Resistance training increases muscular strength and power and is an integral part of competitive athletics. Regular strength training during the competitive season can increase vertical jump height and power in women basketball athletes (3), whereas the lack of in-season strength training results in a decrease in explosive force production of the leg extensor muscles in men basketball athletes (7). Increased jump height and power is beneficial to a basketball athlete. However, a prevalent idea in athletics is that strength training on the same day as a game is detrimental to performance. Strength training on game days is avoided, which may interfere with a regular strength training schedule and may influence the benefits of resistance training.
Acute neuromuscular fatigue can be defined as a reduction in the force-producing capacity of the muscle (peripheral fatigue) and a decrease in the neural activity of the muscle (central fatigue) following a bout of exercise. Heavy resistance exercise results in acute neuromuscular fatigue in both strength-trained (4, 5, 7, 17) and untrained (6, 9, 13–15) men and women. Moderate- or lowintensity resistance exercise also results in acute neuromuscular fatigue (17, 19).
Such fatigue may influence performance if strength training is performed prior to competition. However, few data exist as to the time course of recovery from acute neuromuscular fatigue, although the intensity of the strength exercise may play a role. Men strength athletes recovered knee extension and squat jump performance 3 hours after a bout of moderate resistance exercise, whereas recovery from a bout of heavy resistance exercise required 33 hours (17). In addition, few data exist on the effect of acute neuromuscular fatigue on motor performance. In 1 study, a bout of moderate intensity strength training resulted in acute neuromuscular fatigue, but it had no effect on motor performance tests in untrained women (12). Likewise, free throw shooting accuracy was not affected by an immediately previous bout of strength training in intercollegiate women basketball players (18).
Strength training results in acute neuromuscular fatigue. However, recovery from this fatigue may take as little as 3 hours following moderate-intensity strength training. Additionally, acute neuromuscular fatigue may have no effect on motor performance. These data suggest that resistance training on the same day as a competition may not be detrimental to performance.
Our study measured specific variables of performance in short-term response to strength training in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I women basketball players. We hypothesized that in strengthtrained athletes, the acute neuromuscular response incident to a bout of moderate intensity resistance training would not negatively affect vertical jump height, anaerobic power, and basketball shooting accuracy 6 hours later.
Experimental Approach to the Problem
Subjects strength trained for 4 weeks prior to testing and continued strength training during the 2 weeks of testing. Testing occurred during the first 2 weeks of October, prior to the beginning of the competitive season. We measured shooting accuracy during the first week (week 1). Vertical jump and anaerobic power were measured during the second week (week 2). The testing was separated into 2 weeks so that the athletes would not be subjected to more than 8 hours of basketball-related activity during the preseason, as per NCAA Division I rules. All the subjects lifted weights at 6:30 AM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of the 2 testing weeks. Testing on lift days occurred 6 hours after strength training, and testing on control days occurred at approximately the same time of day as on the lift day. The times chosen for resistance training and afternoon testing were the regularly scheduled times for preseason conditioning as dictated by the coaches.
A recovery time of 6 hours was chosen because the authors felt it represented the minimum amount of time that might transpire between an early morning strength training session and an afternoon game. As games are often in the evening, recovery time would usually be greater than 6 hours.
Week 1. Subjects performed a speed spot shooting test and a free throw shooting test on 4 consecutive days comprising 2 lift days and 2 control days. Approximately 24 hours separated each testing session. Lift days were Monday and Wednesday. Control days were Tuesday and Thursday.
Week 2. Vertical jump and anaerobic power were tested in each subject on 2 consecutive days (1 lift day and 1 control day.) Approximately 24 hours separated the 2 testing sessions. Half the subjects were tested with the lift day first (Monday and Tuesday), and half were tested with the control day first (Thursday and Friday). Vertical jump was tested first, followed by the Wingate power test, with 5 minutes of recovery between tests.
Eighteen members of a NCAA Division I women's basketball team participated in this study. Subjects were 18–22 years old and averaged 9 ± 2 years of organized basketball playing experience. They had a mean height of 180 ± 32 cm, a mean weight of 74 ± 9 kg. All participants gave informed consent prior to participation in the study. This study was approved by the Human Subjects Institutional Review Board.
