DIFFERENCES IN METHODS DETERMINING THE ANAEROBIC THRESHOLD OF TRIATHLETES IN THE WATER

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1 DIFFERENCES IN METHODS DETERMINING THE ANAEROBIC THRESHOLD OF TRIATHLETES IN THE WATER Zoretić, D. 1, Wertheimer, V 2,Leko, G. 1 1 Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Zagreb 2 Croatian Academic Swimming Club MLADOST ABSTRACT The goal of this research is to determine whether statistically significant differences exist between three various methods for determining the anaerobic threshold, i.e. differences in heart frequencies with regard to the anaerobic threshold (FS anp-1, FS anp-2, FS anp-3 ) pertaining to a swimmers progressive test. The variable sample consisted of basic anthropometric variables, as well as a set of variables for the evaluation of functional abilities in 13 Croatian triathletes: maximum heart frequency, maximum speed, maximum lactates, anaerobic threshold FS (intersection method 4 mmol/l, Dmax method ), anaerobic threshold lactates (intersection method 4mmol/l D-max method ).The subjects swam a progressive discontinuous test of 7 x 200 meters, the same being used to measure cardiovascular and metabolic responses to swimming speed increase applying the front crawl technique. In order to determine statistically significant differences between various methods used to establish the anaerobic threshold of the subjects, the t-test was used for dependent samples. In the course of this research, the Intersection method and the D-max method have proven to be a reliable means in assessing the anaerobic threshold. Key words: Intersection method, 4 mmol/l method and D-max method, swimming. INTRODUCTION The main problem in testing swimmers and triathletes is the implementation of a protocol in the water where ventilation parameters can t be monitored so only those tests remain that includes monitoring metabolic parameters. Testing these athletes outside the water does not ensure adequate and reliable results due to the specificity of water training: decreased body temperature, higher pressure volume of the heart, lower maximum heart frequency and majority use of smaller energy consumers (Maglischo, 2003). Various methods exist for determining the anaerobic threshold based on the speed-lactate curve. One of the methods used for establishing the anaerobic threshold is

2 the fixed lactate model proposed by Kindermann (1979), and upgraded by Sjodin and Jacobs (1981) by introducing the OBLA (Onset of blood lactate accumulation). Based on that initial model, the anaerobic threshold was fixed at 4mmol/l, while the aerobic threshold precedes it at 2mmol/l. A special interpretation of the lactate threshold arose after the existence of individual differences in the blood lactate concentration, at the lactate anaerobic threshold, was confirmed. The original method by Stegmann and Associates (1981), defining the individual anaerobic threshold (IAT) as the exercise intensity at which the speed-lactate curve changes its shape from curviness to a straight linear rise (Maglischo, 2003). This method is also known as the intersection method. Cheng and Kuipers have, in 1992, described a new procedure, they call the D-max method, for determining the anaerobic threshold, using a starting and terminating curve point. The line is set by the basic course of variable change. Thereafter, a point is set on the curve that is the farthest from the line. Said point represents a change in trend and the authors believe it corresponds with the anaerobic threshold (Maglischo, 2003). The purpose of this paper is to determine whether statistically significant differences exist between 3 various methods of anaerobic threshold determination (the Intersection method, the 4 mmol/l method and the D-max method), i.e. differences in heart frequencies at the anaerobic threshold level (FS anp-1, FS anp-2, FS anp-3 ) during the swimmers progressive test. The importance of the anaerobic threshold determinant lies in the subsequent simplicity in establishing training zones and achieving planned training goals. METHODS The sample examines The sample of examinees was comprised of a group of 13 Croatian triathletes of a recreational and national level, of which there were 10 male triathletes and 3 female triathletes, being an average of 27,1 ± 5,9 years of age. When selecting examinees, the prerequisite was to have at least one year of training and competitive experience in triathlon, as well as being of satisfactory health. Table 1: Descriptive parameters AS±SD (min-max) AGE (yrs) 27,1 ± 5,9 (18-39) ALVT (cm) 174,85 ± 7,28 (165,0-187,0) AVTT (kg) 72,65 ± 11,18 (58,7-92,7) %BF (%) 13,4 ± 7,72 (4,0-26,2) AGE years, ALVT (cm) body height, AVTT (kg) body mass, %BF - Subcutaneous Body Fat Sample of Variables a) A set of variables for evaluating anthropometric characteristics Measurement of examinees morphological characteristics was carried out in accordance with the guidelines of the International Biological Program (IBP, Mišigoj-

