TAEKWONDO-SPECIFIC CARDIOPULMONARY TEST 

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There has been a rapid increase in the number of combat sports-specific fitness tests being assessed in research environments and utilised in the field. This should in theory lead to more accurate assessment of sports-specific performance and optimised program design. 

The researchers in this study sought to investigate the validity of a taekwondo (TKD)-specific cardiopulmonary test, and compare it to a traditional cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) and a continuous TKD-specific exercise test. 

15 competitive male TKD athletes performed 3 different protocols on separate days, separated by 2-7 days. A portable gas analyser was used to measure VO2 and heart rate measurements were also recorded.

  1. The CPET consisted of a typical running ramp protocol. 
  2. In the continuous TKD (CTKD) test, turning kicks were performed at an increasing frequency (starting at 10 kicks per minute and increasing by 3 kicks each minute), and at a threshold kicking power (established pre-test as a typical competition scoring impact).
  3. In the interval TKD (ITKD) test, the frequency was set at 30 kicks per minute, and increased by 10 kicks each 2 minutes. Each 2-minute bout was separated by a 1 minute interval

All of the tests were ceased upon 3 out of 4 criteria achieved of:

  • BORG RPE score of 10/10
  • >90% of age-predicted Max HR or plateau in HR
  • Plateau in change of VO2 
  • Gas exchange score >1.1

High peak VO2 values as well as VO2 at ventilatory threshold 1 were seen in the 2 continuous tests. Reliability measures were similar between the 3 tests. 

Considering the difference in values between the different types of tests, there may be utility in incorporating both continuous and intermittent testing protocols in the cardiovascular assessment of TKD athletes.

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About the author

Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert is a registered physiotherapist with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physiotherapy from Latrobe university (Melbourne, Australia) and a master’s degree in Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University (Perth, Australia).

A 3rd Dan black belt in Shinkyokushinkai Karate under the World Karate Organisation (WKO), Sam participated for over 20 years in full contact competition, winning multiple state and national titles, and culminating in a 4th place in the heavyweight division of the Shinkyokushinkai World Cup in 2009.

As the co-founder and clinical director of Club 360, the premier multi-disciplinary health and fitness center in Tokyo, Japan, Sam has combined his practical experience with an in-depth study of sports performance in relation to combat sports, and strives to help other combat athletes reach their full competitive potential, whilst at the same time decreasing injury risk and increasing competition and training potential.

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