Psychometric and physiological responses to a pre-season competitive camp in the heat with a 6-hr time difference in elite soccer players

Buchheit, M., Cholley Y. and Lambert P. Psychometric and physiological responses to a pre-season competitive camp in the heat with a 6-hr time difference in elite soccer players. IJSPP, In press.


Purpose. The aim of the present study was to examine in elite soccer players some psychometric and physiological responses to a competitive camp in the heat, after travelling across 6 time-zones. Methods. Data from 12 elite professional players (24.6±5.3 yr) were analyzed. They participated in an 8-day pre-season summer training camp in Asia (heat index 34.9±2.4 ⁰C). Players’ activity was collected during all training sessions and the friendly game using 15-Hz GPS. Perceived training/playing load was estimated using session rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and training/match duration. Psychometric measures of wellness were collected upon awakening before, during and after the camp using simple questionnaires. HR response to a submaximal 4-min run (12 km/h) and the ratio between velocity and force load (accelerometer-derived measure, a marker of neuromuscular efficiency) response to 4 ~60-m runs (22-24 km/h) were collected before, at the end and after the camp. Results. After a large increase, the RPE/m.min-1 ratio decreased substantially throughout the camp. There were possible small increases in perceived fatigue and small decreases in subjective sleep quality on the 6th day. There were also likely moderate (~3%) decreases in HR response to the submaximal run, both at the end and after the camp, which were contemporary to possible small (~8%) and most-likely moderate (~19%) improvements in neuromuscular efficiency, respectively. Conclusions. Despite transient increases in fatigue and reduced subjective sleep quality by the end of the camp, these elite players showed clear signs of heat acclimatization, which were associated with improved cardiovascular fitness and neuromuscular running efficiency.

Fig 1 final color2

Figure 1. Upper panel: change in locomotor load (measured via GPS) and heat index before, during and after the Asian camp. The flights represent the different flying trips, with their specific duration indicated into brackets. As wearing GPS was not allowed during the official match, the total distance covered was extrapolated from historical club data (Team A) against Team B for illustration. The timing of the monitoring sessions is also indicated, with Run standing for the submaximal run and the 4 60-m runs, and Wellness for the psychometric questionnaires. Lower panel: changes in perceived training load (rate of perceived exertion, RPE, method) and the RPE/distance per min ratio. The gray area represents the Hong Kong (HK) camp, while the grey and shaded area represents the time spent in Beijing. ****: very likely different vs. pre camp.

Keywords: heart rate monitoring, wellness, neuromuscular efficiency, association football, heat training.

Changes of direction during high-intensity intermittent runs: neuromuscular and metabolic responses

Karim Hader, Alberto Mendez-Villanueva, Said Ahmaidi, Ben Williams and Martin
Buchheit. Changes of direction during high-intensity intermittent runs: neuromuscular and metabolic  responses. Accepted to BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation on 19 December 2013.

Background: The ability to sustain brief high-intensity intermittent efforts (HIE) is meant to be a major attribute for performance in team sports. Adding changes of direction to HIE is believed to increase the specificity of training drills with respect to game demands. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of 90°-changes of direction (COD) during HIE on metabolic and neuromuscular responses.
Methods: Eleven male, team sport players (30.5±3.6 y, 81±6 kg, 180± 6cm) performed randomly HIE without (straight-line, 2x[10x 22m]) or with (2x[10x ~16.5m]) two 90°-COD. To account for the time lost while changing direction, the distance for COD runs during HIE was individually adjusted using the ratio between straight-line and COD sprints. Players also performed 2 countermovement (CMJ) and 2 drop (DJ) jumps, during and post HIE. Pulmonary oxygen uptake ( O2), quadriceps and hamstring oxygenation, blood lactate concentration (Δ[La]b), electromyography amplitude (RMS) of eight lower limb muscles and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were measured for each condition.
Results: During HIE, CODs had no substantial effects on changes in  O2, oxygenation, CMJ and DJ performance and RPE (all differences in the changes rated as unclear). Conversely, compared with straight-line runs, COD-runs were associated with a possibly higher Δ[La]b (+9.7±10.4%, with chances for greater/similar/lower values of 57/42/0%). There was also a lower decrease in lateral gastrocnemius (-8.5±9.3%, 1/21/78) and semitendinosus (-11.9 ± 14.6%, 2/13/85) electromyography amplitude; the decrease in electromyography amplitude for the other muscles was not clearly different.
Conclusion: Adding two 90°-CODs on adjusted distance during two sets of HIE is likely to elicit equivalent decreases in CMJ and DJ height, and similar cardiorespiratory and perceptual responses, despite a lower average running speed. A fatigue-induced modification in lower limb control observed with CODs may have elicited a selective reduction of electromyography activity in hamstring muscles and may induce, in turn, a potential mechanical loss of knee stability. Therefore, changing direction during HIE might be an effective training practice 1) to manipulate some components of the acute physiological load of HIE, 2) to promote long-term COD-specific neuromuscular adaptations aimed at improving performance and knee joint stability.
Key Words: cardiorespiratory responses; neuromuscular adjustment; selective activation; knee stabilization.

