ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Core exercises have been widely promoted in the last 25 years. However, the scientific debate about its efficacy for improving individual and team sports performance is still open. Thus, the present study aims to investigate the effects of circuit training with a core exercise program on physical performance in competitive amateur soccer players. The training was conducted during the off-season period, two times per week for 8 weeks. Pre- and post-evaluations were conducted using the following tests: Y-Balance Test (YB), standing long jump (SLJ), medicine ball chest press (MBC), curl-up (CU), and Illinois Agility Test (IAT). A total of 19 adults were divided into an experimental group (EG, n = 11, age 22 years, weight 71.2 ± 4.8 kg, height 174 ± 5.8 cm) and a control group (CG, n = 8, age 22 years, weight 73.2 ± 4.1 Kg, height 176 ± 6.3 cm). The EG showed significant improvements in lower and upper body strength, core endurance and balance, whereas the CG did not report significant changes in the pre- and post-test comparison. Despite study limitations, our positive results show that circuit training with core exercises appears to be a good strategy for performance improvement in adult soccer players.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Citation: Belli, G.; Marini, S.; Mauro,
M.; Maietta Latessa, P.; Toselli, S.
Effects of Eight-Week Circuit Training
with Core Exercises on Performance
in Adult Male Soccer Players. Eur. J.
Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,
12, 1244–1256. https://doi.org/
10.3390/ejihpe12090086
Academic Editors: Samuel
Fernández Salinero, María del Mar
Molero Jurado and María del Carmen
Pérez-Fuentes
Received: 11 July 2022
Accepted: 29 August 2022
Published: 1 September 2022
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral
with regard to jurisdictional claims in
published maps and institutional affil-
iations.
Copyright: © 2022 by the authors.
Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and
conditions of the Creative Commons
Attribution (CC BY) license (https://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/
4.0/).
Article
Effects of Eight-Week Circuit Training with Core Exercises on
Performance in Adult Male Soccer Players
Guido Belli 1, Sofia Marini 1, Mario Mauro 1, * , Pasqualino Maietta Latessa 1and Stefania Toselli 2
1Department of Life Quality Studies, University of Bologna, 47921 Rimini, Italy
2Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, 40126 Bologna, Italy
*Correspondence: mario.mauro4@unibo.it
Abstract:
Core exercises have been widely promoted in the last 25 years. However, the scientific
debate about its efficacy for improving individual and team sports performance is still open. Thus,
the present study aims to investigate the effects of circuit training with a core exercise program on
physical performance in competitive amateur soccer players. The training was conducted during the
off-season period, two times per week for 8 weeks. Pre- and post-evaluations were conducted using
the following tests: Y-Balance Test (YB), standing long jump (SLJ), medicine ball chest press (MBC),
curl-up (CU), and Illinois Agility Test (IAT). A total of 19 adults were divided into an experimental
group (EG, n = 11, age 22 years, weight 71.2
±
4.8 kg, height 174
±
5.8 cm) and a control group
(CG, n = 8, age 22 years, weight 73.2
±
4.1 Kg, height 176
±
6.3 cm). The EG showed significant
improvements in lower and upper body strength, core endurance and balance, whereas the CG
did not report significant changes in the pre- and post-test comparison. Despite study limitations,
our positive results show that circuit training with core exercises appears to be a good strategy for
performance improvement in adult soccer players.
Keywords: core exercise; soccer; circuit training; strength; balance
1. Introduction
Circuit training (CT) is a popular methodology in fitness and wellness programs, as
well as in sports, because its modulation induces physiological benefits, such as strength,
power, and cardio-vascular–respiratory adaptations [
1
5
]. A circuit includes a variable
number of exercises that come in succession with a specific time related to the adaptation
to the relevant exercises [
6
]. Each exercise should be general and/or sport-related and can
involve the whole body or just a specific body compartment [6,7].
Core exercises have been widely promoted in the last 25 years. The role of the core
musculature and several training methods have been investigated in sport, fitness, and reha-
bilitation to understand how trunk conditioning could affect performance and health [
8
15
].
The core region, also identified as the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex and scapular stabilizing
system, is the central part of the body that connects the trunk with upper and lower limbs
and represents the center of myofascial kinetic chains [
9
,
10
,
13
,
14
]. Several studies showed
that core exercises improve stability and neuromuscular control between the spine and
pelvis, and increase endurance, strength, and power in trunk muscles [
16
18
]. Additionally,
they could facilitate the force transfer between the upper and lower body, increase static
and dynamic balance, and improve the execution of specific sports skills [
10
,
13
,
14
,
17
].
