research 19(2): 349-357. 2005. development: weightlifting vs. vertical jump training programs.
10. Dick, Frank W. Development of Maximum Sprinting Speed. Track Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 19(2) : 433-437.
Technique 109 (n.d.): 3475-3480. 2005.
11. Haff, Gregory G., Adrian Whitely, and Jeffery A. Potteiger. A brief 22. Wisloff, U., C. Castagna, J. Helgerud, R. Jones, J. Hoff. Strong
review: Explosive exercises and sports perfromance. NSCA correlation of maximal squat strength with sprint performance and
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Kawamori, Michael R. McGuigan, and Kazunori Nosaka. Does 23. Young, Warren B. Transfer of strength and power training to sports
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Performance. (Human Kinetics, Inc) 1: 74-83. 2006.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

A review of the effects of cold water immersion and contrast water therapy on enhancing athletic performance and reducing perceived fatigue
following team sport activity. J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)85-90. 2014 © ASCA

A Review of the Literature


George P. Elias PhD

This review investigates the effectiveness of two commonly employed water based recovery modalities, cold
water immersion (CWI) and contrast water therapy (CWT), on team sport athletes following team sport activity.
Team sport participation can lead to a decline in physical capacity in the days following exercise as well as increasing
perceptions of fatigue. Consequently, this may result in reduced quality, intensity and duration of subsequent training
sessions all of which may potentially contribute to poor match performance. Equivocal evidence exists on the
effectiveness of both CWI and CWT on attenuating and enhancing physical capacities following team sport matches
and/or team training and their ability to reduce player fatigue. This review investigated if both or either modality can
enhance physical performance recovery and/or reduce perceptions of fatigue in team sport athletes following training
or a match. It also investigated if the overall time of immersion in water enhances the overall effectiveness of either
recovery intervention and also if water temperature plays a role. Upon completing this review, a number of key
findings and recommendations were determined. These include, (1) in team sport populations, both CWI and CWT are
beneficial in reducing the perceptions of fatigue as well as in enhancing physical performance, (2) CWI appears to be
a more effective modality than CWT, (3) 10 min or more of total immersion time appears to be more beneficial than a
shorter immersion protocol,(4)a temperature of between 10-15°C appears to be the most effective range for cold water
immersion, and(5) the use of showers is not recommended as an effective means of exposure to hot water.

Keywords - Recovery, team sport, cold water immersion, contrast water therapy, perceived fatigue, physical


Participation in team sports can lead to compromised physical performance and increases in perceived fatigue in the
days following matches and training (1-5). For team sport athletes, such as soccer, rugby, hockey, netball, basketball
and Australian Rules football, the ability to sprint, jump and change direction are all key components in athletes
obtaining success and influencing the outcome of competitive situations. Reductions in these physical attributes or an
increase in fatigue can lead to a loss of intensity and/or quality of training and potentially have a negative impact on
subsequent competitive team sport performance (5-8). These reduction may manifest as a loss of possession or
turnover, lack of defensive pressure on one’s opponent, lack of movement in offensive situations or poorly executed

During the competitive season, players generally train in the 24 to 72 hours after a match, therefore optimising
recovery following intense and exhaustive activity can help attenuate declines in postmatch physical capacities and
perceptions of fatigue (1, 2, 9, 10). This in turn may benefit subsequent training and matches.

Water immersion is a method often used as a recovery tool and this typically involves an athlete being immersed in
water to hip level or mid sternal level for a period of time. Cold-water immersion (CWI) and contrast water therapy
(CWT) are water immersion methods commonly employed in the team sport setting. Contrast water therapy (CWT)
involves athletes alternating between hot then cold water immersion while CWI involves athletes being immersed in
cold water only. Thermoneutral water immersion (TWI) can also be utilised. This involves athletes being immersed in
water where the temperature does not increase or decrease the core body temperature (typically 34-35°C). Immersion
in water induces hydrostatic pressure which in turn may produce a number of physiological changes and enhance
recovery. These can include increased fluid shifts from high pressure to low pressure areas, vasoconstriction and
reductions in blood flow, oedema and swelling (11). The effect of temperature can also play a role in recovery. Cold
can induce analgesia, and reduce oedema and the inflammatory response, which are beneficial for recovery, whereas
the application of heat can increase the inflammatory response and oedema (11) and therefore may be detrimental for
recovery.4 Although both CWI and CWT are commonly utilised, evidence of their recovery benefits on team sport
athletes following team sport activities is equivocal and limited. This review will therefore investigate the use of these
modalities on team sport athletes and their effectiveness in ameliorating declines in physical performance, reducing
fatigue and enhancing the recovery process.


This review investigated the effectiveness of both CWI and CWT in restoring physical performance and in reducing the
effects of perceived muscle fatigue following team sport activity. A number of papers were chosen during the
undertaking of this review. Only those papers which met specific inclusion criteria following a search on the pubmed

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

database were included in this review. Papers were included if they met the following criteria: (1) the research must
have been conducted on human participants with ethical approval, (2) the research must have been conducted on
team sport athletes except where evidence was unavailable. Those papers investigating the effects of CWI on
untrained or moderately trained participants were all excluded. Research conducted on well trained individual athletes
(i.e. cycling) were also excluded except were no evidence was available for team sport athletes (this occurred in only
1 instance). (3) The participants must have undertaken a team sport or simulated team sport activity replicating their
chosen sport as part of the research design, (4) Investigations must have been conducted on at least 8 participants for
inclusion, (5) Investigations must have utilised either CWI, CWT or both to be included, (6) Investigations must have
had a control group as part of their design for comparison to be included. Following a thorough review, 17 papers met
the inclusion criteria as outlined above and were included as part of this review.


Effects CWI and CWT on physical performance following team sport activity
The physiological responses to water immersion has been well documented (11) with data indicating that both CWI
and CWT can be effective modalities in attenuating the declines in post-exercise physical performance seen after
physically demanding activities or muscle damage (12-15). Although this is the case, limited data is available on the
effectiveness of either/both modalities in the team sport 5 environment, particularly following team sport or simulated
team sport activities. It appears that the efficacy of both modalities may be enhanced by the total time of immersion
and by the temperature of water utilised. The following section will review the effectiveness of both CWI and CWT on
the recovery of physical performance measures, such as sprint and jump performance, and the ability of either
modality to diminish perceived fatigue following participation in team sport and team sport related activities.

Effect of total immersion time on recovery of physical performance

In team sports, evidence on the overall effectiveness of CWI and CWT is limited and equivocal. The total time of
immersion however may be influential in enhancing the efficacy of both modalities with a total immersion duration of at
least 10 min being more effective than shorter durations (i.e. 5-6 min) at inducing substantial positive changes (Table
1). In netballers 10 min of CWI (2 x 5 min) and 15 min of CWT (5 x 1 min cold alternating with 2 min hot) helped
ameliorate declines in jump and repeat 20 m sprint performance (16) while in soccer players, CWI was more effective
than a thermoneutral protocol at attenuating or improving sprint, repeat sprint and jump performance (9). In Australian
rules, both CWI and CWT have proven to be effective. Following a match, CWI and CWT both enhance recovery of
repeat 20m sprint ability as well as countermovement and squat jump measures (2). Following training CWI and CWT
also proved effective at restoring 20m repeat sprints (1). Multiple CWI exposures can also assist recovery. Following
80 min of simulated team-sport running (4 x 20 min quarters), CWI (2 x 5 min) utilised immediately post exercise and
again after 24 h, proved more effective at restoring and improving sprint performance than a passive recovery (10).

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Table 1 – Time course and magnitude of change in physical performance cold water immersion (CWI) and contrast
water therapy (CWT) compared ti either passive recovery (PAS) or thermoneutral immersion (TWI) after team sport

Performance Change in performance compared to pre-

Task Participants Recovery Protocol
Measure exercise
trained 15 min 2x5
female passive min at VJ 24h post -8.10% -4.4%**
circuit (16)
netballers rest 9.3°C
80 min PAS CWI
simulated 11 male 20 m sprint 48h post -0.75% 0.50% *#
15 min 2x5
team sport team sport 10 x 20m 48h post -1.69% 0.03% *#
passive min at
exercise athletes sprint
rest 10°C
24h post -9.60% -5.20%
TWI CWI 20m sprint
20 male 48h post -10.00% -5.40%
Soccer 1 x 10 1 x 10
soccer 24h post -26.70% -13.20%
match (9) min at min at CMJ
players 48h Post -21.10% -7.70%
35°C 02°C
24h post -8.90% -2.80%
48h post -8.40% 4.10% #
14 7x1
Australian professional min at
14min 1 x 14
Rules Australian 38°C alt
passive min at 6 x 20m sprint 24h post -4.05% 0.0%** -1.00%†
training (1) Rules with 7 x
rest 12°C
players 1 min at
7x1 24h post -3.91% -0.21% ** -1.66%†
6 x 20m sprint
24 min at 48h post -1.93% 0.0% ** -0.91%†
Australian 14 min 1 x 14
professional 38°C alt 24h post -18.52% -6.10% ** -5.20%**
Rules passive min at CMJ (FT:CT)
Australian with 7 x 48h post -11.10% 0.0% 0.0%
match (2) rest 12°C
rules players 1 min at 24h post 28.76% -5.20% ** -25.68%
12°C 48h post -1.37% 1.3% # 0.0%

VJ = Vertical Jump, CMJ = countermovement jump, SJ – static jump, FC:CT = flight time:contraction time ration.*
Significant difference to PAS or TWI (p<0.05), ** Indicates large effect between CWI and PAS (.0.7), † Indicates small
effect compared to PAS (0.2-0.6), # Improvement in performance following recovery intervention compared to baseline.

Several investigations have been able to demonstrate the positive benefits of short term (i.e. less than 10 min) water
immersion (Table 2) however results have been far more inconsistent. In netballers, CWT (5 min total CWI immersion)
undertaken after completing a simulated netball circuit had a large effect (effect size 0.74) in attenuating the decline in
repeat 20 m sprint time when compared to a 6 passive recovery (16). After a 3 day basketball tournament, 5 min of
cold water immersion (5 x 1 min) improved time taken to perform a line drill (repeat sprint between line markings on
the court) and also assisted in maintaining 20 m sprint performance when compared to a control condition (3).
Similarly, during a soccer tournament, CWI (5 x 1 min) allowed athletes to better maintain running performance (total
and high intensity running distance) over a series of 4 matches compared to a TWI protocol (5).

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Table 2 – Time course and magnitude of change in physical performance following immersion of 5 min during cold
water immersion (CWI) or contrast water therapy (CWT) compared to either passive recovery (PAS), control condition
(CON) or thermoneutral immersion (TWI after team sport participation.

Performance Change in performance compared to

Task Participants Recovery Protocol
Measure pre-exercise
Effect of CWI
3 day 3 game
29 male Line drill (repeat Pre-tournament
basketball Carbohydrate
basketball 5 x 1min at sprint between line -0.40% 1.4% #
tournament ingestion +
players 11°C markings on court)
(3) stretching
20m Sprint Pre-tournament -0.70% -0.50%
Drop in total run Game 3 -8.50% -5.8% *
distance covered
compared to Game
1 Game 4 -9.60% -5.0% *
4 day 4 game
20 junior
soccer 5 x 1 min at 5 x 1 min at
male soccer
tournament 34°C 10°C Drop in total high Game 3 -12.30% -10.90%
(5) intensity running
(>15km/h) distance
compared to Game
1 Game 4 -26.80% -7.7% *

Effect of CWT
5 x 1 min at
10 well
Simulated 9.7°C alt with
trained 15 min
netball circuit 2 x 1 min 5 x 20 m sprint 24h post -5.80% -4.40%**
female passive rest
(16) shower at

*Significant difference to PAS or TWI (p<0.05), **Indicates large effect between CWI/CWT and PAS (>0.7),
#Improvement in performance compared to baseline.

The efficacy of short term immersion strategies in team sports has not always been evident however. Throughout a 4
day junior soccer tournament, CWI (5 x 1 min at 10°C) provided no additional benefit than TWI (5 x 1 min at 34°C) in
the recovery of 20 m sprint time, repeat-sprint time (12 x 20 m) or vertical jump height (4). In youth soccer players, 9
min of CWT (3 x 1 min at 12°C alternating with 3 x 2 min shower at 38°C) was ineffective at restoring post-match
vertical jump performance compared to a passive recovery (17). Similarly, a CWT protocol has failed to enhance
performance recovery in Australian rules footballers (18). After playing a match of Australian rules, players undertook
a CWT protocol (5 x 2 min hot shower at45°C alternating with 4 x 1min at 12°C) where players alternated between
standing in a hot shower and standing in waist deep cold water. In addition to this players also undertook a next day
standard 25-30 min pool recovery session. Data collected 15 and 48 h post games suggest that undertaking a CWT
protocol immediately post-match did not significantly enhance vertical jump or 6 sec cycle sprinting compared to
performing the next day pool recovery session by itself. In rugby union, CWI has also failed to elicit a positive recovery
benefit. Prior to and after 4 weeks of training and match play, 300 m and repeat sprint test performance (phosphate
decrement test consisting of 7 x 7 sec sprint with 21 sec recovery) was assessed in youth players (19). During the 4
week period players undertook 5 min of CWI (1 x 5 min at 10-12°C), 14 min of CWT (7 x 1 min cold at 10-12°C
alternating with 7 x 1 min hot at 38-40°C) or a passive recovery. After the 4 weeks, neither CWT nor CWI provided any
additional performance benefit compared to the passive recovery.

