I am currently working on this project as my Master by Research thesis at the Edinburgh Napier University. As it is not published yet, I suggest not to use any of the data presented here. It’s only a preview of my project.
Authors: Samuele Di Nicola, Mykolas Kavaliauskas, Brendon Ferrier
Female participation in regular sport activities has increased in recent years, yet their representation in the sports and exercise science literature remains low. Therefore, an understanding of the effects different phases of the menstrual cycle (MC) have on exercise responses is important due to the practical and theoretical implications. To date, no research has analysed the effects of MC phases on running repeated sprint ability (RSA). As a result, the aim of this study was to compare performance, physiological and perceptual differences when performing a running RSA during the early-follicular, and mid-luteal sub-phases of the MC. Six healthy, physically active female participants (age: 25.67 ± 2.49 years; height: 1.66 ± 0.08 m; body mass: 69.8 ± 19.34 kg; V̇O2: 46.00 ± 6.76 ml·kg1·min-1) volunteered to take part in this study. After the initial health screening, the participants completed two familiarisation trials before doing the four intervention sessions (twice during each MC sub-phase, with 24 hours in between). The MC sub-phases were determined using a combined approach of an electronic diary and a urinary kit. The RSA protocol consisted of five ‘all-out’ sprints of six seconds on a non-motorised treadmill with 24 seconds of active recovery (walking) between the sprints. Power output, distance and acceleration were collected during each sprint. Heart rate and exchanged air were measured continuously, and blood lactate samples were taken immediately after, three- and five minutes-post exercise. Finally, the perceptual responses to the protocol were assessed using the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale after each sprint. A two-way and one-way ANOVA with repeated measures, Student’s t test, partial eta squared and eta squared were used to analyse the data. Results indicated no significant differences between MC sub-phases in body mass index (BMI) (p = 0.86, d = 0.34), fat mass (p = 0.93, d = 0.23), hips-to-waist ratio (p = 0.98, d = 0.33), mean power output (p > 0.99, d < 0.01, peak power output (p = 0.14, d = 0.16), distance (p = 0.59, d = 0.07), pre-exercise (p = 0.78, d = 0.41) and post-exercise lactate (p = 0.58, d = 0.24), oxygen uptake (p = 0.10, d = 0.30), respiratory exchange ratio (p = 0.47, d = 0.13), ventilation (p = 0.42, d = 0.12), heart rate (p = 0.49, d = 0.17). However, significant differences were found in peak acceleration (p = 0.02, d = 0.40) and RPE (p < 0.0001, d = 0.37). In conclusion, MC phases do not appear to influence RSA performance, thus suggesting that practitioners should not tailor their repeated sprint exercises and tests based on the MC phases. However, data show a difference in perceived effort between the early-follicular and mid-luteal sub-phases that might be due to a learning effect. It is suggested that more studies are conducted about the effects of the MC on RPE.