1. Transgender Women in the Female Category of Sport: Perspectives on Testosterone Suppression and Performance Advantage:
Males enjoy physical performance advantages over females within competitive sport. The sex-based segregation into male and female sporting categories does not account for transgender persons who experience incongruence between their biological sex and their experienced gender identity. Accordingly, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) determined criteria by which a transgender woman may be eligible to compete in the female category, requiring total serum testosterone levels to be suppressed below 10 nmol/L for at least 12 months prior to and during competition. Whether this regulation removes the male performance advantage has not been scrutinized. Here, we review how differences in biological characteristics between biological males and females affect sporting performance and assess whether evidence exists to support the assumption that testosterone suppression in transgender women removes the male performance advantage and thus delivers fair and safe competition. We report that the performance gap between males and females becomes significant at puberty and often amounts to 10–50% depending on sport. The performance gap is more pronounced in sporting activities relying on muscle mass and explosive strength, particularly in the upper body. Longitudinal studies examining the effects of testosterone suppression on muscle mass and strength in transgender women consistently show very modest changes, where the loss of lean body mass, muscle area and strength typically amounts to approximately 5% after 12 months of treatment. Thus, the muscular advantage enjoyed by transgender women is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed. Sports organizations should consider this evidence when reassessing current policies regarding participation of transgender women in the female category of sport.
2. The Secret to Better Running? Try Distraction:
Focusing on external sights and sounds, rather than what’s going on in your body, made running feel easier and improved performance.
To make running seem easier, try paying attention to anything other than your body. That’s according to a fascinating new study of the ways in which how we focus as we move can affect how we feel as we move. The study was small and involved novice female runners, but the findings suggest that the more closely runners listen to their bodies, the more draining their running can become, both physically and psychologically. Conversely, the more runners distract themselves from what their bodies are doing as they put one foot in front of the other, the more effortless their run may feel, and the better their performance.
These findings could be useful for the many runners about to toe the line at a fall marathon or other race. The results could have implications, too, for any of us who might wonder how to make our workouts feel as tolerable as they possibly can be.
Exercise is not always boundless fun, as most of us know from experience. It can be physically unsettling as we begin to move and our heart rates and breathing quicken and muscles start to whinge. It has not been altogether clear, however, how best to cope with these discomforts, so that we can stay motivated to eventually become better at our chosen sport or activity.
More...from the New York Times.
3. Should You Get Your Iron Checked?
New study shows that iron deficiency and anemia take a toll on active women.
Iron is essential for energy. It helps your body deliver oxygen to your working muscles and the mineral participates in the energy making process in your mitochondria. It’s also a key player in cognitive function and keeping your immune system strong.
Because of the menstrual cycle, women are at an increased risk to have iron deficiency, which is low iron, as well as anemia, where you have both low iron and a lack of hemoglobin, the iron-rich protein in your blood cells that carry oxygen.
Research shows that one in ten women will have anemia at any point in time and about a third of women suffer with anemia at some point in their lifetime. Active women are especially at risk, even more so than active men. Research shows that while about 5 to 11 percent of male athletes have iron deficiency, that number jumps to 15 to 35 percent among females.
More...from Dr. Stacy Sims.
4. How Little Training Can You Get Away With?
Although I spend most of my time trying to help athletes fit more training into their busy lifestyles, there are times when life gets in the way and other priorities eliminate or dramatically reduce available training time. There are also times, particularly at the end of a long season full of events and competitions, when athletes need a break. These scenarios beg the questions: how little training can you get away with and preserve endurance performance, and for how long?
As an athlete, it’s safe to say your goal and desire is to train more than the bare minimum required to preserve performance, but investigating the minimum amount of exercise required to elicit a training response helps us to understand the dose-response relationship as athletes add more training volume, frequency, and intensity. It is also important because studies have shown that minimizing the decline in performance between seasons is associated with greater performance improvements during the next season (Mujika 1995, and Rønnestad 2014). As I’ve told athletes for many years, it is very difficult to make year-over-year improvements when you must spend four to six months just losing and regaining fitness.
5. How Mental Training Can Make You Physically Stronger:
A new study shows measurable gains in strength from a purely imaginary training program.
Close your eyes and imagine this scene. You’re entering the weight room. You sit down on a bench and collect your thoughts, recalling how many sets and reps you plan to do, with how much weight and how much rest. Now you head over to the Smith machine, unrack the bar, and prepare to do a back squat: down for two seconds until the legs are bent at 90 degrees, then thrusting upward as forcefully and fast as possible. Repeat as desired—and boom, you just got stronger while reading this paragraph.
