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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2020 Dec 03

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.20.11501-9


lingua: Inglese

Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on endurance capacity of elite handball players

Sven FIKENZER 1 , Kati FIKENZER 1, Ulrich LAUFS 1, Roberto FALZ 2, Hagen PIETREK 3, Pierre HEPP 4

1 Klinik und Poliklinik für Kardiologie, Universitätsklinikum Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany; 2 Institut für Sportmedizin und Prävention, Sportwissenschaftliche Fakultät, Universität Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany; 3 SC DHfK Handball, Fitness- und Athletiktraining; 4 Klinik für Orthopädie, Unfallchirurgie und Plastische Chirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany


BACKGROUND: The lockdown due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 has far-reaching consequences for professional sports in Germany. The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of the 8-week lockdown on endurance capacity of elite male handball players.
METHODS: Ten male athletes (192±8 cm and 96±6 kg) from the first German handball league participated in the study. The effects of training on shuttle run tests between period 1 (P1: preseason to mid-season) and period 2 (P2: mid-season to time after lockdown) were compared. The maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) was assessed using an incremental exercise test (IET) (July 2019 and May 2020).
RESULTS: During the COVID-19 lockdown, the athletes completed an instructed home-based strength and endurance program (52/48). The training effects were found to be reduced after the 8-weeks of COVID-19 lockdown (period 2) as compared to period 1 (mean difference 249±248 m, p=0.005). There was no significant difference in the running distance (2358±430 m vs. 2400±362 m, respectively, p=0.70) after the lockdown as compared to the pre-seasonal performance. VO2max (46.6±5.1 vs. 49.4±7.0 ml/kg/min, respectively, p=0.12) and the power output (3.13±0.36 vs. 3.13±0.43 W/kg, respectively, p=1.0) also did not differ between preseason and after COVID-19 lockdown.
CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 lockdown led to a reduction in endurance capacity of elite handball players without team training, despite a home-based strength and endurance program. Supervision of individual home-based training is highly recommended to avoid inadequate implementation of the training.

KEY WORDS: Elite handball player; Endurance capacity; Shuttle run test; VO2max; COVID-19

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