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Influence of Linear and Undulating Strength Periodization on Physical Fitness, Physiological, and Performance Responses to Simulated Judo Matches

Franchini, Emerson1,2; Branco, Braulio M.2; Agostinho, Marcus F.2; Calmet, Michel2; Candau, Robin2

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 2015 - Volume 29 - Issue 2 - p 358–367
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000460
Original Research
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Franchini, E, Branco, BM, Agostinho, MF, Calmet, M, and Candau, R. Influence of linear and undulating strength periodization on physical fitness, physiological, and performance responses to simulated judo matches. J Strength Cond Res 29(2): 358–367, 2015—To determine the most effective strength periodization model is important to improve judo athletes' performance. Thus, the aim of this study was to compare the effects of linear and daily undulating periodized resistance training on anthropometrical, strength, and judo-specific performance. For this, 13 adult male judo athletes (LP = 6 and DUP = 7) completed a 8-week training program concomitantly to a typical judo training program. Athletes were submitted to a physical fitness test battery, before and after 8 weeks of training, consisting of: (a) maximal strength evaluation: bench press, squat, and row exercises 1 repetition maximum (1RM) tests, and handgrip maximal isometric strength; (b) power evaluation: standing long jump test; (c) strength endurance evaluation: dynamic and isometric chin-up tests gripping the judogi; (d) anthropometry measurements: body mass, height, skinfold thickness and circumferences; (e) judo-specific fitness: performance during the Special Judo Fitness Test (SJFT); (f) match simulation: three 5-minute judo match simulations separated by 15-minute passive recovery. Eight weeks of linear and undulating strength training protocols induced similar significant (P ≤ 0.05) decreases in skinfold thicknesses (−6.5%) and increases in flexed arm (2.0%) and forearm (1.8%) circumferences, maximal isometric handgrip strength (4.6% and 6.1% for right and left hands, respectively), isometric strength endurance chin-up performance gripping the judogi (18.9%), maximal dynamic strength for row (11.5%), bench press (11.6%) and squat exercises (7.1%), total weight lifted at 70% 1RM for bench press (15.1%) and squat (9.6%) exercises, number of throws during sets B (3.1%) and C (9.5%) of the SJFT (resulting in increased total number of throws, 5.5%), and decreased index in this test, −4.2%). However, no changes were observed in the physiological, rating of perceived exertion, or technical actions during 3 match simulations. Thus, it seems that the short-term adaptations were not transferable to the match condition.

1School of Physical Education and Sport, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; and

2Faculty of Sports Sciences, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France

Address correspondence to Emerson Franchini, emersonfranchini@hotmail.com.

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Introduction

Judo is a dynamic high-intensity intermittent combat sport that requires complex skills and tactical excellence for success (10,16,20). Judo athletes have to perform a great number of actions during each match, as such, the physical demand of a single match is high. Typically, judo medalists perform 5 to 7 matches during international competitions, each with a 5-minute time limit. If a judo athlete obtains an ippon (full point), the match ends. However, since 2013, when the allotted time expires and the scores/penalties are equal for both athletes (i.e., the match draws), the result of the contest is decided by a “golden score.” Thus, a judo match may last from a few seconds up to 8–10 minutes, depending on the scores obtained by the contestants (14,17). The time structure of a single judo match involves periods of 20–30 seconds of activity with a 5 to 10-s interruptions (14,35). During the activity period, the athletes spend most of the time (51 ± 11%) trying to perform a grip (9,32), resulting in a high physiological demand on the upper body (17,19,24). This format activates both the aerobic and the anaerobic systems. The anaerobic system provides the short, quick, all-out bursts of maximal power during the match. The aerobic system contributes to the athlete's ability to sustain effort for the duration of the combat and to recover during the brief periods of rest or reduced effort (10,13,15,17).