Consequently, a proper level of core stability and strength could improve sports perfor-
mance and physical fitness, prevent several musculoskeletal injuries, and optimize training
adaptations in athletes [12,13,1820].
Despite the large diffusion and benefits of core exercises in training programs for
individual and team sports, the scientific debate about its efficacy is still open [
8
,
18
,
20
,
21
].
Some authors highlighted how core exercises induced positive effects on neuromuscular
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12, 1244–1256. https://doi.org/10.3390/ejihpe12090086 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ejihpe
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12 1245
control, postural stability, trunk muscle strength, and endurance, but it remains unclear
whether these improvements could be transferred into sport-specific performance [
21
].
Differently, a recent review showed that the core program could improve specific skills in
team and individual sports if practiced at least twice a week for a month [
20
]. In addition,
a meta-analysis exhibited several benefits for general physical fitness and sport-specific
performance after more than 18 short core training sessions [18].
As regards team sports, soccer has been classified as an intermittent sport that requests
many types of physical abilities, such as strength, power, endurance, balance, and several
coordinative and technical–tactical skills [
22
,
23
]. The CT and core exercises performed by
soccer players showed several positive effects on static and dynamic balance [
24
], lower
limbs strength [
25
28
], speed and agility [
17
,
24
,
25
,
27
32
], muscularity in the trunk and
cross-sectional area [
17
,
25
27
,
33
], and flexibility [
28
]. However, some authors reported that
both static and dynamic core exercises enhanced trunk stability without positive effects on
speed, agility and quickness, and lower limb strength and power [34].
Although the current literature explained conflicting results of the addition of core
exercises to general and specific soccer training in all levels of players, we hypothesize
that proper CT including core exercises could report positive effects on balance, strength,
and power. So, this study aims to analyze the effects of a specific CT protocol, performed
during the off-season time, on trunk, upper and lower body strength, dynamic balance,
and speed in competitive amateur soccer players.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Subjects and Study Design
This is a longitudinal study design of eight weeks with two evaluation times (pre and
post), from May up to July (off-season period). The study was conducted at the Sports
Science Institute of Bologna, Italy. The participant’s enrolment was conducted within the
soccer team Madonnina Calcio (Modena, Italy) at the end of the regular season (Emilia
Romagna regional league, Italy). The Madonnina Calcio team comprised 23 amateur soccer
players. Players were defined as an amateur if they trained less than three times per week
and played a maximum of one match per week. Additionally, their performances were not
compensated. The eligible criteria were: (a) no history of musculoskeletal, neurological,
or other orthopaedic disorders in the last 6 months, (b) age range 18–30 years, and (c)
no previous experience with core training exercises. In the beginning, 23 players were
considered to participate in the study. Of these, three players were injured, whereas one
player could not guarantee their participation due to the holiday. Nineteen participants
volunteered for the study and completed all the evaluations (Figure 1). No randomization
was possible because many participants could not guarantee they could perform at least
12 CT training sessions. Participants were allocated to one of two groups: the experimental
group (EG, n = 11, age 22 years, weight 71.2
±
4.8 kg, height 174
±
5.8 cm) and the control
group (CG, CG, n = 8, age 22 years, weight 73.2
±
4.1 Kg, height 176
±
6.3 cm). No
nutritional information was collected. Written informed consent was provided before the
beginning of the study. The research was approved by the Bioethics Committee of the
University of Bologna (Approval code: 25027).
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12 1246
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 3
Figure 1. Participants’ flowchart.
2.2. Training in the EG and CG
The EG was submitted to an eight-week core and functional training protocol [27,31].
Training frequency was two sessions per week and the global number of sessions was
sixteen, according to previous research that demonstrated benefits in neuromuscular con-
trol and performance measures during a similar conditioning period [35]. The time of rest
between each training session was 72 h to optimize the physiological recovery (training
days were Monday or Tuesday–Thursday or Friday).
Figure 2 shows the training protocol progression. It was focused on seven exercises
performed in the following way:
Session 1: four core training and three upper body strength exercises
Session 2: four core training and three lower body strength exercises
Figure 2. Training protocol progression.
