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University School of Physical Education in Wrocław

University School of Physical Education in Kraków


University School of Physical Education in Kraków (Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego im. Bronisława Czecha w Krakowie) Human movement


vol. 15, number 3 (September), 2014, pp. 125 – 190 editor-in-Chief alicja Rutkowska-Kucharska

University School of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland associate editor edward mleczko

University School of Physical Education, Kraków, Poland editorial Board

Physical activity, fitness and health

Wiesław Osiński University School of Physical Education, Poznań, Poland Applied sport sciences

Zbigniew Trzaskoma Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education, Warszawa, Poland Biomechanics and motor control

Tadeusz Bober University School of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland Kornelia Kulig University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA Physiological aspects of sports

Andrzej Suchanowski Józef Rusiecki Olsztyn University College, Olsztyn, Poland Psychological diagnostics of sport and exercise

Andrzej Szmajke Opole University, Opole, Poland advisory Board

Wojtek J. Chodzko-Zajko University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, USA Gudrun Doll-Tepper Free University, Berlin, Germany

Józef Drabik University School of Physical Education and Sport, Gdańsk, Poland Kenneth Hardman University of Worcester, Worcester, United Kingdom

Andrew Hills Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia Zofia Ignasiak University School of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland Slobodan Jaric University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA

Toivo Jurimae University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

Han C.G. Kemper Vrije University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Wojciech Lipoński University School of Physical Education, Poznań, Poland Gabriel Łasiński University School of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland Robert M. Malina University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA

Melinda M. Manore Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA Philip E. Martin Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA Joachim Mester German Sport University, Cologne, Germany Toshio Moritani Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

Andrzej Pawłucki University School of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland John S. Raglin Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA

Roland Renson Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium

Tadeusz Rychlewski University School of Physical Education, Poznań, Poland James F. Sallis San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA James S. Skinner Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA Jerry R. Thomas University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA Karl Weber German Sport University, Cologne, Germany Peter Weinberg Hamburg, Germany

Marek Woźniewski University School of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland Guang Yue Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Wladimir M. Zatsiorsky Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, USA Jerzy Żołądź University School of Physical Education, Kraków, Poland

Translation: Michael Antkowiak, Tomasz Skirecki Design: Agnieszka Nyklasz

Copy editor: Beata Irzykowska Statistical editor: Małgorzata Kołodziej

Indexed in: SPORTDiscus, Index Copernicus, Altis, Sponet, Scopus, CAB Abstracts, Global Health 7 pkt wg rankingu Ministerstwa Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego

© Copyright 2014 by Wydawnictwo AWF we Wrocławiu ISSN 1732-3991 Editorial Office Dominika Niedźwiedź

51-612 Wrocław, al. Ignacego Jana Paderewskiego 35, Poland, tel. 48 71 347 30 51, hum_mov@awf.wroc.pl This is to certify the conformity with PN-EN-ISO 9001:2009



p h y s i c a l a c t i v i t y , f i t n e s s a n d h e a l t h Ziemowit Bańkosz, Paweł szumielewicz

Proprioceptive ability of fencing and table tennis practioners ... 128 Jadwiga Pietraszewska, Anna Burdukiewicz, Aleksandra stachoń, Justyna Andrzejewska,

Tadeusz stefaniak, Kazimierz Witkowski

Body build and the level of development of muscle strength among male jiu-jitsu competitors

and strength-trained adults ...134 a p p l i e d s p o r t s c i e n c e s

chad E. smith, Brian Lyons, James c. Hannon

A pilot study involving the effect of two different complex training protocols on lower body power ...141 James Fisher, christopher Langford

The effects of load and effort-matched concentric and eccentric knee extension training

in recreational females ...147 b i o m e c h a n i c s a n d m o t o r c o n t r o l

Alekhya Tirumala, Basavaraj Motimath

Effect of resistance tube exercises on kicking accuracy, vertical jump and 40-yard technical test

in competitive football players – an experimental study ...152 p h y s i o l o g i c a l a s p e c t s o f s p o r t s

Benedikt A. Gasser, Adrian M. stäuber, Glenn Lurmann, Fabio A. Breil, Hans H. Hoppeler, Michael Vogt

Oxygen consumption while standing with unstable shoe design ...160 Pantelis Theodoros Nikolaidis, Johnny Padulo, Hamdi chtourou, Gema Torres-Luque,

José Afonso, Jan Heller

Estimating maximal heart rate with the ‘220-age’ formula in adolescent female volleyball players:

a preliminary study ...166 Barbara Głuchowska, Aleksandra Żebrowska, Tomasz Kamiński

An assessment of exercise tolerance in normobaric hypoxia of patients with diabetes mellitus Type 1 ...171 p s y c h o l o g i c a l d i a g n o s t i c s o f s p o r t a n d e x e r c i s e

Rainer schliermann, Isabel stolz, Volker Anneken

The sports background, personality, attitudes, and social competencies of coaches

and assistant coaches in the Just Soccer program for pupils with intellectual disabilities ...177 Publishing guidelines – Regulamin publikowania prac ... 186





1 University school of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland 2 Fencing club “Wrocławianie”, Wrocław, Poland


Purpose. The aim of the study was to compare the spatial component of proprioceptive ability by reproducing a upper limb movement typical in table tennis and fencing. Methods. The research comprised 41 young males of which 12 were table tennis players, 14 fencers, and 15 not involved in any competitive sports as a control. The experiment was based on assessing the preci-sion of pronation and supination of the forearm at the elbow joint in recreating a set movement range by use of a goniometer. Results and conclusions. The results point to a higher level of proprioceptive ability in fencers and table tennis players than the control group but only in respect to the tasks executed with the dominant limb. This is inferred to be the result from the specific character of both sports (i.e. the intensive use of one limb and the consequent laterality of that limb) causing higher sensitivity and proprioception. This may provide a link between swordplay, table tennis, and the level of proprioception. The research methodology used herein may be useful in monitoring fencing training. Although not unequivocally statistically significant, the results indicate the potential for further research in this area.

Key words: proprioception, fencing, table tennis, joint position sense

doi: 10.1515/humo-2015-0001

2014, vol. 15 (3), 128– 133

* corresponding author.