3 Duraković 2008). Basic morphological variables were measured in order to determine the examinees morphological status. With the help of an anthropometric set and a medical scale, the variables of ALVT and AVTT were measured, while the subcutaneous body fat was established based on the method of biological impedance, using the Tanita BC-418 (TANITA, USA) scale. Eight electrodes (4 for the arms, 4 for the feet) are used to send a weak electric signal through the entire body. In those locations where the resistance, i.e. impedance is higher, the signal needs more time to travel, indicating a higher content of subcutaneous body fat. b) Set of variables for evaluating functional abilities 1)FS max (BPM ) - Maximum Heart Frequency, 2) V max (m/s) Maximum Speed, 3) LAC max (mmol/l) - Maximum Lactates, 4) FS anp-1 (BPM) - Anaerobic Threshold Heart Frequency ( intersection method ), 5) FS anp-2 (BPM) - Anaerobic Threshold Heart Frequency ( 4 mmol/l ), 6) FS anp-3 (BPM) - Anaerobic Threshold Heart Frequency ( D-max method ), 7) LAC anp-1 (mmol/l) - Anaerobic Threshold Lactates ( intersection method ), 8) LAC anp-2 (mmol/l) - Anaerobic Threshold Lactates ( 4 mmol/l ), 9) LAC anp-3 ( mmol/l) - Anaerobic Threshold Lactates ( D-max method ). Specified parameters were measured during one test protocol, while the variables were determined based on three various methods. Test Protocol SWIMMING TEST 7 x 200m progressive step test Prior to testing, the examinees were acquainted with the testing protocol which, with regard to the swimming test, consists of seven (7) 200 meter sections with a 5 minute working regime in a small swimming pool. Each section is covered by applying a faster swimming pace, up to the maximum and at an even pace. How fast each examinee swam through a certain section was determined based on the best 200 meter result, the same being tested a few days prior to the swimming test. The obtained result was increased by 5 seconds in order to get the fastest seventh section. Every previous section is also increased by 5 seconds in order to get the swimming pace for each set section which the swimmer must comply with. An example of calculating swimming speed for each of the set sections is shown in Table 6. Specified swimming pace was dictated by an assistant by the pool, using a whistle every 12,5 m, and if the examinee was swimming at a set pace, then the assistant would whistle every 25 or 50 m. During testing, the examinees wore a pulse meter (Polar RS 400, Finland) the whole time, and at each section s end, the concentration of lactates in the blood was measured with a Lactate Scout device (SensLab, Germany). Immediately prior to starting a new section (about seconds prior), the examinee would enter the pool and prepare for start. In order for the transmitter of the pulse meter to be attached to the examinees chests, all the examinees wore swimsuits.

4 RESULTS Results obtained by measurement procedures were processed by a data analysis software system Statistic version 8.0. Table 2: Descriptive Values of Certain Variables Valid N Mean Minimum Maximum Std.Dev. Skewness Kurtosis FS max , ,50 0,065-1,342 LAC max 13 11,31 6,6 19,2 2,99 1,236 4,098 V max 13 1,13 0,96 1,36 0,11 0,415 0,139 LAC anp ,63 3,3 6 0,80 0,015-0,705 LAC anp , , LAC anp ,98 3,3 7,3 1,15 0,521 0,006 Table 3: T-test and Correlation Results p <,05000 FS anp-1 FS anp-2 FS anp-3 FS anp-1 r 1 0,88 0,91 t (p) 3,87 (0,0022) -1,95 (0,07) FS anp-2 r 0,88 1 0,74 t (p) 3,87 (0,0022) -3,92 (0,0020) FS anp-3 r 0,91 0,74 1 t (p) -1,95 (0,07) -3,92 (0,0020) High correlation values (Table 3) are indicative of a link between FS anp-1 and FS anp-2 which shows that the purpose of measurement is the same and that predicting results by using the D-max method based on the intersection method is 82% successful, while predicting results through the D-max method based on the 4 mmol/l method is much less successful, i.e. 54%. DISCUSSION Large differences between maximum values of lactates in the blood speak of various degrees in which the body is able to react to acidosis. Naturally, those values are conditioned by the training as well, and if we look at each examinee separately, it is noticeable that examinees that are more trained are able to increase speed one section after another, regardless of the rise of blood lactates and the decrease of ph value. Said values of maximum blood lactates are a generally accepted aerobic capacity parameter and the buffering ability of the muscles. Values of the maximum heart frequency in this test are the highest value achieved in a test, but not the maximum one. Namely, in order to achieve maximum heart frequency values, the test must be shorter, without intervals and more intense.