During several investigations where CWT was ultimately ineffective, showers were employed as the method of
introducing hot water as opposed to immersion in a tank/pool. Hot showers fail to provide hydrostatic pressure and
therefore fail to induce the benefits such pressure offers. This would reduce the total immersion time of any protocol
and may therefore reduce the overall effectiveness of the modality. Indeed the use of showers has previously not
been recommended as an effective means of exposure to hot water (12).

Effect of water temperature on recovery of physical performance

The temperature of water utilised by athletes may also influence the effectiveness of CWI or CWT. In athletic
populations, a temperature range of between 10-15°C has been recommended to ensure that CWI protocols are well
tolerated (12) and although not a team sport related activity, the only investigation looking at multiple water
temperatures has been carried out on cyclists (15). Participants completed an initial 30 min cycling task followed by
one of 5 recovery interventions and 40 min of passive rest before completing the same cycling task. The recovery
interventions included an active recovery (15 min cycling at 40% V.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

O2peak) and 4 water based recoveries at 10°C, 15°C and 20°C (all 5 x 1 min immersion with 2 min between) and a
continuous exposure to 20°C (20°C+, 1x15 min). Performance in the second exercise bout was determined by the
percentage of work done in exercise bout 2 compared to exercise bout 1. During the second bout, cyclists in the active
recovery group performed 95.8% of the work performed in bout 1, however when compared to this group, it was clear
that all CWI groups performed significantly more work. The 20°C and continuous 20°C groups both performed around
99% of about 1 work, the 10°C group performed 99.4% of the work in bout 2, and most effective immersion
temperature was 15°C which actually allowed athletes to improve the amount of work in bout 2 compared to about 1.
This group performed 100.4% in bout 2 and this temperature range was the most effective for restoring physical
performance (15). As such, a temperature range of between 10-15°C has been put forward as the most effective
range for improving athletic performance (12). Although no evidence on the effectiveness of differing cold
temperatures within a CWT protocol is available, based on these results, it is likely that a range of 10-15°C would
provide greatest benefit. Temperatures below this (i.e. 5°C) can induce sensations of stinging, burning and aching due
to increased neural sensitivity (20-23). This can become uncomfortable and consequently, athletes are likely to miss
out on the full and potential benefit that CWI may provide if they fail to stay immersed and adhere to any CWI

Although the effects of various temperatures is yet to be clarified in the same team sport investigation, the information
obtained is highly applicable to team sport athletes and should be taken into account by athletes, coaches, medical
and conditioning staff in helping to shape their recovery protocols. It appears that a temperature range of 10-15°C
would be of most benefit.

Effects of CWI and CWT on perceptions of fatigue

Increased perceptions of fatigue can result in decreased post-match physical performance in the days after exercise
(1-5) while increases in mental fatigue prior to exercise have also led to reduced performance (24). Such heightened
perceptions can have a negative impact on training effort and is likely to increase quicker in more fatigued athletes
Overcoming this fatigue is important and both CWI and CWT have been effective in reducing the fatigue associated
with exercise. Fourteen minutes of both CWI (1 x 14 min at 12°C) and CWT (7 x 1 min at 38°C alternating with 7 x 1
min at 12°C) have been very effective at reducing perceptions of fatigue over a 48 h period following an Australian
Rules football match (2) and following training (1). After 1, 24 and 48 h post-match, both modalities substantially
reduced fatigue compared to a passive recovery. Additionally, CWI was also more effective than CWT with fatigue
returning to baseline after 48 h. Similarly, after 1, 24 and 48 h post-training, both modalities considerably reduced
fatigue compared to a passive recovery with CWI again being the more effective throughout and again restoring
fatigue to baseline after 48 h. Cold water immersion (5 x 1 min at 10°C) also effectively reduced the perception of
general fatigue when used post-match during a 4 game, 4 day soccer tournament in several investigations (4, 5).
When compared to a thermoneutral immersion protocol (TWI) (5 x 1 min at 34°C), the use of CWI (5 x 1 min at 10°C)
led to substantially lower increases in general fatigue (p < 0.007) however data indicating the magnitude of change
between groups was not included (5). The same immersion protocols also led to CWI being more effective than TWI
at mediating fatigue post-match in a similar 4 day tournament (Mean fatigue game 1 = CWI 2.8, TWI 4.8; Mean fatigue
game 2 = CWI 3.1, TWI 5.7; Mean fatigue game 3 = 3.4, TWI 5.7; Mean fatigue game 4 = CWI 4.6, TWI 5.6) (4).
Similarly, during a 3 day basketball tournament when compared to a control stretching condition, CWI (5 x1 min at
11°C) effectively reduced perceptions of fatigue across the tournament (change in fatigue score CWI 1.0, control 2.2)
(3) with the authors attributing reduced fatigue to enhanced physical performance over a number of days. Both CWI
and CWT can be effective in reducing perceptions of fatigue which in turn, may have a flow on effect to athletic
performance. Such reductions in post-match or post-training fatigue may benefit players by enhancing their overall
recovery and by improving their ability to resume training earlier and by enhancing their ability to train and/or play
matches with more intensity.


The overall evidence concerning the effects of water immersion on post-exercise recovery in team sport is increasing.
It appears that the use of hot showers as a method of recovery is ineffective, while immersion times of less than 10
min can produce mixed results. Athletes should aim for a total of at least 10 min immersion (either CWT or CWI) as
this duration of time appears to enhance the effectiveness of both recovery modalities. Indeed, an immersion time of
14-15 min is the current recommendation (12) and it appears that a temperature range of between 10-15°C is the
most effective for cold immersion. The effectiveness of 10 or more min of immersion has been demonstrated following
a soccer game where recovery of 20 m sprint performance along with squat and countermovement jumps was
enhanced by CWI (9). Similarly, following an Australian rules match 14 min of CWI and CWT substantially improved
the recovery of repeat 20 m sprint times and both squat and countermovement jumps (2), while 14 min CWI also
improved repeat sprint time following Australian rules training (1). In netballers, 10 min of CWI and 15 min of CWT
helped ameliorate declines in jump and repeat 20 m sprint performance (16). Multiple exposures of 10 min can also
assist recovery. Following simulated team-sport running, multiple CWI exposures in the days following activity
facilitated a more rapid return of 20 m sprint performance (10).

It also appears that CWI is the more effective of the two recovery methods in restoring physical capacity and reducing
fatigue (Table 1 and 2).This may be due to the impact of temperature where the introduction of heat can increase
swelling and the inflammatory response which may be detrimental to recovery, whereas the application of cold has
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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

been beneficial in reducing these responses as well as inducing analgesia and aiding in reducing pain, all of which
can improve recovery (11). Both recovery modalities also have a positive benefit in reducing perceived fatigue in team
sport athletes (1-5) which may enhance an athlete’s willingness to train, reduce time between training sessions and
improve their intensity at training and in matches.

Practical Applications
Based on the evidence presented in this review, the following recommendations can be made:

1. Athletes should try to have a total immersion time of at least 10 or more minutes as this appears to enhance the
effectiveness of both CWI and CWT with 14-15 min being the current recommendation.
2. A temperature of between 10-15°C appears to be the most effective range for cold water immersion.
3. Both CWI and CWT are effective at enhancing the recovery of 20 m and repeat 20 m sprint time and both squat
and countermovement jump ability following team sport training and matches.
4. Both CWI and CWT are can be effective at reducing player fatigue following both team sport training and
matches which may lead to enhanced playing and training intensity.
5. Cold water immersion appears to be a more effective modality at enhancing physical performance and reducing
fatigue than CWT.
6. The use of hot showers during CWT appears to be ineffective and is therefore not recommended.

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10. Ingram, J., Dawson, B., Goodman, C., Wallman, K., & Beilby, J. Compamy. 1999.
Effect of water immersion methods on post-exercise recovery from 24. Marcora, S. M., Staiano, W., & Manning, V. Mental fatigue impairs
simulated team sport exercise. Journal of Science and Medicine physical performance in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology.
in Sport, 12: 417-421. 2009. 106(3): 857-864. 2009.
11. Wilcock, I. M., Cronin, J. B., & Hing, W. A. Physiological response
to water immersion: a method for sport recovery? Sports
Medicine. 36(9): 747-765. 2006.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Sodium bicarbonate and repeated swimming sprints. J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)91-95. 2014 © ASCA.

A Review of the Literature


Paul S R Goods

The University of Western Australia


A As with any sprint-based sport, swimming coaches are constantly seeking methods of improving the speed of
sprint intervals and maintaining maximal intensity throughout an entire training session. This review article is
intended to summarise the recent literature of the efficacy of sodium bicarbonate to enhance repeated
swimming sprints. Our search yielded 6 articles which investigated the use of sodium bicarbonate to enhance
performance in multiple bouts of sprint swimming. Following the review of recent literature, it appears that an acute
dose of 0.3 of sodium bicarbonate, 90 min prior to exercise, may enhance repeat swimming sprint performance
by a magnitude of 1-2%, and is more likely to be beneficial in repeated swimming sprints performed with relatively
short rest durations. Protocols which attempt to replicate a competition day (eg. heats and finals), which separate
sprints by 20 – 30 min, are less likely to result in significant performance enhancement, and sodium bicarbonate’s
effectiveness may decrease when exercise duration is increased beyond 60 s. To minimise the chances of
gastrointestinal upset, swimmers should probably consume sodium bicarbonate in capsule form with water, and a co-
ingested meal consisting of 1 – 1.5 of carbohydrates.

Keywords - Sodium bicarbonate, repeat sprint, swimming, freestyle, buffer.


As with any sprint-based sport, swimming coaches are constantly seeking methods of improving the speed of sprint
intervals and maintaining maximal intensity throughout an entire training session. Intuitively, it is easy to understand
the rationale behind performing faster sprints in training to improve sprint performance. This has been tested in one
longitudinal study with maximal intensity training frequency being significantly correlated with next season
performance (14). However, maximal sprint speed can be difficult to maintain in training due the performance
impeding by-products associated with high intensity anaerobic exercise. Following repeated maximal intensity sprints,
the repletion of phosphocreatine (PCr) and the removal of H ions are key variables in maintaining an athlete’s
performance (2, 3). To facilitate PCr repletion, work to rest ratios (W:R) of 1:10 have been implemented, and found to
be beneficial (1). It has also been shown that competitive freestyle sprinters better maintain performance during
repeated freestyle sprints protocols utilising a ~1:10 W:R with a passive or low-intensity active recovery compared to
high intensity active recovery (23). However, the efficient removal of H ions remains a focus in protocols using 1:10
W:R to maintain maximal performance, and strategies to increase the speed of sprints in swimming training are
constantly being sought.

One field of sport science that is rapidly evolving to improve training protocols, recovery procedures and performance
is the use of ergogenic aids. Sodium bicarbonate is an extracellular buffer which is currently not listed on the World
Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list, and is readily available at most chemists and drug stores for over the counter
purchase equating to ~ $3 AUD per ergogenic dose. This review will examine the recent literature into the use of
sodium bicarbonate to enhance repeated swimming sprints in an effort to determine its efficacy for this practice.


This review article is intended to summarise the recent literature of the efficacy of sodium bicarbonate to enhance
repeated swimming sprints. Criteria for selection were that investigations must have employed a randomised control
trial on human subjects performing repeated swimming sprints and included a detailed explanation of procedures and
methods. The search terms, 1) sodium bicarbonate, 2) repeat sprint, 3) swimming, 4) freestyle, 5) buffer, were used in
Web of Science, and six articles in total were used to review the effect of sodium bicarbonate ingestion on repeated
swimming sprints.


Mechanisms of action
Sodium bicarbonate’s ergogenic potential is as a potent extracellular buffer, and may be beneficial to performance
provided that the intensity and duration of the exercise being enhanced are sufficient to result in significant muscle
acidosis and adenine nucleotide loss (8). Such exercise disrupts enzyme activity within glycolytic function and reduces
Ca sequestering, which ultimately leads to reduced muscle force-generating capacity (12). In the review by Maughan
(8), it was stated that sodium bicarbonate may be beneficial for exercise lasting from 30 s to 20 min of continuous,
intermittent or dynamic nature, all of which may produce significant muscle acidosis.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Despite the lungs and kidneys being the most important organs in the buffering process; extracellular fluid buffers
remain important during high intensity exercise to regulate pH (12). The muscle cell membrane is virtually impervious
to HCO3 , meaning that sodium bicarbonate is effective only in an extracellular role as, when ingested it increases the
pH of the extracellular environment. This state of alkalosis in the body increases the pH gradient between the muscle
cell and extracellular fluid, allowing an increased rate of H ion efflux from the cell (2, 9, 12, 15, 20, 21, 22). Such an
increase in blood pH may offset the increase in muscle acidity and allow for a greater volume of anaerobic work to be
performed before the onset of fatigue.