Achieving success in modern sports requires ever-in-creasing levels of peak physical and mental conditioning, hence the search for newer and more efficient training methods by sports practitioners and researchers [1]. some researchers have suggested that one way to mobi-lize fitness potential without increasing strain is through the use of training methods that focus on developing motor coordination abilities such as the ability to kines-thetically differentiate movement and its ranges by way of proprioception [1]. The literature features research that stresses the significance of proprioception in sports yet also notes the complexity and variety of measuring standards due to various factors including difficulties in selecting the methods of assessing the motor skill in question [1, 2]. Nonetheless, the noted dependency be-tween sporting excellence and proprioceptive ability has suggested that this factor should be taken into account during the recruiting process [3]. Lephart et al. [4] com-pared the accuracy of movement at the knee joint in gymnasts and a control group concluding that specific sports training had a positive influence on knee proprio-ception by creating enhanced neurosensory pathways in athletes. similar findings showed that ice hockey players and ballet dancers presented significantly better results than a control group in proprioception of the foot and ankle complex and linked this result with their involve-ment in athletic activity [5]. When examining figure

skaters, starosta et al. [3] found a mutual relationship between the level of proprioceptive sensitivity and ath-letic achievement, concluding that a higher achieve-ment level is associated with greater proprioception in recreating a set range of movement. Other authors have pointed out the importance of developing sensorimo-tor perception in beginner swimmers as a base for fur-ther improvement [6].

The literature demonstrates that proprioceptive ability is better developed in those parts of the body directly involved in a given sport. Li and Huang [7] drew similar conclusions, finding basketball sharpshooters to exhibit a high level of motion sensitivity in finger and elbow flexors and a great degree of accuracy in choice reaction tasks. The results of starosta [1] and starosta et al. [3] may also indicate the particular significance of proprio-ceptive ability. In these bodies of work, it was found that the differentiation of movement in canoeists dur-ing the competitive season is much greater than in the preceding training season. In addition, a significant relationship between the level of proprioception, the results of a motor test, and technique was found [3]. Walaszek and Nosal [8] found that children practicing acrobatic rock’n’roll were characterized by a higher level of proprioception than a control group. Analysis of the relationship between the results of exercise tests and the precision of applying strength (proprioceptive sensi-tivity) concluded that research on proprioceptive sen-sitivity may be useful in monitoring training in nu-merous sports [2].

Proprioception of movement can be expressed in the selection, execution, or sensation of the position of


in-Z. Bańkosz, P. szumielewicz, Proprioceptive ability of fencing and table tennis practioners

dividual body parts (the spatial component), the muscle strength involved in the movement (the strength com-ponent), and the speed of the movement (the temporal component) [9]. According to starosta [1], developing proprioceptive ability by initiating, refreshing, and ac-quiring kinesthetic awareness in the three above-men-tioned components may increase training effectiveness. some authors have emphasized the importance of specific exercises improving movement imagery and kinesthet-ic ability (based on creating kinesthetkinesthet-ic experience) in improving and strengthening proprioception [10].

Table tennis and fencing are sports in which success depends on many interconnected factors, with motor coordination abilities indicated as the most important. Borysiuk [11] found that such abilities have a decisive effect in fencing, especially in the spheres of movement precision and motor adaptation. czajkowski [12] also highlighted the significance of motor coordination in this sport, emphasizing the special role of time percep-tion as a tactical oppercep-tion and the ability to take an oppo-nent by surprise as an integral part of any bout. similar conclusions on the significance of motor coordination were found in the literature on table tennis [13, 14].

However, little research has assessed the level and significance of proprioceptive ability in both sports, where the role of such features as sensing (sensing time, the table tennis ball, or weapon) are very important [12, 15]. Those few studies in the literature suggest that proprioceptive ability significantly affects technical skills and sporting success in table tennis [9, 13, 16]. These include skills such as selecting the paddle’s position and angle, the selection and strength intensity of a stroke, and discerning the ball’s rotation [9, 14]. In fencing, notions such as the sense of the weapon, distance, and pace have been analyzed [17]. Other aspects of par-ticular significance include ‘sensing the steel’, sensing the position of the upper limb (forearm, arm, hand) when thrusting or controlling the weapon, directing thrusts towards the target area, movement precision when parry-ing, the speed at which the arm is straightened, and “sens-ing the steel” are of great significance [17]. Due to the fact that the skills related to effective proprioceptive ability seem important both in table tennis and fenc-ing, it would be interesting to determine whether athletes involved in these sports display a high level of motor skills (measured by known and available methods). An answer in the affirmative would emphasize the signifi-cance of kinesthetic diversity in both sports and may prompt its inclusion and development in the training process. An assessment of the level of proprioceptive ability could also serve in monitoring training in fencing and table tennis.

Therefore, the aim of the study was to compare pro-prioceptive ability by recreating the position of upper limb movements typical in table tennis and fencing. This would include a search for all correlative relation-ships between the above factors. It was hypothesized

that a higher level of this ability in table tennis and fencing athletes than in untrained individuals may signify the importance of this factor in both sports, determine a link between athletic activity and the level of proprio-ceptive ability, and also signify the influence of specific training on how proprioceptive ability is shaped.

Material and methods

Research comprised young males at a similar age level. The sample included 12 table tennis players, 14 fencers, and 15 of their peers as a control. Measures of age, body height, and body mass of the examined groups are presented in Table 1.

Table 1. Basic descriptive characteristics of the examined groups for age, body height, and body mass


(years) Body height (cm) Body mass (kg)

SD SD SD Table tennis (n = 12) 13.17 1.03 163.75 3.96 57.75 6.38 Fencing (n = 14) 12.64 0.74 158.57 8.11 49.43 7.35 control (n = 15) 12.67 0.49 154.8 7.49 47.8 7.97

The fencers were members of a fencing club with about 3 years’ competitive experience. competitive expe-rience in the case of the table tennis players was slightly longer at about 5 years. The control group comprised 15 boys from a local primary school not involved in any competitive sport.

Testing was performed with a goniometer to assess the precision of recreating a set movement range [3, 9]. The testing apparatus consisted of a specially constructed goniometric appliance to measure forearm pronation and supination at the elbow joint (Figure 1). It con-sisted of a stationary main body with a rotating cylin-der attached to a handle in which the cylincylin-der/handle rotated on a Teflon bearing. A revolving linear poten-tiometer fixed at the end of the cylinder recorded the angle of rotation. An analog-to-digital converter and Lab-view software ver. 2009 (National Instruments, UsA) were used to digitally record the angular values when rotating the cylinder/handle.


Z. Bańkosz, P. szumielewicz, Proprioceptive ability of fencing and table tennis practioners

Participants sat on a chair of adjustable height and held the handle of the appliance in such a way that the forearm and the upper arm formed a right angle. The elbow of the arm executing the movement was posi-tioned touching the body (Figure 1). During the ex-amination the forearm’s axis coincided with the axis of movement, while the capitulum of the third meta-carpal bone coincided with the rotation axis in accor-dance with the requirements of the measured move-ment range.