Assessed for eligibility (n=23)
Excluded (n=4)
Injuries (n=3)
Holliday (n=1)
Participants analysed (n=11)
Excluded from analysis (n=0)
Lost to follow-up (n=0)
Discontinued tra ining (n=0)
Allocated to exper imental group (n=11)
Received Circuit Training (n=11)
Did not receive Circ uit Training (n=0)
Lost to follow-up (n=0)
Altered control training (n=0)
Allocated to control group (n=8)
Received no Circuit Training (n=8)
Received Circuit Training (n=0)
Participants analysed (n=8)
Excluded from anal
y
sis
(
n=0
)
Anal
y
sis
Follow-U
p
Allocation (n=19)
Enrollment
Figure 1. Participants’ flowchart.
2.2. Training in the EG and CG
The EG was submitted to an eight-week core and functional training protocol [
27
,
31
].
Training frequency was two sessions per week and the global number of sessions was
sixteen, according to previous research that demonstrated benefits in neuromuscular control
and performance measures during a similar conditioning period [
35
]. The time of rest
between each training session was 72 h to optimize the physiological recovery (training
days were Monday or Tuesday–Thursday or Friday).
Figure 2shows the training protocol progression. It was focused on seven exercises
performed in the following way:
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 3
Figure 1. Participants’ flowchart.
2.2. Training in the EG and CG
The EG was submitted to an eight-week core and functional training protocol [27,31].
Training frequency was two sessions per week and the global number of sessions was
sixteen, according to previous research that demonstrated benefits in neuromuscular con-
trol and performance measures during a similar conditioning period [35]. The time of rest
between each training session was 72 h to optimize the physiological recovery (training
days were Monday or Tuesday–Thursday or Friday).
Figure 2 shows the training protocol progression. It was focused on seven exercises
performed in the following way:
Session 1: four core training and three upper body strength exercises
Session 2: four core training and three lower body strength exercises
Figure 2. Training protocol progression.
Assessed for eligibility (n=23)
Excluded (n=4)
Injuries (n=3)
Holliday (n=1)
Participants analysed (n=11)
Excluded from analysis (n=0)
Lost to follow-up (n=0)
Discontinued tra ining (n=0)
Allocated to exper imental group (n=11)
Received Circuit Training (n=11)
Did not receive Circ uit Training (n=0)
Lost to follow-up (n=0)
Altered control training (n=0)
Allocated to control group (n=8)
Received no Circuit Training (n=8)
Received Circuit Training (n=0)
Participants analysed (n=8)
Excluded from anal
y
sis
(
n=0
)
Anal
y
sis
Follow-U
p
Allocation (n=19)
Enrollment
Figure 2. Training protocol progression.
Session 1: four core training and three upper body strength exercises
Session 2: four core training and three lower body strength exercises
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12 1247
Core training exercises protocol (Figures 2and 3) was gradually focused on trunk
stability, endurance, and strength, while load intensity and volume were weekly increased
following previous guidelines [
14
17
,
36
]. The four exercises performed were the plank,
crunch, supine bridge, and side bridge [37].
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4
Core training exercises protocol (Figures 2 and 3) was gradually focused on trunk
stability, endurance, and strength, while load intensity and volume were weekly in-
creased following previous guidelines [1417,36]. The four exercises performed were the
plank, crunch, supine bridge, and side bridge [37].
Figure 3. Exercise progression over 16 training sessions (eight weeks).
Upper and lower body functional exercises were defined by sport movement pat-
terns [38]. The three upper body functional movements executed were push, pull, and
press, while lower body movements were squat, lunge, and deadlift [27,31,35].
All movements were progressed using specific equipment (unstable surfaces, sling
tools, sandbags, weight plates, dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells, medicine balls, elastic
bands), and training load parameters were increased in a similar way to core training ex-
ercises (Figures 2 and 3). During each exercise, execution participants were supposed to
reach maximum effort supported by a trained kinesiologist.
Each session was organized using the circuit interval training method with a ratio
between work and rest equal to 1:1, of 30 seconds respectively. This ratio was selected to
enhance the stimulation of both anaerobic systems (glycolytic and neuromuscular) and to
induce the neuromuscular learning effect (improvement in body efficiency and movement
economy) [39,40]. Specifically, the 30 work period aimed to maintain a selected level of
mechanical force (static exercise) and/or power (dynamic exercise) for a short interval
(critical power), and to increase the anaerobic energy source (W) [41]. The passive 30
recovery period aimed to dilate the exhaustion time and induce a higher phosphoryl-cre-
atine resynthesis [42]. Static exercises were performed by holding isometric positions for
30, whereas dynamic movements requested the execution of the maximum number of
repetitions with resistance tools for the same time.