Anaerobic glycolysis plays a significant role in the energy contribution for repeated sprints and is associated with
intracellular accumulation of H ; implicated as a cause of muscular fatigue (2). Therefore any interventions which
+ +
minimize intracellular H accumulation may improve repeat sprint ability. While intracellular buffers will act first on H
ions in the muscle cell, H efflux from the cell will be enhanced by an increase in extracellular buffer concentration
which will slow the accumulation of H within the cell and may therefore improve repeat sprint ability.

Siegler and colleagues (12, 19, 20, 21, 22) have conducted extensive research into the efficacy of sodium bicarbonate
ingestion to improve high intensity exercise. They have reported the accumulation of H ions may inhibit contractile
protein cross-bridging, sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) function and glycolytic flux within the muscle cell (20). By inducing
pre-exercise alkalosis, high intensity exercise performance may be enhanced by facilitating greater energy supply
from anaerobic glycolysis (24). Essentially, this means that regardless of buffering capacity, an elevated pH prior to
high intensity exercise may also allow for more anaerobic work to be performed before a performance decrement in
response to a fall in pH below a manageable level. It has also been suggested that pH may have a direct effect on
muscle force production (9), but this remains unclear (19). However, sodium bicarbonate’s ergogenic properties
remain somewhat equivocal with many studies reporting high inter-individual variability and some finding that 0.3
of sodium bicarbonate ingestion did not significantly improve performance (11, 16).
Additionally, Bishop et al. (2) demonstrated that in-vitro pH did not increase as a result of an acute dose of 0.3
of sodium bicarbonate and concluded that the ergogenic benefit of sodium bicarbonate is due solely to its role in
enhancing extracellular buffering capacity.

Loading protocols
The acute ingestion of 0.4 and 0.5 was investigated by McNaughton (11) and it was found that this dose
resulted in gastric upset in all participants; therefore, more recent studies have investigated the efficacy of smaller
doses in an attempt to eliminate this unwanted side-effect (7, 17, 21, 22, 24). The effect of various acute sodium
bicarbonate loading protocols on the time-dependent extracellular buffering profile was explored (22); with the
ingestion of 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 of sodium bicarbonate investigated across a 2-h time period. All doses were
- -
significantly different compared to placebo for all three variables (pH, HCO 3 and base excess). However, HCO3 levels
-1 -1 -
were significantly lower for the 0.1 trial than for 0.2 and 0.3 . Base excess (BE) and HCO3 levels were
significantly higher at 60 min than at 120 min across all conditions. A single morning dose was found to be the ideal
time of day for acute sodium bicarbonate ingestion as it significantly elevated all variables compared to consecutive
-1 -1
evening doses. The authors concluded 0.2 and 0.3 significantly elevate blood buffering capacity
-1 -1
compared to 0.1 . The popularly used 0.3 had a peak blood buffering profile between 60 and 90 mins post-
ingestion before slowly declining to 120 min where measures ceased to be taken, and the authors suggested that 0.3
-1 -1 should be ingested 60 min prior to exercise, while 0.2 was suggested to be consumed ~ 45 min prior to
-1 -1
exercise. Both 0.3 and 0.2 were recommended by the authors.

However, the lead investigator has since updated his recommendations based on a recent investigation which found
no difference in blood buffering or ergogenic potential for repeated sprints for a 0.3 dose of sodium bicarbonate
ingested either 60, 120 or 180 min prior to exercise (18). It was found that gastrointestinal upset was reduced when
the dose was consumed 180 min prior to exercise, but the author recommended taking an individualised approach
due to the high inter-individual variation found in sodium bicarbonate loading procedures. Athletes and coaches
should therefore experiment in training to determine the optimal timing for each individual to reduce gastric discomfort
without compromising buffering potential (which remains constant for up to 180 min). Finally the authors stressed that
sodium bicarbonate should only be administered prior to exercise which may be limited by H ion accumulation due to
a high anaerobic energy demand. Therefore, athletes should choose select only high intensity training sessions for
sodium bicarbonate use, and limit full acute doses to once daily due to the unknown side effects of multiple large
bolus’ of sodium bicarbonate.

Additionally, it has been suggested that a sufficient pre-exercise alkalosis to reasonably expect a performance
enhancement, which is known to be an ability to maintain higher intensity due to the delay of fatigue via muscle
acidosis and reported as 1.7% ± 2.0 in a recent meta-analysis (4), constitutes a 0.05 increase in blood pH, which has
been consistently demonstrated following an acute dose of 0.3 between 40 and 120 min prior to exercise (5,

However, McNaughton et al. (12) postulated that while acute sodium bicarbonate loading is ergogenic for various
forms of anaerobic exercise, chronic sodium bicarbonate loading may help reduce gastrointestinal upset. McNaughton
and Thompson (9) explored these two sodium bicarbonate loading strategies. Eight male subjects acutely ingested
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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning
0.5 of sodium bicarbonate 90 min prior to performing a 90 s maximal cycle ergometer effort and, following a 10
day washout, ingested 0.5 of sodium bicarbonate (broken into four equal doses and ingested in 4 doses at least
3 h apart throughout the day) every day for six days before performing the same cycle effort. Both groups significantly
improved power output in a 90 s maximal cycle ergometer trial compared to the control group with no differences
found between the two groups. The test was repeated over the next two days, without any additional sodium
bicarbonate ingestion and the results revealed chronic dosing (in contrast to the acute group) kept performance
significantly elevated for both of the following two days compared to the control group. This indicates that the
effectiveness of acute sodium bicarbonate loading is less than 24 h and the authors therefore concluded that
chronically ingesting sodium bicarbonate may be advantageous as performance remained elevated even after sodium
bicarbonate ingestion ceased. No subjects in either group reported gastrointestinal upset.
Based on this evidence, an acute or chronic dose ranging from 0.2 – 0.5 could be confidently administered to an
athletic population with a reasonable expectation for enhanced buffering capacity, and therefore performance.

Performance enhancement
By delaying the onset of fatigue through a pre-exercise increase in extracellular pH which may improve buffering
capacity it is proposed that sodium bicarbonate will ultimately improve performance during high intensity exercise
(such as repeated swimming sprints) by maintaining glycolytic flux through prolonging the maintenance of acid-base
balance (19).

A review on the use of ergogenic aids in sport (8) found that investigations most commonly employ an acute dose of
sodium bicarbonate (usually 0.3 ), usually 1-3 h prior to exercise lasting from 30 s to 20 mins. Investigations
which found performance was enhanced in well trained athletes typically reported a small (1-2%) improvement, but
the author noted the high value of such gains at the elite level. No apparent relationship existed between the studies
that reported significant performance improvements and those that didn’t; hence research has continued into the
mode, duration and intensity for which sodium bicarbonate is ergogenic. A more recent review which employed a
mixed-model meta-analysis using 59 investigations found that 0.3 - 0.5 sodium bicarbonate ingestion improved
60 s sprint performance by 1.7 ± 2.0% (18). Timing of ingestion was not reported as a modifying effect; however,
when repeated bouts of high intensity exercise were performed, sodium bicarbonate provided an additional 0.6%
benefit. A tenfold increase in exercise duration (from 1 – 10 min) resulted in a 0.6% reduction in benefit. These meta-
analysis’ encourage further investigation into the effect of sodium bicarbonate on repeated swimming sprints.
-1 -1
The effect of 2.9 (which, when multiplied by its molecular weight is 0.244 ) of sodium bicarbonate on 5
x 100 yd freestyle performance with a 2 min rest recovery between repetitions was investigated (6). No differences in
swim times were recorded between sodium bicarbonate and placebo for the first three repetitions. However, in sprints
four and five, swimmers in the sodium bicarbonate condition were significantly faster than in the placebo condition
(p<0.05). Swimmers in the sodium bicarbonate condition also had significantly lower plasma [H ] following ingestion,
post-warm up and post-swim as well as significantly higher plasma bicarbonate (HCO3 ) concentrations, blood lactate
and plasma base excess at all three time points. The authors concluded that sodium bicarbonate ingestion 60 min
prior to the first sprint significantly increased the efflux of H from the working muscles, delayed the onset of fatigue,
and enhanced performance in the final sprints.

However, not long after this study Pierce et al. (15) administered sodium bicarbonate to seven collegiate swimmers
before they completed a 100 yd and 2 x 200 yd time trials separated by 20 min. Here it was found that sodium
bicarbonate had no effect on performance, with no differences found between treatment and placebo group, and the
efficacy of sodium bicarbonate ingestion to enhance repeated swimming sprints was questioned.

More recently, Siegler and Gleadall-Siddall (19) stated that sodium bicarbonate may be ergogenic in any events
requiring either continuous supra-maximal efforts or intermittent, high-intensity efforts. They then explored the effect of
giving an acute dose of 0.3 of sodium bicarbonate to six male and eight female members of a university
swimming club, 150 min prior to completing a set of 8 x 25 m freestyle sprints, separated by five seconds. They found
swim time significantly decreased (~2%; p=0.04) in the sodium bicarbonate condition when compared to placebo. The
sodium bicarbonate condition also produced significantly higher blood lactate readings (p=0.001) with a mean
difference of 1.0 mmol.L . This study is one of several recent studies which have found performance enhancement in
repeated swimming sprints following sodium bicarbonate ingestion. Zajac et al. (25) administered 0.3 of sodium
bicarbonate to youth swimmers, 90 min prior to completing 4 x 50 m freestyle sprints separated by 1 min. The sodium
bicarbonate treatment resulted in a significantly faster swimming speed for the first sprint, and overall, improved total
swim time by 1.43 s (~1.3%). Mero et al. (13) investigated the effect of co-supplementation of sodium bicarbonate and
creatine on 2 x 100 m freestyle performance separated by 10 min. The supplementation group experienced
significantly less performance decrement in the subsequent sprint; however, due to the design of this study it is
impossible to say whether this was to as a result of the creatine, sodium bicarbonate, or their combination.
Finally, Pruscino et al. (17) administered of sodium bicarbonate to six elite male freestyle sprints 2 h prior to
completing 2 x 200 m freestyle sprints separated by 30 min. Despite the sodium bicarbonate group improving their
sprint time in the second sprint (which equated to a 1.6 s faster sprint than for placebo), no statistical significance was

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

achieved. This is possibly due to the extended recovery period used in this design, or the small sample of participants

It appears that following sodium bicarbonate ingestion, performance is likely enhanced in repeated swimming sprints
performed with relatively short rest durations by a magnitude of 1-2%, and that protocols which attempt to replicate a
competition day (eg. heats and finals) which separate sprints by 20 – 30 min, are less likely to result in significant
performance enhancement. This is likely due to the extended recovery time allowing for acid-base to return to resting
levels prior to the subsequent sprint(s).

Lactate Accumulation
It has been reported that, following sodium bicarbonate ingestion, higher levels of blood lactic acid are recorded after
anaerobic exercise (2, 7, 16, 20, 24). Lindh et al. (7) conducted a control trial then gave 0.3 of sodium
bicarbonate or placebo to nine swimmers 90 min prior to completing a maximal 200 m freestyle effort. Swim times
were 1.8 s ± 2.1 s faster, (p=0.04) in the sodium bicarbonate condition, with significantly higher blood lactate (p≤0.001)
than for placebo or control trials. Others reported significantly higher blood lactate levels (+1.5 mmol.L , p≤0.05)
following acute sodium bicarbonate ingestion, despite not finding any significant performance enhancement in a 20 x
24 s repeat sprint ability test (16). Bishop et al. (2) investigated whether 0.3 of sodium bicarbonate affected
lactate levels within the muscle after subjects completed 5 x 6 s repeat sprint ability test. Following sodium
bicarbonate ingestion, muscle lactate levels were 72% greater (p≤0.05) than placebo and performance was also

The proposed mechanism behind the increased lactate response following sodium bicarbonate ingestion is an
increase in efflux rates of lactic acid occurs when the pH of the perfusing fluid is increased (7). However, it may also
be assumed that the increased blood lactate levels are in response to greater glycolytic activity and therefore
indicative of an increased amount of anaerobic work being performed.