Strength Training Program
Subjects engaged in a supervised, periodized strength training program for 4 weeks prior to this study, which consisted of 3–6 sets of 5–12 repetitions at 60–80% 1 repetition maximum (1RM) for each exercise, with a recovery time of 2–3 minutes between sets. The lifts included hang clean, push jerk, bench press, back squat, overhead press, leg curl, dumbbell incline press, barbell shrug, standing barbell curl, triceps pulley push-down, barbell step-up, seated pulley rowing, and side lateral raise. The exercises performed on any given day varied throughout the 4-week period. However, the same lifting program was followed on each of the testing days. Table 1 lists the specific strength training program that was performed on test days.
In addition to the 4 weeks of supervised strength training, the athletes had engaged in a periodized strength training program from the end of the previous competitive season throughout the summer off-season until the beginning of this study (˜5 months).
Speed Spot Shooting. Subjects performed a 6 minute warm-up that consisted of layups and spot shooting with a partner. Each subject performed 2 trials on each day of a speed spot shooting skills test from the American Alliance for Health and Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (8). Briefly, the gym floor was marked with 5 spots at a distance 15 feet measured from the center of the backboard (Figure 1). Each subject was instructed to shoot from each of the 5 spots at least once and as many times as possible throughout a 60-second period. The subject retrieved her own ball and dribbled to a subsequent spot. In addition, 4 layup shots were allowed, but no 2 layups were allowed in succession. Each made basket was awarded 2 points, and total points were recorded. Four trials (2 days × 2 trials per day) were averaged for each of the 2 treatment groups (lift day and no lift day).
Free Throw Shooting. Free throw shooting was tested immediately following each speed spot shooting trial. Each subject attempted 20 free throws, 2 at a time, rotating with another subject. One point was awarded for each made free throw. Two trials were performed each day. Four trials (2 days × 2 trials per day) were averaged for each of the 2 treatment groups (lift day and no lift day).
Vertical Jump. Vertical jump height was measured with a jump force plate (Probotics, Inc., Huntsville, AL) that calculated height based on time in the air. Jump heights were measured for both a 2-leg takeoff and a 1-leg takeoff. Subjects performed 3 trials with a 10-second rest interval between each trial. Vertical jump height was determined as the best of the 3 trials.
To measure a power output for vertical jump, the athlete performed 4 2-leg jumps in rapid succession attempting to maximize the height of each jump and minimize the time on the ground. Subjects performed 3 trials with a recovery time of 30 seconds between trials. Jump power output was the ratio of average ground time and average jump height for the 4 jumps as calculated automatically by the testing device. The best of the 3 trials was used.
Anaerobic Capacity. The Wingate power test was used to measure anaerobic capacity on a mechanically braked ergometer (1). Seat height was adjusted and recorded for the subsequent trial. Each subject warmed up for 3 minutes at a comfortable pace. We instructed each subject to pedal as fast as she could for 30 seconds. Within 2 seconds of beginning to pedal, the resistance was manually adjusted to a value equal to 0.075 times body mass (kg). Pedal revolutions were counted visually and recorded every 5 seconds for 30 seconds. Relative peak 5-second power, relative mean 30-second power, and a fatigue index were calculated.
A Student's t-test was used to compare lift day to control day. Dependent variables were 1-legged vertical jump height, 2-legged vertical jump height, vertical jump power, relative peak power, relative mean power, free throws, and speed spot shooting points per minute. Significance was set at p ≤ 0.05.
There were no significant differences between lift and control days for any of the variables measured (Table 2).
The subjects had an average 1-legged vertical jump of 33 cm, and this was not significantly different on the lift day. Two-legged vertical jump height was 49 cm, and this was not different on the lift day. Vertical jump power output was identical between lift and control days (2.0 average ground time/average air time).