5 It would be logical that there are no statistically significant differences between all these measures because the object measured is the same. Table 3 shows a high correlation (r=0,91) between FS anp-1 ( intersection method) and FS anp-3 (D-max method), while the t-test for dependant samples showed (Table 3) that no statistically significant differences exist, the same demonstrating that those two different measures for determining the anaerobic threshold are reliable in evaluating the anaerobic threshold in swimmers. Furthermore, Table 3 shows that a statistically significant difference exists between FS anp-2 (4 mmol/l method) with FS anp-1 and FS anp-3, thereby proving it to be a deviating measure, meaning that it does not target the same measuring object in its entirety. According to Stegmann and associates, 1981, it is impossible to fix the threshold at 4mmol/l with everyone (FS anp-2 ), so therefore it is necessary to determine the so called IAT individual anaerobic threshold (FS anp-1 ). In their research, Stegman and Kindermann have shown that the individual anaerobic threshold is different in relation to the threshold obtained by a fixed concentration of lactates at 4mmol/l. The Intersection method, i.e. the individual anaerobic threshold represents a reliable way of evaluating the lactate anaerobic threshold (Urhausen, 1993), and if carried out carefully it provides overall consistent results with athletes or within the clinical population (Svedahl and MacIntosh, 2003). Establishing the anaerobic threshold at 4mmol/l has its advantages, considering the objectivity of determination, but also a great disadvantage due to ignoring individual differences and individual lactate kinetics. Namely, not all examinees show a significant increase of lactates at 4 mmol/l, but this range is much wider, spanning from 3-6 mmol/l, up to as much as 9 mmol/l (MacIntosh and Assoc., 2002.; Billat and Assoc.2003). A graphical overview of FS anp values shows that the lowest values of FS anp-2, i.e. heart frequency were determined by the 4 mmol/l method. A higher similarity of incidence and higher values between FS anp-1 and FS anp-3 are also clearly visible. Chart 1: Comparison of FS anp Percentage Values from FS max Obtained by Three Different Methods It is important to know that, on average, untrained persons will exceed the threshold at only 50-60% of maximum load, while top athletes in aerobic sports do the same at 85-95% of maximum load (Janssen, 2001). The percentage values of FSanp incidence are very high and should not be taken literally as such, since unfortunately maximum values of heart frequency have not been obtained. According to Maglischu, 2003, the maximum heart frequency value for swimmers must be tested in the water, while an

6 additional prerequisite of obtaining maximum heart frequency values is reading the values during or immediately after maximum performance lasting between one and two minutes. CONCLUSION Today, there are several definitions of the term anaerobic threshold. The anaerobic threshold is considered to be the intensity at which the oxygen supply system activates the mechanism of anaerobic glycolysis in a more significant way, and at which the accumulation of lactic acid is equal to its breakdown. The method most often used in practice is the ventilation method, but its application in water is almost impossible, whereas the second mostly used method is the heart frequency deflection point that can be determined on a heart frequency curve obtained from a continuous test. For that reason, testing in the water is significantly more difficult, thereby making the anaerobic threshold determination more difficult as well. In the course of this research, three methods were used to determine the anaerobic threshold: 1) the intersection method (IAT), 2) the 4mmol/l method, and the 3) D-max method. Both the Intersection method and the D-max method have shown to be a reliable manner of evaluating the anaerobic threshold, and if applied carefully they provide generally consistent results in swimmers. LITERATURE 1. Billat, L.V., Sirvent, P., Py, G., Koralsztein J., Mercier, J. (2003). The Concept of Maximal Lactate Steady State. Sports Med 33(6): Janssen, P. (2001). Lactate Threshold Training. Human Kinetics. USA. 3. Kindermann, W., Simon, G., and Keul, J. (1979). The significance of the aerobic anaerobic transition for the determination of work load intensities during endurance training. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 42: MacIntosh, B.R., Esau, S., Svedahl, K. (2002). The lactate minimum test for cycling: Estimation of the maximal lactate steady state. Can. J. Appl. Physiol, 27: Maglischo, E. (2003). Swimming Fastest. Human Kinetics, UK. 6. Mišigoj-Duraković M. Kinantropologija. Biološki aspekti tjelesnog vježbanja (Kinanthropology. Biological Aspects of Physical Exercise). Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Zagreb, 2008; Sjodin, B., Jacobs, I., and Karlsson, J. (1981). Onset of blood lactate accumulation and marathon running performance. Int. J. Sports Med. 2: Stegmann H, Kinderman W, Schnabel A. (1981). Lactate kinetics and the individual anaerobic threshold. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 2: Swedahl K., MacIntosh B.R. (2003). Anaerobic threshold: The concept and methods of measurement. Can. J. Appl. Physiol. 28 (2): Urhausen, A., Coen, B., Weiler, B., and Kindermann, W. (1993). Individual anaerobic threshold and maximum lactate steady state. Int. J. Sports Med, 14:

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