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Physical Fitness Factors to Predict Female Olympic Wrestling Performance and Sex Differences

Pallarés, Jesús García1; López-Gullón, José María2; Torres-Bonete, María D2; Izquierdo, Mikel3

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Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: March 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 3 - p 794-803
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31824741e7
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Abstract

Introduction

Male wrestling is an Olympic discipline with a long international background that has been present in the modern Olympic Games since 1896. Female wrestling, in contrast, has very limited international experience indeed. It was first included in a World Championship organized by the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) in 1987 and was not included in the Olympic program until Athens 2004. Furthermore, although 2 male wrestling styles are recognized in the Olympic Games program (i.e., Greco-Roman and Freestyle), in women, only Freestyle is included in the Olympic program. At present, male and female wrestling is based on a weight class system, which aims to protect the competitors' health, limiting as much as possible the risk of injuries, and balancing out the physical characteristics between wrestlers and therefore increasing the performance percentage that depends on technical, tactical, and psychological skills.

Male wrestling has been described as an intermittent physical combat sport, which produces great strength and muscle power demands on both the upper and lower body, with high anaerobic energy metabolism requirements (6,10-13,16,18,24,27). Also, in male participants, few studies have examined fitness profiles for wrestlers at different competitive levels to identify anthropometric, neuromuscular, or physiological differences that may contribute to success (5,6,12,25). In fact, to our knowledge, no one study has examined the differences in any physical fitness or anthropometrical marker between successful and less successful female wrestlers. Examination of fitness profiles in these subjects can contribute to talent selection and could be of great importance for optimizing strength, muscle power, and endurance training programs to improve Olympic female wrestling performance.

Therefore, the first aim of this study was to investigate which anthropometric, physiological, and neuromuscular factors are different between elite and amateur female wrestlers. If differences exist, this may indicate the importance of these performance parameters for wrestling success. Our second aim was to examine the differences that the weight class system can generate in the physical fitness markers among female wrestlers. It was hypothesized that, at all weight classes, elite female wrestlers would have more favorable body composition and higher physiological and neuromuscular characteristics compared with female amateur wrestlers. Finally, we aimed to compare anthropometrical, physiological, and neuromuscular factors between these elite female wrestlers and those of a recent study conducted in our laboratory with elite male wrestlers (6).

Methods

Experimental Approach to the Problem

This study was designed to address the question of which physical fitness and anthropometrical markers could lead to success in female wrestling. To do this, 35 experienced successful and nonsuccessful female wrestlers underwent a complete battery of anthropometrical, neuromuscular, and physiological assessments under a carefully controlled experimental design, using previously validated testing protocols.

The study was carried out in March, during an international training camp placed in a precompetitive cycle. Throughout this training phase, all the wrestlers had an average of 6.8 training sessions per week distributed in combat sessions (68%), endurance training (16%), and resistance training (16%). None of these 35 wrestlers were involved in a weight cutting approach or under restricted water or food intake. All the subjects followed the same dietary plans during the experiments. Not one of these subjects increased or decreased their body weight >1% during the week of assessments.

Testing was completed for all the wrestlers in the same laboratory facilities on 3 consecutive days: day 1—anthropometrics (7:00–8:30), sprint running (10:00–12:00), and arm-crank Wingate test (16:00–18:30); day 2—countermovement jump (CMJ), 1-repetition maximum (1RM), and load–muscle power relationship in squat, and bench press (10:00–14:00); day 3—muscle extensibility (16:00–17:30), maximal hand grip and back strength (BS; 18:00–19:30). No strenuous exercise was undertaken 24 hours before reporting to the laboratory for testing, and no other physical activity sessions were performed during these 3 days. The same warm-up procedures and protocol for each type of test were repeated in subsequent occasions.

Subjects

The subjects and coaches were informed in detail about the experimental procedures and the possible risks and benefits of the project. The study, which complied with the Declaration of Helsinki, was approved by the Bioethics Commission of the University of Murcia, and written informed consent was obtained from the athletes before participation. Thirty-five female wrestlers were assigned into 4 groups according to their body mass (BM, light and middle weight) and their competitive level (elite and amateur) as follows: Light Weight (BM ranged between 49 and 58 kg) in elite (LWE, n = 6) and amateur (LWA, n = 12) levels; and Middle Weight (BM ranged between 58 and 67 kg) in elite (MWE, n = 7) and amateur (MWA, n = 10) levels. To be placed in the elite groups (LWE and MWE), the wrestlers (a) had at least 1 international participation representing their country in FILA tournaments (i.e., European and World Championships) (b) and had at least 4 years of regular training experience. Furthermore, 8 of them had won at least 1 medal during an international tournament. Amateur wrestlers (LWA and MWA) had been finalists at their respective national championships in the last season, although they had not taken part in any international competition. The physical characteristics and training background of the subjects are presented in Table 1.

