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Bracko, Michael R. Ed.D., FACSM

doi: 10.1249/FIT.0b013e3181b47fe5

Improve Fitness with Interactive Video Cycling; The RAZOR Curl for Hamstring Training; Rock 'N Roll to Improve Exercise Performance; Knee-Length Compression Socks - Look Goofy but Improve Performance.

Michael R. Bracko, Ed.D., FACSM, is an exercise physiologist and director of the Institute for Hockey Research and the Occupational Performance Institute in Calgary, Canada. He is an associate editor for ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal® and works in three areas: 1) sports physiology, where he conducts research on the performance characteristics of female ice hockey players, teaches high performance skating, and serves as physiologist for the University of Alberta Women's Hockey Team and the U.S. Men's Deaf Olympic Ice Hockey Team; 2) the health and fitness industry, by contributing to fitness magazines, consulting, presenting at health and fitness meetings such as the ACSM's Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition; and 3) as an occupational physiologist, in the areas of back injury prevention, ergonomics, workstation stretching, and prework warm-up.

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The purpose of this timely study was to examine the metabolic requirements of interactive video game stationary cycling compared with traditional stationary cycling. Seven males and seven females, with an average age of 24.6 years, participated in the study.

The subjects were tested during three separate sessions: 1) cycle ergometer to assess maximal aerobic power and peak workload; 2) traditional cycling on a cycle ergometer using 5-min constant workloads of 25%, 50%, and 75% of maximal power output; and 3) cycling using the same relative workloads while playing interactive video games. Oxygen consumption, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion were assessed during cycling the sessions.

The results of the study are exciting because when the subjects performed interactive video game cycling, steady-state heart rate, energy expenditure, and oxygen consumption were significantly higher (at the submaximal workloads of 25% and 50%, respectively) than during traditional cycling. And, even more interesting was that there were no significant differences in rating of perceived exertion between the two cycling trails at any workload.

These exciting findings suggest that interactive video game cycling may be a new and an attractive way to promote exercise, help people enjoy exercise more (especially stationary cycling), and to help prevent health complications associated with inactivity (4).

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In this study, the investigators looked at the RAZOR Hamstring Curl exercise that is designed to reduce the risk of noncontact anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in women. The reason the RAZOR curl, which combines knee flexion with hip flexion, is of interest is because during athletic events involving jump landings, women tend to display decreased knee flexion, increased quadriceps activation, and decreased hamstring activation compared with men. If the hamstrings are weak or not firing properly to allow for knee flexion, the athlete will land with more of an extended knee versus a flexed knee. A straight-leg landing allows for more anterior shear stress of the tibia.

Photo courtesy of Gretchen D

Photo courtesy of Gretchen D

Eight female intercollegiate athletes (mean age, 20.8 years) participated in the study. Electromyographic (EMG) data were collected on the following muscles: medial hamstring (semimembranosus and semitendinosus), biceps femoris, gluteus medius, and gluteus maximus, while participants performed the RAZOR curl. Three EMG tests were performed for a total of 5 seconds for each muscle group. The manual muscle testing provided a baseline reading on which all EMG data were based.

The results of the study indicate that the RAZOR curl showed maximum activation of the medial hamstring muscle group (semimembranosus and semitendinosus) of up to 220% of maximum voluntary isometric contraction. The biceps femoris displayed a response of up to 140% of maximum voluntary isometric contraction. A maximum activation of 100% of the gluteus maximus also was displayed.

The authors' practical applications indicate that the RAZOR curl places the hips into flexion, allowing an athlete to train in a functional athletic position. For a female athlete to train the hamstrings in the most optimal functional position, the hips and knees should be in a position of 90/90 degrees as displayed in the RAZOR curl (3).

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In this study, the investigators examined the effectiveness of two different types of music on exercise endurance (treadmill walking to exhaustion) and psychological measures. The music included motivational and oudeterous (considered to be neutral or neither motivating nor demotivating).

Thirty subjects (15 males and 15 females), with a mean age of 20.5 years, participated in the study. The subjects walked to exhaustion, starting at 75% maximal heart rate reserve, under each of three conditions: motivational music, oudeterous music, and a no-music control. The order of the conditions was randomly assigned to each subject. The experimental or motivational music was selected from a musical program of either pop or rock tracks from artists identified in an earlier survey.



The subjects were measured on 1) time to exhaustion, 2) ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), 3) in-task affect (affective states during exercise performance), and 4) exercise-induced feeling states. The RPE and in-task affect were recorded at 2-minute intervals.

The results showed that both music conditions increased exercise endurance, and that motivational music had a greater ergogenic effect than did oudeterous music (p < .01). In-task affect was enhanced by the motivational music when compared with the control group throughout the trial (p < 0.01). Neither music condition significantly changed RPE or exercise-induced feeling states.

The authors conclude that motivational music can produce an ergogenic effect and can enhance in-task affect during an exhaustive treadmill walking endurance test (1).

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The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of knee-length compression stockings on running performance in male runners. Twenty-one moderately trained subjects, with a mean age of 39.3 years, were randomly assigned to perform a voluntary maximum treadmill test with and without knee-length compression stockings. Maximum running performance was determined by time under load (minutes), work (kJ), and aerobic capacity (ml·kg−1·min−1).

The results of the study indicate that time under load (36.44 vs. 35.03 minutes), total work (422 vs. 399 kJ), and maximum speed (16.96 ± 1.15 vs. 16.61 ± 1.05 km·h−1) were significantly higher with compression stockings compared with running socks. However, wearing compression stockings did not significantly affect V˙O2max, maximal lactate, heart rate maximum, V˙OEmax, the ventilatory equivalent, and the respiratory exchange ratio.

The authors conclude, based on measures of time under load, total work, and maximum speed, that wearing compression stockings increases performance during submaximal and maximal running exercises (2).

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1. Karageorghis CI, Mouzourides DA, Priest DL, Sasso TA, Morrish DJ, and Walley CJ. Psychophysical and ergogenic effects of synchronous music during treadmill walking. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2009;31(1):18-36.
2. Kemmler W, Stengel S, Köckritz C, Mayhew J, Wassermann A, and Zapf J. Effect of compression stockings on running performance in men runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(1):101-5.
3. Oliver GD, Dougherty CP. The RAZOR curl: A functional approach to hamstring training. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(2):401-5.
4. Warburton DER, Sarkany D, Johnson M, et al. Metabolic requirements of interactive video game cycling. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41(4):920-6.
© 2009 American College of Sports Medicine.