The influence of velocity based resistance training on neuromuscular strength and power adaptations in semi-professional rugby union and professional rugby league players
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The vast majority of resistance training programming in rugby union and rugby league training environments have for decades utilized traditional percentage based training (TPT) methods to develop the physical components required for successful performance, in particular strength and power. However, a major shortcoming of this method is that it does not take into account athlete?s daily biological status and readiness to train. Thus, movement velocity is a variable that could be of great interest when designing resistance training programmes to optimize neuromuscular strength and power adaptations. At present, there is a paucity of research that has detailed the influence movement velocity has on enhancing neuromuscular strength and power adaptations in semi-professional rugby union and professional rugby league players. Thus, the purpose of this thesis was to; 1) review the current literature pertaining to VBT methods and its current applications in resistance training, 2) document the velocity profiles of semi-professional rugby union and professional rugby league players across various load spectrums and, 3) determine the influence of a 5-week velocity based training (VBT) programme on neuromuscular strength and power adaptations in professional rugby league players. Through an extensive literature review, it was identified that several key areas exist for incorporating movement velocity in the design and implementation of resistance training. Chapter three investigated the velocity profiles of semi-professional rugby union and professional rugby league players across a loading spectrum of 20-95% 1RM during the bench press, back squat and power clean exercises. Regardless of playing code, this investigation revealed that unique VBT zones exist for loads lifted between 20-95% 1RM for the exercises. The unique VBT zones identified for each code and exercise may provide a novel approach in accurately prescribing daily training loads for a pre-selected training intensity based on an athlete?s ability to maintain a prescribed movement velocity. During Chapter four, a 5-week case study design training intervention was conducted with five professional rugby league players to investigate the influence of performing resistance training within specific VBT zones. Pre and post-intervention measures of performance included maximal countermovement jump (CMJ), squat jump (SJ) and 3RM performances for the bench press, back squat and power clean exercises. In addition, measures of psychological wellness (as determined by questionnaire) and physiological stress (as determined by salivary cortisol) were conducted throughout the intervention period. Following the 5-week training intervention, the VBT participants substantially improved neuromuscular CMJ and SJ performance. In addition, greater increases in training load were performed by the VBT group when compared to the intended values based off TPT methods. Furthermore, although the VBT group performed greater training loads, no substantial variance in reported session RPE values were observed between both groups. In terms of recovery, the VBT group reported higher weekly wellness questionnaire scores and elicited less physiological training stress for light and heavy intensity training weeks when compared to the TPT group. In conclusion, this investigation provides evidence that performing isoinertial resistance training within specific VBT zones may be an effective training stimulus to enhance neuromuscular strength and power performance whilst limiting excessive fatigue in professional rugby league players. In addition, movement velocity should be a primary focus within rugby union and rugby league training environments when designing and implementing strength and power training programmes.