The Effects Of Augmented Eccentric Loading Exercises On Sprint Performance

Training methods in sprinting

Sprinting is an intensive exercise. Though it seems to be similar to running, they are different. Sprinting is a short powerful and faster form of running that is only applicable in short spurs (Bushnell and Hunter 2007). Running is a form of cardiovascular exercise which can be performed in more than ten minutes. Though there is no classified speed which can be used to evaluate a run, you do it at a speed which makes one breathe heavier and break the sweat (Blumenthal et al. 1984). Some of the popular run competitions include the half marathon and the full marathon. On sprinting, the runner maintains constant speed till the end of the race. Examples of some sprint competitions include the 100, 200, and 400-meter races and they are done in less than sixty seconds. When sprinting, there is a shift from aerobic to an anaerobic where you use glycogen instead of oxygen to fuel the muscles. Glycogen produces lactic acid which can lead to quick fatigue and sometimes muscle sensation (Philp et al. 2012). That is why it is not possible to sprint for a long distance. This proves there is a distinct difference between running and sprinting. This paper will discuss the exercises which are carried out by the sprinters and will be based more on the augmented eccentric loading exercises. It will evaluate if they are different or if they cause different effects from the other forms of exercise.

Training methods in sprinting

There are many training methods used in sprinting. The most popular training methods include the isometric training, resistance training, plyometric, augmented eccentric exercises (Bobbitt 2014). All these types of training have one goal of making the sprinter perform better. In this section, all of them will be discussed.

Isometric training

These types of exercises are done without changing the position of the muscles. The muscles are maintained in a static position (Fleck and Kraemer 2014). The muscles must exert tension without any movement (Carlson et al. 2014). For any person to carry out the isometric exercises well, he or she must follow four steps. The first is maximal voluntary contraction (Haff and Nimphius 2012). This means the tightening of the muscles to the maximum and squeezing them hard. Taking a deep breath is the next step for successful isometric exercises. The breathing should be done from the lower abdomen which should get bigger when breathing in and smaller when breathing out (Haff and Nimphius 2012).  It helps in maintaining balance during the exercise. The next step should be assuming a position. The position should be well calculated to avoid injuries (Haff and Nimphius 2012). Also, it should vary with time to make the exercise effective. The last step should be mixing up the exercise which means trying different types of it to obtain maximal benefits (Haff and Nimphius 2012). In that way, the performance will be great.

Isometric training

There are many types of isometric exercises. Some of them include plank, forearm plank, side plank, isometric push-ups, and low isometric plank. All of them are the same, but the only difference is the position while doing them. However, they have the same goal.

Resistance training

These types of exercises make the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the aim of increasing strength, tone, and mass. The external resistance can be rubber exercise tubing, the own individual weight or any other object (Wilson et al. 2012). There are many types of resistance exercises. Olympic lifting, powerlifting where one performs the deadlift and squad, and weightlifting (Fahs et al. 2011). All of them are designed to go against the external resistance.

This type of training works on the principles of biology. It causes microscopic damage to the tissues of the muscle which in turn are repaired by the body to help the muscles regenerate and grow stronger (Karabulut et al. 2010). The application of both catabolism and anabolism is the main logic behind these exercises (Miller et al. 2010). Catabolism means the breakdown of muscle fibre. Anabolism means the biological growth of the bone damaged tissues (Karabulut et al. 2010). With the muscles, the proteins, insulin and the muscle hormones help them grow stronger.

There are many benefits of this type of exercises to sprinters. One of them is the building of the muscle strength and tone (Liu-Ambrose et al. 2010). This type of exercise can also minimize the declining of the type two muscle fibre which reduce with age (Karabulut et al. 2010).  They can also raise the metabolic rates which are important in maintaining body weight. There are also claims that this type of exercise can make the sprinters remain young for a long period. Many of the sprinters value this type of exercises although they do them along-side others.  Scholars recommend that for any sprinter or athlete to benefit from this type of exercise, he or she should do them consistently. Since it is a biological process which cannot be applicable in one day, there should be a consistent practice for a long period.

