Physical Training July 2013
 
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STRENGTH AND BODY COMPOSITION OF AMATEUR FEMALE VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS AND UNTRAINED WOMEN

Balasas, D., Vamvakoudis, E., Christoulas, K., Stefanidis, P., Metaxas, T.

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Department of Physical Education and Sport Science

Laboratory of Ergophysiology-Ergometry

 

Correspondence:

Efstratios Vamvakoudis PhD, Assistant Professor

Department of Physical Education and Sport Science

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Tel.:+30 2310991166

Email:vamvak@phed.auth.gr

 

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was: to record a) the somatometric characteristics and body composition, b) the isokinetic strength of lower limbs of some amateur female Greek volleyball players (VP) and to compare them with untrained women (UW). The sample was consisted of twelve (n=12) VP and twelve (n=12) UW. All subjects underwent anthropometric measurements, body fat assessment and lower limb isokinetic strength testing for the evaluation of strength of quadriceps and hamstrings. Height, body mass and fat free mass values were significantly different for VP (p<.001, p<.01 p<.001 respectively) in comparison to UW. Isokinetic strength testing, revealed significant differences for VP (p<.001) in all angular velocities (300, 180 and 60ο·sec-1), even when values were shifted into relative (nm·body mass-1). Hamstrings to quadriceps ratio had no statistical differences between two groups. Conclusively, it seems that VP selection in early age is an important factor which makes the height difference to the UW and that chronic volleyball training can lead to significant increases in strength, but no changes in hamstrings/quadriceps ratio.

 

KEY WORDS: Female volleyball players, body fat, fat free mass, isokinetic strength.

 

 

Introduction

Volleyball is a very dynamic sport which is characterized from short period of exercise alternating with rest. The long duration of the game makes the athlete’s aerobic energy demand to increase. In contrast, the explosive nature of the game comprised by blocks, attacks and fast court movements requires an increased anaerobic capacity (Kustlinger, Ludwig, & Stegemann, 1987). Throughout the game, volleyball players need to perform a lot of maximal vertical jumps and thus they must have very well trained leg extensor muscles (Pandy, Zajac, Sim, & Levine 1990; Bobbert & Van Soest, 1994). A very important factor for the selection of female volleyball players in high level is height. High stature has been recorded as a differential factor between succeed and non-succeed teams (Morrow, Jackson, Hosler, & Kachurick, 1979). In the same perspective, Spence, Disch, Fred & Coleman (1980), have recorded the descriptive profiles of the selection of the intraUSA volleyball team. They mentioned that the players who finally joined the national team had higher stature and bigger body mass than the rejected players, while strength had no significant difference between two groups. In another study by Morrow, Hostler, & Nelson (1980) the volleyball players appeared to be significantly taller than untrained women, with bigger body mass and fat free mass. In the same paper volleyball players had no significant differences in somatometric factors with basketball players. Bayios, Bergeles, Apostolidis, Noutsos, & Koskolou (2006) compared the somatometric characteristics of female volleyball players with these of female handball and basketball players. Their results also indicate that volleyball players had higher stature with bigger body mass and lower fat percentage than the other two groups of athletes. Tsunawake et al. (2003) reported though, that there was no significant difference of the above factors between female volleyball and basketball players. Fleck, Case, Puhl, & Van Handle (1985) compared the physical characteristics between the national female volleyball team of the USA with the intercollegiate team. They reported that the players of the national team were significantly older, with lower percentages of body fat.

It seems likely that female volleyball players’ physical characteristics are better than other team sports players and untrained women.    

 

Material and Methods

Subjects

In the present study participated twelve (n=12) amateur female volleyball players and twelve (n=12) untrained women. All the measurements occurred in the Laboratory of Ergophysiology-Ergometry of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

 

Somatometric Characteristics and Body Composition.