Full paper available on the Journal Website (open Access)

Tolerance to high-intensity intermittent running exercise


The straight-line version of the test we used in the following paper:

Front Physiol. 2012 Oct 22;3:406. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2012.00406. eCollection 2012.

Tolerance to high-intensity intermittent running exercise: do oxygen uptake kinetics really matter?


Physiology Unit, Football Performance and Science Department, ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence Doha, Qatar.


We examined the respective associations between aerobic fitness ([Formula: see text]max), metabolic control ([Formula: see text] kinetics) and locomotor function, and various physiological responses to high-intensity intermittent (HIT) running exercise in team sport players. Eleven players (30.5 ± 3.6 year) performed a series of tests to determine their [Formula: see text]max and the associated velocity (v[Formula: see text]max), maximal sprinting speed (MSS) and [Formula: see text] kinetics at exercise onset in the moderate and severe intensity domains, and during recovery ([Formula: see text] SEV). Cardiorespiratory variables, oxygenation and electromyography of lower limbs muscles and blood lactate ([La]) concentration were collected during a standardized HIT protocol consisting in 8 sets of 10, 4-s runs. During HIT, four players could not complete more than two sets; the others finished at least five sets. Metabolic responses to the two first sets of HIT were negatively correlated with [Formula: see text]max, v[Formula: see text]max, and [Formula: see text] SEV (r = -0.6 to -0.8), while there was no clear relationship with the other variables. [Formula: see text], oxygenation and [La] responses to the first two sets of HIT were the only variables that differed between the players which could complete at least five sets or those who could not complete more than two sets. Players that managed to run at least five sets presented, in comparison with the others, greater v[Formula: see text]max [ES = +1.5(0.4; 2.7), MSS(ES = +1.0(0.1; 1.9)] and training load [ES = +3.8 (2.8; 4.9)]. There was no clear between-group difference in any of the [Formula: see text] kinetics measures [e.g., ES = -0.1(-1.4; 1.2) for [Formula: see text] SEV]. While [Formula: see text]max and v[Formula: see text]max are likely determinant for HIT tolerance, the importance of [Formula: see text] kinetics as assessed in this study appears limited in the present population. Knowing the main factors influencing tolerance to HIT running exercise may assist practitioners in personalizing training interventions.

Performance and physiological responses during a sprint interval training session


Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Feb;112(2):767-79. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-2021-1. Epub 2011 Jun 12.

Performance and physiological responses during a sprint interval training session: relationships with muscle oxygenation and pulmonary oxygen uptake kinetics.


Physiology Unit, Sport Science Department, ASPIRE, Academy for Sports Excellence, P.O. Box 22287, Doha, Qatar.


The purpose of this study was to examine the cardiorespiratory and muscle oxygenation responses to a sprint interval training (SIT) session, and to assess their relationships with maximal pulmonary O(2) uptake [Formula: see text], on- and off- [Formula: see text] kinetics and muscle reoxygenation rate (Reoxy rate). Ten male cyclists performed two 6-min moderate-intensity exercises (≈90-95% of lactate threshold power output, Mod), followed 10 min later by a SIT session consisting of 6 × 30-s all out cycling sprints interspersed with 2 min of passive recovery. [Formula: see text] kinetics at Mod onset ([Formula: see text]) and cessation ([Formula: see text]) were calculated. Cardiorespiratory variables, blood lactate ([La](b)) and muscle oxygenation level of the vastus lateralis (tissue oxygenation index, TOI) were recorded during SIT. Percentage of the decline in power output (%Dec), time spent above 90% of [Formula: see text] (t > 90% [Formula: see text]) and Reoxy rate after each sprint were also recorded. Despite a low mean [Formula: see text] (48.0 ± 4.1% of [Formula: see text]), SIT performance was associated with high peak [Formula: see text] (90.4 ± 2.8% of [Formula: see text]), muscle deoxygenation (sprint ΔTOI = -27%) and [La](b) (15.3 ± 0.7 mmol l(-1)) levels. Muscle deoxygenation and Reoxy rate increased throughout sprint repetitions (P < 0.001 for both). Except for t > 90% [Formula: see text] versus [Formula: see text] [r = 0.68 (90% CL, 0.20; 0.90); P = 0.03], there were no significant correlations between any index of aerobic function and either SIT performance or physiological responses [e.g., %Dec vs. [Formula: see text]: r = -0.41 (-0.78; 0.18); P = 0.24]. Present results show that SIT elicits a greater muscle O(2) extraction with successive sprint repetitions, despite the decrease in external power production (%Dec = 21%). Further, our findings obtained in a small and homogenous group indicate that performance and physiological responses to SIT are only slightly influenced by aerobic fitness level in this population.