The training of 200 m sprint kayakers incorporates resistance training programs aimed at improving maximum strength and muscular power as well as the ability to produce high forces over long (i.e. 31-40 s) periods. Accordingly, testing batteries typically incorporate heavy-load concentric/eccentric (CON/ECC) bench press, bench pull and chin up tests, which are purported to provide information regarding strength progression. However, a paucity of published research has documented the relationship between changes in these lifts and changes in kayak performance, so it is not known whether the tests discriminate best versus worst kayakers or whether they predict kayak performance. In the proposed research the functional relevance of these lifts to kayak performance will be examined by quantifying the relationships between strength test and kayak race performances obtained from the Australian and State Institutes of Sport and National Elite Development Program canoeing programs and sanctioned competitive race trials in Australia using correlation and regression analyses (Study 1).
While CON/ECC sequences (i.e., CON-dominant; where CON is performed near-maximally but ECC is relatively under-loaded) are typically used in training, recent research has shown that the use of ECC-dominant protocols may elicit superior levels of hypertrophy and improve strength and power performance more than CON-dominant training. In particular, significantly greater protein synthesis rates have been reported after ECC training when muscle fuel stores are reduced, which is relevant to kayakers who typically complete high volumes of on-water kayak training in addition to their strength training. Therefore, in Study 2 the effects of ECC-dominant strength training on muscle strength, kayak performance and paddling efficiency will be compared to standard CON/ECC training in highly trained kayakers using a longitudinal (8 weeks) cluster randomised, controlled research design. This study aims to test the specific hypothesis that ECC-dominant strength training can elicit greater improvements in sprint kayak performance than traditional CON/ECC training as well as the general hypothesis that ECC-dominant strength training may provide benefits in a sport predominantly utilising concentric muscle actions.
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