The participants were not allowed to familiarize themselves with the appliance prior to testing. For the purpose of the test, participants were blindfolded and asked to execute a pronation movement with the dominant limb three times beginning from the start po-sition of 0 and rotating the handle to an angle of 45°. Upon reaching the 45° angle a loud ring was automati-cally sounded. Immediately after completing the third try, the participants were asked to repeat the same move-ment five times but this time from memory (blind-folded with no audio cue) and to stop at the 45° angle. The above procedure was then repeated with a supina-tion movement, and then repeated in full for the non-dominant hand.

The software recorded the maximum range of move-ment in each direction (pronation/supination) as the angle was reproduced by the subject. The subject’s starting position was confirmed before each attempt and ad-justed by the researcher conducting the test. The time for repeating the five movements ‘from memory’ could not exceed 30 s. The extent of proprioceptive differen-tiation was determined for both the dominant and non-dominant limbs in the pronation and supination movements by calculating the precision rate, or the standard deviation of the recreated angular values, by the formula: PR = xi – , 2 5 5 i = 1

in which PR – precision rate, xi – the value of the recreated

angle of pronation or supination in i th sample, – arith-metic mean of the recreated angles.

Precision rates were calculated for P-D (pronation of dominant limb), s-D (supination of dominant limb), P-ND (pronation of non-dominant limb), and s-ND (supina-tion of non-dominant limb). A smaller precision rate was treated as an indicator of better proprioceptive ability (in more accurately recreating the spatial component of the movement in question). statistical analysis of the acquired results was performed with statistica software (statsoft, UsA). After basic descriptive statistics were calculated, between-group comparisons were made with the Kruskal–Wallis one-way analysis of variance and multiple comparisons of mean ranks for all groups.


The purpose of the experiment was to assess the precision of recreating a pronation and supination move-ment of the forearm at the elbow joint by three groups: table tennis players, fencers, and a control group not involved in any competitive sports. The table tennis players acquired the lowest precision rates in recreat-ing supination with the dominant limb and pronation with the dominant limb. These values were slightly higher in the case of the non-dominant limb (Table 2). It is interesting to note the high or average mean dis-persion and variation of the results as evidenced by the standard deviations and interquartile ranges as well as the relatively average and high values of the coeffi-cient of variation.

Table 2. Basic descriptive statistics of the precision rates in recreating pronation with the dominant limb (P-D), supination with the dominant limb (s-D), pronation with the non-dominant limb (P-ND), and supination with the non-dominant limb

(s-ND) movements

Variable (°) Me (°) Min (°) Max (°) IQR (°) SD (°) CV (%)

Table tennis (n = 12) P-D 5.44 4.68 1.59 8.75 4.93 2.55 47.00 s-D 5.28 4.02t 1.93 14.58 3.35 3.61 68.33 P-ND 5.55 5.78 2.63 9.32 2.70 1.96 35.41 s-ND 7.46 6.95 2.46 16.99 6.28 4.34 58.15 Fencing (n = 14) P-D 4.84 4.60t 1.60 8.28 3.45 2.03 42.00 s-D 5.01 4.43* 2.84 7.95 2.33 1.71 34.31 P-ND 7.49 6.73 2.72 16.38 5.60 4.04 53.99 s-ND 6.39 5.81 1.38 10.59 2.64 2.61 40.89 control (n = 15) P-D 7.61 7.71 2.51 17.99 4.74 3.99 52.47 s-D 7.44 7.15 2.44 12.61 4.60 3.10 41.75 P-ND 7.18 6.09 1.24 13.97 5.68 3.84 53.43 s-ND 5.86 5.81 2.37 11.35 2.82 2.56 43.65

– mean, Me – median, Min – minimum, Max – maximum, IQR – interquartile range, SD – standard deviation,


Z. Bańkosz, P. szumielewicz, Proprioceptive ability of fencing and table tennis practioners

A similar distribution of the results and their values may be observed in the group of fencers. The arithmetic means and medians were slightly lower in the tests per-formed with the dominant limb than the non-domi-nant one (Table 2). Of interest is that the difference in performing the pronation movement was quite con-siderable. Analysis of the dispersion and variation of the results indicates smaller differentiation than in the table tennis group.

Analysis of the results in the control group revealed larger median and mean values in most of the analyzed movements compared with both groups of athletes (Table 2). coefficients of variation and standard deviations in all four analyzed movements were similar and at an average level, signifying average intragroup differences.

Analysis also included comparing the precision rates obtained in the tested movements by all of the groups. As normal distributions were not found in some of the movements, intergroup differences were assessed us-ing non-parametric tests. comparison of the arithmetic means and medians found similar results between the table tennis players and fencers in virtually all four of the tested movements, with no statistical differences revealed by Kruskal–Wallis one-way analysis of vari-ance. Precision rates obtained by the athletes were lower than the control group in movements performed with the dominant limb in both pronation and supination (a sign of better ability). Kruskal–Wallis one-way analy-sis of variance found a statistically significant difference (H = 6.20, p = 0.0451) only in supination of the domi-nant limb (s-D). The post–hoc multiple comparisons of mean ranks for all groups did not confirm a statisti-cally significant difference, with p values of 1.00 be-tween fencers and table tennis players, 0.15 bebe-tween fencers and controls, and 0.07 between table tennis players and controls. No statistically significant differ-ences between the athletes and the control group were observed in the tests performed with the non-domi-nant limb.


This study analyzed the spatial component of pro-prioceptive ability, which involves sensing and differ-entiating the position of individual body parts, in this case, the position of the forearm at the elbow joint during a pronation and supination movement. The lit-erature claims that the level of proprioceptive, or kin-esthetic, sensitivity is the highest in parts of the body involved in a given sport. This was found to be the case in basketball players, who displayed greater sensitivity and a higher level of upper limb proprioception [7]. Arman et al. found that professional ballet dancers dem-onstrated greater accuracy than a control group in posi-tioning upper and lower limb joints and hypothesized this to be the effect of improved proprioceptive response as a result of dance practice [18]. Other researchers have

also pointed out the significance of proprioceptive sensi-tivity in soccer as well as the connection between the level of proprioception and improved technique in karate [19, 20]. Rejman et al. [21] examined monofin swim-mers and suggested that the high level of kinesthetic response in this group was the result of an adaptation prompted by the specificity of the additional sensory stimulus received in the form of feedback from the large surface area of the monofin.

similar conclusions can be inferred by the results of the present study, although better movement execution by the two athlete groups was only observed in the dom-inant limb when compared with the control group. The table tennis players and fencers displayed lower mean and median precision rates than the control group for the dominant limb in the supination movement, albeit these differences were not unequivocally statistically significant as determined by post-hoc testing. This may suggest a relationship between the practice of sword-play and table tennis and the level of proprioceptive ability. The differences in executing these movements with the dominant limb may result from the specific character of both sports (hitting a ball with a paddle, holding and wielding a blade) being performed with the dominant limb. It is possible that practicing a sport that involves numerous repetitions of precise arm, fore-arm, hand, or finger movements may increase the pro-prioceptive sensitivity of the more frequently used limb, and may ‘solidify’ or ‘refresh’ kinesthetic sensation [1]. This may account for the better results (especially in the case of the fencers) in the supination movement. In the case of the non-dominant limb, the two athlete groups did not differ from the control group.