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Table 1:
Characteristics of elite and amateur wrestlers studied in both weight classes.*

Physical Characteristics

Anthropometric measurements included the following: standing height, arm span, BM, and 3 location skinfold thickness measurement (triceps brachii, subscapular and abdominal), which were performed in accordance with guidelines from the International Society for the Advancement of Kineanthropometry. Height and arm span were measured to the nearest 0.1 cm and BM to the nearest 0.1 kg using a calibrated scale (Seca 714, Hamburg, Germany); skinfold thickness was assessed using a skinfold caliper (Holtain Ltd., Crymych, United Kingdom, accurate to 0.2 mm). Body density was predicted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association method (17) that had been previously crossvalidated on wrestlers (3,28), and body fat percentage was calculated by the Brozek et al. (2) formula.

Sprint Running Test

After a standardized 15-minute warm-up period (i.e., low-intensity running, several acceleration runs, and stretching exercises), the subjects undertook a sprint running test consisting of 2 maximal sprints of 10 m, with a 3-minute rest period between each sprint. The subjects were instructed to begin from a stationary start position, with their preferred foot forward on a line marked on the floor. The running speed of the wrestlers was evaluated using dual-beam electronic timing gates (Polifemo, Microgate, Bolzano, Italy). Speed was measured to the nearest 0.01 second. In a previous pilot study performed with part of these subjects, for 10-m running times the test-retest coefficient of variation (CV) was 1.7%, and the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was 0.91. The recorded time for this test was the better of the 2 trials.

Arm-Crank Wingate Test

The participants performed an arm-crank Wingate test on an adjustable SRM Indoortrainer (Schoberer Rad Meßtechnik, Welldorf, Germany, 2% accuracy) that was specifically modified for standing arm cranking. Before each test, the SRM crankset was calibrated according to the manufacturer's recommended procedure. The accuracy, validity, and reliability of the SRM power meter were previously established by Gardner et al. (7). The height of the arm ergometer's central axis and crank arm length were adjusted according to the optimal proportions determined previously (crank length 12–12.5% of armspan and crank-axle height between 50 and 60% of the subject height) (20). The arm-crank trials were 30 seconds in duration, and the participants were instructed to crank as fast as possible on each revolution throughout the trial and not to adopt any pacing strategy. Power and cranking rate were recorded using 1-second data averages. Peak Power (Wpeak) was defined as the greatest power value recorded by the SRM power meter and minimum power (Wmin) was defined as the smallest power value recorded. The average power (Wmean) of the 30 seconds was also established. Fatigue index was calculated as: FI = Wpeak/Wmin. For comparisons, the results of the Wingate Wpeak and Wmean were normalized using allometric scaling (Wpeak/BM−0.92; Wmean/BM−0.76) as has been described recently (9). Earlobe blood samples were taken and immediately analyzed for the lactate concentration using a portable lactate analyzer (Lactate Pro, Arkray Inc., Kyoto, Japan). This was performed after each 30-second trial until the maximum lactate value ([La]peak) was determined from postexercise blood samples taken every 2 minutes.

Jumping Test (Countermovement Jump)

The participants were instructed to complete a standard CMJ in which they squatted down into a self-selected depth before explosively performing the concentric action using a vertical jump platform (Ergojump, Rome, Italy) (6). In a previous pilot study performed with part of these subjects, the test-retest ICCs and the CV were 0.94 and 3.3%, respectively. The recorded height for this test was the average of 3 trials.

