The application of popular body-weight exercises in a combat sport population

  • Steven Bingley

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    Introduction: A successful boxer must be able to move their body rapidly and repeatedly forward, backwards, side-to-side and vertically, all whilst incorporating calculated hand strikes for offensive and defensive actions. The physical conditioning of boxers requires a balance between anaerobic and aerobic energy systems, and lasting power to sustain these intense actions is related to the strength and synergy of multiple muscles across multiple planes. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) with body-weight is a method for increasing anaerobic and aerobic energy system adaptations while eliciting rapid neuromuscular coordination. The burpee is a body-weight exercise that could target both strength and endurance outcomes concurrently. The burpee is an exercise that is equally infamous and well known, however since 1940 limited research has been conducted. The strength and conditioning community stand to benefit from detailed reporting on the optimal use of it as a testing and conditioning tool. This thesis utilises burpees in a specifically designed interval protocol to match the physiological responses of a sprint running protocol, currently being used by Olympic level boxers for Boxing Australia. Methods: A review of the literature included outcomes of studies into the physical and physiological traits of amateur boxers, to collate appropriate research to examine round to round fighting values to determine training specifics for program design. A second review was conducted to categorise and analyse previous research that has been conducted on the burpee. The research articles followed a repeated measures design comparing the training responses of a burpee protocol with that of a sprint running protocol, over multiple timepoints. Workouts were assessed in terms of physiological responses (heart rate (HR), blood lactate (BLa), ratings of perceived exertion (RPE)) and neuromuscular function (mean power and height), using a linear positional transducer via an instrumented countermovement jump (CMJ) and bench throw (BT). Each subject participated in both sprint and burpee training sessions, in a crossover design, separated by 7-14 days. The order of these sessions was randomised. Results: HR increased over time for both protocols, with no difference between protocols at any time point or for group mean values, mean HR over 4 rounds (burpee 170.45 ± 1.95 bpm vs. sprint 170.54 ± 2.07 bpm; p = 0.906). Mean BLa for the burpee protocol (14.62 ± 3.70 mmol-L-1) was significantly higher (p = 0.04) compared with sprint (11.90 ± 3.53 mmol-L-1) and was also perceived to be more difficult (RPE burpee 17.48 ± 1.24 vs. RPE sprint 16.14 ± 2.01; p < 0.001). Both protocols caused a drop in mean peak power immediately post workout, with recovery within 24 hours. However, the burpee protocol induced greater fatigue in the upper body (BT mean power (sprint 7.91% vs. burpee 14.95%), BT mean bar height (sprint 6.67% vs. burpee 19.06%)). Discussion: In the present thesis, both burpee and sprint HIIT protocols elicited a similar cardiovascular strain to the demands of simulated boxing competition reported in the literature. However, the higher BLa, RPE and neuromuscular fatigue responses to the burpee HIIT, when compared to the sprint HIIT, indicated that this acute training methodology could offer an added benefit of a simultaneous training stimulus to the upper body. When completed in the correct format, the burpee could potentially provide the coach with a single bodyweight movement that will train an athlete’s cardiovascular system as well as improve upper and lower body anaerobic and muscular endurance. Conclusion: The current programme of research presented in this thesis has added to the limited body of literature that explains the burpee, its physiological impacts as a training tool, and integrates the physiology of the burpee to previous knowledge of boxing physiology.
    Date of Award2019
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJeremy Witchalls (Supervisor) & Andrew Mckune (Supervisor)

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