The power of mental imagery is well-known to the point of cliché, and scientists have been studying it for decades. It’s mostly viewed as a way of getting in the right headspace, or else as a parlor trick showing that imaginary exercise can get your heart pumping. But when the pandemic sent professional athletes into lockdown last year, some of them were willing to try seemingly outlandish tactics to avoid losing their fitness. A new study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, led by Antonio Dello Iacono of the University of the West of Scotland, tells the surprising story of how the Glasgow Rocks, the then-top-ranked team in the British Basketball League, stayed in shape last spring.
More...from Sweat Science on Outside Online*.
6. Fitness: A fall-detecting smartwatch could save a solo exerciser:
Hitting a pothole, slipping on ice or tumbling over a loose rock, there are lots of ways to fall, and most of them happen in a split second.
Nobody plans a fall. But when it happens, you want to be prepared, especially if you’re cycling, running or hiking solo in the middle of nowhere or in the quiet of the early morning with no one around. If you’re lucky, you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back at it. But some falls you just don’t get up from. That’s when an assist from your smartwatch comes in handy.
Apple was the first smartwatch with fall detection using data compiled from the unique movement patterns of real-life tumbles. The internal accelerometer and gyroscope detects the fall by noting its impact and how the wrist moves through space. It also identifies if the fall left you motionless, tapping the wrist, sounding an alarm and displaying an alert asking whether you want to call emergency services, which can be dismissed if you just need a bit more time to pull yourself together.
More...from the Montreal Gazette.
7. Media Outlets, Stop Sexualizing Women in Sports:
The IFSC had to apologize—twice—for broadcasting sexualized footage of climber Johanna Farber. The time for women athletes to be portrayed with respect is long overdue.
In September, the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC), the governing body of competitive climbing, issued its second apology of the season to 23-year-old Austrian climber Johanna Farber. During the World Championships in Moscow, Russia, on September 18, the IFSC live stream on Youtube included a close-up, lingering shot of her butt. The incident followed the first apology IFSC issued after broadcasting similar footage of the athlete during the World Cup in Innsbruck, Austria, on June 26.
“The video is disrespectful but even worse is the part afterwards. Everyone has something to say about this, and not for my climbing,” Farber told me. She received social media comments suggesting that if she was upset by the coverage, she should wear more modest clothing and not “ask” for attention to her body in the posts on Instagram.
More///from Outside Online.
8. How understanding your motivation can drive your performance:
What’s really motivating you to perform? It's a question that's particularly relevant at the moment as our motivation for training has been tested by the pandemic and the restrictions imposed on how we'd normally approach our exercise.
Understanding what motivates you is a crucial component of performing well, and when it comes to what motivates you in competitive situations, there are two aspects of personality that are worth exploring: a Need for Achievement (NA) and a Fear of Failure (FF).
NA refers to how naturally competitive we are and how we actively seek out challenges in our sport.
FF explains the way we perceive the possibility of defeat. None of us enjoy losing and sport in general is highly achievement oriented, yet for some, the thought of defeat is more damaging than for others.
Many see defeat as ‘failure’ which results in self-doubt and can affect self-esteem (so is personally damaging and a reflection of our ability). This in turn, can bring on a sense of hopelessness, and have a negative impact on motivation.
More...from Precision Hydration.
9. Elite Runner Releases New Book about Running and Training Throughout Pregnancy and into the Fourth Trimester:
The book details every day of pregnancy and the first 90 days postpartum, without workout logs, personal thoughts, and training notes from both the athlete’s and coach’s perspectives
Natasha LaBeaud Anzures, an elite runner for Canada, has just released a new book entitled, “Pregruncy: An Elite Runner’s Journey Training Through Pregnancy.” The book details every day of pregnancy and the first 90 days postpartum, which workout logs, personal thoughts, and training notes from both the athlete’s and coach’s perspectives.
LaBeaud Anzures decided to write Pregruncy as soon as she found out that she was pregnant in September 2020. Like many others, she has always been fascinated with exercise during pregnancy, and what the entire pregnancy experience would be like. Years before she ever became pregnant, she would read any articles that came her way about the topic. LaBead Anzures was never the person who said that they were going to have a family, or became starry-eyed when thinking about cradling her stomach during the third trimester. She has always been more curious about the process of pregnancy and how different people cope with the cards that they are dealt. But, she noticed that there were few resources available for the elite runner or athlete trying to navigate the world of training during pregnancy. There were morsels of details deep in Instagram posts, but there was no consistent stream of information available that showed what each day of training looked like, and that was what she was on a quest to share.
