Vol 71, No 1 (2020)
Original article
Published online: 2020-03-21

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Field study of anthropomorphic and muscle performance changes among elite skippers following a transoceanic race

Pierre Lafère123, Yann Gatzoff4, François Guerrero2, Steven Provyn356, Costantino Balestra3567
Pubmed: 32212144
IMH 2020;71(1):20-27.


Background: Ocean racing has become increasingly demanding, both physically and psychologically. The aim of the study was to assess global changes after a transoceanic race. Materials and methods: Eight male sailors were evaluated pre- and post-race through anthropometric measurements (weight, skinfold, girth at different level and estimated body fat percentage), multifrequency tetrapolar bioelectrical impedance, muscular performance, visual analogic scale for perceived fatigue and Critical Flicker Fusion Frequencies for cerebral arousal. Results: Compared to pre-race values, a significant decrease in body weight (–3.6 ± 1.4%, p = 0.0002) and body composition with reduction of body fat percentage (–15.1 ± 3.5%, p < 0.0001) and fat mass (–36.4 ± 31.4%, p = 0.022) was observed. Muscle performance of the upper limb was preserved. In the lower limb, monohulls skippers showed a significant reduction of jump height (–6.6 ± 4.8%, p = 0.022), power (–11.7 ± 7.3%, p = 0.011) and speed (–14.6 ± 7.4%, p = 0.0006) while a multihulls skipper showed a gain in speed (+0.87%), power (+8.52%), force (+11%) resulting in a higher jump height (+1.12%). These changes were inversely correlated with sea days (Pearson r of –0.81, –0.96 and –0.90, respectively, p < 0.01). Conclusions: Changes in body weight and composition are consistent with previous data indicating a probable negative energy balance. The main finding demonstrates a difference in muscular conditioning between upper and lower limbs that might be explained by differential workload related to boat architecture (trampolines) or handling.

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