Gastrointestinal Upset
One proposed reason for the often reported inter-individual variability in response to acute sodium bicarbonate loading
is gastrointestinal upset. McNaughton et al. (12) reported sodium bicarbonate loading can contribute to
gastrointestinal upset and may not be tolerated well by all athletes. They estimated 10% of athletes do not respond
well to sodium bicarbonate loading.
Carr et al. (5) attempted to quantify the effect of 0.3 of sodium bicarbonate in various loading protocols on
gastrointestinal upset. A validated questionnaire with 16 items that may describe possible gastrointestinal upset
symptoms was given to subjects. In all loading protocols gastrointestinal distress was significantly elevated on
average between 60 min post-ingestion and 90 min post-ingestion with the lowest incidence of gastrointestinal upset
occurred 120 min post-ingestion. Gastrointestinal upset was lower when sodium bicarbonate was taken in capsule
-1 -1
form and co-ingested with a standardised meal of 1.5 of carbohydrates, and 7 of water. Subjects
preferred to ingest sodium bicarbonate via capsule form as opposed to in a solution despite the authors concluding
that the co-ingestion of a meal is apparently more important than the fluid that sodium bicarbonate is consumed with
or which method of delivery is used.

It can be stated practically that to reduce gastrointestinal upset, and therefore hopefully some intra-individual
variability, sodium bicarbonate should not be ingested on an empty stomach, there may be a benefit in co-ingesting
sodium bicarbonate with fluid, and capsules may be a subjectively preferred method of ingestion for some athletes.

It appears that an acute dose of 0.3 of sodium bicarbonate, 90 min prior to exercise, can be confidently
administered to swimmers to enhance the performance of repeated swimming sprints by a magnitude of 1-2%.
Multiple sprinting bouts of < 60 s duration with limited recovery periods appear the most likely to be benefited. There is
limited evidence that this practice would enhance repeated sprints separated by > 20 min (such as heats and finals
during a competition). It is therefore suggested that swimmers use sodium bicarbonate as an ergogenic tool to
enhance the quality of repeated sprints during training, but further research is required to elucidate whether this
practice may lead to improved race performance. As the benefits of sodium bicarbonate decrease with exercise
duration over 60 s, intake should be limited to a few targeted repeat sprint training sessions per week. No unsafe
upper limit has been recommended for sodium bicarbonate use; however, due to the often experienced unpleasant
and potentially performance impeding gastrointestinal upset, doses should be limited to 0.3 – 0.5 and swimmers
should probably consume sodium bicarbonate in capsule form with water, and a co-ingested meal consisting of 1 –
1.5 of carbohydrates.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning


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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Taekwondo: A review of the physiology and current training practices, with a practical application of a four-week training mesocycle.
J. Aust. Strength Cond. 22(2)96-109. 2014 © ASCA.

A Review of the Literature


Dale M. Harris

Taekwondo (TKD) as a mainstream sport is rapidly gaining momentum, highlighted by its inclusion as an
Olympic sport in the Sydney 2000 games. Unfortunately little empirical evidence exists on the physiology of
elite TKD athletes, and thus the scientific literature governing the best current training practices is not yet clear.
Therefore, the main aims of this article were to present some key points on the physiology of TKD athletes and to
propose a structured training plan based on the current best training practices as identified in the literature. The major
findings from this review were A) elite TKD athletes possess a high anaerobic fitness base, yet aerobic fitness may be
a precursor to overall success in TKD given the high work:rest ratios of the sport, B) elastic resistance training can
potentially augment strength and power adaptations as an additional training method integrated with standard strength
and power training protocols, and C) there is a causal link between power training, jump height and success among
elite TKD athletes. Given these results, the author presents a strategised training model for coaches structuring a four-
week preparatory mesocycle within a quadrennial periodised plan. However, continued research is required to more
effectively elucidate the various components comprising an elite TKD athlete’s physiology. Such research serves to
facilitate innovation of novel training practices to enhance physiological profiles and thus overall performances in the
elite TKD competitions.

Keywords - Taekwondo, anaerobic, aerobic, physiology, training, periodisation


There has been a recent influx in the literature surrounding the physiological profiles of elite taekwondo (TKD)
competitors (1-5, 11), yet still little is known about how TKD physiology relates to overall competitive performance.
Additionally, the paucity of literature surrounding the current training practices of elite TKD athletes persists, and as
such the appropriate strength and power training strategies to enhance the physiological components of elite TKD
athletes remains elusive. Further exploration into the physiology of elite TKD athletes serves to yield a clearer
understanding of the complexity of the physiological profiles of such athletes. To this end, this article will attempt to
discuss the physiological components of TKD, and to isolate the recent training practices of TKD based on the current
available literature. Moreover, periodisation strategies in preparation for a quadrennial cycle for various sports have
been previously discussed (38, 44, 45). To the authors knowledge only two articles exist discussing periodisation
strategies for TKD athletes, with only one of the two articles using elite TKD athletes as participants (3, 24). Therefore,
this article will attempt to add to the current literature by concluding with a practical application of a structured four-
week mesocycle block during a ‘pre-season stage’ of a two-year world championships (WCS) cycle based on the
physiological components and current training practices of TKD, as well as other forms of periodisation literature.


This review compiled fifty-three original investigations from Google Scholar and Edith Cowan University library
databases; primarily SportDiscus and Medline. The key search phrase was “taekwondo”, which was used in
conjunction with other key words such as “physiology” or “elite” or “athlete” or the phrase “elite athlete”, and “strength”
or “power” or “training” or the phrase “strength training”. As a result, a total of twenty-nine TKD specific original
research papers were incorporated into this review. Studies which did not meet the criteria of entry into this review
failed to address the physiological mechanisms underpinning performance outcomes in TKD.

Physiology of elite TKD athletes

Work : rest ratio
Taekwondo is a highly explosive sport represented by its fast kicking techniques, with a typical roundhouse kick taking
an average of 0.26s to complete with a mean peak velocity of 14.7m/s (51). Olympic TKD competition consists of
three- two minute rounds with a one minute recovery break in between rounds. Heller et al (20) examined the
movement profiles of competitive TKD and established that athletes spent on average between 3-5s in explosive
activities per attacking manoeuvre, with a high intensity:low intensity ratio (HI:LI) of between 1:3 and 1:4 for the entire
bout respectively. Recently this ratio has been reported as 1:6 (33) and 1:7 (41) among elite Olympic TKD athletes.
This would suggest that TKD is comprised of short intermittent intense activities, complimented with extended periods
of low intensity activity. However, Santos et al (41) established that an average ratio of ~1:7 (0.14) only lasted the first
two rounds of a match during the 2007 WCS and 2008 Olympic games, and that in the final round the HI:LI ratio
increased significantly to ~1:5 (0.21). This would infer that anaerobic capacity plays a significant role in not only

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

maintaining but also elevating explosive performance towards the end of a bout when attacking manoeuvres become
more prevalent.

Heart rate and lactic acid

It appears that the heart rate (HR) variability of TKD athletes range from as low as 158bpm to as high as 190bpm (5,
8) during simulated TKD matches. Chiodo et al (12) established that during actual competition, irrespective of gender,
average HR during competition was 180bpm. In addition, HR responses are susceptible to fluctuations over the course
of a competitive bout. Bridge et al (6) concluded that TKD athlete’s reported progressively elevated HR responses
following each round of competition, with a significantly different average HR of 187bpm in the third round of
competition compared to the 179bpm average obtained in round one. Furthermore, it is important to recognise that
TKD athletes compete within weight categories, and as such HR responses may differ between light and heavy weight
athletes. Butios and Tasika (8) established that maximal HR values increased significantly among heavy weight class
athletes, compared to light and middle weight athletes. The average variability between HR values across three
rounds of a bout within each of the three popular Olympic weight classes can be seen in Table 1.

Table 1 - Average HR values (bpm) across three weight classes (light, middle and heavy weight) of pre competition
and across each of the three rounds of a standard TKD bout.

Light Weight (-68kg) Middle Weight (-80kg) Heavy Weight (+80kg)

Ave Pre Comp 100.46 ± 15.66 117.54 ± 4.7 111.92 ± 16.09

Ave Rnd 1 169.92 ± 2.01 178.88 ± 6.26 161.67 ± 13

Ave Rnd 2 178.53 ± 4.38 181.29 ± 5.84 174.38 ± 15.72

Ave Rnd 3 182.25 ± 7.82 183.54 ± 7.56 171.25 ± 6.6

Averages taken from 24 elite male athletes across three matches during a standard TKD competition (7)

High intensity exercise is associated with reductions of stored phosphocreatine (PCr), accumulation of lactic acid and
a concomitant reduction in pH which brings about either a cessation of exercise, or significant drop in performance
output (18). Bouhlel et al (5) reported that heart rate and blood lactate responses climbed significantly in a concurrent
pattern during simulated TKD competitive bouts, compared to resting values. Chiodo et al (12) and Heller et al (20)
have found elevated lactate levels between 6.7mmol/L and 11.4mmol/L in TKD athletes following competition.
Although, Butios et al (8) reported lower blood lactate values of 3.5mmol/L in their study. However, this discrepancy
may have been attributed to the sample of athletes chosen for this study, who were all in the middle of high volume
training and so overtraining may have compromised the recorded responses. Casolino et al (10) identified that blood
lactate levels were lower in ‘selected’ national Italian TKD representative athlete’s following training compared to their
‘un-selected’ team mates. This result occurred in conjunction with lower rating of perceived exertion (RPE) scores
recorded by the ‘selected’ TKD athlete’s following training. Similarly, international karate competitors have reported
lower blood lactate levels and overall greater anaerobic capacity’s compared to national competitors. Taken together,
it appears elite martial arts athletes possess a higher lactate buffering capacity, thus implicating a high anaerobic
fitness as a precursor to success in both karate and TKD (39). However, it may also be that elite TKD athletes are
more careful with their movements and thus reduce unnecessary actions, making them more economical in
competition which could reduce lactate values. Such a possibility would also be consistent with the aforesaid data and
hence further research is needed on the biomechanics and, more specifically, movement efficiency of elite TKD
athletes during competition to consolidate this premise.

Aerobic fitness
On occasion an individual athlete may have to fight multiple opponents before reaching the gold medal match, and so
a single competition may extend a whole day. Typically, depending on the number of competitors in each weight class,
an athlete may need to fight either three or four times before reaching the Gold medal match (8). The difference in the
time between fights is usually based on one or more of a number of competition protocol shortcomings. For example,
the number of fights an athlete has on that given day, the order of proceedings for the day (i.e. other athletes or bouts
may take precedence) or the scheduling of the bouts for that particular athlete (i.e. bye rounds) can all adversely affect
the time between bouts. Pilz-burstein et al (37) implemented a match-simulation trial of twenty elite adolescent TKD
athletes who were asked to fight three separate bouts throughout the day, with thirty minute rest periods between
bouts. It was established that TKD athletes, under the stressors of a standard match-day, entered a catabolic state
which included a significant reduction in testosterone, IGF-1 hormone and an increase in cortisol levels. These results
were synonymous with “prolonged, intense exercise sessions” indicative of endurance-based resistive exercise. It was
further deduced that the relationship between TKD competition and a catabolic induced state was not only a product of
the physical stressors of a standard match-day, but also the psychological strain. It is outside the scope of this review
to delve too deep into the psychology of sport, yet it must be noted that both the psychology and physiology of TKD

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

contribute collectively to higher levels of physical stress than perhaps once thought. Considering this, it could be
assumed that a sound aerobic fitness base (VO2max) is beneficial for TKD athletes, although the extent of its merits
within TKD is still unclear. Previously it has been postulated that aerobic fitness is a less important component for TKD
success, with relatively moderate VO2 max scores (44.0 to 56.22mL kg/min) formerly reported (5, 8, 31). Among judo
athletes, Franchini et al (17) suggested that high VO2 maximum values a) allow athletes to perform at a higher
intensity during the bout, b) correspond to enhanced recovery following intermittent exercise during the bout, and c)
allows for faster recovery times between bouts. Furthermore, it has been identified that in fact recreational TKD
athletes possess lower VO2max than elite TKD athletes (15). Yet Kazemi et al (23) argued that VO2max is not a
necessity for improving performance in TKD, as moderate VO2max is adequate in enabling recovery between rounds
or bursts of high intensity activity. Although recently Campos et al (34) proposed that 66 + 6% of energy contribution
during TKD bouts come from the aerobic system. An explanation for this being that although high intensity activities
were maintained by the alactic energy system, the overall intensity of the bouts recorded was relatively low. The HI:LI
ratio of ~1:7 reported lead to the majority of the bouts being aerobically driven, with oxidative metabolism responsible
for the restoration of substrates (i.e. PCr). In any case, it is clear that more empirical evidence is required to effectively
establish what sort of role aerobic fitness plays in the performance outcomes of elite TKD athletes.