More...from Endurance Sportswire.
Buy the book from Amazon.
10. Should You Train All Three Sports Equally?
Pushing it in all three sports, all the time, is a recipe for injury and burnout. Here’s what to do instead.
To get to the finish line of a triathlon, athletes have to swim, bike, and run. It makes sense, then, that training for a race involves lots of swimming, biking, and running. But that doesn’t mean you need to spread your time or energy equally across all three sports all of the time.
“One of the common pitfalls that I’ve seen over the years is training all three sports equally, with key training sessions in the swim, bike, and run on any given week,” said Ryan Kohler, head coach and physiologist at Fast Talk Laboratories. “But this can backfire.”
Many athletes, especially beginner triathletes, feel pressured to master all three sports. To achieve this, they train each discipline separately, assuming it will all come together for a better performance on race day. But that’s not quite the case, Kohler said.
More...from Triathlete Magazine.
11. Ankle Synovitis and Ankle Joint Effusion:
What is Ankle Synovitis? Discover correct prevention, treatment and recovery strategies, plus strength exercises and ankle stretches.
Ankle Synovitis (also known as Ankle Joint Effusion) is an injury to the synovial membrane in the ankle. It is an inflammation of the synovium that causes pain and swelling.
This inflammation can result in excess fluid leaking into the joint, which can result in a blockage of nutrients to the surrounding surfaces, a degradation of the cartilage, and instability in the joint. The inflammation may also result in swelling of the membrane placing extra pressure on the surfaces of the joint.
More...from Stretch Coach.
12. What causes muscle cramps in exercise?
Muscle cramping during exercise is a common problem among athletes that involves sudden, involuntary and painful muscle contraction during or after exercise. The occurrence of cramps is quite unpredictable, and the causes are not well understood, though there are two hypotheses.
Types and prevalence of muscle cramps
Many athletes have experienced muscle cramping during or after exercise, at some point in their sporting career. It is difficult to assess how many athletes suffer from muscle cramps, as some athletes may experience cramps only occasionally, whilst cramping may be a recurring problem for others. There are also different types of cramps, from small cramps in small muscles that resolve quickly to large whole-body cramps that cause pain for hours or even days. Studies may also report and define cramping differently (1). These factors make estimating the prevalence of cramping difficult, but one large survey of 2600 triathletes suggested that 67% of the participants reported some level of cramping during or after exercise, whilst 4% had experienced severe cramping (2).
13. How Cyclists Can Avoid Low Bone Density:
The link between serious cycling and poor bone health is well established, but researchers are still debating what to do about it
Serious cyclists tend to have fragile bones. That’s been known for several decades, but it’s still not clear why it happens and what (if anything) to do about it. A recent article in the Journal of Applied Physiology by a group researchers in the Netherlands, led by Jan-Willem van Dijk of HAN University of Applied Sciences and including a few scientists from the Jumbo-Visma pro cycling team, stirred the pot and provoked responses from scientists around the world—including a few unexpected viewpoints. Here are some of the highlights.
The case of the missing bone density is like one of those Agatha Christie scenarios where there are too many suspects with the motive, means, and opportunity to commit the crime. The obvious culprit is that cycling is a low-impact sport that doesn’t provide jolting impacts to stimulate bone growth and repair. But as researchers Tadej Debevec and Jörn Rittweger point out in an accompanying commentary, track cyclists, especially sprinters, actually have stronger-than-average bones.
More...from Sweat Science on Outside Online.
14. What Scientists Are Learning About Estrogen and Exercise:
A study in mice raises intriguing questions about the ways that hormones influence the brain and motivate the body to move.
Estrogen may change brain activity in ways that could affect how physically active we are, according to a remarkable new study in mice that looked at DNA, hormones and brain cells. Using advanced technology to pinpoint and reprogram specific genes and neurons in living animals, the study found that surges of estrogen jump-started processes in the mouse brain that prompted the animals — even males — to become more active.
More...from the New York Times.
15. The Transformation of the Fitness Industry:
Workouts, like work itself, can be done at home, and clubs are learning how to lure customers back.
Like restaurants, retailers and other businesses normally conducted in crowded locations open to the public, the health and fitness industry in Europe is scrambling to recover and get its business back on track — as soon as it figures out what its business will look like.
The orders by public health authorities to close health and fitness clubs several times have had a profound effect on the industry. The consulting firm Deloitte estimates that clubs in Europe lost 15.4 percent of their members, or more than 10 million people, even when closures were relatively brief. Industry revenue fell twice as much, by almost 33 percent, as clients froze their accounts or requested refunds.
More...from the New York Times.