Typically, the grip dispute during the match is maintained through forearm strength endurance (14,18), the high-intensity technical actions executed to throw the opponent are related to lower-body muscle power (4), and some movements to immobilize the opponent involve whole-body maximal strength (14,17). Thus, judo athletes need to develop a wide range of strength abilities to execute the technical actions used to score during the match (14). It has also been pointed out that judo athletes from higher competitive levels present higher values in the strength-velocity curve for the squat jump and in maximal absolute and relative squat strength compared with lower level judo athletes (11). Higher ranked female USA judo athletes tend to present higher elbow flexor and extensor muscles isokinetic strength compared with lower ranked athletes (8). Based on a recent review (17), judo athletes are, in general, above the 90th percentile for push-ups and between the 80th and 90th percentile for sit-ups in classificatory tables. Additionally, 70% of high-level judo athletes practice strength exercises more than 3 days per week (22). However, despite the importance of strength in many judo technical actions, few studies have investigated the influence of strength training regimens on judo-related performance (3,30).

Daily undulating strength training periodization, i.e., daily alterations in the intensity and volume rather than making changes over a period of months has been suggested as an attractive possibility to develop strength (41). Since this proposal was published, there has been an increased interest in investigations on the effects of linear and undulating strength periodization in individuals with different profiles (1,7,25,29,31,39,40,45). However, most of the research conducted to date has been conducted with sedentary or untrained individuals (12,29,31,33,45,46) and recreationally or moderately strength-trained subjects (1,7,36,37,39,43). Only a few of these studies analyzed athletes (27,38). The study by Rhea et al. (41) reported increased strength improvement after daily undulating periodization compared with linear periodization. Subsequent investigations did not confirm higher adaptation after this kind of load manipulation compared with linear periodization (7,25,29,39,46), whereas others reported its potential benefit in specific strength-related tasks or in the effect size for specific measurements (31,33,36,37,45). However, studies that investigated the effect of this type of strength training program on sport-specific performance or on technical-tactical performance were not found. Thus, the objective of this study was to investigate the effects of linear and undulating strength periodization added to a typical judo training routine on maximal strength, power, strength endurance, judo-specific fitness, and actions during a judo match simulation. The hypothesis of this study was that undulating strength periodization would result in better transference for judo-specific fitness and would have a higher impact on the number of technical actions and physiological responses during judo match simulations compared with linear strength periodization, because undulating strength periodization presents a greater variation concerning strength stimulus, which can result in multiple outcomes (maximal strength, muscle power, and strength endurance development).

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Methods

Experimental Approach to the Problem

This study adopted a quasi-experimental design. Two groups of judo athletes were randomly formed and submitted to either a linear strength periodization added to the regular judo training or an undulating strength periodization added to the regular judo training (Figure 1). After familiarization with all tests procedures, athletes were submitted to a physical fitness test battery, before and after 8 weeks of training, consisting of: (a) maximal strength evaluation: bench press, squat and row 1 repetition maximum (1RM) tests, and handgrip maximal isometric strength; (b) power evaluation: standing long jump test; (c) strength endurance evaluation: dynamic and isometric chin-up tests gripping the judogi; (d) anthropometry measurements: body mass, height, skinfold thickness, and circumferences; (e) judo-specific fitness: performance during the Special Judo Fitness Test (SJFT); (f) match simulation: three 5-minute judo match simulations separated by 15-minute passive recovery. The test battery was conducted on 3 nonconsecutive days, 1 week before the training protocol started and 3 days after the ending of the 8-week training protocols.

Figure 1

Figure 1

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Subjects

For most variables, a sample size of 8 athletes was big enough to detect changes in the dependent variables, with 80% confidence and error smaller than the SD reported in previous studies (1,7,25,29,31,39,40,42,45). Considering the possibility of some athletes not completing all the training protocols and tests, 20 male judo athletes were recruited to take part in this study after giving their signed consent. Athletes were from 3 different judo clubs and competed with each other in the same region. All procedures were approved by the local ethics committee. To take part in this study, the athletes were required to present the following characteristics: (a) taken part in official judo competitions during the current year; (b) trained at least 3 times per week; (c) be a brown (first kyu) or black belt (first dan); (d) aged equal to or higher than 18-year old and less than 35-year old; (e) competed in the under 100-kg categories; (g) experienced with weight training (i.e., more than 6 months); and (h) not involved with any process of weight loss. Completed all training sessions and tests, 6 athletes who were submitted to the linear protocol and 7 who were submitted to the undulating protocol. Reasons for not attending training sessions or tests included change of judo club (n = 1), lack of time (n = 4), and change in the competitive calendar resulting in a judo training protocol different to that of the experimental groups (n = 2).