In table tennis, supination and pronation movements are performed to change the angle of the paddle [13]. In fencing, supination and pronation movements at the elbow joint are characteristic during parrying, espe-cially in the Quarte (parry 4) and sixte (parry 6) [17]. The results of the present study may corroborate the extensive use of these types of parries in training and competition by the examined fencers, while at the same time, give rise the use of the research methodology herein to monitor training progression.

studies on proprioception have indicated that ath-letes are characterized by greater proprioceptive dif-ferentiation than individuals not involved any sports [4, 8, 18]. This difference between a trained and un-trained population was explained by the specificity of the practiced sport. However, these differences may in fact result from the development of proprioceptive ability during the training process typical of a given sport. In addition, a higher level of this ability may also result from the general recruitment and selection criteria of a given sport, as evidenced by the relationship found between proprioceptive ability and skill level [1, 3, 22]. In regards to the previously cited works, there are also reports that have indicated a lack of a clear difference


Z. Bańkosz, P. szumielewicz, Proprioceptive ability of fencing and table tennis practioners

in reproducing movements between athletes and un-trained individuals. Jerosh et al. [23] compared female table tennis players with a control group finding no differences in the accuracy of reproducing movements at the elbow joint. The differences in the results of studies on proprioceptive ability may attest to its large variability and dependence on numerous factors as well as the use of different measurement methods assessing its level. some researchers have suggested that the components (strength, spatial, and temporal) of proprioceptive ability are relatively independent of each other, that no inherent relationship exists with the age of an athlete, and that data collected on this ability is highly variable. Instead, it is believed that the level of each individual component depends on physical and mental health as well as the level of motivation [24, 25].


1. The results point to a higher level of propriocep-tive differentiation in fencers and table tennis players than in the control group although only for movements executed by the dominant limb. This may be the result of the specific character of both sports, i.e. the intensive use of one limb, and may therefore provide a link be-tween swordplay, table tennis and proprioceptive ability. Although not unequivocally statistically significant, the results indicate the potential for further research in this area.

2. The fencers and the table tennis players executed the task of forearm supination (by the dominant limb) better than the control group and is believed to origi-nate from the use of this movement in both sports. It can be considered that the research methodology used herein may serve in monitoring training progress in these sports.


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Paper received by the Editor: April 3, 2014 Paper accepted for publication: June 23, 2014

Correspondence address

Ziemowit Bańkosz Katedra Dydaktyki sportu

Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego al. I.J. Paderewskiego 35

51-612 Wrocław, Poland






University school of Physical Education, Wrocław, Poland


Purpose. The aim of the present study was to assess the morpho-functional characteristics of male jiu-jitsu practitioners against a sample of strength-trained university students. Methods. The all-male research sample included 49 jiu-jitsu competitors and 30 university students actively involved in strength training. Measures of body mass and height, lower extremity length, sitting height, arm span, trunk width, skeletal breadths, circumferences and skinfold thicknesses of the trunk and extremities were collected. Body tissue composition was assessed using bioelectrical impedance analysis. somatotype was classified according to the anthropometric method of Heath and carter. Participants also performed three motor tests composed of the standing long jump, flexed arm hang, and sit-ups and two dynamometer tests measuring handgrip and back muscle strength. Differences between the measured characteristics in both samples were analyzed using student’s t test. Pearson’s correlation coefficient was used to the determine the relationships between the morphological characteristics and the results of the motor tests. Results. The jiu-jitsu sample was slightly smaller than the strength-training students. In contrast, body mass was almost identical in both groups. The remaining length, height, and skinfold characteristics also did not differ significantly between the groups. Only hip breadth was significantly larger in the jiu-jitsu sample. No between-group differences were noted in the levels of endomorphy, mesomorphy, and ectomorphy. The composite somatotype of the jiu-jitsu athletes (2.1–5.8–2.0) was very similar to that of the strength-trained students (2.1–5.9–2.4). statistically significant differences were observed in the tests assessing muscle strength. Handgrip and back muscle strength was greater in the strength-training students, whereas the jiu-jitsu athletes performed better in all three motor tests. Conclusions. The minor morphological differences between the jiu-jitsu and strength-training groups may be due to the different sporting level of the participants. Whereas the intense weight training regime of the strength-training students allowed them to achieve higher results in the dynamometer tests, the more multidimensional aspect of jiu-jitsu training was reflected in achieving better results in the motor tests.

Key words: jiu-jitsu, body build, motor tests

doi: 10.1515/humo-2015-0002

2014, vol. 15 (3), 134 – 140

* corresponding author.


The body build profile of athletes is the result of both athlete selection criteria and training loads. Each sport involves various form of training, the aim of which is to generally improve certain fitness measures and overall physical performance, whereas the aim of more targeted training programs specific to each sport is to induce specific changes in body morphology as well as various functional characteristics. It is the combi-nation of optimal training and the most suitable somatic predispositions that allow an athlete to attain the best results in today’s ever more specialized and technical world of sports. One of the most basic elements of any sports training program is developing strength [1]. Muscle strength plays a key role in determining sporting suc-cess not only in typical strength sports such as weight-lifting, powerweight-lifting, and bodybuilding [2], but also in martial arts, track and field, and team sports.

In recent years there has been an upsurge of interest in jiu-jitsu among the martial arts community with its combination of elements from karate and judo [3]. The mixed style of jiu-jitsu promotes a wide variety of techniques and tactics. The full range of jiu-jitsu tech-niques covers grips, throws, holds, joint locks, chokes, hits, kicks, and inflicting blows on sensitive parts of the body in various ways. One of the defining concepts behind jiu-jitsu is that a theoretically weaker athlete should be able to successfully subdue a stronger, larger opponent. Hence, jiu-jitsu favors individuals with high levels of flexibility, agility, speed, coordination, and bal-ance [4] and not pure physical strength. Nonetheless, strength training is important for jiu-jitsu practitioners as it aids in certain moves such as throwing or choking. For these moves and others, upper body strength plays a large role as jiu-jitsu is a close and full contact sport that does not provide the space needed for more dynam-ic moves [5]. Alongside the importance of upper body strength is also muscular endurance, used to hold and maintain the most advantageous position when grap-pling against an opponent. Alongside the above, hand-grip strength is also important as it is very effective in holding down an opponent by their kimono.