Current training practices in TKD

Resistance training
There is a general consensus that power training is the best format of resistance training for a TKD athlete at
enhancing overall performance because of the fundamental explosive nature of the movements associated with TKD
(3, 20). Yet considering maximal muscular strength is an underpinning fundamental of maximal power, developing
maximal strength is also necessary for elite TKD athletes (31, 32). Tsai et al (49) demonstrated that maximal strength
training improves muscle contraction velocity in TKD. In their study, fifteen male high school (17 + 0.9 yrs) TKD
athletes were divided into three groups; a strength training group and two combined strength and power training
groups. The athletes in the strength training group performed a half squat for 5 repetitions for 3 sets over eight weeks
based on 80% of their 1 repetition maximum (1RM), and increased the load by 5% increments every two weeks to
facilitate adaptation. It has been previously reported that strength development occurs over a threshold of 65% of 1RM
(27), and so the strength intervention adopted by Tsai et al (49) was appropriate in producing strength adaptations. In
their study, force and power were determined using a force-plate with the athletes performing a standard
countermovement jump, while velocity was measured using a high speed camera with the athletes performing a
standard axe kick. Figure 1 contains the force, power and velocity values of the athletes within the strength training
group (49). Importantly, it must be noted that absolute measures of maximal force as reported in Tsai et al (49) may
not be the best indicator of performance of an elite TKD athlete. Because TKD is weight class oriented, the athlete
with the greatest relative force output (i.e. relative strength) usually has the advantage (35). To the author’s knowledge
no study has directly assessed the influence of relative strength measures (based on weight class) on performance in

Power (W) Force (N) Velocity (m/s)



2.46 2.55
Week 1 Week 8

Figure 1 - Mean force, power and velocity values following eight weeks of half squat strength training with a frequency
of two training sessions per week (41).

It has recently been proposed that more “movement specific” strength training might improve strength adaptations to a
greater degree (22). As such, elastic resistance training (ERT) has been trialled among TKD athletes as a means of
improving kicking force. The principle of ERT is that it provides a force opposing movement by using resistance bands
during high velocity actions such as kicking (22). Recently, Jakubiak and Saunders (22) evaluated the efficacy of ERT
at producing strength adaptations in TKD athletes. Over a short intervention of ERT (4 week period) athletes improved
7% in their average kicking velocity, and it was hypothesised that this improvement may have be greater if the strength

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program lasted longer than 4 weeks. This finding is supported by Topal et al (48) who presented that training using
ERT improves strike force, essentially establishing better round-house strike mechanics by improving muscular
strength. In this study, participants were separated into three groups; ERT with 7.5kg of resistive force, ERT with
14.5kg of resistive force and a control group. The ERT group with 14.5kg of resistive force improved strength to a
greater degree compared to both the 7.5kg and control groups. However, the concern with adopting ERT training is its
benefits weighed against other standard resistance training modes. Because ultrasound was not recorded in Jakubiak
et al (22), the improvement in velocity may have potentially been the result of a new training stimulus facilitating neural
adaptations, rather than muscle morphological changes. Furthermore, large motor units (MU’s), which are necessary
for enhancing power output, are only recruited during tasks which require large forces to overcome, such as heavy
resistance training (46). It is doubtful that ERT provides a great enough resistance to recruit these large MU’s during
training. As such, it is likely that training in the majority should involve loaded strength training tasks which allow for
both neurological and morphological adaptation, carefully interspersed with (rather than replaced with) ERT to provide
a different training stimulus during strength and conditioning phases.

Power training
Ball, Nolan and Wheeler (3) state that “the ability of TKD athletes to rapidly generate muscle force through kicks is
imperative because 80% of TKD skills are related to kicking”. Recently the vertical jump test and its derivatives (i.e.
countermovement jump (CMJ)) have previously been used to address power profiles of elite TKD athletes.
Ghorbanzadeh et al (19) recently measured selective anthropometric and physiological criterion for forty (twenty-four
male and sixteen female) elite versus forty (twenty-four male and sixteen female) sub-elite TKD athletes. They
established that vertical jump height was significantly (p = 0.001) greater for the elite athletes (male = 39cm, female =
27.50cm) than the sub-elite athletes (male = 32.66cm, female = 25.05cm). Although these results were not directly
correlated with performance outcomes, they do provide a good estimate of what is required of elite versus sub-elite
TKD athletes. Yiau et al (50) established a significant trend in performance and jump height (p = 0.047, effect size =
0.064) among elite female TKD athletes, with winners of the 2004 Malaysian Games reporting a greater jump height
score (~39.1cm) than their less successful colleagues (~35.1cm) . Furthermore, Noorul, Pieter and Erie (35)
established that elite junior TKD athletes reported greater jump heights than their recreational counterparts. Markovic
et al (31) elucidated that actions involving the stretch-shorten cycle (i.e. plyometric exercises) should be particularly
emphasised within TKD training. In their study, Markovic et al (31) proposed that stretch-shorten actions were more
valuable for TKD athletes considering the significant (p<.05, ICC = 0.98) differences of the CMJ responses between
the elite (32.8 ± 3.9) and non-elite (28.7 ± 1.9) female TKD athletes. These assertions were supported by Tsai et al
(49) who reported significantly (p<.05) higher power output scores for the combination drop jump (t = -2.84) and depth
jump (t = -6.55) with half squat training groups, compared with the half squat strength training group alone.

Agility training
Agility has been widely discussed in the current literature, and is thought to have two primary constituents;
temporal/spatial awareness and change of direction speed respectively (43). Importantly, agility is thought to be
trained via cognitive properties which respond to uncertainty; usually during open skilled tasks in relation to the sport in
question (43). No definitive agility or speed training recommendations exist in the TKD literature, however both
reaction-time and speed are important in elite TKD athletes (20). Chung and Ng (13) discovered that reaction-time was
significantly quicker with elite TKD athletes during sports-specific stimulus, compared to novice TKD and untrained
participants, suggesting that agility is enhanced during sports-specific situational drills. Additionally, this result was
further mirrored with an increase in rectis femoris muscle activation, and it was suggested that greater development of
motor pathways were responsible for facilitating excitatory responses in muscle contraction of elite TKD athletes
during reaction-time tasks.

Aerobic training
The aerobic and alactic energy systems have been implicated as the predominant energy suppliers within TKD (9, 20).
Additionally, the high HR responses documented throughout international competition suggest that aerobic
conditioning plays a decisive role in preparation for TKD (6, 12, 20). Matsushigue et al (33) proposed that interval
training specific to TKD, incorporating TKD specific skills and drills, is an adequate means of successfully stimulating
both anaerobic and aerobic pathways. Additionally, TKD athletes spent approximately 8 seconds in high intensity
manoeuvres, and so interval training targeting 8 seconds of high intensity work interspersed with either rest or low
intensity activity is a sufficient training strategy conducive to TKD competition. However, it must be acknowledged that
TKD competitions are spread year round and as such appropriate periodization strategies should consider the total
volume of training (46). Thus, high intensity interval training (HIIT) must be supplemented with periods of low intensity
phases to avoid chronic fatigue states (i.e. overtraining syndrome) (42, 46).The optimal training volume for any athlete,
never mind a TKD elite athlete, is an area which requires continued investigation. Seiler and Tønnessen (42) proposed
that HIIT is best implemented on a twice weekly basis to induce the necessary performance gains without causing
excessive stress levels. Additionally, the effects of HIIT on physiology and performance are fairly rapid, but rapid
plateau effects are seen as well. To avoid staleness in training, and to ensure long-term development, training volume
should increase systematically over the course of a planned training cycle (Figure 2, Table 4) (42, 44-46) .

Flexibility training
Flexibility is an important component of TKD because of the nature of head kicks within competition (15). Elite TKD
athletes have greater lower limb flexibility than sub elite athletes or untrained individuals (20) and it appears that TKD
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training alone can improve flexibility measures in adolescents (21). No study has reported on flexibility parameters and
injury rates among TKD athletes; however a brief period (30 seconds) of general static hamstring stretching has been
shown to acutely improve overall hip and knee joint range of motion during execution of a TKD front kick (16).
Additionally, injuries to the lower extremities appear most prevalent in TKD (36, 53). Other formats of contact martial
arts which showcase similar striking patterns to TKD, such as muay thai kickboxing, have reported high soft tissue
injury rates to the lower extremities (30). Considering this, stretching may assist in the prevention of soft tissue injury
(14), and thus consistent stretching becomes an important component of an overall conditioning regime within TKD.


The scenario
The case study presented is based on an athlete who has just won his way onto the Australian national team for the
first time and now needs to prepare for the WCS in the next two years. It is important to acknowledge that a TKD ‘pre-
season’ is unlike other sports. In TKD athletes compete in a multitude of events throughout a standard competitive
year to earn points in order to improve their world ranking. Thus, the proposed training block will focus on the
beginning mesocycle of a calendar year, and focus on developing general physical preparedness (GPP). Because of
the athlete’s age, GPP is crucial to develop the neuromuscular system synergistically and to create a sound baseline
to further develop muscular power, speed and agility.

The strategy
There are a number of periodisation strategies that have gained exposure in the past, yet arguments persist in regards
to the best approach of periodising for an athlete or team of various sports (38). However, because periodisation is an
individualised method of strategically manipulating volume, intensity and exercise to modulate training outcomes, no
one true periodisation strategy exists for all. For this case study a concentrated loading three-week block of GPP
exercises will be adopted to facilitate neurophysiological and morphological baseline adaptations (specifically strength-
endurance). Plisk and Stone (38) proposed a summated microcycle loading strategy in a three-week on, one-week off
approach. This method of periodisation is particularly effective for GPP phases as it A) allows for high volumes to be
integrated with planned unloading weeks to avoid overtraining, and B) ensures that the system is saturated with one
stressor, while maintaining other objectives (38). In accordance, this mesocycle will comprise of high training volumes
for the three-week period following an initial week of baseline testing. A one-week low volume period to allow for
restoration and transmutation will follow, however this unloaded stage of the mesocycle constitutes the fifth week and
therefore will not be addressed in depth at this time. Additionally, low intensities are prescribed during the weeks of
high volume training to avoid entering a chronic overtrained state (38). The volume and intensity loading structure for
the three weeks following the testing week of this mesocycle is detailed in Table 2. Figure 2 provides a conceptualised
illustration of training intensity vs. volume where training intensity represents the percentage range for sets and reps,
while training volume is calculated by summating the number of sets and reps and multiplying this by the number of
training days (or sessions) per week.

Table 2 - Intensity and volume loading schedule.

%Range for sets Rest

Week Intensity Sets Reps Frequency
and reps (sec)

2 Light-Moderate 75-80 3-5 8-20 2 strength sessions per week 60-180

3 Light 70-75 3-5 8-20 3 strength sessions per week 60-180

4 Light 70-75 4-5+ 8-15 3 - 4 strength sessions per week 120-180

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100 100 300

78 75
70 250




50 50

10 0
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4

Intensity Volume

Figure 2 - Four-week intensity vs. volume loading paradigm.

The training weeks

The first week will involve an array of performance tests. Table 3 includes a description of these tests as well as some
target values that the athlete should be aiming for prior to the WCS. The testing schedule is outlined in Table 4. The
remaining training schedule is outlined in Table 5, with training guidelines detailed in Tables 6-11 below.

Table 3 - Testing protocol list with target values.

Descriptor Test Suggested Target Values

Body function Functional movement screen (FMS) Score of 14< (26)

Body composition Seven-site skinfolds with lean mass LMI: ~37.1 + 0.4 (3)
index (LMI) prediction equation (3)
Speed 20m sprint times Mean score of ~3.6s + 0.2

Agility T test Mean score of ~9.7s + 0.2 (<10.4s) (11)

(change of direction speed)
Strength 1RM squat Squat 1RM: ratio of 2.1< 1RM/Body Mass (34)
1RM bench press Bench press 1RM: ~110.5kg< (1)

Power Countermovement jump Male: ~42.4-52cm<

Female: ~28.8-32.8cm< (10, 47, 49)
Aerobic 30-15IFT VIFT Score: 20< km/hr (7)

Anaerobic YoYo IR2 Distance of ~591m< + 43

Time of ~4.3min< + 0.3 (28)

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Table 4 - Four-week mesocycle: week one ‘testing week’ presented.

Name: Male Athlete Sport: Taekwondo Program Type: Four week mesocycle

Week 1 –
Intro and
Testing Morning – Mid-morning – Lunch –
11am 1-2pm Onwards
9am 10am 12-1pm

Sun 5/01 Off Off Off Off Off

mid-morning snack FMS and body

Mon 6/01 Introduction (20mins) 10am measures (SF* and Lunch 12pm Speed and Agility
BMI*) est 1hr to test 1hr to complete
complete and 1hr and 1hr analysis
Tue 7/01 Off Off Lunch 1pm Anaerobic
Strength and power
endurance test
testing est 1hr to
(YoYo IR2) 2hrs to
complete and 1hr
complete and 1hr
Wed 8/01 Off Off Aerobic endurance Lunch 1pm
(30-15IFT* test) est
2hrs to complete and
1hr analysis
Nutritional and mid-morning snack Intro to skills and Intro to core training
Thu 9/01 wellness seminar (20mins) 10am drills - presented by Lunch 12pm and mobility
Coaches – est 2hr

Intro in
prehabilitation mid-morning snack Intro - importance of
Fri 10/01 methods (20mins) 10am recovery (types Lunch 12pm
of recovery modes
and expectations) –
est 1hr presentation

WB circuit work -
bags and BW
mid-morning snack (1:30hrs with 30min
Sat 11/01 Off (20mins) 10am cool down) Lunch 1pm Off

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Table 5 - Four-week mesocycle: weeks two - four presented.