One-Repetition Maximum Strength and Load-Muscle Power Relationship

All the subjects performed a full squat strength test using a smith machine and a bench press strength test using a free weight barbell for the determination of the 1RM and the full load-muscle power relationship. Each subject was carefully instructed to perform each concentric phase of both the squat and the bench press in an explosive manner. For the bench press, the initial load was set at 10 kg for all the subjects and was progressively increased in 5-kg increments until the attained mean propulsive velocity (MPV) was <0.4 m·s−1. Thereafter, the load was adjusted with smaller increments (i.e., 2.5 kg). The heaviest load that each subject could properly lift to the full extension of his elbows was considered to be his 1RM. For squat, the initial load was set at 50% of their own BM and was progressively increased to 75, 100, and 125% when it was feasible. When MPV was <0.5 m·s−1, the load was adjusted with smaller increments (i.e., 5–2.5 kg). The heaviest load that each subject could properly lift to the full extension of her knees was considered to be his 1RM. A dynamic measurement system (T-Force System, Ergotech, Murcia, Spain, 0.25% accuracy) automatically calculated the relevant kinematic and kinetic parameters of every repetition, provided real time information on screen and stored data on a disk for subsequent analysis. Detailed description of the bench press and squat execution techniques, and the validity and reliability data of the dynamic measurement system (ICC = 1.00; CV = 0.57%) have been recently reported (23). For comparisons, the results of the 1RM strength in both exercises were normalized using allometric scaling (1RM/BM−0.67) as described elsewhere (4).

Muscle Extensibility

Passive straight leg raise for dominant (SLRD) and nondominant (SLRND) legs and the sit-and-reach (SR) test were used to determine hamstring muscle extensibility. The detailed testing procedures, validity, and reliability (i.e., ICC = 0.90 and 0.97 of the SLR and SR measures, respectively) have recently been established elsewhere (19). Briefly, for the SLR test, each subject was placed supine on an examination table, and the axis of a universal goniometer was aligned with the axis of the hip joint. The tester placed the stationary arm in line with the trunk and positioned the moveable arm in line with the femur. The subject's leg was lifted passively by the tester into hip flexion until tightness was felt by both the subject and the tester. The criterion score of hamstring extensibility was the maximum angle (degrees) read from the goniometer at the point of maximum hip flexion (1° accuracy). No warm-up or stretching exercises were performed by the wrestlers before the test measurements. Two trials were performed for each leg, and the average of the 2 trials on each leg was used for subsequent analyses. The SR scores were measured with an SR box (Eveque, Cheshire, United Kingdom). A centimeter scale was placed on the top surface of the box. A reach distance of 15 cm corresponded to the position of the feet against the box. The final position that the subject reached was the score for each test. The recorded score for this test was the average of 2 trials. Scores were recorded in centimeters to the nearest 1.0 cm.

Maximal Hand Grip and Back Strength Tests

Each subject's grip strength was measured for dominant (GripD) and nondominant (GripND) hands with a Baseline Hydraulic Dynamometer (Country Technology Inc; Gays Mills, Wisconsin, USA). The participants were placed sitting with 0° of shoulder flexion, 90° of elbow flexion and the forearm in neutral. Maximal BS was measured using a back muscle dynamometer (Takei, model T.K.K.5402, Tokyo, Japan). The length of the handle chain was adjusted to fit each subject so that the angle of the subjects' knees was at 45°. The average of 2 trials was recorded in each exercise. For comparisons, the results of the BS were normalized using allometric scaling (1RM/BM−0.67) as described elsewhere (4).

Statistical Analyses

Standard statistical methods were used for the calculation of the mean and SD. The differences between elite and amateur groups and between the elite groups (LWE and MWE) were determined using a 1-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Effect sizes (ESs) for differences between elite and amateur groups and sex were calculated as the difference between the means divided by the average SD for the 2 groups. A binomial logistic regression analysis was also carried out to assess the effect of various performance and anthropometric variables on the probability of female wrestling success. The binary logistic regression analysis estimates the probability (or more correctly the odds) of a wrestler placed in the elite group using their training experience, fat-free mass (FFM), maximum strength, and peak power as predictors or independent variables. All the variables that were identified as significantly (p < 0.05) different between elite and amateur wrestlers in the ANOVA analysis were then entered into a series of discriminant function analyses. This identified the variables that best classified group membership. Then, the variables offering the least relationship to wrestling competition level were removed and another discriminant analysis was run. This was repeated in 5 separate analyses until the variables that explained the most variance in group membership were identified. Training experience, FFM, maximum strength, and peak power during arm-crank Wingate testing were considered as potential predictor variables for the probability of being in the elite wrestler group. SPSS version 17.0 was used for all analyses. Statistical significance was set at p ≤ 0.05.