Plyometric training

The main goal of plyometric exercises is to increase the athlete power. They use strength and elasticity of the muscle tissues to increase speed and muscular contraction (Hewett et al. 1996). This allows the person to move faster, jump higher or even throw harder. They consist of two different phases where each one of them is designed for a particular role. The two are the lengthening and the stretch-shortening phases (Vaczi et al. 2013). In the lengthening, the muscles are loaded and given room to expand like a rubber band through the stretching of the body parts (Markovic and Mikulic 2010).  In the next step that is the stretch-shortening phase, the muscles are allowed to contract. The process continues with the two phases. There are many types of plyometric exercises like hop-scotch, robe jumping among others.

Resistance training

Augmented eccentric exercises

This exercise is one of the most current types of training in sports. Its main goal is to maintain the health of the athletes. Due to its mechanical and psychological effects, there has been a growing interest in the exercise (Watkins 2010). It has less pain, and hence many sprinters prefer it. They are characterized by low metabolic demand hence their popularity (Hughes et al. 2016).  They produce greater muscle forces and hence can make the sprinters perform better (Bridgeman and Guigan 2015). An eccentric force occurs in response to the concentric force which seeks to destroy the muscle joints. Through this process, the joints are strengthened and hence giving the athlete very strong stamina (Bridgeman and Guigan 2015). This type of exercise has many advantages.

It makes the muscles gain strength faster compared to other forms of exercise. This is because muscles are considered to be eccentrically stronger than concentrically (Bridgeman and Guigan 2015). The exercise also maintains joint health. Weak joints are the sign of being weak eccentrically and hence if one practices this type of exercise he or she may gain the eccentric strength (Bridgeman and Guigan 2015). It also reduces the injury prevalence and increases the metabolism rate.

Strength and conditioning in sprinting

Before any one starts sprinting, it is advisable to undergo training to avoid nagging pain and injuries. Strength training only makes tissues more resilient, and there is a possibility of causing injury anytime a person strikes during sprinting (Dwyer and Gabbett 2012). To prevent these types of injury, many scholars suggest that a person should take a six weeks training before sprinting (Romero-Franco et al. 2012). The nature of the training which one takes will determine the performance in the field of sprinting. Also, it will determine the rate of injuries to the individual.

Do eccentric exercises make a difference in performance of the sprinters?

The performance characteristics of the skeletal muscles are direct affected by the contractile history. The post activation-potentiation is what determines the performance. Scholars have analyzed different types of training methods to evaluate if there is any significant difference between them. One study, whose main goal was to determine if there is any significant difference between counter movement jump followed by heavy resistance exercises and the eccentric loading exercises, was designed and included thirteen male participants and a control group. The control group was subjected to the eccentric loading exercises and the other group into the counter movement jump followed by heavy resistance exercises (Esformes et al. 2010). It was found that there was no significant difference between the two groups since 12 out of the 13 participants performed the same as before with only one exception. In the group which was subjected to eccentric training exercises, all the 14 participants had no significant change.

Plyometric training

In another study which included 20 participants. It was found that there was a significant difference between the eccentric exercises and the plyometric exercises. Those who were subjected to PAP took 0 to 15 minutes to be free from pain with those who exercised using the plyometric exercises taking 0 to 22 minutes (Kilduff et al. 2008). However, the difference was not too large, and hence the researcher concluded that it might be due to other factors like body characteristics and the environment the player has been subjected to in the past (Kilduff et al. 2008). The study was left at a contradiction and it did not state out if the type of exercise matters in athletics.

In another study, endurance exercises were found to be different from the concurrent exercises. It was also found that gender was likely to influence the type of exercise one was taking and post different results, but the exercise itself had an effect on the performance of the athlete (Sloth et al. 2013). However this study found that there was no significant difference based on gender between strength training and endurance training since both genders attained a mean score of 0.78 respectively (Sloth et al. 2013). Concurrent training and running modality were found to be different with a mean of 1.2 and 1.8 respectively (Sloth et al. 2013). Training for lower body strength and endurance exercises were found to be direct related with an R-value of 0.96 (Sloth et al. 2013). There were no significant differences between all the eccentric exercises as compared to all the other types of exercises.