Height and body mass were recorded with an electronic weight scale incorporated with a stature measure (Seca 220e, Hamburg, Germany). For the calculation of body fat and fat free mass, a hydrostatic weighting tank was used (Vacumed, Ventura California). The vital capacity of the lungs had previously been determined out of water, with the aid of a spirometer (Jaeger,Germany). The hydrostatic weighting tank was filled with water and was comprised of an electronic weight scale from which a special seat was hanged. The subject was sitting on that seat, submerging in water, exhaled voluntary all the air from the lungs and then the underwater weight was recorded. With the value of vital capacity already recorded out of water, the residual volume of the lungs was calculated. The values from residual volume, underwater weight, ground weight, height, water temperature were used in Brozek’s formula (Brozek, Grande, Anderson, & Keys, 1963), and thus body fat and fat free mass were determined.       

 

Strength Measurement

Lower limb strength was measured at the isokinetic dynamometer (cybex II). Extensors and flexors of the dominant leg were tested at the angular speeds of 300, 180 and 60ο sec-1 (Zakas, Mandroukas, Vamvakoudis, Christoulas, & Aggelopoulou, 1995). The results were recorded in absolute (Nm) and relative (Nm·Body weight-1) values.

 

Statistical Analysis

From the statistic software SPSS, the “paired sample t-test” was used for the comparison of means between the two groups of subjects.

 

Results

The somatometric characteristics measurement (table 1) reveals that volleyball players (VP) had higher stature than the untrained women (UW) (p< .001). Moreover VP had significantly bigger body mass (p< .01) fat free mass (p< .001) and lower percentages of body fat (p< .05). 

 

Table 1. Somatometric characteristics. * p< .05  **p< .01  ***p< .001

 

Age

Height

Weight

Fat Free Mass

Fat %

VP

21.572.07

1.770.05***

67.412.82**

53.412.53***

20.413.95*

UW

22.140.75

1.630.03

50.949.49

39.583.93

26.314.61

 

 

A strong statistic significant difference (p< .001) was observed in isokinetic strength measurement (fig. 1) of leg extensors for all angular velocities (300, 180 and 60ο·sec-1), with the VP overmatching the UW. Similar results are appeared in the isokinetic strength of leg flexors, where the VP present significantly higher torque values (p< .001) than the UW (fig. 2). Additionally, the relative strength (Nm·Body weight-1) revealed significant difference between the two groups in both leg extensors and flexors (fig. 3 and 4). Finally, the flexors/extensors ratio (fig. 5) is the almost the same between the two groups, without any statistical significant difference.    

 

Fig 1. Strength of leg extensors in absolut values (***p< .001). Volleyball players (VP) vs. untrained women (UW).

 
 fig 1

 

 

Fig 2. Strength of leg flexors in absolut values (***p< .001). Volleyball players (VP) vs. untrained women (UW).

 
 fig2

 

Fig 3. Strength of leg extensors in relative values (Nm·Body weight-1) (***p< .001). Volleyball players (VP) vs. untrained women (UW).

 
 fig3

 

Fig 4. Strength of leg flexors in relative values (Nm·Body weight-1) (***p< .001). Volleyball players (VP) vs. untrained women (UW).

 

 fig4


Fig 5. Hamstrings/quadriceps ratio. Volleyball players (VP) vs. untrained women (UW).

 fig5

 

 

 

Discussion

The aim of the present study was to record a) the somatometric characteristics and body composition, b) the isokinetic strength of lower limbs of some amateur female Greek volleyball players and to compare them with those untrained women.

