Physical Characteristics Underpinning Repetitive Lunging in Fencing

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Abstract

Turner, AN, Marshall, G, Phillips, J, Noto, A, Buttigieg, C, Chavda, S, Downing, W, Atlay, N, Dimitriou, L, and Kilduff, L. Physical characteristics underpinning repetitive lunging in fencing. J Strength Cond Res 30(11): 3134–3139, 2016—Given the repetitive demand to execute lunging and changes in direction within fencing, the ability to sustain these at maximal capacity is fundamental to performance. The aim of this study was threefold. First, to provide normative values for this variable referred to as repeat lunge ability (RLA) and second to identify the physical characteristics that underpin it. Third, was to establish if a cause and effect relationship existed by training the associated characteristics. Assessment of lower-body power, reactive strength, speed, change of direction speed (CODS), and a sport-specific RLA were conducted on senior and junior elite male fencers (n = 36). Fencers were on average (±SD) 18.9 ± 3.2 years of age, 174.35 ± 10.42 cm tall, 70.67 ± 7.35 kg in mass, and 8.5 ± 4.2 years fencing experience. The RLA test had average work times of 16.03 ± 1.40 seconds and demonstrated “large” to “very large” associations with all tested variables, but in particular CODS (r = 0.70) and standing broad jump (SBJ; r = −0.68). Through linear regression analysis, these also provided a 2-predictor model accounting for 61% of the common variance associated with RLA. A cause and effect relationship with SBJ and CODS was confirmed by the training group, where RLA performance in these fencers improved from 15.80 ± 1.07 to 14.90 ± 0.86 seconds, with the magnitude of change reported as “moderate” (effect size (ES) = 0.93). Concurrent improvements were also noted in both SBJ (216.86 ± 17.15 vs. 221.71 ± 17.59 cm) and CODS (4.44 ± 0.29 vs. 4.31 ± 0.09 seconds) and while differences were only significant in SBJ, magnitudes of change were classed as “small” (ES = 0.28) and “moderate” (ES = 0.61), respectively. In conclusion, to improve RLA strength and conditioning coaches should focus on improving lower-body power and reactive strength, noting that jump training and plyometrics designed to enhance horizontal propulsion may be most effective, and translate to improvement in CODS also.

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