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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2017 Feb;27(2):223-229. doi: 10.1111/sms.12648. Epub 2016 Feb 10.

Cyclic movement frequency is associated with muscle typology in athletes.

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Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
Department of Radiology, Ghent Institute for Functional and Metabolic Imaging, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
Department of Biology, Laboratory for Functional Morphology, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium.


There is a continuing research interest in the muscle fiber type composition (MFTC) of athletes. Recently, muscle carnosine quantification by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1 H-MRS) was developed as a new non-invasive method to estimate MFTC. This cross-sectional study aims to better understand estimated MFTC in relation to (a) different disciplines within one sport; (b) cyclic sport exercise characteristics; (c) within-athlete variability; and (d) athlete level. A total of 111 elite athletes (74 runners, 7 triathletes, 11 swimmers, 14 cyclists and 5 kayakers) and 188 controls were recruited to measure muscle carnosine in gastrocnemius and deltoid muscle by 1 H-MRS. Within sport disciplines, athletes were divided into subgroups (sprint-, intermediate-, and endurance-type). The controls were used as reference population to allow expression of the athletes' data as Z-scores. Within different sports, endurance-type athletes systematically showed the lowest Z-score compared to sprint-type athletes, with intermediate-type athletes always situated in between. Across the different sports disciplines, carnosine content showed the strongest significant correlation with cyclic movement frequency (R = 0.86, P = 0.001). Both within and between different cyclic sports, estimated MFTC was divergent between sprint- and endurance-type athletes. Cyclic movement frequency, rather than exercise duration came out as the most determining factor for the optimal estimated MFTC in elite athletes.


Cyclic sports; carnosine; contractile properties

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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