    The importance of somatometric characteristics, particulary height and body weight, for the evolution of volleyball players in high level has previously been examined (Morrow, Jackson, Hosler, & Kachurick, 1979; Morrow, Hostler, & Nelson, 1980; Spence, Disch, Fred & Coleman, 1980). These previous studies shown that as the level of volleyball becomes higher (intercollegiate teams, high level teams, national teams) the athletes present high stature. Moreover, a concurrent increase of body mass is often observed, which isn’t always accompanied by increases in strength. An extra element that makes high level players to differ, is technical skills and special characteristics at different game scenarios, depending their playing position (e.g.setter, middle blocker, outside hitter, universal) (Spence, Disch, Fred & Coleman, 1980). Gualdi-Russo & Zaccagni (2001) recorded the somatotype characteristics of the players in the elite female Italian volleyball league. From their results it came an average of 193.96.5 cm for height, 88.47.7 kg for weight and age 24.54.6. For the second league of Italy recorded lower values of height and body mass and about the same average of age. In our study, the Greek amateur volleyball players had a stature of 1770.05 cm and 67.411.82 kg body mass. The fact that our study’s players have lower stature seems probably to explain why are they amateurs and why they don’t participate in a high level championship. Therefore, previous observations (Morrow, Jackson, Hosler, & Kachurick, 1979; Morrow, Hostler, & Nelson, 1980; Spence, Disch, Fred & Coleman, 1980), supporting that height is a cruciate factor for the palyers’ career seem to be confirmed, as the players of our study are not too tall and thus participate in amateur championship. Comparing to untrained women, female volleyball players appear to have (appart from higher stature), bigger body mass and fat free mass (Morrow, Hostler, & Nelson, 1980). These results are in accoradance with the results of our study, showing significantly (except higher stature), bigger body mass, lower fat percentage, bigger fat free mass than the untrained women.  Fleck, Case, Puhl, & Van Handle (1985) in their study, noted an average body fat of 11.7 3.7%, and fat free mass 60.3 6.1 kg, for the national team of USA. In the same investigation, the values for the players of intercollegiate team were 18.3 3.4 % body fat and 58.4 3.9 kg fat free mass. In another study (Bayios, Bergeles, Apostolidis, Noutsos, & Koskolou, 2006), physical attributes of volleyball, handball and basketball players playing in division 1 in Greece were compared. It was found that volleyball players were taller (177.16.5 cm) than both basketball (174.77.8) and handball players (165.96.3). The volleyball players were also heavier (69.57.4), had a higher fat free mass (53.25.3) and lower percent fat (23.42.8) than the handball players. Thus, it is evident that being tall and fat free is advantageous in volleyball.

Muscle strength is a very important aspect of the athletic performance. There are several methods for the assesment of muscle strength and different studies use different methodologies. Hence, comparing results among other studies becomes a very difficult issue. In the study of Morrow, Jackson, Hosler, & Kachurick, (1979), most successful players were compared with less succeessful players in a volleyball tournament. Bench press and leg press values were 46.4511.04 and 155.4227.39 kg, respectively, for the players of the most successful teams, and 37.579.53 and 137.9128.96 kg, respectively, for players of the least successful teams. The same authors, in another study (Morrow, Hostler, & Nelson, 1980) revealed, as expected, that volleyball players were stronger than non-players. Alfredson, Pietila, & Lorentzon (1998), conducted some isokinetic tests in order to compare concentric and eccentric shoulder and elbow strength in female volleyball players and untrained women. Their results revealed that volleyball players had significantly higher concentric and eccentric peak torque of the shoulder and elbow rotator muscles. In another study of isokinetic strength testing (Ferris, Signorile, & Caruso, 1995), it was recorded that there was a significant between arm extension torque and spike velocity.  Our results are in accordance with the previous research articles, as we found statistical significant differences in all angular velocities of the isokinetic strength between the volleyball players and the female non-active women. 

Several studies have examined the effects of resistance training programs on strength (Fry et al. 1991; Hakkinen, 1993; Marques, Tillaar, Vescovi, & Gonzalez-Badillo, 2008; Smith, Stokes, & Kilb, 1987).  In the study of Fry et al. (1991), the effects of a 12 week strength training program in NCAA players was examined. Their results revealed that starters were stronger than non-starters, and that starters remained stronger than non-starters even when absolut values were turned into relatives. Our results are in agreement with the above findings, as volleyball players were significantly stronger than untrained women in absolut and relative (nm·body mass-1) values too.

 

Conclusion

Conclusively, it seems that volleyball players’ selection in early age is the factor that makes the height difference between them and the untrained women. Moreover, chronic volleyball training can lead to significant increases in strength, but no changes in hamstrings/quadriceps ratio.

 

References

 
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2.      Bayios, I.A., Bergeles, N.K., Apostolidis, N.G., Noutsos, K.S., & Koskolou, M,D. (2006). Anthropometric, body composition and somatotype differences of Greek elite female basketball, volleyball and handball players. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 46: 271-280.

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