Optimising transference of strength and power adaptation to sports specific performance
Randell, Aaron David
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Traditional rugby-specific resistance training programmes typically concentrate on quantifying load via volume or intensity and use lower body exercises that principally work in the vertical plane. The experimental studies in this thesis sought to explore alternatives to such strategies and to establish methods that can be utilised to maximise the development of rugby specific strength, power and speed. The intention of this thesis was to enhance the current understanding of rugby-specific strength and power development therefore professional rugby players were specifically chosen as subjects, mindful of the population specific nature of training adaptation. Part One investigated the effect of utilising instantaneous performance feedback. Specifically, determining the reliability of jump squat velocity under feedback and non-feedback conditions over three training sessions; quantifying the effect of feedback on jump squat velocity over six training sessions; and quantifying the effect over a six week training block on sport specific performance tests. The first study determined an approximately 50% probability that the provision of feedback was beneficial to consistency of performance in the variable of interest i.e. velocity. Smaller changes in mean peak velocities between Sessions 1-2 and Sessions 2-3 (0.07 and 0.02 m.s-1 vs. 0.13 and -0.04 m.s-1), less random variation (TE = 0.06 and 0.06 m.s-1 vs. 0.10 and 0.07 m.s-1) and greater consistency (ICC = 0.83 and 0.87 vs. 0.53 and 0.74) between sessions for the feedback condition were observed. The second study established a 78% chance feedback was practically beneficial in producing superior performances during training. An average 2.1% increase in mean velocity during training was observed with feedback whilst a plateau in velocity occurred once feedback was withdrawn. The third study concluded the provision of feedback provided a greater potential for adaptation and larger training effects. Probabilities feedback was beneficial to increasing performance of sport specific tests were 45% for vertical jump, 65% for 10 m sprints, 49% for 20 m sprints, 83% for horizontal jump, and 99% for 30 m sprints. It is suggested the provision of feedback is utilised to improve consistency and performance during training and optimise transference to sport specific tests. Part Two investigated the effect of prescribing lower body exercises with a horizontal component. Specifically, quantifying the effect of training using an equated horizontal component squat exercise for five weeks (vertical vs. horizontal squats) on typical measures of vertical strength and power and other sport specific performance tests. The first study outlined the methodological approach to equating the vertical force production of a vertical squat and horizontal component squat exercise. The second study established that the increased specificity of training did not compromise performance adaptations achieved through traditional vertical based training. Probabilities the horizontal component training had practically reduced adaptive potential were low for squat (11%), deadlift (4%), and powerclean (8%). The third study concluded horizontal component lower body was more effective for improving sprint ability than vertical training. Probabilities there was a practical difference, whereby five weeks of horizontal component training had a superior adaptive potential were large for 30 m (74%), 10-30 m (75%), and 20-30 m (94%) sprint intervals. It is suggested horizontal component lower body exercises are prescribed during training to optimise transference to sprinting performance.