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Training Protocols

The usual judo training sessions were conducted 5 times per week and included running warm-up and calisthenics exercises (10 minutes), falling techniques (ukemi-waza; 5 minutes), throwing technique repetition excluding the throwing phase (uchi-komi; 15 minutes), throwing technique repetition including the throwing phase (nage-komi; 10 minutes), match simulation (randori; 45 minutes), and cool-down exercises (5 minutes). Strength training sessions involved 12 equally divided exercises (bench press, squat, bar lying row, arm curl, lying triceps extension, leg curl, barbell wrist curl, dumbbell frontal raise, dumbbell lateral raise, good morning, reverse wrist curl, and the Smith standing leg calf raise), i.e., 8 exercises performed during each session to result in 2 sessions for each exercise during the 3 weekly training sessions. The following division was based on previous investigations comparing linear and undulating strength training periodizations (1,7,25,29,31,39,40,42,45) and the analysis of judo athletes' needs (14,17). The linear strength periodization group was submitted to the following sequence: during weeks 1 and 2, the athletes performed 4 sets of 3–5RM; during weeks 3–5, athletes performed power exercises (4 sets of 6–8 repetitions at ∼80% of 1RM); and during weeks 6–8, athletes performed 15 to 20RM. Because judo actions are repeated many times during the match (14), the final phase of the linear protocol focused on strength endurance development. Athletes in the undulating strength group were submitted to the same exercises, sets and loads as the linear strength periodization group, except the load variation on each training day (Table 1). Thus, at the end of the 8-week training phase, linear and undulating groups had been submitted to the same total workloads but with a different distribution. Both groups performed the same judo sessions during the 8 weeks and were involved only with judo and the strength training protocols investigated in this study. Strength training was conducted in a different period from the judo training session with 8–12 hour interval between these 2 types of training.

Table 1

Table 1

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Anthropometry

The following anthropometric measurements were carried out: body mass, height, skinfold thickness (biceps, triceps, midaxilary, chest, subscapular, supraspinale, abdominal, front thigh, and medial calf), and circumferences (relaxed and flexed arm, forearm, proximal thigh, and medial calf). Skinfold thickness measurements (Harpenden Plicometer, constant pressure of 10 g·mm−1 and precision of 0.2 mm; John Bull British Indicators, England) were carried out 3 times at each point in a rotation system as described by Heyward (26). A researcher with more than 15 years of experience in this measurement procedure, presenting a variation of less than 2.5% between measurements with reproducibility determined by an intraclass correlation coefficient more than 0.98, within the assessment period. The circumferences were measured only once at each point by the same experienced evaluator, presenting less than 0.90% variation between measurements.