Since all the studies have given out contradicting information with some claiming that there is a significant difference between eccentric loading exercises and the other types of exercises and others claiming that there is no significant difference, this study will be based on determining whether it is true there is a significant difference or not.  The study will also create a base for further research in the field, and hence many scholars will come up with different results about the topic.


Overall findings of the study

This section will discuss the general findings which were found after the analysis of the collected data and determine if there was any effect in the improvement of the sprint performance in the participants. It will include the evaluation of the rate of displacement, the peak velocity, the peak force, and the peak power. This will be compared between the analysis of the best time before the augmented eccentric drop jump and the best time after the eccentric drop jump.

Augmented eccentric exercises

Rate of displacement

There was no significant difference of the rate of displacement between the two tests. The results remained the same before and after the eccentric drop jump. Since the rate of displacement is influenced by the muscle strength, the maintenance of the same displacement rate even after the exercise could have been caused by different biological factors. After working, the body repairs the worn out muscles fibres through a cellular process where it fuses the muscle fibres to form new muscle protein myofibrils (Sacheck et al. 2004). When a mechanical overload of the muscles occurs, the myofibrils are disturbed which in turn stimulates the process of protein synthesis (Sacheck et al. 2004). The mechanical tension which is as a result of high-intensity exercises can also lead increased rate of metabolic stress which in turn leads to protein synthesis (Sacheck et al. 2004). Since for the repair to happen there must be damage of the muscle tissues, many scholars have argued that heavy exercises followed by contraction of the muscles are the best method for developing the muscles (Sacheck et al. 2004). However, this process takes time to be effective and since the sprinters were subjected to the eccentric exercise within a short period of time there could be a possibility that is what caused to lack any significant difference in the displacement rate.

Peak velocity

From the analysis it was found that there was a slight difference in the peak velocity of the sprinters. This was observed based on the distribution of the data which showed that it was consistent. Since for velocity to remain constant there should be no rate of change in the speed, it was evident from the data that almost all the participants either took the same time or reduced the time which they took to complete the sprinting. A decrease in time means that there is an increase in velocity and since almost all of them took less time to sprint after the exercise; this means that there was a significant increase in the peak velocity (Tabet et al. 2010).  This could have been influenced by the metabolic stress which leads to the swelling of the cells which in turn contributes to the muscle growth without any significant increase in the cells (Sandri 2008). Since the metabolic response happens while still carrying out the exercise, it can greatly influence the increase of the peak velocity among the sprinters after the eccentric exercises which lead to high rate of metabolism (Kenney et al. 2015).  This means that the eccentric exercise was effective in improving the peak velocity of the participants.  

Strength and conditioning in sprinting

The peak force

From the results, there was also no significant difference between the peak force before and after the eccentric drop jump.  Peak force is based on the consistence of the time. When the time has a linear consistence, it suggests that the peak force has either reduced or has remained constant. From the results of the analysis, it was evident that time was linearly consistent before and after the eccentric exercise. This suggests that there was no significant difference between the peak force before and after the exercise.  This could have been caused by the hormone response among the participants. The rate of the hormone response which leads to either increase or decrease of the peak force is not affected by exercises but rather by the psychological characteristics of an individual (Demuth and Beale 1993). This suggests the reason why there was no significant change in the peak force between the participants.

The peak power

The peak power is different from the peak force. Power is the ability to do work.  In games the peak power is defined as the ability of maintaining consistent movement which is measure by the rate of change in velocity. The rate of change in velocity is measured by the nature of the consistence in time (Hirvonen et al. 2010). If the time is consistence, that suggests that there is a possibility of a constant velocity and hence there may be no significant change in the peak power. From the results it is evident that the time before and after the eccentric exercise is consistent and hence no significant change in the peak power. This means that the exercise does not affect the rate of change of the peak power. This could have been caused by the nutrition values of the athletes. The nutrition value is responsible in changing the process of protein synthesis and hence it doesn’t matter if the participants has taken any exercise or not since exercises do not influence the rate of the protein breakdown and synthesis (Rubino et al. 2004). In this study the analysis has proofed that there is no significant change in any of the participants power force because nutrition intake is a process which takes time and cannot be effective only in one day.