Participants completed three (weeks 1, 2, 5, 6) or four circuits (weeks 3, 4, 7, 8) without
additional recovery, and the working time was 21 or 28 min, respectively.
Before starting each training session, 10 min of dynamic warm-up with a focus on
cardiovascular activation, joint mobility, and flexibility were performed (bodyweight ex-
ercises). Once circuit interval training was completed, 10 min of cool down with stretching
and myofascial release exercises concluded each session.
All training sessions were led by a kinesiologist with at least 3 years experience in
core and functional training. Before starting the CT protocol, each participant was in-
structed to learn the correct exercise execution and breathing.
Figure 3. Exercise progression over 16 training sessions (eight weeks).
Upper and lower body functional exercises were defined by sport movement pat-
terns [
38
]. The three upper body functional movements executed were push, pull, and
press, while lower body movements were squat, lunge, and deadlift [27,31,35].
All movements were progressed using specific equipment (unstable surfaces, sling
tools, sandbags, weight plates, dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells, medicine balls, elastic
bands), and training load parameters were increased in a similar way to core training
exercises (Figures 2and 3). During each exercise, execution participants were supposed to
reach maximum effort supported by a trained kinesiologist.
Each session was organized using the circuit interval training method with a ratio
between work and rest equal to 1:1, of 30 seconds respectively. This ratio was selected to
enhance the stimulation of both anaerobic systems (glycolytic and neuromuscular) and to
induce the neuromuscular learning effect (improvement in body efficiency and movement
economy) [
39
,
40
]. Specifically, the 30” work period aimed to maintain a selected level of
mechanical force (static exercise) and/or power (dynamic exercise) for a short interval
(critical power), and to increase the anaerobic energy source (W
0
) [
41
]. The passive 30”
recovery period aimed to dilate the exhaustion time and induce a higher phosphoryl-
creatine resynthesis [
42
]. Static exercises were performed by holding isometric positions
for 30”, whereas dynamic movements requested the execution of the maximum number of
repetitions with resistance tools for the same time.
Participants completed three (weeks 1, 2, 5, 6) or four circuits (weeks 3, 4, 7, 8) without
additional recovery, and the working time was 21 or 28 min, respectively.
Before starting each training session, 10 min of dynamic warm-up with a focus on
cardiovascular activation, joint mobility, and flexibility were performed (bodyweight exer-
cises). Once circuit interval training was completed, 10 min of cool down with stretching
and myofascial release exercises concluded each session.
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12 1248
All training sessions were led by a kinesiologist with at least 3 years experience in core
and functional training. Before starting the CT protocol, each participant was instructed to
learn the correct exercise execution and breathing.
Contrary to the EG, the CG performed recreational activities, such as running, biking,
and futsal, for the same period. CG participants were not allowed to perform any kind of
resistance training exercises or bodyweight exercises.
2.3. Motor Tests
Motor tests were implemented at the University sports center. Each evaluation was
performed before and after the training period in indoor spaces, where the temperature
was 21.5
. All testing was performed in the afternoon between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. due to
participants’ availability, similar to training time sessions. Different days were selected
to perform strength and balance tests, and 24 to 48 h were given to participants to avoid
biased results due to fatigue. According to previous reviews, the following tests were
selected [13,18,20,43]:
Y-Balance Test (YB), standing long jump (SLJ), medicine ball chest
press (MBC), curl-up (CU), Illinois Agility Test (IAT). Before performing each test, par-
ticipants were instructed by a trained specialist who taught them the accurate and safe
procedure. Each participant did a warm-up of 15 min with jogging, dynamic stretching,
and many athletic drills, such as jumps, skips, lunges, short-run shuffles, core stimulations,
arms swings, and wide push-ups, after which they practiced some trials to get comfortable
with the specific test. Following this dynamic warm-up, a period of eight minutes was
allotted to the participants. Three trials were completed for each evaluation, separated by
4 min of rest intervals. Only the best results were recorded.
2.3.1. Standing Long Jump Test (SLJ)
Horizontal jump tests measured the explosive strength and power in the lower limb.
These aspects are fundamental to the usual movements of soccer players, such as sprinting,
jumping, and kicking a ball [
22
]. The role of the core musculature can optimize the
performance during this test [11,13,19].