Week 2
Sun 12/01 Mon 13/01 Tue 14/01 Wed 15/01 Thu 16/01 Fri 17/01 Sat 18/01
0730 Take weight, skinfolds and record morning HR
0800 Prehab/ Prehab/ Prehab/ Light
active active active skills/active
Hand in forms Speed and Speed and
LB strength 2 Match
Meeting agility 1 agility 1 simulation
Recovery Rowing +
HI Intervals day-light
Skills and wrestling
1300 ROM, Yoga, Skills and drills
off massage, Core Flexibility,
Core strength swimming ROM, prehab,
LB strength 1 training
Recovery Light skill
recovery recovery Set targets for
1700 work
next week
Week 3
Sun 19/01 Mon 20/01 Tue 21/01 Wed 22/01 Thu 23/01 Fri 24/01 Sat 25/01
0730 Take weight, skinfolds and record morning HR
0800 Prehab + Speed and Prehab/
hand in forms agility 2 active ROM
Meeting Speed and Match
Skills and drills LB strength 2 simulation
(20mins) agility 2
Recovery Cycling +
LB strength 1 HI intervals Skills and drills
day – light cross trainer
1300 ROM, Yoga, Flexibility,
Skills and Core
Off Core strength massage, UB strength 1 ROM,
drills strength
swimming Prehab,
recovery recovery Light skill recovery Recovery
1700 Set targets for
next week
off off
Week 4
Sun 26/01 Mon 27/01 Tue 28/01 Wed 29/01 Thu 30/01 Fri 31/01 Sat 01/02
0730 Take weight, skinfolds and record morning HR
0800 Meeting Prehab/ LB strength
HI Intervals
(20mins) Active ROM 2 + ERT
Speed and UB strength 2 Core Match
Skills and drills
agility 1 + ERT strength simulation

UB strength 1 LB strength 1 Skills and drills Boxing

1300 Recovery
(1hr+session) intervals +
Off + ERT day – light Speed and swim Flexibility,
Core strength ROM, Yoga, agility 2 ROM, prehab,
massage, balance
Recovery recovery swimming Recovery recovery training
Light skill Set targets for
Off work Off next week

*The above table outlines the various modes of training to be undertaken during this mesocycle only, and does not
contain meal times or other therapeutic sessions.

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Table 6 - Strength, prehabilitation and elastic resistance training exercise list.

Upper Body Strength Lower Body Strength

 Push ups  Deadlifts
 Bench press  Farmers walks
 Shoulder press  BB half-squat/full squat
 Tricep dips  Leg press
 Bicep curls  Hamstring curl
 Wide grip lat pulldowns  BB hip drives
 Inverted rows  Single leg - Romanian DL
 Balance board - Pistol squats, arabesques, single leg balance, throws and catches, toe touches, single leg half squats
 Dura disc - Pistol squats, arabesques, single leg balance, and single leg half squats
 Bosu ball - Supermans (trunk stabilisers), arabesques, throws and catches, side steps, toe touches, squats (stability)
 Swiss ball - Kneeling with throws and catches, shadow boxing, ball bounces, medicine ball tracking
 Walking lunges (with rotation)
 Good mornings/ Preacher drops
 Arabesque with/without rotation
 Prone plank
 Glute bridge with single leg extension
 Supine torso rotation
 Elevated glute bridge with hip drives with leg extension

Note: Ensure correct lumbopelvic alignment and neutral spine. Encourage a chest out, shoulders back and stomach sucked in
towards spine position to facilitate local and global abdominal musculature synergy. Add in external stimulus to encourage
proprioceptive feedback.

Elastic resistance training

Hip flexion

Hip flexion with

knee extension

Hip flexion with

cable rotation

Hip flexion, leg


Hip Abductions

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Table 7 - Flexibility and range of motion (ROM) exercises.

Upper body Lower body

Shoulder rotations (one arm against wall) Hamstring stretches (standing and laying supine with leg up)
Thoracic rotations (with stick) Glute stretches (seated position and leaning forward)
Obliques and Lats (one arm behind head and lean over) Hip flexors (on one knee with ipsilateral arm raise)
Yoga positions Lower back (back rolls and snake position)
Calf and Achilles stretches (against wall)
Arm circles Standing leg swings (frontal and sagittal)
Walking lunge with thoracic rotation (with stick) Side to side adductor leans
Shoulder rotations with long stick Walking unloaded lunging
PNF stretches
Chest Hamstring, lower back, hip flexors, calves

Table 8 - Agility/speed exercises.

Agility and speed

Knee tag game: Athlete tries to tag another athlete’s knee, without having his own knees tagged. Every tag scores a
point. This exercise can be conducted as part of the warm up. This activity promotes movement control, agility,
quickness and foot-work.
Cone weaves: Athlete inter-weaves their way through set cones. Coaches can mix up the cones to achieve desired
training outcome. The incorporation of either kicks or shuffles, switches of stances or shadow boxing will assist in
motor control improvement.
Shuttles: Athlete maximally sprints to a number of set cones (set up certain distances apart) from a standing start or
prone position. To improve the cognitive component of agility the cones can be coloured, and the athlete responds to
the coaches call of which colour they should run to.
Four-point reactive drill: The athlete performs “quick-feet” in the middle of four cones. The athlete reacts to the
coach’s call of what colour cone to run to, and then sprints his way back to the middle. Can add throws and catches to
improve co-ordination.
Mirror image work: Athlete side-steps and mirrors the footwork and change of direction of the coach, or another
athlete. This is an open skill that requires a certain amount of reactivity.

Table 9 - Sample conditioning: anaerobic intervals.

Length Work Recovery W:R* # of reps Rest*
Rowing 20s @ >90%
10mins 80s @40-60% MAS 1:4 5 2min
machine MAS
20s @ >90%
Cycling 10mins 80s @40-60% MAS 1:4 5 2min
X 3 time taken to
Boxing 8mins 30-50 punches 1:3 5 2mins
complete punches
10s max 40sec light
Skipping 8-10mins 1:4 6-10 2mins
skipping skipping/walking
20 reps
Pool 1000m 50m lap max x 3 time taken to
1:3 (4sets x 2mins
(swimming) completed swim complete lap
20s @ >90%
Cross-trainer 10mins 80s @40-60% MAS 1:4 5 2min
* W:R=work/recovery ratio; Rest=period between sets

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Table 10 - Sample conditioning: aerobic intervals.

Length Work Recovery W:R # of reps Rest
30s @ 70%
Cycling 10mins 30s @ 100% MAS 1:1 10 2mins
Rowing 20s active
11mins 20s @105 MAS passive 16 4mins
machine rowing
30s-1min intervals (cross, 30sec-1min
Boxing 8mins 1:1 4-6 2min
hook, uppers, straights) active walk
20s body-on-body
Wrestling 4-6mins 10s rest passive 8 2mins
Pool 3mins continuous laps of 1 min active
12mins 3:1 3 2-3mins
(swimming) 25m pool – any style swim
20s active
Cross-trainer 11mins 20s @105 MAS passive 16 4mins

Table 10 - Recovery modes.

• Flexibility / stretching - Incorporated into the warm-down after training each day.
• Hydro-therapy - Aimed at reducing muscle damage and fatigue.
• Massage therapy - Aimed at eliminating bi-products produced by exercise, decreasing muscle tension, and
improving ROM.
• Yoga - Sessions run for 1hr and are conducted by an external practitioner on Wednesdays. These sessions aim at
improving posture and core stability by working on ROM and active flexibility.

Table 11 - Training load monitoring list.

 Salivary testosterone:cortisol ratio hormone test – x 1 per week (indicative of an overall catabolic state and thus
should assist in monitoring volume and overall intensity of training)
 Urinary hydration test – 3 x week (urinary colour is an easy and effective method; the athlete is presented with a
colour chart for self-monitoring and samples should be brought in to confirm hydration status)
 Body weight measurement and skinfolds – Daily (fluctuations in body weight may mean the athlete is suffering
from poor hydration and nutrition, which can impact performance. As such, body weight will need to be
consistently measured)
 Well-being questionnaire – Daily (the RESTQ-Sport questionnaire by Kellmann (25) will be implemented on a daily
basis to assess factors such as general stress, general recovery, sports-specific stress and sports-specific
recovery. This questionnaire will need to be filled out and handed in Monday morning each week [Table 5])
 Countermovement jump – Daily
 Rated Perceived Exertion (RPE) scales – Daily (quick and easy method of monitoring the load of sessions and is
a relatively reliable form of feedback)
 Heart rate (HR) variability via HR monitors – Daily (Taken in the morning of each day [the athlete should record
their resting HR as they wake up] and used as an indicator of intensity when MAS is unknown - predominantly for
wrestling activities)

Testing week
Monday morning begins with an introduction of the goals and expectations during this mesocycle, and details the
‘outcome’ goals in the lead up to the WCS. During this week the expectations of the athlete in regards to training
attitude, preparation and recovery should be addressed. The introduction should also detail the testing structure, and
outline the contents of the various workshops during week one. The 30-15IFT and YoYo-IR2 are adopted to evaluate
aerobic and anaerobic endurance of the athlete. These tests are relatively easy to perform and are designed for
intermittent sports (7, 28). Additionally, the countermovement jump has previously been linked with improved
performance in TKD (50) and so will be adopted to test lower body power. Upper and lower body strength tests, such
as the 1RM bench press and squat, the agility T-test and the 20m sprint test are simple to implement, and cover the
basic strength, speed and agility components required in TKD (20, 35).

Training weeks
Strength exercises listed in Table 6 should be incorporated strategically pending the results of the strength and FMS
tests, and chosen depending on which areas the athlete needs to improve. If the athlete scores poorly on the FMS it is
most likely that he will have to undertake significant unloaded prehabilitation and flexibility exercises; this should
comprise the majority of the strength training sessions for the remaining weeks in this mesocycle. Conversely, loaded
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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

strength exercises can be prescribed if the athlete scores well in the FMS. Each strength session will run from 30mins-
45mins during the first week, and this will become progressively longer to 45min-1hr+ sessions as the overall volume
of training increases by week four. By this stage at least four sessions of strength training are in effect (highlighted in
Table 5), promoting high metabolic fatigue levels and an overall high volume of training. Significant power training
modes such as plyometric or ballistic training will be incorporated well after the GPP phase during the specific
preparatory and competition phases. The prescribed guidelines listed in Table 2 follow the strength training format of
Plisk and Stone (38).

Elastic resistance training

The ERT exercises listed in Table 6 should be adopted sparingly in conjunction with lower body strength routines.
These exercises cover the basic movement planes, and should be integrated in week four as an added training
stimulus to heighten the volume of strength training during this week. The advantages of encouraging ERT within a
strength routine has been previously discussed, but simplistically ERT provides an alternate training stimulus for the
TKD athlete, and promotes TKD specific movement patterns (22). Furthermore, these exercises stimulate high
velocities throughout a movement with a low resistance (22). As such, the transition into power based exercises
towards the specific preparatory phases will be made easier on the joints and muscle structures following strength and
ERT combined.

Prehabilitation is a necessary training mode to a) increase ROM, b) actively warm-up prior to strength or power
training, and c) assist in recovery during the initial stages of a new stimulus being introduced within a program (4).
Poor rotary system mechanics and trunk neuromuscular deficiencies can enhance the risk of either upper or lower
limb injury (52). Therefore, stability exercises will be added to prehabilitation work to minimise risk for trunk-muscle
asymmetries, and to modulate local and global trunk musculature stabilisation and neuromuscular co-ordination
patterns (4). In this program, prehabilitation (Table 6) will be adopted as a warm-up mechanism prior to the strength
and speed sessions during weeks two and three (Table 5), and act as a preventative mode for reducing injury
incidence (4). During week four however, more emphasis will be placed on strength training to maximise strength-
endurance prior to a restitution phase, and as such it is recommended that prehabilitation sessions reduce to
compensate for this training shift. Prehabilitation should also be conducted as a recovery mode in conjunction with
ROM and flexibility work following match-simulation and strength training (4). Each session of prehabilitation should
last approximately between 20-30mins.

Flexibility and recovery

Poor flexibility can lead to biomechanical deficiencies, particularly in TKD if an athlete must achieve additional kicking
(extension) range through the use of lumbar flexion to compensate for poor lower limb flexibility (35). As demonstrated
in rowers, repetitive lumbar flexion can cause overuse injuries of the lumbar spine, creating back pain and often
leading to injury (40). Noorul et al (35) established that male TKD athletes were less flexible than females. As such, it
is important with this athlete that flexibility training is added to this mesocycle to help improve ROM, particularly around
the lumbopelvic region, and to reduce back stiffness and injury incidence (14). Flexibility sessions will also
supplement recovery modes (Table 10) at the end of the training days and during the recovery day each Wednesday
(Table 5).

