Effects of official taekwondo competitions on all-out performances of elite athletes
This study investigated physiological and performance aspects of 15 (4 women and 11 men) elite Taekwondo athletes (24.0 ± 5.7 years) during their National Championship. The load of the competition was evaluated by means of heart rate (HR) and blood lactate (La). Pre and postmatch countermovement jump (CMJ), and handgrip performances were compared (p < 0.05). The match imposed a high load (HR > 85% of individual HRmax = 92 ± 12%; La = 6.7 ± 2.5 mmol/L) on athletes. After the match, better (p < 0.0001) CMJ (men: 43.9 ± 5.2 cm; women: 30.8 ± 2.3 cm) and worst (p = 0.006) handgrip performances (men: 459 ± 87 N; women: 337 ± 70 N) were found with respect to prematch ones (CMJ: men = 40.8 ± 4.9 cm, women = 28.2 ± 2.5 cm; handgrip: men = 486 ± 88 N, women: 337 ± 70 N). Results indicate that the intermittent activity of the Taekwondo competition elicits a high neuromuscular activation of the lower limbs. Instead, the decreases in grip strength could be because of the repeated concussions on the upper limbs used to protect from the opponent's kicks and punches directed toward the scoring area of the torso. Practically, these results urge coaches to structure training sessions that enable athletes to maintain their upper limb strength during their match.
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