Results

Physical Characteristics and Training Experience

The physical characteristics and training experience of the wrestlers are presented in Table 1. Elite groups were significantly (p < 0.05) older and had increased training experience and FFM (p = 0.07 between MWE and MWA) values compared with the amateur groups. No significant differences were detected between elite and amateur groups for BM, height, BMI, and body fat (p = 0.07 between MWE and MWA). When comparing the elite groups, height, BM, BMI, and FFM were higher in MWE (p < 0.05) than in LWE (Table 1).

Arm-Crank Wingate, Sprint Running, and Jumping Tests

Elite groups demonstrated higher mean and peak power values during the modified arm-crank Wingate test compared with the amateur groups (from 17.3 to 23.0%; p < 0.05, ES from 1.08 to 1.78). Mean and peak power values in MWE were higher than in LWE (15.8 and 19.2%, p < 0.05, ES −1.37 and −1.09, respectively) (Figures 1A and B). When mean and peak power values were normalized using allometric scaling, the elite groups (LWE and MWE) had higher values compared with the amateur groups (from 17.8 to 22.3%, p < 0.05, ES from 0.96 to 1.84), and no significant differences were detected between elite groups (Figures 1C and D). No significant differences were detected in the [La−]peak neither between elite and amateur groups nor between both elite groups (p = 0.06 between LWE and LWA): LWE = 6.7 ± 1.8 mmol·L−1; MWE = 7.8 ± 1.7 mmol·L−1; LWA = 5.5 ± 1.5 mmol·L−1; MWA = 6.8 ± 1.4 mmol·L−1. No significant differences were detected in the fatigue index, neither between elite and amateur groups nor between both elite groups: LWE = 1.89 ± 0.6; MWE = 1.85 ± 0.6; LWA = 1.74 ± 0.46; MWA = 1.76 ± 0.5.

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Figure 1:
Wingate mean and peak power values attained during the 30-second all-out test in absolute (A, B) and allometrically scaled values (C, D) according to weight class (Light Weight and Middle Weight) and competitive level (Elite vs. Amateur). Data presented as mean ± SD. Significant differences *when compared with elite wrestlers; awhen compared with Light Weight elite wrestlers (p < 0.05).

No differences were observed in the 10-m sprint running time between the elite and amateur groups or between elite groups (Table 2). Significantly higher values were detected in the CMJ height (p < 0.05) in MWE compared with the amateur group (MWA). When both elite groups were compared, the CMJ height was significantly higher in the MWE than in the LWE (p < 0.05) (Table 2).

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Table 2:
Sprint running time, jump height muscle extensibility, hand grip strength, and maximal back strength for elite and amateur wrestlers in both weight classes.*

One-Repetition Maximum Strength and Load-Power Relationship

Absolute and allometric scaled 1RM strength values for squat and bench press exercises were significantly greater in the elite groups compared with that in the amateur groups (from 13.4 to 33.1%, p < 0.05, ES from 0.73 to 2.78) (Figure 2). The 1RM strength in the MWE group was higher than in the LWE (18.3 and 20.1%, p < 0.05, ES = −1.24) (Figures 2A and B). When 1RM strength values in both exercises were normalized using allometric scaling, no significant differences were detected between both elite groups (Figures 2C and D). In elite groups, maximum muscle power output in squat and bench press exercises were greater compared with the amateur groups (from 15.9 to 34.4%, p < 0.05, ES from 1.00 to 2.72) (Figures 3A and B).

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Figure 2:
One-repetition maximum strength in absolute (A, B) and allometrically scaled values (C, D) in the squat and bench press exercises according to weight class (Light Weight and Middle Weight) and competitive level (Elite vs. Amateur). Data presented as mean ± SD. Significant differences *when compared with elite wrestlers; awhen compared with Light Weight elite wrestlers (p < 0.05).
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Figure 3:
Peak muscle power output attained during the incremental test in squat (A) and bench press (B) exercises according to weight class (Light Weight and Middle Weight) and competitive level (Elite vs. Amateur). Data presented as mean ± SD. Significant differences *when compared with elite wrestlers; awhen compared with Light Weight elite wrestlers (p < 0.05).

Maximal Hand Grip and Back Strength Tests

Grip strength for the dominant (GripD) and nondominant (GripND) hands demonstrated significantly higher values for the elite groups compared with the amateur groups (p < 0.05) (p = 0.08 between the MWE and MWA for GripD). Maximal BS in the LWE and MWE groups was significantly greater (p < 0.05) compared with the amateur groups. When BS was normalized using allometric scaling, no significant differences were detected between both elite groups (Table 2).