Agility and speed

Sheppard et al (43) stipulates that agility is, in reality, only trained during open skilled tasks, with uncertainty involved
in the activity. As such, agility will most likely be trained during the skill and drill sessions with coaches during
situational drills. Typically as part of TKD training footwork and speed-kicking is common and thus, again, skill and drill
sessions will cover the general speed training needed for the athlete. The premise of integrating additional agility and
speed work (Table 7) is to a) maintain an overall high volume of training, b) introduce new training stimuli to excite the
neuromuscular system, and c) avoid staleness within training. Each agility/speed session should last for 30mins each

As previously mentioned, TKD is an intermittent sport comprised of short bursts of high-intensity activities separated
with small rest periods (20). The conditioning sessions will follow a HI:LI ratio of between 1:3 and 1:4 to keep the
conditioning as close to match-play as possible. Matsushigue et al (33) suggested that high-intensity ‘TKD specific’
interval training (HIIT) is most beneficial when married to alternate anaerobic modes of HIIT. Thus, the conditioning
strategies listed in Table 8 provide sound alternatives for anaerobic training. Each anaerobic conditioning session
should last for 30-45mins initially and progressively become longer in duration once the conditioning of the athlete
improves. The prescribed percentage of MAS scores, derived from the 30-15IFT, during anaerobic training follows the
guidelines of Baker (2). Once again, Campos et al (9) suggested that a high contribution of total energy supply during
TKD bouts comes from aerobic pathways, and that oxidative metabolism was responsible for restoration of substrates
during low intensity periods of the bout. Therefore, specialised aerobic interval sessions will aid in the development of
the aerobic system (Table 9). However, evidence exists implicating HIIT as a potent stimulus for producing aerobic
gains, thus questioning the place aerobic training has in preparation for high-intensity sports (29). Nevertheless
planned aerobic sessions act in preventing overtraining syndrome which can occur as a result of limited rest and

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

chronic high-intensity training (42). Moreover, the aerobic conditioning sessions should initially last approximately 30-
45mins, with the prescribed percentage of MAS scores following the guidelines by Baker (2).

Load monitoring
The strategies listed in Table 11 act to aid in monitoring the overall intensity and volume of training, thus assisting in
controlling metabolic fatigue levels following training and match-simulation. Importantly, the athlete’s mood state will
generally modulate their performance levels, and so the RESTQ-Sport questionnaire will assist in monitoring
emotional fatigue levels throughout a standard training week (25). Additionally, session RPE and HR monitors will be
implemented to assess (and modify if required) session intensities. It is paramount that all monitoring is analysed
against baseline values, and that practical changes outside these normal values should be acted upon via an
appropriate intervention targeting the cause of the change to save the athlete from entering an overtrained state. This,
however, is often difficult to predict through one monitoring method, and as such a battery of monitoring tools should
be used when assessing training load and intensity.

Skill and drill sessions

For the skill and drill sessions coaches should aim to optimise training volume, but limit intensity of training. Monitoring
training intensity can be done through the use of either HR monitors or RPE scale. These sessions should initially run
for 45mins-1hr and focus on high repetitions of kicking and situational drills. Technique will be honed during the
specific preparatory phases; unless technique is deemed detrimental to performance (i.e. inappropriate kicking
biomechanics may cause injury), in which case the athlete should undergo technique-alteration training with coaches
coupled with prehabilitation with strength staff to improve body functionality during these sessions.


Little is known about how the physiology of an elite TKD athlete translates to performance. The various physiological
properties of TKD athletes may respond favourably to a variety of strength and power training derivatives, thus
facilitating improvements in overall performance particularly at the elite international level. Further empirical evidence
is needed to illuminate the effectiveness of the various strength and power training modes on performance of an elite
TKD athlete. As a novel approach, the practical section of this review paper presented various methods in periodising
a GPP phase for a four-week mesocycle block during the ‘pre-season’ of a two-year WCS cycle in TKD. In an attempt
to shed light on the various components involved in planning a ‘pre-season’ mesocycle for TKD, the practical section
highlighted strategies based on what is known of the physiology of elite TKD athletes as well as previous literature on
periodisation, load monitoring, injury prevention and recovery strategies.


1. Baker D. Differences in strength and power among junior-high, players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 23:
senior-high, college-aged, and elite professional rugby league 1570-1577, 2009.
players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 16: 12. Chiodo S, Tessitore A, Cortis C, et al. Effects of official taekwondo
581-585, 2002. competitions on all-out performances of elite athletes. Journal Of
2. Baker D. Recent trends in high-intensity aerobic training for field Strength & Conditioning Research 25: 334-339, 2011.
sports. Professional Strength & Conditioning 22: 3-8, 2011. 13. Chung P & Ng G. Taekwondo training improves the neuromotor
3. Ball N, Nolan E & Wheeler K. Anthropometrical, Physiological, and excitability and reaction of large and small muscles. Physical
Tracked Power Profiles of Elite Taekwondo Athletes 9 Weeks Therapy in Sport 13: 163-169, 2012.
before the Olympic Competition Phase. Journal of Strength & 14. Clark RA. Hamstring injuries: risk assessment and injury
Conditioning Research 25: 2752-2763, 2011. prevention. Annals-academy of Medicine Singapore 37: 341,
4. Bird SP & Stuart W. Integrating balance and postural stability 2008.
exercises into the functional warm-up for youth athletes. Strength 15. Erie ZZ, Aiwa N & Pieter W. Profiling of physical fitness of
& Conditioning Journal 34: 73-79, 2012. malaysian recreational adolescent taekwondo practitioners. Acta
5. Bouhlel E, Jouini A, Gmada N, et al. Heart rate and blood lactate Kinesiologiae Universitatis Tartuensis 12: 57-66, 2007.
responses during Taekwondo training and competition. Science & 16. Favarini RA, Pereira BM, de Moraes JH, et al. Cinematic analysis
Sports 21: 285-290, 2006. during a kick of taekwondo after passive static stretching exercise.
6. Bridge CA, Jones MA & Drust B. Physiological responses and Presented at Proceedings of XXV International Conference on
perceived exertion during international taekwondo competition. Biomechanics in Sports, 2007.
International Journal of Sports Physiology & Performance 4: 17. Franchini E, Del Vecchio FB, Matsushigue KA, et al. Physiological
485-493, 2009. profiles of elite judo athletes. Sports Medicine 41: 147-166, 2011.
7. Buchheit M. The 30-15 intermittent fitness test: accuracy for 18. Gastin PB. Energy system interaction and relative contribution
individualising interval training of young intermittent sport players. during maximal exercise. Sports Medicine 31: 725-741, 2001.
Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 22: 365-374, 19. Ghorbanzadeh B, Muniroglu S, Akalan C, et al. Determination of
2008. taekwondo national team selection criterions by measuring physical
8. Butios S & Tasika N. Changes in heart rate and blood lactate and physiological parameters. Annals of Biological Research 2:
concentration as intensity parameters during simulated Taekwondo 184-197, 2011.
competition. Journal of Sports Medicine & Physical Fitness 47: 20. Heller J, Peric T, Dlouha R, et al. Physiological profiles of male and
179-185, 2007. female taekwon-do (ITF) black belts. Journal of Sports Sciences
9. Campos F, Bertuzzi R, Dourado A, et al. Energy demands in 16: 243-249, 1998.
taekwondo athletes during combat simulation. European Journal 21. Hyun-Bae KIM, Stebbins CL, Joo-Hee C, et al. Taekwondo training
Of Applied Physiology 112: 1221-1228, 2012. and fitness in female adolescents. Journal of Sports Sciences 29:
10. Casolino E, Cortis C, Lupo C, et al. Physiological versus 133-138, 2011.
psychological evaluation in taekwondo elite athletes. International 22. Jakubiak N & Saunders DH. The feasibility and efficacy of eastic
Journal of Sports Physiology & Performance 7: 322-331, 2012. resistance training for improving the velocity of the olympic
11. Chaouachi A, Brughelli M, Chamari K, et al. Lower limb maximal taekwondo turning kick. Journal of Strength & Conditioning
dynamic strength and agility determinants in elite basketball Research 22: 1194-1197, 2008.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

23. Kazemi M, Perri G & Soave D. A profile of 2008 olympic taekwondo 39. Ravier G, Dugué B, Grappe F, et al. Maximal accumulated oxygen
competitors. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association deficit and blood responses of ammonia, lactate and pH after
54: 243-249, 2010. anaerobic test: a comparison between international and national
24. Ke-tien Y. Training periodization in lower limb performance and elite karate athletes. International Journal Of Sports Medicine
neuromuscular controlling in taekwondo athletes. Life Science 27: 810-817, 2006.
Journal 9, 2012. 40. Reid DA & Mcnair PJ. Factors contributing to low back pain in
25. Kellmann M. Preventing overtraining in athletes in high-intensity rowers. British Journal of Sports Medicine 34: 321-322, 2000.
sports and stress/recovery monitoring. Scandinavian Journal Of 41. Santos VG, Franchini E & Lima-Silva AE. Relationship Between
Medicine & Science In Sports 20: 95-102, 2010. Attack and Skipping in Taekwondo Contests. The Journal of
26. Kiesel K, Plisky PJ & Voight ML. Can serious injury in professional Strength & Conditioning Research 25: 1743-1751, 2011.
football be predicted by a preseason functional movement screen? 42. Seiler S & Tønnessen E. Intervals, thresholds, and long slow
North American journal of sports physical therapy 2: 147, 2007. distance: the role of intensity and duration in endurance training.
27. Kraemer WJ & Ratamess NA. Fundamentals of resistance training: Sportscience 13: 32-53, 2009.
progression and exercise prescription. Medicine & Science in 43. Sheppard J & Young W. Agility literature review: classifications,
Sports & Exercise 36: 574-688, 2004. training and testing. Journal of Sports Sciences 24: 919-932,
28. Krustrup P, Mohr M, Nybo L, et al. The Yo-Yo IR2 Test: 2006.
Physiological Response, Reliability, and Application to Elite Soccer. 44. Stone MH, O'Bryant HS, Schilling BK, et al. Periodization: effects of
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 38: 1666-1673, 2006. manipulating volume and intensity. Part 1. Strength &
29. Laursen P & Jenkins D. The scientific basis for high-intensity Conditioning Journal 21: 56, 1999.
interval training. Sports Medicine 32: 53-73, 2002. 45. Stone MH, O'Bryant HS, Schilling BK, et al. Periodization: effects of
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29: 93-99, 2005. characteristics of malaysian national elite and subelite taekwondo
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responses to taekwondo fight in elite women performers. Biology 48. Topal V, Ramazanoglu N, Yilmaz S, et al. The effect of resistance
of Sport 25: 135-146, 2008. training with elastic bands on strike force at taekwondo.
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physiological responses and match analysis. Journal of Strength 2011.
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34. McBride JM, Blow D, Kirby TJ, et al. Relationship between maximal squat training on taekwondo power development in the lower
squat strength and five, ten, and forty yard sprint times. The extremity. ISBS-Conference Proceedings Archive Vol 1 No 1,
Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 23: 1633-1636, 1999.
2009. 50. Yiau L, Thung J & Pieter W. General physical fitness in young
35. Noorul H, Pieter W, Erie Z, et al. Physical fitness of recreational taekwondo-in at the 2004 Malaysian Games. Presented at 1st
adolescent taekwondo athletes. Brazilian Journal of Biomotricity Regional Conference on Human Performance, 2004.
2: 230-240, 2008. 51. Young Kwan K, Yoon Hyuk K & Shin Ja I. Inter-joint coordination in
36. Pieter W, Fife GP & O'Sullivan DM. Competition injuries in producing kicking velocity of Taekwondo kicks. Journal of Sports
taekwondo: a literature review and suggestions for prevention and Science & Medicine 10: 31-38, 2011.
surveillance. British Journal of Sports Medicine 46: 485-491, 52. Zazulak B, Cholewicki J & Reeves NP. Neuromuscular control of
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37. Pilz-Burstein R, Ashkenazi Y, Yaakobovitz Y, et al. Hormonal Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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Volume 21 | Issue 1 | March 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

The Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

Author Guidelines

The Official Journal of the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association

"The Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning (JASC) is an educational publication designed to
provide the strength and conditioning coach with useful information to aid the development of their athletes
and to further the strength and conditioning profession in general. To this end the journal is highly applied
and seeks articles that are clearly directed to these purposes."

Effective December 2013

Affiliation Disclosure: If an author has a financial interest or relationship with any product or product supplier, and
the topic of their article is directed at that product or product supplier (even if it does not specifically mention the
product or supplier) then that relationship must be declared at the end of the article prior to the reference list.