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Test Battery

The test battery consisted of the maximal isometric handgrip strength test (26), bench press, squat and row 1RM (6,44), standing long jump test (26), the specific dynamic and isometric muscle endurance handgrip test (18), and the SJFT (16). The tests were performed in the order reported in Figure 1 and according to the following procedures: (a) maximal isometric handgrip strength test: this test was conducted with the athlete in a standing position, using his dominant hand, performing 3 repetitions for 3–5 seconds separated by 1-minute. The test was performed using a Jamar dynamometer considering the same hand amplitude in all conditions (26); (b) Maximum dynamic strength (1RM) for squat, bench press, and row exercises was assessed on a Smith-type machine. For the squat exercise, the subject's body and feet positioning were determined and recorded with measuring tapes fixed on the bar and on the ground, respectively. The procedures for this test followed ASEP guidelines (6). In short, subjects ran for 5 minutes on a treadmill at 9 km·h−1, followed by lower and upper limbs stretching exercises. Before each exercise, subjects performed a specific warm-up set of 5 repetitions at approximately 50% of the estimated 1RM followed by another set of 3 repetitions at 70% of the estimated 1RM. Warm-up sets were separated by a 2-minute interval. After the completion of the second set, subjects rested for 3 minutes. Subsequent lifts were single repetitions of progressively heavier loads, until failure. Maximum dynamic strength (1RM load) was determined as the maximum weight that could be lifted once with proper technique. The interval between 1RM attempts was 3 minutes, and a maximum of 5 attempts was allowed. Increments in weight were determined according to the familiarization sessions performed before the pretest sessions and on researchers' perception. Strong verbal encouragement was provided during all lifts. Bench press and row exercises (1RM) were assessed with the athletes lying on a horizontal bench. For the row exercise, the athletes lied in an elevated bench (i.e., high enough to avoid the contact between the weight rings and the floor), with the chest, abdomen, and thighs in contact with the horizontal bench. For bench press and row, body and hand positioning on the bench and on the bar were recorded, and the tests were performed according to the same procedures described above; (c) standing long jump test: the standing jump test consisted of 3 trials with at least 1-minute rest in-between. The best value was retained as the performance criterion; (d) specific dynamic muscle endurance handgrip test: while holding on a judogi rolled around the bar, with the elbow joint in maximal extension, athletes were required to perform an elbow flexion and move the chin above the line of handgrip. Athletes were asked to perform the maximal number of repetitions from a fully extended to a fully flexed elbow position as many times as possible (18); (e) specific isometric muscle endurance handgrip test: while holding on a judogi rolled around the bar, with the elbow joint in maximal flexion, athletes were required to sustain this position (judogi isometric pulling) during the maximal possible time, measured in seconds, using a chronometer that was stopped when the athlete could no longer maintain the original position (18); (f) SJFT: this test is divided into 3 periods (A = 15 seconds; B and C = 30 seconds) with 10-second intervals between them. Each partner was positioned 6 m apart, and the athlete being tested is required to run to each partner and then throw them as many times as possible using the ippon-seoi-nage technique. Both partners had a similar height and body mass as the athlete performing the test. Just after and 1-minute after the test, heart rate was measured through a Polar Team System device (Polar, Kempele, Finland). The throws were added and the following index was calculated:

This test has been reported to be predominantly anaerobic (13,21) and also to correctly categorize judo athletes of different levels (23). It is important to emphasize that a higher index indicates a poor SJFT performance, and that this test has demonstrated to be highly reliable (16).

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Judo Match Simulations

Each athlete performed 3 matches with a 15-minute passive recovery period between them. Each match had a 5-minute duration to analyze the typical condition a judo athlete is submitted to, in real competition. Opponents were from the same weight category and technical level and were not involved in any other physical exertion during the experimental conditions. Combats were mediated according to official rules.

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Match Analysis

All matches were video recorded (Sony DCR-DVD508) to provide information on technical actions. Match analysis followed the procedures validated by Miarka et al. (34), using the FRAMI software, to determine the following technical actions: (a) feints: technical actions used to confuse the opponent but not resulting in unbalance or projection; (b) number of attacks during standing fighting: techniques officially recognized as part of the judo nage-waza (throwing techniques) classification, resulting in unbalance or projection of the opponent; (c) directions of attacks: considering the attacks performed as described above, 4 directions of attack were considered (right forward, left forward, right backward, and left backward).

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Measurements During the Judo Matches Simulation

During the competition simulation, the following variables were measured: (a) heart rate: measured through a Polar Team System device (Polar) immediately after the match; (b) rating of perceived exertion: registered immediately after each match using the Borg 6-20 scale (5); (c) blood lactate: 25 μL blood ear samples were taken before the first match, just after, 3 and 5 minutes after each match. Blood lactate was measured by using an automated device (YSI 1500; Yellow Springs, OH, USA). The highest value measured after the match was used as peak blood lactate concentration.