Muscle Extensibility

The SLRD and SLRND and the SR test results are presented in Table 2. No differences were observed in any of the 3 tests between the elite and amateur groups or between elite groups (LWE vs. MWE).

Binary Logistic Regression Analyses

The binary logistic regression analyses identified that 4 of the 28 studied variables (i.e., training experience, FFM, 1RM strength in bench press, and Wingate peak power) predict the 86.8% of the probability of being in the elite wrestler group. Only FFM values (odds ratio, exp[b] = 1.467, p < 0.05), and 1RM strength in bench press exercise (odds ratio, exp[b] = 0.717, p < 0.05) made significant contributions to the prediction of female wrestling success.

Discussion

To our knowledge, this is the first reported case that simultaneously analyses and compares current anthropometric and physical fitness characteristics for female wrestlers of different weight classes and competitive levels. The primary findings of this investigation indicates that elite female wrestlers (LWE and MWE) are characterized as older (8 and 10%), with more training experience (29 and 27%), higher FFM (3%), 1RM strength (13–33%), maximum muscle power (16–34%), Wingate mean and peak power (17–23%), jumping height (2 and 9%) and maximum grip (5–13%) and BS (10 and 13%) compared with the amateur groups (LWA and MWA). However, height, BMI, body fat percentage, Wingate peak blood lactate, fatigue index, hamstring extensibility, and running speed were similar between elite and amateur groups. When the results for the 2 elite groups (LWE and MWE) were compared, some anthropometric, neuromuscular, and physiological performance variables such as height, BMI, FFM, 1RM strength, and muscle power output, Wingate mean a peak power seem to be related to weight class. Based on the logistic regression analyses, FFM and 1RM strength were the most important factors of successful female wrestling performance. These results may suggest that the higher absolute and normalized maximum strength, muscle power, and anaerobic metabolism, although explained in part by the differences in FFM, will give elite female wrestlers a clear advantage during Olympic wrestling compared with amateurs.

One of the major findings in this study was that absolute and allometrically scaled results of maximum strength and power output of the upper and lower extremity muscles were 13.4–33.1% higher in elite compared with the amateur female wrestlers. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first reported case that has analyzed neuromuscular differences between competitive levels in female wrestlers. Nevertheless, these results are similar to those reported previously in male wrestlers (6,18,24-26) where greater strength and muscle power output levels differ between successful and less successful male wrestlers. These neuromuscular performance differences will give elite female wrestlers a clear advantage during the most frequently used freestyle techniques or moves (e.g., fireman's carry, suplex, duck under, and double leg). This is mainly attributed to the fact that elite female wrestlers have higher FFM levels and therefore total muscle mass that can generate force compared with amateur wrestlers.

Similar to those reported recently in male wrestlers (6), maximum dynamic and isometric strength and maximum muscle power output in the elite female wresting groups were superior, not only in absolute but also when it was normalized using allometric scaling. These results suggest that, in addition to the FFM levels, these muscle strength and muscle power differences between competitive levels are also related to qualitative upper body and lower body musculature differences. This could be related to the fact that neural activation patterns and twitch tension per muscle mass under maximal and submaximal concentric actions were also diminished in amateur compared with elite female wrestlers (14). As expected, heavier elite female wrestlers (i.e., MWE) demonstrated greater maximum strength and muscle power values compared with the lighter wrestlers (i.e., LWE). Also, as has been described in elite male wrestlers (6), no significant differences were detected between elite female wrestlers among both weight classes for normalized maximum strength and muscle power values.

The physical training experience has demonstrated to be one of the most critical factors for achieving success in female wrestling. Indeed, both elite groups (LWE and MWE) had more years of training background compared with the amateur groups, and most important, no significant differences were detected between elite groups. These findings are similar to those described previously by some researchers that compared successful and unsuccessful male wrestlers (6,15,25). Present results suggest that, in addition to physical fitness performance, technical and competitive experience is of great importance in elite female wresting performance.

It was also interesting to observe that elite female wrestlers had higher FFM values compared with the amateur group. As has been discussed previously, the differences in the lean mass may, in part, explain the higher muscle strength and power values attained by the elite groups compared with the amateur groups. Therefore, elite wrestlers may have a clear advantage in creating frequent and forceful muscle contractions that are required during most of the combat techniques. Although the average body fat in amateur was 6 and 8% higher than in elite wrestlers, this difference were not statistically significant (p = 0.07). The present results may also highlight the importance of maximizing the lean mass and therefore reduce the percent body fat levels within each weight class. These body fat values found in female elite (15.4 and 15.8%) and amateur (16.4 and 17.2%) wrestlers, together with those described by Hübner-Woźniak et al. (13) in the Polish female national team (23.7%) are the only body fat values reported in the literature for female wrestlers, so these results can be considered as a benchmark for further research to establish the anthropometric profile in female wrestlers at any weight class and competitive level.

