THE EFFECT OF AN 8-WEEK, STRENGH-BASED RESISTANCE TRAINING PROGRAMME UPON REPEATED SPRINT ABILITY IN WELL-TRAINED MALE UNIVERSITY SOCCER PLAYERS
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The aim of the present study was to explore the effects of an 8-week, high-load, low-repetition resistance training programme on repeated-sprint ability (RSA) in well-trained male university soccer players. RSA has been identified as an essential fitness component for effective soccer performance and has even been suggested to discriminate between professional and amateur players. While the beneficial effects of resistance training programmes upon maximal, single sprint efforts are widespread and well documented within the literature, a paucity of research currently exists regarding the effects of these programmes upon multiple sprint capabilities (RSA). To the author’s knowledge, the present study was the first to investigate the effects of a strength-based resistance training programme upon repeated-sprint ability in an already well-trained population, whilst simultaneously utilising a team-sport-specific test protocol. Twenty well-trained, male soccer players (mean ± SD: age, 19.75 ± 1.2 years; body mass, 79 ± 9 kg; height, 179.4 ± 5.3 cm) were divided into two groups: One group (T-group) performed, in addition to their conventional, skill-based soccer training, resistance training twice weekly for 8 weeks while the other group acted as a control group (C-group) and continued to participate in their conventional soccer training only. All subjects performed an RSA test (10 x 40m sprints departing every 30s) and a back-squat 1-repetition maximum (1RM) test prior to, and following the 8-week intervention period. The training intervention resulted in a significant improvement (P=0.001) in the T-group’s average sprint speed (RSAmean) over the RSA test. However, the same intervention failed to result in any significant improvements (P<0.05 level) in maximal leg strength (back-squat 1RM), maximal sprint speed (RSAbest) or performance decrement (RSAdec) when compared to the respective changes recorded in the C-group. The exact physiological mechanisms responsible for the significantly improved RSAmean post-training remain to be elucidated, but could be associated with an improved neuromuscular function (e.g. more efficient muscle fibre recruitment), a shift towards more oxidative muscle fibre types (e.g. Type IIB to Type IIA) and/or an improved running economy. The findings of the present study provide fitness and/or strength and conditioning coaches with an alternative method of inducing RSA improvements which could easily be implemented alongside conventional skill, and tactical based training.
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