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Statistical Analyses

All analyses were performed using the Statistica software (version 12). Data were reported as mean and SD. A Mauchly's test of sphericity was used to test this assumption, and a Greenhouse-Geisser correction was applied when necessary. A 2-way (time of measurement and training protocol) analysis of variance with repeated measures was applied to compare performance in the physical tests, the anthropometrical measurements, heart rate, rating of perceived exertion, and technical actions during the match simulations. A 3-way (training protocol, number of match and time of measurement) analysis of variance with repeated measurements was used to compare blood lactate before and after the 3 match simulations. Bonferroni's multiple comparisons test was used when a significant difference was found in the analysis of variance. Effect sizes were calculated using eta-squared (η2). Statistical significance was set at P ≤ 0.05.

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Results

Table 2 presents the anthropometric variables before and after the 2 strength training programs. No change (P > 0.05) was observed in body mass, height, thorax, relaxed arm, thigh and calf circumferences between time, strength training protocols, or interaction between these 2 factors.

Table 2

Table 2

The sum of the 9 skinfold thickness differed between the time of measurement (F1,11 = 6.53, P = 0.026, η2 = 0.37), with lower values for post-training compared with pre-training (P = 0.022), but there were no effects (P > 0.05) of training protocols or interaction between the training protocols and the time of measurement.

There was an effect of time of measurement on flexed arm circumference (F1,11 = 5.59, P = 0.038, η2 = 0.34), which increased with training (P = 0.044). Forearm circumference also differed between time (F1,11 = 12.15, P = 0.005, η2 = 0.53), with higher values for post-training compared with pre-training (P = 0.005). However, there were no effects (P > 0.05) of training system or interaction between the training system and the time of measurement for flexed arm and forearm circumferences.

Table 3 presents the maximal strength and strength endurance performances before and after the linear and undulating training programs. There were no effects (P > 0.05) of time, strength training protocol, and interaction between these 2 factors on standing long jump.

Table 3

Table 3

There was an effect of time on right (F1,11 = 14.19, P = 0.003, η2 = 0.56) and left (F1,11 = 20.12, P < 0.001, η2 = 0.65) maximal isometric handgrip strength, with higher values for post-training compared with pre-training (P = 0.004 and P = 0.001 for right and left hands, respectively). An effect of time was found for row 1RM (F1,11 = 22.07, P = 0.001, η2 = 0.67), with higher values for post-training compared with pre-training (P = 0.001). Bench press performance also differed between time of measurement (F1,11 = 45.11, P < 0.001, η2 = 0.80), with higher values for post-training compared with pre-training (P < 0.001). A time effect was observed for squat 1RM (F1,11 = 8.96, P = 0.012, η2 = 0.45), with higher values for post-training compared with pre-training (P = 0.011). However, no effects (P > 0.05) of strength training protocol or strength training protocol and time interactions were observed for maximal strength in handgrip strength, row, bench press, and squat exercises.

No effects of time (P > 0.05), strength training protocol, or interaction were found in number of repetitions at 70% 1RM for row, bench press, and squat exercises. However, because athletes improved their maximum strength in the 3 exercises, the loads used in the tests conducted at 70% 1RM were heavier. Thus, when the total load lift was calculated for each exercise, the following results were observed: an effect of time for bench press (F1,11 = 8.40, P = 0.015, η2 = 0.43), with higher values for post-training compared with pre-training (P = 0.015) and an effect of time for squat (F1,11 = 6.00, P = 0.032, η2 = 0.35), with higher values for post-training compared with pre-training (P = 0.036). No effects (P > 0.05) of time, strength training protocol, or interaction were found for row exercise, and no effects of strength training protocol or interaction were found for bench press and squat exercises.