Anaerobic power as measured on a Wingate test was not significantly different between lift and control days. Relative peak power was 8.2 ± 1.0 W·kg-1 and 8.4 ± 1.4 W·kg-1, respectively. Relative mean power was 6.4 ± 0.8 and 6.6 ± 0.7 W·kg-1, respectively.
Subjects made an average of 16 free throws out of 20 (80% shooting), and averaged 21 points per minute on the speed spot shooting test. Results were not different between lift and control days.
A common belief among intercollegiate athletes and coaches is that strength training will negatively impact physical performance on the same day. We observed no significant effect 6 hours after a bout of moderate intensity strength training on vertical jump height, anaerobic power, and shooting accuracy in collegiate women basketball players. As strength training during a season has been shown to be beneficial to women basketball athletes (7), our results suggest that the maintenance of a regular strength training schedule may be possible regardless of game schedule conflicts.
The magnitude of immediate fatigue and its recovery incident to a bout of resistance training may be dependent on the training status of the individual and the intensity of the exercise (17). We did not expect to see a decrease in any of our performance variables because our subjects were trained and we used a moderate intensity protocol. We tested a moderate intensity because maintenance of strength during a competitive season would require only a moderate-intensity protocol (7). Furthermore, our athletes were trained because they had engaged in 5 months of strength training prior to beginning the 4 weeks of strength training associated with this study. In addition to strength training, many of the athletes had engaged in aerobic and sprint training during the off-season, and all the athletes engaged in aerobic and sprint training under the supervision of their coaches during the 4 weeks of strength training. Thus, their level of conditioning was comparable to an in-season level of conditioning.
No studies have compared the magnitude of fatigue or the time course of its recovery in trained versus untrained individuals. However, it has been shown that trained individuals sustain less myofibrillar damage in response to a bout of strength training than untrained individuals (9, 10). More disruption of contracting tissue in untrained individuals might contribute to an increase in acute neuromuscular fatigue and a slower recovery of force (2). Although we did not measure myofibrillar damage, any myofibrillar damage that our strength-trained subjects could have sustained apparently was not sufficient to cause a decrease in physical performance.
Recovery from acute neuromuscular fatigue may occur faster after a moderate-intensity protocol than a heavyintensity protocol. In response to a moderate strength training protocol, trained strength athletes were able to recover force and squat jump performance in 3 hours, while recovery from a heavy strength training protocol required 33 hours in these same athletes (17). Although we did not measure a time course of recovery, in the current trained subjects, 6 hours was sufficient time for recovery of vertical jump after a moderate-intensity strength session.
The effect of acute neuromuscular fatigue on motor performance has received little attention in the literature. In a recent report by Kaurenen et al. (12), untrained women who engaged in a bout of circuit weight training showed decreases in muscle strength and electromyogram (EMG) immediately post-exercise. However, no effect on motor performance as measured by reaction time, speed of movement, tapping speed, and coordination of the hand and upper extremities was seen. A study by Shoenfelt (18) showed that strength training had no immediate effect on basketball free throw shooting accuracy. Our data are in agreement with these studies. We observed no effect on basketball shooting accuracy in trained basketball players 6 hours after strength training. Although many coaches and players believe that strength training on the same day as a game or prior to skill practice will negatively affect shooting accuracy, these limited studies indicate that prior strength training has no effect on motor performance. Further research on the effect of strength training on skill practice and/or performance is warranted.
The acute effect of strength training on anaerobic power as measured by a Wingate bicycle test has not been previously studied. Our results indicate that relative peak power and relative mean power are not significantly affected 6 hours following strength training. We chose to measure anaerobic power because the game of basketball places specific demands on anaerobic metabolism (11, 16). Our results indicate that anaerobic capacity is unaffected by same-day strength training.
In conclusion, we observed no decreases in vertical jump, anaerobic power, or shooting accuracy 6 hours following a moderate-intensity strength workout in collegiate women basketball players. These results may be important to coaches and athletes attempting to maintain a regular strength training program in lieu of conflicting game schedules during a competitive season.
The results of this study indicate that if a strength training session and a game fall on the same day, the athlete should be able to engage in a moderate strength training program without any negative effects on some of the physiological variables that might affect performance.
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