J. Pietraszewska et al., Morpho-functional characteristics of jiu-jitsu practitioners

Research on the somatotypes of martial arts athletes in different weight classes is quite comprehensive. How-ever, relatively little work has been performed on jiu-jitsu practitioners. Of those few available studies, most have focused on reporting mean body mass and height, body tissue composition, or types of body build. There re-mains a paucity of information when considering de-tailed anthropometric data and comparing morphologi-cal characteristics with strength measures. Particular interesting seems to be comparing the motor performance (strength-related) of jiu-jitsu practitioners against ath-letes specialized in strength training.

The aim of the present study was to therefore com-pare the morphology, body tissue composition, and strength capabilities of jiu-jitsu against a population engaged in strength-training. This included examin-ing the relationship between the strength levels and anthropometric characteristics between both groups.

Material and methods

The all-male research sample included 49 professional jiu-jitsu practitioners (mean age 23.40 years) and 30 uni-versity students actively involved in strength training (mean age 22.32 years). All participants weighed be-tween 70–90 kg. The jiu-jitsu group had been involved in the sport between 4 to 12 years and trained on av-erage four times per week for 2 hours. The comparative group had been involved in an adaptive strength train-ing program for 3 months whose aim was to improve muscular endurance [6]. This group trained three times per week (every other day) by lifting weights. Each training session consisted of two exercises targeting each ma-jor muscle group, with ninety seconds of rest provided between the exercises. The first training session began by performing one set of 19 repetitions for each exer-cise at a suitable weight. The number of repetitions was then increased by one each subsequent training session until reaching 24 repetitions. Afterwards the number of sets was increased to two, with the participants again completing 19 repetitions per set with the number of repetitions increased by one each subsequent exercise session until again reaching 24. Finally, participants completed three sets (from 19 to 24 repetitions). The next step was to return to completing two sets of 19 repeti-tions in each exercise but this time increasing the weight by 5% in each subsequent session. Upon com-pleting this introductory phase, training was varied for each exercise by increasing, in order, the number of repetitions (from 19 to 24), then the number of sets (from two to three), and then the weight (by 5%).

Data were collected through anthropometric meas-urement and administering fitness/strength tests. An anthropometer (GPM, switzerland) was used to measure body height, lower extremity length, sitting height, and arm span. Measures of the trunk and extremities were performed using a spreading caliper of the same

manu-facturer. These included chest diameter, chest depth, biacromial diameter, biiliocristal diameter, and deltoid muscle diameter. Measures of bone breadths included elbow breadth and knee breadth. In addition, circum-ferences of the neck, shoulder, chest, waist, hips, arm (contracted and relaxed), and the maximal circumfer-ences of the forearm, thigh, and calf were taken. A body fat caliper (Harpenden, UK) was used to obtain skin-fold thicknesses at the subscapular, triceps, suprailiac, abdominal, and calf sites. Body mass was assessed us-ing an electronic scale.

The relationship between height and mass was as-sessed by body mass index. somatotype was classified according to sheldon’s method of somatotopy as modi-fied by Heath and carter to determine the levels of endo-morphy, mesoendo-morphy, and ectomorphy. Body tissue composition was determined using a BIA 101 bioelec-trical impedance analyzer (Akern, Italy) with the pack-aged Bodygram software. Variables considered for analy-sis included body fat mass, lean body mass, and water content. Muscle strength was assessed by dynamometer testing; this included measuring (a) handgrip strength using an adjustable hand dynamometer (Takei, Japan) with a measuring range of 0–100 kgf (kilogram-force) and 0.5 kgf accuracy and (b) back muscle strength us-ing a back dynamometer of the same manufacturer with a measuring range of 0–250 kgf and 0.5 kgf accu-racy. Physical fitness was assessed by three motor tests consisting of the standing long jump (distance jumped), flexed arm hang (time spent hanging), and sit-ups (num-ber completed within a set time).

Basic statistical methods were used to analyze the obtained results. Means and standard deviations were calculated. The statistical distribution of the variables were assessed with the Kolmogorov–smirnov test, find-ing it did not differ significantly from a normal distri-bution. On this basis all subsequent statistical methods assumed a normal distribution. Inter-group differenc-es were determined by student’s t test, whereas the relationships between the muscle strength variables and morphological characteristics were examined us-ing Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient. The study was financed by the Polish Ministry of science and Higher Education in a project titled Muscle strength development among martial arts and fighting sports athletes differentiated by morphological structure

(No. NRsA1 001551). The study design was approved by the Ethics committee of the University of Physical Education in Wroclaw, Poland and all participants provided their written informed consent.


Body mass was almost identical in both groups (Table 1). However, the jiu-jitsu sample was slightly smaller than the strength-training students, whereas those strength lifting had significantly smaller biiliocristal


J. Pietraszewska et al., Morpho-functional characteristics of jiu-jitsu practitioners

diameterand chest depth values. On the other hand, the jiu-jitsu practitioners were characterized by a smaller hip circumference (Table 2). No significant differences were found between both groups among the skinfold thickness and length/height characteristics. For body composition a significantly higher percentage of lean body mass and water content was presented by the jiu-jitsu practitioners (Table 3). conversely, the strength-training group had higher fat content, measured both in kilograms and as a percentage. No between-group differences were noted in the levels of endomorphy, mesomorphy, and ectomorphy. The somatotype of the jiu-jitsu athletes (2.1–5.8–2.0) was very similar to that of the strength-trained students (2.1–5.9–2.4). A number of significant differences were observed in the tests as-sessing muscle strength (Table 4). Although the differ-ences for handgrip strength were not statistically signifi-cant, the strength-training group presented slightly higher results. significantly higher values were found in this group for back muscle strength. In turn, the jiu-jitsu

ath-letes performed better in all three motor tests (stand-ing long jump, flexed arm hang, and sit-ups). However, a statistically significant difference was recorded only in the standing long jump test.