Table 4 presents the judo-specific test performances before and after the 8 weeks of strength training. No effects (P > 0.05) of time, strength training protocol, and interaction were observed for number of throws on set A of the SJFT. An effect of time was found for number of throws on set B of the SJFT (F1,11 = 4.94, P = 0.048, η2 = 0.31), with higher values for post-training compared with pre-training (P = 0.042). Number of throws on set C was also affected by time (F1,11 = 10.66, P = 0.008, η2 = 0.49), with higher values for post-training compared with pre-training (P = 0.006). Consequently, an effect of time was also observed for the total number of throws during the SJFT (F1,11 = 41.12, P < 0.001, η2 = 0.79), with an increment across time (P < 0.001). No changes (P > 0.05) were observed on heart rate after and heart rate 1-minute after the SJFT concerning time of measurement, strength training protocol used, or interaction effects. However, there was an effect of time in the index (F1,11 = 5.26, P = 0.043, η2 = 0.32), with an improvement post-training compared with pre-training (P = 0.037).

Table 4

Table 4

No effects (P > 0.05) of time, strength training protocol, and interaction were observed for the number of chin-ups holding the judogi. Conversely, the time of suspension holding the judogi changed across time (F1,11 = 7.91, P = 0.017, η2 = 0.42), with longer time for post-training compared with pre-training (P = 0.018).

Table 5 presents the physiological responses during 3 matches before and after the 8 weeks of strength training. An effect of time of measurement was found (F7,77 = 54.24, P < 0.001, η2 = 0.83), with no difference between rest values before and after the training period but with rest values presenting lower values compared with the peak blood lactate after all matches in both pre- and post-training period (P < 0.001 for all comparisons). No effects (P > 0.05) of training protocol or interaction between time of measurement and training protocol were observed. No effects (P > 0.05) of strength training protocol, time of measurements, or interaction were found for heart rate or RPE after the matches.

Table 5

Table 5

Table 6 presents the number of feints, number and direction of attacks performed during 3 matches before and after the 8 weeks of strength training. No effects (P > 0.05) of training mode, period of measurement, or interaction were found for number of feints and for number and directions of attacks.

Table 6

Table 6

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Discussion

The main findings of this study were that 8 weeks of linear and undulating strength training protocols induced similar decreases in skinfold thicknesses and increases in flexed arm and forearm circumferences, maximal isometric handgrip strength, isometric strength endurance chin-up performance gripping the judogi, maximal dynamic strength for row, bench press and squat exercises, total weight lifted at 70% 1RM for bench press and squat exercises, and number of throws during sets B and C of the SJFT (resulting in increased total number of throws and decreased index in this test). However, no changes were observed in the physiological, rating of perceived exertion, or technical actions during 3 match simulations. Thus, our initial hypothesis that undulating strength periodization would result in better transference for judo-specific fitness and would have a higher impact on number of technical actions during judo match simulation compared with linear strength periodization was not confirmed. The seminal work conducted by Rhea et al. (41) reported higher strength improvement after a daily undulating periodization program compared with linear periodization. Similarly to our results, other investigations (7,25,29,39,46) did not confirm a better adaptation after undulating strength periodization. Conversely, other investigations observed improved performance in specific strength-related tasks or in the effect size for specific measurements when the undulating periodization was applied (31,33,36,37,45). However, we found only 2 studies that submitted athletes to undulating strength periodization (27,38). Painter et al. (38) submitted 31 track and field athletes to either a 10-week block or daily undulating periodization and reported no significant difference between both groups on strength or rate of strength development. However, because the nature of the block and undulating periodization is different, the total volume performed during block periodization was lower than during the undulating periodization. Thus, the authors suggested that less work was needed among athletes submitted to block periodization to achieve similar gains in performance as the athletes in the undulating periodization. However, because the authors did not include a group submitted to undulating periodization using the same total volume of the block periodization, it is not possible to conclude that this training would not result in similar adaptations as the block periodization. Recently, Bartolomei et al. (2) reported that block periodization was more effective to promote upper-body strength (1RM bench press) and power (maximal power output in bench press exercise) improvements compared with traditional periodization, but no differences were observed between training protocols when lower-body strength (maximal isometric strength in the half-squat exercise) and power (squat and countermovement jump tests) and body composition were considered. Although Bartolomei et al. (2) submitted the athletes to the same total volume in the 15 weeks of the 2 training protocols, they did not investigate the daily undulating strength periodization.