No differences in sprint running and hamstring muscle extensibility were observed between elite and amateur wrestlers or between the elite groups (LWE and MWE). Similar to those reported in male wrestlers (6,25,26), these data suggest that these 2 fitness components are not fully related to wrestling performance.

The present results indicate that absolute and allometrically scaled anaerobic power (i.e., Wingate peak power) and anaerobic capacity (i.e., Wingate mean power attained during the 30 seconds) are critical success factors for female wrestling performance. These findings are similar to those described previously in male wrestlers (6,12) where successful male wrestlers demonstrated higher peak and mean Wingate power when compared with unsuccessful ones. As previously described, these advantages may be attributed to the higher lean BM available to generate force, and differences in the neural activation patterns between amateur and elite wrestlers. To our knowledge, the only study that performed a Wingate test with female wrestlers to assess the anaerobic capacity and power profile, Hübner-Woźniak et al., (13) on the Polish female national team, found peak (367 ± 63 W) and mean power (284 ± 51 W) very similar than those detected in current elite female wrestlers (peak power 383–310 W, mean power 267–225 W).

No significant differences were observed in crank-arm Wingate fatigue index values between elite and amateur wrestlers or between the 2 elite groups. These findings are similar to those described in highly trained male wrestlers by Horswill et al. (12) and in our laboratory (6), where no differences were found in the fatigue index between elite and nonelite wrestlers during a crank-arm Wingate test. Although the average [La−]peak in the elite was 13–19% higher than in amateur wrestlers, this difference was not statistically significant. These data again suggest the close relationship between anaerobic metabolism and success in wrestling.

The results of the present research and those recently published with elite male wrestlers (6) allow for comparisons between successful female and male wrestlers of the same competition level (i.e., European and World Championships participations) (Table 3). Elite women presented lower average values than did elite men in %FFM (3%), allometrically scaled Wingate mean and peak power (42 and 45%), peak blood lactate (29%), jumping height (30%), running speed (14%), allometrically scaled maximum dynamic and isometric strength, and muscle power output for lower and upper limbs (16–36%) (p < 0.05). Conversely, elite women show higher (p < 0.05) average values in %body fat and similar hamstring extensibility levels compared with elite men. In addition to the lean BM levels, these performance differences detected between male and female wrestlers of the same sport performance using the allometric scaling method may be also related with other sex differences such as hormonal, enzymatic, fiber type distribution and neurological factors, limb lengths, or neural activations patterns (1,8,21,22,29). Second, it cannot ignore the possible influence of different activity levels between the sexes as a causative factor for differences in performance (21). In this regard, nowadays, at the elite level, there exist clear differences in the overall wrestling performance between the sexes, mainly related to the trajectory and background of both sexes in top wrestling events such as the Olympic Games and World Championships. Male wrestling has been regulated over the last 110 years, whereas female wrestling has had barely 20 years of official tournaments.

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Table 3:
Mean (SD) differences in some anthropometric and physical fitness markers between elite male and female wrestlers.*†

Practical Applications

Elite female wrestlers are characterized as older, with more training background, FFM, absolute and normalized maximum muscle strength and power output, Wingate peak and mean power, and lower percent body fat values compared with amateur wrestlers. This higher absolute and normalized neuromuscular and physiological performance will give elite female wrestlers a clear advantage in sustaining frequent and forceful muscle contractions that are required during the female wrestling combat techniques.

In addition to differences in the FFM, other sex distinctions such as hormonal, enzymatic, and neural activations patterns and differences in activity levels and training background could be related to the physical fitness performance differences between sexes.

Acknowledgments

This study was supported in part by grants from the Spanish Wrestling Federation and Associated Disciplines and the General Directorate of Sports (Government of Murcia). The authors also acknowledge the dedicated effort, commitment, and professionalism of the selected group of wrestlers and their coaches who took part in this research. The results of this study do not constitute endorsement of the product by the authors of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

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Keywords:

female sport; maximum strength; combat sport; Wingate; muscle extensibility

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association