In both groups, a significant positive correlation was observed between the majority of the somatic charac-teristics and the dynamometer tests (handgrip and back strength). In the case of the other three motor tests, any correlations with the morphological characteristics were quite low, with the majority non-significant (Table 5, 6). However, the strength-training group featured a slightly more pronounced relationship between a lower time (poorer result) in the flexed armhang test and an in-crease in the values of the analyzed somatic character-istics. A statistically significant negative correlation was found between flexedarm hang time and the circum-ferences of the thigh and calf, whereas a positive cor-relation was found between flexed arm hang test and ectomorphy. No statistically significant dependencies were observed between any of the somatic

characteris-Table 1. statistical characteristics of the length/height measurements and body mass

Variable Jiu-jitsu group strength-training group p

Mean SD Mean SD

Body mass (kg) 77.3 6.47 78.3 6.83 0.620

Body height (cm) 177.6 6.40 180.4 4.44 0.064

Lower extremity length (cm) 95.5 3.64 94.4 4.23 0.288

sitting height(cm) 93.0 3.68 93.8 2.87 0.372

Arm span (cm) 180.9 7.37 184.2 7.21 0.076

Biacromial diameter (cm) 42.3 1.90 41.6 2.39 0.172

Deltoid muscle diameter (cm) 47.0 2.25 47.3 1.90 0.566

chest diameter (cm) 29.6 2.35 28.8 2.18 0.171

chest depth (cm) 20.8 1.74 19.9 1.58 0.035

Biiliocristal diameter (cm) 29.0 1.76 27.8 1.99 0.013

Elbow breadth (cm) 7.1 0.32 7.1 0.66 0.889

Knee breadth (cm) 10.1 0.53 10.2 1.26 0.651

Values in bold denote statistical significance at p < 0.05

Table 2. statistical characteristics of the circumference measurements

Variable Jiu-jitsu group strength-traininggroup p

Mean SD Mean SD

Neck circumference (cm) 39.5 1.77 38.9 1.68 0.205

shoulder circumference (cm) 118.3 4.87 118.7 4.72 0.716

chest circumference (cm) 89.0 4.43 90.4 7.88 0.326

Waist circumference (cm) 80.6 5.20 81.3 5.81 0.606

Arm circumference – relaxed (cm) 32.7 2.11 33.2 2.67 0.445

Arm circumference – contracted (cm) 35.9 2.34 36.2 2.67 0.557

Maximal forearm circumference(cm) 28.1 1.30 28.6 1.49 0.128

Hip circumference (cm) 96.4 4.67 99.1 4.62 0.026

Maximal thigh circumference (cm) 57.9 3.36 57.3 3.58 0.452

Maximal calf circumference (cm) 37.5 2.09 38.0 2.68 0.367


J. Pietraszewska et al., Morpho-functional characteristics of jiu-jitsu practitioners

tics and the results of the flexed arm hang test in the jiu-jitsu group.

For the standing long jump a positive correlation was established between this motor test and a number of the length/height characteristics in both groups. In the strength-training group, the strongest positive cor-relation was observed between standing long jump per-formance and lower extremity length. For the jiu-jitsu group, the largest positive correlations were with body height, knee breadth, and circumference of the waist. A clear result was found between poorer long jump distance and increased skinfold thickness among the students involved with strength training. No such de-pendency was found in the jiu-jitsu group.

The correlation coefficients between the sit-ups test and the morphological characteristics in both groups had low values. Only in the strength-training group could a dependency be observed between an improve-ment in the number of sit-ups with a stronger and better developed upper body.


The techniques and training methods used in combat sports are vastly diverse. As a result, there are no spe-cific morphological criteria for those involved in these sports. However, research conducted on judo, jiu-jit-su, and karate practitioners showed only a slight vari-ation in their morphological structure [3, 7]. Many au-thors have indicated that choosing the most optimal fighting technique in a combat sport may be better de-termined by an athlete’s somatic predisposition [8]. In practice, Lech et al. found that taller and thinner indi-viduals were more likely to use leg techniques, while those larger and shorter had a larger preponderance of using hand techniques [9]. In the same study, differ-ences were also found in the effectiveness of counter-maneuvers depending on body height. It is nonethe-less apparent that the specialized forms of training inherent in combat sports cause practitioners to de-velop in ways most practical for combat and, as a

re-Table 3. statistical characteristics of somatotype, skinfold thickness, and body tissue composition

Variable Jiu-jitsu group strength-training group p

Mean SD Mean SD

Body mass index 24.5 1.98 24.1 1.96 0.436

Endomorphy 2.1 0.62 2.1 0.73 0.811

Mesomorphy 5.8 0.95 5.9 1.60 0.884

Ectomorphy 2.0 0.84 2.4 0.77 0.112

subscapular skinfold thickness (mm) 10.2 2.54 10.0 2.48 0.771

Triceps skinfold thickness (mm) 4.9 1.91 4.8 1.59 0.787

suprailiac skinfold thickness (mm) 7.8 2.83 8.0 3.16 0.782

Abdominal skinfold thickness (mm) 9.4 3.66 10.2 4.20 0.390

calf skinfold thickness (mm) 4.5 1.76 4.7 1.61 0.660

Fat mass (kg) 12.3 3.90 14.1 3.52 0.058

Fat-free mass (kg) 65.0 6.43 64.3 6.57 0.646

Total body water (kg) 47.6 4.64 47.1 4.81 0.622

Fat mass (%) 15.7 4.00 17.9 3.81 0.027

Fat-free mass (%) 84.3 4.00 82.1 3.81 0.027

Total body water (%) 61.8 3.02 60.1 2.79 0.024

Values in bold denote statistical significance at p < 0.05

Table 4. statistical characteristics of the motor test results

Variable Jiu-jitsu group strength-training group p

Mean SD Mean sD

Right handgrip strength (kgf) 47.8 8.31 51.4 10.07 0.111

Left handgrip strength (kgf) 46.2 7.59 48.6 10.31 0.252

Back strength (kgf) 123.9 21.73 140.7 18.82 0.002

Flexed arm hang (s) 40.2 10.99 34.9 13.18 0.076

standing long jump (cm) 233.5 22.03 217.7 19.58 0.004

sit-ups (n) 34.5 4.85 33.9 3.87 0.566


J. Pietraszewska et al., Morpho-functional characteristics of jiu-jitsu practitioners

Table 5. Pearson’s correlations between the results of the motor tests and the morphological characteristics and body tissue components in the jiu-jitsu group

Variable handgrip Right


Left handgrip



strength arm hangFlexed long jumpstanding sit-ups

Body mass 0.36 0.27 0.35 −0.08 0.26 0.06

Body height 0.26 0.26 0.18 −0.11 0.31 0.10

Lower extremity length 0.16 0.19 0.08 −0.10 0.20 0.05

sitting height 0.22 0.14 0.11 −0.09 0.24 0.02

Arm span 0.29 0.29 0.34 −0.17 0.30 0.01

Biacromial diameter 0.34 0.30 0.35 −0.05 0.21 −0.01

Deltoid muscle diameter 0.29 0.21 0.27 −0.02 0.25 0.05

chest diameter 0.36 0.23 0.19 −0.04 0.22 0.03 chest depth 0.02 0.04 0.06 0.02 0.11 0.11 Biiliocristal diameter 0.13 0.06 0.30 −0.16 0.21 0.04 Elbow breadth 0.25 0.22 0.14 −0.07 0.12 0.10 Knee breadth 0.32 0.15 0.17 0.03 0.34 0.19 Neck circumference −0.01 −0.05 0.07 −0.17 −0.09 −0.07 shoulder circumference 0.44 0.35 0.40 −0.08 0.24 0.00 chest circumference 0.29 0.17 0.30 −0.02 0.24 0.16 Waist circumference 0.28 0.19 0.32 0.06 0.32 0.13