Hoffmann et al. (27) investigated 51 American football players submitted to a nonperiodized, a traditional linear periodized, and a planned nonlinear periodized resistance training program during 15 weeks at the off-season period and reported significant increases in maximal strength (bench press and squat 1RM) and muscle power (vertical countermovement jump height), although the magnitude of improvement did not differ between the training programs. This result is very similar to those found in our study, where both programs improved strength-related variables, but no difference was found between linear and undulating training programs.

The improvements observed in both groups of this study were closely related to relevant aspects to match demand because a decrease in sum of skinfold and an increase in flexed arm and forearm were observed, while body mass was not changed. Because judo athletes are classified according to their body mass, the absence of change in body mass with a decrease in body fat and an increase in upper-body muscle mass (inferred from the increased circumferences after the training program) can be considered as important adaptations to the judo-specific needs (17,28). The improvements in maximal isometric handgrip strength and in isometric strength endurance chin-up performance are important adaptations to the grip dispute during the match, which is the longest action performed during judo combat (9,32,35). Furthermore, athletes also improved their dynamic maximal strength in row, bench press, and squat exercises and the strength endurance in bench press and squat exercises. Because the pushing and pulling phases during a judo match are conducted many times during the grip disputes preceding technique application, these improvements would guarantee a better maintenance of these actions. As a previous study (11) reported that judo athletes from higher competitive levels presented higher values in the strength-velocity curve for the squat jump and in maximal absolute and relative squat strength compared with lower level judo athletes, the improvement in squat 1RM observed in this study can also be considered an important adaptation for the judo athletes. Finally, the number of throws increased in the B and C sets of the SJFT. Both B and C sets are 30-s long, which is the typical time of a combat sequence in judo, i.e., the time between the command to start the judo combat and the time to stop (35). This suggests that the strength training protocols were able to change performance in a judo-specific action when performed in a controlled condition. As the number of throws during sets B and C of the SJFT increased, the total number of throws during this test also increased, resulting in an improvement in the index proposed to evaluate judo athletes (16). The energy system contribution of this test has been reported to be predominantly anaerobic alactic, followed by the aerobic and the anaerobic lactic metabolisms (13,21). Thus, the strength training protocols were probably effective to improve the anaerobic alactic component, but not the aerobic component because no change was observed in the heart rate response after the test.

Despite the improvements observed in the physical fitness and specific tests, no changes were found in the blood lactate, rating of perceived exertion, heart rate, and technical actions performed by the athletes in the 3 match simulations. Thus, it seems that the short-term adaptations were not transferable to the match condition. Possible explanations for this finding can be: (a) because all the athletes were submitted to the strength training protocol, they were able to counterbalance the actions performed by their opponents, while regulating the effort level; (b) strength training protocols using general exercises are not able to change the physiological and perceptive responses or the technical actions performed during the judo match; (c) longer training periods are needed to change technical and tactical behaviors in judo.

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Practical Applications

This study demonstrated that 8 weeks of linear and undulating strength training protocols are equally effective to increase judo performance of athletes in a judo-specific test, isometric and dynamic maximal strength, and strength endurance, but not to change physiological and rating of perceived effort responses or technical actions during judo match simulations. Thus, both protocols can be used to improve judo athletes' strength and anaerobic performance. The decision for the linear or daily undulating approach can be decided according to an athlete's preference concerning more or less variation during the training sessions.

Other strength training protocols (e.g., weightlifting-type exercises, complex training connecting strength exercises to judo actions, incorporation of a different nonlinear model, etc.), longer periods of training, and different judo-performance variables (e.g., judo technique speed and force measurements) should be investigated to establish the best combination required to improve performance of judo athletes.

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Keywords:

resistance training; combat sports; technical actions; maximal strength

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