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The Effects of Short-Cycle Sprints on Power, Strength, and Salivary Hormones in Elite Rugby Players

Crewther, Blair T1,2; Cook, Christian J3; Lowe, Tim E1; Weatherby, Robert P2; Gill, Nicholas4

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: January 2011 - Volume 25 - Issue 1 - p 32-39
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b6045c
Original Research

Crewther, BT, Cook, CJ, Lowe, TE, Weatherby, RP, and Gill, N. The effects of short-cycle sprints on power, strength, and salivary hormones in elite rugby players. J Strength Cond Res 25(1): 32-39, 2011-This study examined the effects of short-cycle sprints on power, strength, and salivary hormones in elite rugby players. Thirty male rugby players performed an upper-body power and lower-body strength (UPLS) and/or a lower-body power and upper-body strength (LPUS) workout using a crossover design (sprint vs. control). A 40-second upper-body or lower-body cycle sprint was performed before the UPLS and LPUS workouts, respectively, with the control sessions performed without the sprints. Bench throw (BT) power and box squat (BS) 1 repetition maximum (1RM) strength were assessed in the UPLS workout, and squat jump (SJ) power and bench press (BP) 1RM strength were assessed in the LPUS workout. Saliva was collected across each workout and assayed for testosterone (Sal-T) and cortisol (Sal-C). The cycle sprints improved BS (2.6 ± 1.2%) and BP (2.8 ± 1.0%) 1RM but did not affect BT and SJ power. The lower-body cycle sprint produced a favorable environment for the BS by elevating Sal-T concentrations. The upper-body cycle sprint had no hormonal effect, but the workout differences (%) in Sal-T (r = −0.59) and Sal-C (r = 0.42) concentrations correlated to the BP, along with the Sal-T/C ratio (r = −0.49 to −0.66). In conclusion, the cycle sprints improved the BP and BS 1RM strength of elite rugby players but not power output in the current format. The improvements noted may be explained, in part, by the changes in absolute or relative hormone concentrations. These findings have practical implications for prescribing warm-up and training exercises.

1Health and Food Group, The Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand (HortResearch), Hamilton, New Zealand; 2School of Exercise Science and Sport Management, Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia; 3United Kingdom Sport Council, London and Imperial College, London, United Kingdom; and 4Institute of Sport and Recreation Research New Zealand, School of Sport and Recreation, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand

Address correspondence to Blair Crewther,

© 2011 National Strength and Conditioning Association