Arm circumference – relaxed 0.21 0.16 0.36 −0.13 −0.01 −0.11

Arm circumference – contracted 0.16 0.15 0.35 −0.12 0.04 −0.14

Maximal forearm circumference 0.40 0.32 0.45 −0.05 0.12 −0.05

Hip circumference 0.32 0.25 0.27 0.00 0.18 0.10

Maximal thigh circumference 0.31 0.19 0.34 0.03 0.16 0.14

Maximal calf circumference 0.37 0.27 0.25 0.01 0.20 0.07

subscapular skinfold thickness −0.02 −0.10 0.09 −0.09 −0.09 −0.04

Triceps skinfold thickness −0.06 −0.04 −0.06 0.09 0.12 0.07

suprailiac skinfold thickness 0.10 0.08 0.00 0.00 0.10 −0.04

Abdominal skinfold thickness 0.13 0.13 0.02 0.06 0.28 0.10

calf skinfold thickness 0.00 −0.03 −0.20 −0.01 0.13 0.07

Fat-free mass 0.36 0.29 0.30 0.02 0.27 0.14

Total body water 0.36 0.29 0.30 0.03 0.29 0.13

Fat mass 0.18 0.11 0.26 −0.20 0.11 −0.09

Endomorphy −0.02 −0.06 0.01 0.00 0.00 −0.03

Mesomorphy 0.28 0.17 0.24 0.23 0.16 0.20

Ectomorphy −0.13 −0.03 −0.21 0.00 0.06 0.05

sult, be distinguished from athletes involving in other disciplines.

The present study found minor differences among some of the analyzed morphological and functional characteristics between jiu-jitsu practitioners and in-dividuals engaged in strength training. Based on the literature on the subject, the mass–height values of the jiu-jitsu group were typical for practitioners of this sport. Andreato et al. studied Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners from three ranks finding mean body mass to be 75.4 kg and mean body height 174.9 cm [10]. similar values were reported by costa et al., with body mass 75.2 ± 11.2 kg, body height 173.0 ± 8.2 cm, and BMI 25.1 ± 3.8 kg/m2 [4]. These results show this to be the most common mass– height relationship in jiu-jitsu practitioners and there-fore can be used as benchmark for athletes as the mass

and height range needed to better take advantage of the full range of techniques and counter-maneuvers in this sport.

Analysis of skinfold thickness indicated a similar distribution of fat in both groups. The largest values were recorded at the subscapular and abdominal sites, although the jiu-jitsu group had significantly lower body fat percentage. However, body fat content was larger in both groups when compared with values reported by other authors [8, 11], with this possibly explained by the fact that the participants examined in this study were less experienced than in the above-cited studies. Due to the nature of combat, low body fat content in different parts of the body is known to help in fighting at a faster speed as well as reacting more quickly to an opponent’s moves [11].


J. Pietraszewska et al., Morpho-functional characteristics of jiu-jitsu practitioners

In terms of somatotype (endomorphy, mesomorphy, and ectomorphy), the body type of the participants in this study was found to be in line with those found in strength-training and combat sports populations [12–15]. The dominance of mesomorphy in both groups point to the strong development of muscle mass and muscle hy-pertrophy as well as increased skeletal size. The above characteristics could also be observed in the high values recorded in the handgrip strength test. Here, handgrip strength (right and left hand) values were larger than those recorded by Andreato et al. on Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners in the same weight class (70–90 kg), who obtained 43.7 ± 4.8 kgf for the right hand and 40.1 ± 3.8 kgf for the left hand [5]. This was especially visible in the high values attained by the strength-training participants in the present study and can be assumed

to be the result of their involvement in such an intense weight training program [2, 16]. Of interest is the fact that Diaz et al. did not find larger absolute handgrip strength values for a population of judokas when com-pared with an untrained sample [17]. However, the judokas in that study were found to be more resistant to fatigue during this test, with this difference in strength endurance associated with the need to maintain a strong grip on an opponent’s kimono during combat.

The standing long jump is used to assess lower ex-tremityexplosive strength. The ascendancy of the jiu-jitsu group over the strength-training group may stem from their multifaceted training regime that develops not just strength but also flexibility, agility, speed, co-ordination, and balance. In addition, the muscular work involved in combat has both a static and dynamic

charac-Table 6. Pearson’s correlations between the results of the motor tests and the morphological characteristics and body tissue components in the strength-training group

Variable handgrip Right strength

Left handgrip



strength arm hangFlexed long jumpstanding sit-ups

Body mass 0.51 0.67 0.40 −0.30 0.06 0.21

Body height 0.44 0.45 0.25 0.13 0.31 0.07

Lower extremity length 0.34 0.35 0.19 −0.06 0.49 0.17

sitting height 0.41 0.52 0.38 0.29 0.04 0.09

Arm span 0.16 0.23 0.10 −0.05 0.39 0.09

Biacromial diameter 0.23 0.38 0.32 0.06 0.18 0.40

Deltoid muscle diameter 0.24 0.41 0.43 0.12 0.05 0.19

chest diameter 0.43 0.58 0.33 0.04 −0.04 0.03 chest depth 0.32 0.38 0.29 −0.31 −0.13 0.14 Biiliocristal diameter 0.01 0.18 −0.02 0.21 0.14 −0.03 Elbow breadth 0.01 0.05 0.16 −0.22 0.04 0.18 Knee breadth −0.03 −0.03 0.04 −0.20 0.09 0.27 Neck circumference 0.08 0.09 0.44 0.01 0.08 −0.05 shoulder circumference 0.35 0.62 0.25 −0.05 0.03 0.22 chest circumference 0.12 0.38 0.09 −0.29 0.01 0.37 Waist circumference 0.20 0.25 0.23 −0.11 −0.26 −0.28