Ethical Considerations: When reporting information from Experimental Research Studies, Case Studies or From the
Field contributions involving subjects (e.g. Videos of exercises etc) it is important that such research and/or
observations are conducted using sound ethical principles. In particular all such information should be obtained from
subjects who are clearly informed of the nature of the study, the risks and benefits of participation, and should be
freely permitted to withdraw their consent from participation in the study at any time if they desire. The study should
be performed in a way that minimizes any risk to the subject and the researcher should conduct themselves in a
professional and ethical manner throughout, respecting the rights and human dignity of the subject(s). JASC will only
publish contributions from authors that obtain their research information in accordance with these ethical
principles. Further information on this topic can be obtained from the "National Statement on Ethical
Conduct in Human Research" produced by the National Health and Medical Research Council and available for free
on their website

Please ensure that your manuscript follows the below criteria;

1. Manuscript should be sent in Microsoft word (double spaced) to facilitate emailing to reviewers and a
faster reviewing process. The ASCA will not deal with hard copies of manuscripts.
2. Please ensure the submission is in accordance with the guidelines outlined below for all different
categories of submissions.
3. Referencing must conform to the guidelines, irrespective of the manuscript or article. Please check the
new electronic referencing guidelines.
4. From the field articles do not necessarily require referencing, though it is encouraged.
5. All video files that are emailed to the ASCA are required to be 5MB or less. If files are larger please place
on disc and post to the ASCA National office. Please do not send flash files. All video footage should be
professional in appearance with athletes wearing tidy clothes, shoes etc.

It is the author(s) responsibility to gain permission from other publishers if they are going to include
copyrighted information in their articles and to include appropriate acknowledgement of the material(s) in the
article. Authors must provide proof to JASC of such permission otherwise the reviewers will return the article
to the author.


Each peer review submission will be reviewed by 2 independent reviewers (The Editor and 1 Associate Editor). Once
reviewed the author will be required to respond to each reviewers comments in a point-by-point fashion to each
comment made and submit the responses together with the revised paper.
Please avoid using the words I, me, we, us etc. and write the paper from the 3 person narrative point of view, written
in past tense.


1. Title Page
The title page should include the manuscript title, brief running head, setting(s) where the research was conducted,
authors’ full name(s) spelled out with middle initials, department(s), institution(s), full mailing address of corresponding
author including telephone and email address. Please ensure no abbreviations are used in this information.

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Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

On a separate sheet of paper, the manuscript must begin with a ‘BLUF’ (Bottom Line Up Front) statement. This
statement should be a single sentence of no more than 40 words. The intent of this statement is to provide the reader
with the key message of the paper (the main conclusion). This BLUF differs from an abstract in that it does not
summarise the background, methods, evidence or arguments. No acronyms or references are to be used.

3. Abstract and Key Words

Following the BLUF is the abstract. The abstract is limited to 275 words and followed by 3 – 6 key words. The abstract
should have sentences (no headings) related to the purpose of the study, brief methods, results, conclusions and
practical applications.

4. Text
The text must contain the following sections with titles in ALL CAPS in this exact order:

This section should demonstrate the need for the study or the underlying reason for the study. Focus on the studies
lending support to your hypothesis(es) and giving the proper context to the problem being studied. In most cases use
no subheadings in this section and try to limit it to 4 – 6 concisely written paragraphs. At the end of the introduction
please include one sentence that clearly outlines the purpose of the study.

Within the METHODS section, the following subheadings are required in the following order:

Approach to the Problem: where the author(s) show how their study design will be able to test the hypotheses
developed in the introduction and give some basic rationales for the choices made for the independent and dependent
variables used in the study;

Subjects: All subject characteristics that are not dependent variables of the study (e.g. subject height, weight, age
etc.) should be included in this section and not in the RESULTS.

Procedures: After reading this section another investigator should be able to replicate your study or totally
understand how it was carried out. Under this subheading you can add others but please limit their use to that which
makes the methods clear and in order of the investigation (e.g. 1RM bench press test procedures or Agility testing
procedures etc). The ASCA encourages authors to submit photos or short videos of their procedures and methods
where such contributions aid the reader’s understanding of the methods and procedures used.

Statistical Analyses: Here is where you clearly state your statistical approach to the analysis of the data and also
whether it be statistical or practical significance and so on. Please outline the specific statistical tests used (if any)
and also the level of statistical significance applied. As most of the JASC readership are strength and conditioning
coaches please try not to use overly complicated statistical procedures where possible.

NB – JASC will publish manuscripts of note that do not have control groups or that have low subject numbers and
limited statistical comparisons: JASC understands that this is the typical case when training elite athletes and JASC
seeks to embrace studies done upon elite athletes.

Present the results of your study in this section. Put the most important findings in Figure or Table format and less
important findings in the text. Make sure that you cite each Figure and Table and that each Figure and Table is
numbered and has a title. Where possible place the Figures and Tables in the text in the location they should appear
in the final published document. If this is not possible then indicate in the text where each Figure and Table should be

Discuss the meaning of the results of your study in this section. Relate them to the literature that currently exists and
make sure that you bring the paper to completion with each of your hypotheses.

This is an important section for the JASC reader. In this section, tell the “coach” or practitioner how your data can be
applied and used. This section of the paper should speak directly to this audience and not to the exercise or sport

Volume 21 | Issue 1 | March 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning


1. Title Page
The title page should include the manuscript title, brief running head, setting(s) where the research was conducted,
authors’ full name(s) spelled out with middle initials, department(s), institution(s), full mailing address of corresponding
author including telephone and email address.

On a separate sheet of paper, the manuscript must begin with a ‘BLUF’ (Bottom Line Up Front) statement. This
statement should be a single sentence of no more than 40 words. The intent of this statement is to provide the reader
with the key message of the paper (the main conclusion). This BLUF differs from an abstract in that it does not
summarise the background, methods, evidence or arguments. No acronyms or references are to be used.

3. Abstract and Key Words

Following the BLUF is the abstract. The abstract is limited to 275 words and followed by 3 – 6 key words. The abstract
should have sentences (no headings) related to the purpose of the study, brief methods, results, conclusions and
practical applications.

4. The main body of your manuscript should contain the following sections:
The text must contain the following sections with titles in ALL CAPS in this exact order:

This section should demonstrate the need for the review of the literature. Focus on what the review will bring to the
field. In most cases use no subheadings in this section and try to limit it to 4 – 6 concisely written paragraphs. At the
end of the introduction please include one sentence that clearly outlines the purpose of the study.

Within this section, detail which papers and/ or why papers were chosen for review (i.e. a brief of recent literature
versus an extensive review of literature from high-impact journals). Outline the specific inclusion criteria identified for
inclusion of the paper in the review and the total number of studies that met the inclusion criteria. For example,

Specific inclusion criteria included (1) nutritional supplementation, (2) carbohydrates, (3) Protein and/ or amino acid,
(4) detailed explanation of procedures and methods, and (5) research studies with human participants.

Due to the unique nature of these types of manuscripts, authors may then choose to review papers in specialized
headings in this section. For example, if reviewing jump training studies, authors may include headings upon the basic
mechanics of jumping, physiology of jumping, bodyweight jump training studies, barbell training studies, depth jump
training studies.


This is an important section for the JASC reader. In this section, tell the ‘coach’ or practitioner how the findings can be
applied and used. This section of the paper should speak directly to this audience and not to the exercise or sport


Please ensure that your manuscript follows the below criteria.

Submissions to ‘From the Field’ categories of JASC will be editorially reviewed by the editor. If the editor deems that
the submission is within the scope of the journal, once reviewed will be returned and the author will be required to
respond to each comment in a point-by-point fashion and submit the response together with the revised paper. Where
the submission is greater the 1000 words please also include an abstract, as outlined in the above section.

From the Field submissions are accepted in the following categories:

1. Directed Topic: A directed article with very specific recommendations (e.g. Practical applications for the use of
jump squats in the development of lower body power or coaching considerations for the Olympic lifts with very tall
Specific recommendations required. Some review of previous work permitted (scientific study), but focus is to
provide a basis of rationale for opinion on a relevant topic. Sections: Introduction, Main-body category sections,
Practical Applications. Tables, Figures, and Videos permitted. Label and refer to video files as “Video Figure”.

Volume 21 | Issue 1 | March 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning

2. Program Outline: (e.g. A pre-season program for hamstring injury reduction in elite soccer players). Background
of Athlete(s), Needs Analysis, Program (can be a table), Results (observational, scientific, qualitative, all
permitted), Discussion Points (what you learned, what you think should be done next, etc.) Tables, videos and
figures are encouraged.

3. Exercise Highlight: (e.g. using sled towing exercise to strengthen the posterior chain). This submission type
should include Figures or Video files, as well as commentary and text to outline the methods used in a particular
exercise or group of exercises, the rationale involved, and key areas of focus and progression. There is no specific
limit for this submission type, but Figures and/ or Video are considered essential.

4. Roundtable Discussion: Commentary (<1000 words) on a relevant topic by 3-5 professionals (relevant to topic).
Invitation by editorial board, based on topic selected for each issue.

5. Point-Counterpoint: Members are encouraged to submit a focused question or statement of interest to the
strength and conditioning community, for the purposes of debate.

6. Case Study: Members are encouraged to submit a detailed analysis of a single subject or small group of
subjects. This paper should have the same overall structure as the "Original Research Manuscripts" which have
been outlined above, but not include any statistical analysis. The basic idea is to describe a specific case and
hence the article will include the background of the subject(s), the exercise intervention(s) or techniques applied,
the results achieved and practical applications with an emphasis on what would be done differently if a similar case
was presented in the future.


Referencing must conform to the guidelines, irrespective of the manuscript or article. Please check the new
electronic referencing guidelines.

All references must be outlined at the end of the document and numbered. References are cited in the text by
numbers [e.g.,(4,9)]. All references listed must be cited in the manuscript and be referred to by number therein. For
original investigations, please limit the number of references to fewer than 40 or explain why more are necessary.
Please follow the examples below.

Journal Article
3. Hakkinen, K. & Komi, P.V. Effect of different combined concentric and eccentric muscle work regimens on
maximal strength development. Journal of Human Movement Studies. 7: 33-44. 1981.
4. Lohman, T.G. Advances in Body Composition Assessment. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1992.
Chapter in an edited book
5. Yahara, M.L. The shoulder. In: Clinical Orthopedic Physical Therapy. J.K. Richardson and Z.A. Iglarsh, eds.
Philadelphia: Saunders, 1994. pp. 159 – 199.

References from Electronic Sources

Referencing electronic sources poses problems due to the changing nature of websites. Please limit electronic
references in peer-reviewed manuscripts to on-line refereed journals where possible. However, it is recognized that
popular media websites (i.e. non-refereed) may also need to be referenced from time to time for some points in peer-
reviewed manuscripts and will often be used in “From the Field” and other Applied Training manuscripts in JASC. In
either case, please use the format below when referencing web based sources.

Refereed Online Journal
6. Simon JA, Hudes, ES. Relationship of ascorbic acid to blood lead levels. Journal of the American Medical
Association [online]. 281: 2289–2293, 1999. Available at .
Accessed November 19, 2007.
Popular media or Commercial Website
1. Baker, D. How to choose and set up your bands. Available at: . Accessed
February 25, 2009.

‘From the field’ articles do not necessarily require referencing, though it is encouraged. If referencing is used,
please ensure it conforms to the guidelines above.

Volume 21 | Issue 1 | March 2014

Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning


The JASC encourages authors to submit tables, colour photographs, charts, video clips, and figures that help to
illustrate aspects of the article.

Figures, Photographs and Video Clips

All figures should be professional in appearance. Electronic photographs are encouraged. Please use a digital
camera with high resolution. Ensure images are clear and taken in a well-lit environment. The figure number and
description should be placed below the figure on the same page. Please place your figures in the results section
where possible.

All photographs and videos are required to demonstrate health and safety procedures in the training environment (i.e.
wearing appropriate clothing and shoes, removing hats, using safety equipment such as collars on bars, spotters as
required etc.). The focus of the photograph or video should not be on a commercial product or the identity of a school
or business. The JASC reserves the right to remove or request new, revised photos if the original photos or video clips
do not follow these guidelines or if the photo or video is not of acceptable quality.

Tables must be numbered, professional in appearance and include a brief title above the table. Do NOT submit tables
as photographs. Please place your tables in the results section where possible.

Model Consent
Authors should have consent for use by all models appearing in figures, video clips, audio clips, and possibly other
formats. It is the policy of the JASC to make every effort not to block out the faces of individuals in figures, etc. If a
model is under 18 years of age, parental consent is required along with the consent of the model.

It is understood that all papers are somewhat unique and sensible deviations to the above guidelines will be tolerated
where reasonable.

For further information or to submit articles to the ASCA for publication in the JASC please email -

Volume 21 | Issue 1 | March 2014

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