From the analysis the four main components which determine the effectiveness of the sprinters have been analyzed. It has been found that the eccentric exercise had an effect only on the peak velocity but had no effect on the peak power, the peak force, and the rate of displacement. This means eccentric exercise may not be more effective in improving the performance of the sprinters. This is because they can only help to increase the rate of peak velocity which by itself cannot improve the performance of the sprinter. This means that there is a need for other forms of exercises to be combined with the eccentric exercises if the sprinters have to improve in performance.

Do eccentric exercises make a difference in performance of the sprinters?

Practical application of the research

 This study is applicable not only to sprinters but to all other athletes. It has been found the eccentric exercises can be of great benefit in increasing the peak velocity of the athletes. These exercises can increase the metabolic rates and hence contribute the improvement of the athletes’ performance.  In a study done by (Stöggl and Sperlich 2014) which compared two groups whereby one was subjected to resistance exercises and the other one to eccentric exercises, it was found that the group which was subjected to the eccentric exercises had a higher metabolism rates as compared to the group which was subjected to the resistance exercises. This proves that use of eccentric exercises can be important to increase the rate of metabolism which in turn can improve the performance of the sprinters through the improvement of the peak velocity.

This study is also practically applicable in evaluating if consistent eccentric exercises can improve the performance rate in the improvement of the peak power. Since the participants did only one exercise and the results were taken, there is a need of subjecting a group of athletes to eccentric exercises for a long period and then their performance based on the peak power be measured. This is because the peak power has been found to be directly influenced by hormones and the protein synthesis and since the two are also influenced by eccentric forces, it is important to evaluate a group of athletes for a given period of time to see if the eccentric exercises can improve their performance.

The study is also applicable to any coaches of any given game since the four aspects of sprint performance are also required in other fields. The displacement rate and the peak force are very important aspects in the rugby game and hence the coaches in the field can use this study to estimate the effects of eccentric exercises in improving the rate of displacement and the peak force. This will help them determine if there is any significance in applying the eccentric exercises in rugby.

Limitations of the study

Although this study has been carried out in a scientific manner, it has some limitations. The research was conducted in a short period of time and hence the results show the short term effects of the eccentric exercises. This might not be the same if other researches are conducted for a long period of time. There might be a significant difference in the performance of those  athletes’ who take eccentric exercises frequently for a long period but fail to show up in this study due to the limited time which was used in conducting the study.  Also, the participants’ personal characteristics were not considered during the study and hence there was no evidence of why there were either same results or different results in the four aspects of measuring the sprinting performance. It might have been cause by other factors apart from the effects of the eccentric exercise performed by the participants.

Future research

Future research is essential to back up the claims which have been raised in this study. The future researches should focus on the duration which the eccentric exercises should take to be effective and produce positive results among the athletes’ rather than the short term effects of those exercises which have been evaluated in this study. Also, the researchers should not rely more on one group but should focus on including another control group to make the studies more reliable.

In conclusion, this research has been carried out to estimate the effectiveness of the eccentric exercises on the sprinting performance. It has been found that the eccentric exercises can only be effective in increasing the rate of the peak velocity but may not be significant in improving all the other aspects which measure the rate of sprinting. The study has analyzed the collected data and came to a conclusion that eccentric exercises alone may not be effective in improving the rate of performance in the sprinting competitions. Also, the study has found that the effectiveness of any sprinter does not only rely on the exercises but there are other factors which can influence it. Those factors are like the rate of protein synthesis and protein break down which determine the nature of the muscle building. Some athletes may do a lot of exercises but have a low rate of protein synthesis hence lead to poor performance.

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