Arm circumference – relaxed 0.60 0.58 0.37 −0.28 −0.05 0.16

Arm circumference – contracted 0.49 0.55 0.39 −0.16 −0.09 0.13

Maximal forearm circumference 0.60 0.69 0.40 −0.20 0.05 0.13

Hip circumference 0.29 0.33 0.12 −0.19 −0.31 −0.17

Maximal thigh circumference 0.26 0.33 0.13 −0.49 0.01 0.20

Maximal calf circumference 0.40 0.42 0.12 −0.44 0.08 0.16

subscapular skinfold thickness 0.14 0.10 −0.02 −0.30 −0.17 -0.07

Triceps skinfold thickness −0.19 −0.26 −0.55 −0.19 −0.41 −0.31

suprailiac skinfold thickness 0.04 0.00 −0.23 −0.27 −0.42 −0.19

Abdominal skinfold thickness 0.00 0.15 −0.35 −0.23 −0.40 0.01

calf skinfold thickness 0.20 0.22 −0.03 −0.20 −0.36 −0.17

Fat-free mass 0.47 0.61 0.28 −0.19 0.20 0.28

Total body water 0.47 0.61 0.28 −0.19 0.20 0.27

Fat mass 0.23 0.30 0.33 −0.27 −0.22 −0.06

Endomorphy −0.01 −0.06 −0.26 −0.29 −0.40 −0.20

Mesomorphy 0.10 0.13 0.16 −0.36 −0.04 0.26


J. Pietraszewska et al., Morpho-functional characteristics of jiu-jitsu practitioners

ter [18]. The distance jumped in the standing long jump by the jiu-jitsu participants (233.5 m) in the present study was quite similar to that presented by sertic et al. on a population of judokas, achieving a mean distance of 238.16 cm [18].

The results of the flexed arm hang and sit-ups test in both groups demonstrate the participants’ high level of muscular endurance. This result confirms that ab-dominal muscle and upper body strength are critical in martial arts, and that martial arts training is justi-fiably focused on improving these elements [5].

In the current study, significant positive correlations were observed between body mass and the results of the dynamometer tests (handgrip and back strength). Detanico et al. also described a strong positive relation-ship between body mass and maximal strength [19] and that, in the case of athletes, body mass was asso-ciated with greater musculature. consecutively, mus-cle strength was found to be proportional to the cross-sectional area of skeletal muscle [1]. This was also been confirmed in the present study by the significant correlation between handgrip strength and circumfer-ence of the upper limbs.


No pronounced differences were observed between the somatotypes of the jiu-jitsu practitioners and the strength-training university students. This may be may be due to the different sporting level of the participants. However, the better dynamometer results achieved by the strength-training group can be linked to their in-tensive strength training regime. On the other hand, the more multidimensional aspect of jiu-jitsu training was reflected in achieving better results in the motor tests and undoubtedly connected with the high fitness of these individuals.


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Paper received by the Editor: June 17, 2014 Paper accepted for publication: July 25, 2014

Correspondence address

Jadwiga Pietraszewska

Katedra Motoryczności sportowca Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego al. I.J. Paderewskiego 35, P-2 51-612 Wrocław, Poland





1 Weber state University, Health Promotion and Human Performance, Utah, UT, UsA 2 Arkansas Tech University, Health and Physical Education, Russellville, AR, UsA

3 West Virginia University, college of Physical Activity and sport sciences, Morgantown, WV, UsA


Purpose. complex training (cT) involves the coupling of two exercises ostensibly to enhance the effect of the second exercise. Typically, the first exercise is a strength exercise and the second exercise is a power exercise involving similar muscles. In most cases, cT is designed to enhance power. The purpose of this study was twofold. First, this study was designed to determine if lower body power could be enhanced using complex training protocols. second, this study investigated whether the inclusion of a power exercise instead of a strength exercise as the first exercise in cT would produce differences in lower body power. Methods. Thirty-six recreationally-trained men and women aged 20 to 29 years attending a college physical education course were randomly assigned to one of three groups: squat and countermovement squat jumps (ssJ), kettlebell swings and counter-movement squat jumps (KsJ), and a control (cON). Training involving cT lasted 6 weeks. All participants were pre- and post-tested for vertical jump performance in order to assess lower body power. Results. Vertical jump scores improved for all groups (p < 0.01). The results also indicated that there were no statistically significant differences between group scores across time (p = 0.215). The statistical power for this analysis was low (0.312), most likely due to the small sample size. However, the results did reveal a trend suggesting that the training improvements were greater for both the ssJ and KsJ groups compared with the cON (by 171% and 107%, respectively) although significance was not reached. Conclusions. Due to the observed trend, a replica-tion of this study with a greater number of participants over a longer period of time is warranted.

Key words: complex training, lower body power

doi: 10.1515/humo-2015-0003

2014, vol. 15 (3), 141– 146

* corresponding author.


Athletes are always searching for training techniques to gain a competitive edge. New methods are continually being developed whereas old methods are recycled and modified. Unfortunately, many of these training methods, though having some merit, become transient trends that fail to yield quality results.

Among the new training methods offering some prom-ise is complex training (cT). cT is still being considered as a viable approach for enhancing power [1, 2]. It involves performing a resistance or weight training exercise fol-lowed shortly by a biomechanically-similar plyometric exercise. This particular combination is referred to as a complex pair. Training of this nature has become pop-ular in recently developed programs, with one of the most well-known of these programs being crossFit. The ration-ale behind cT is based on the theory of postactivation potentiation (PAP), which describes the enhanced neuro-muscular state observed immediately after a session of heavy resistance exercise [3]. If biomechanically similar explosive power exercises are performed while the mus-cles are in this potentiated state, an individual may see an increase in both acute and chronic performance [1, 2]. Therefore, cT provides a channel for eliciting PAP.

A common example of how this is accomplished is by performing a 2–6 repetition maximum (RM) squat, followed within a few minutes by a vertical jump or series of vertical jumps. The challenge, however, is find-ing the point at which PAP is at its highest [3]. Fatigue makes this difficult to achieve. It can coexist with PAP and may inhibit its exploitation [4, 5]. If fatigue is too great, such as immediately after the heavy resistance exercise is performed, then PAP cannot have optimal effects [3]. If too much time passes, fatigue is lessened but so are the effects of PAP. Another factor which may affect PAP that has not received much attention is the demands of the exercises in the complex pair.

The majority of the research on cT utilized a proto-col involving a strength exercise followed by a power exer-cise [1, 3, 6–12]. However, few studies have been conducted using an initial power exercise instead of the more often used strength exercise in the complex pair [13–15]. There-fore, the purposes of this study were to examine the ef-fects of cT on lower body power as measured by vertical jump performance and to investigate whether or not the nature of the first exercise, strength (e.g. squat) or power (e.g. kettlebell swing), affected PAP and performance.

Material and methods

University IRB approval was obtained before proceed-ing with this study. Thirty-six recreationally trained


Table 1. Basic descriptive characteristics of the examined  groups for age, body height, and body mass
table tennis players, fencers, and a control group not  involved in any competitive sports
Table 1. statistical characteristics of the length/height measurements and body mass
Table 4. statistical characteristics of the motor test results


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