For the SLJ, all subjects received standardized instructions that allowed them to begin
the jump with bent knees and to swing their arms to assist in the jump. A line drawn on a
hard surface served as the starting line. The length of the jump was determined using a
tape measure, which was affixed to the floor. The distance of the best jump was measured,
to the nearest 1 cm, from the line to the point where the heel closest to the starting line
landed. If the subject fell backwards, the distance where the body part closest to the starting
line touched the ground was measured as the jump’s length. The reliability and validity of
the SLJ in younger participants were previously reported [44,45].
2.3.2. Medicine Ball Chest Test (MBC)
Medicine ball throw tests have been reported to be a valid and reliable measure
of upper body strength and power [
11
]. Furthermore, static, and dynamic throws are
significantly correlated with some performance measures and can reflect the force transfer
between the core and limbs [
46
]. Since soccer players require strength and stability during
rotary movements, the MBC was performed dynamically in a standing position [
47
].
Participants kept a split stance position with the front foot in contact with a starting line on
the floor and held a 6 Kg medicine ball in their hands. Then, they threw the medicine ball
as far as possible with a chest pass. Participants were allowed to rotate the trunk before the
throw without moving their feet. The test was performed with the right and left foot in
an anterior position. The throws were marked at the first contact on the ground and the
distance from starting line was determined using a tape measure.
2.3.3. Curl-up Test (CU)
Curl-up tests measure the strength and endurance of the core musculature [
48
] and
represent an assessment tool for the Fitnessgram®program [49].
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12 1249
For this test, participants attempted to complete up to 75 curl-ups at a specified pace
(1 curl for every 3 s, 20 reps per minute) using a mat with a 12 cm measuring strip. They
lay flat on their backs with their knees bent at 90
and feet flat on the floor. Arms were
extended and parallel to the trunk with their palms on the mat. The measuring strip was
used to help participants know how far to curl-up and was placed under the knees with
the fingers touching the nearest edge. Participants slid their fingers from one side of the
measuring strip to the other side and then curled back down. CU speed was defined
using a metronome settled at 40 bpm. The test ended when participants could not keep
the requested speed or feet were moved from the mat. The final score was the number of
curl-ups completed.
2.3.4. Illinois Agility Test (IAT)
The IAT was administered as previously described [
50
]. The length of the IAT rectangle
was set at 9.144 m and the width at 5 m. The IAT course was marked by cones, with four
cones spaced 3.05 m apart in a central position and four corner cones positioned 2.5 m
laterally from the central cones. The participant began the test lying prone on the floor
behind the starting line with his arms at his side and his head turned to the side or facing
forward. On the vocal starting command, the participant ascended to his feet and ran
or moved quickly forward to the first tape mark. Participants were required to touch or
cross the tape mark with their feet. The participant turned around and moved back to the
first central cone. The participant then ran or moved as quickly as possible to the second
tape mark on the far line. Again, participants were required to touch or cross the end-line
tape marks with their feet. Lastly, the participant turned around and ran or moved as
quickly as possible across the finish line. The time taken to complete each trial was recorded
in seconds.
2.3.5. Y-Balance Test (YB)
The YBT was administered as previously described [
51
]. The test was assessed for
both right and left lower limbs. The starting position saw the participant standing on
the central footplate, with the distal aspect of the right foot at the starting line. While
maintaining a single leg stance on the right leg, the subject moved the free limb to the
anterior, posteromedial, and posterolateral directions with the stance foot by pushing the
indicator box as far as possible. To reduce fatigue that could negatively affect the test
result, participants altered their right and left lower limbs between the three directions.
Attempts were discarded and repeated (a maximum of six trials) if the subject failed to
maintain a unilateral stance on the platform, failed to maintain reach foot contact with the
reach indicator on the target area while the reach indicator is in motion, used the reach
indicator for stance support, or failed to return the reaching foot to the starting position
under control. The reach distance was recorded to the nearest 0.5 cm.
2.4. Statistical Analysis
Descriptive statistics (mean
±
standard deviation, SD) were calculated for each vari-
able. Variable normality was verified with the Shapiro–Wilk test. The paired Student’s
t-test was performed to assess the differences between the groups from the pre- to post-
evaluation. The student’s t-test was performed to assess the between-groups differences.
To evaluate the different treatment effects with no bias due to beginning participants’
heterogeneity, the difference between the pre-and post-evaluation of each group was
calculated, and then these differences were inferred. A statistical type I error (p-value,
p) <0.05 was considered significant. A post hoc analysis was computed to achieve the
statistical power for both the matched paired and the two group’s t-test with G*Power
3.1.9.7 for
Windows 10
(Heinrich-Heine-Universitat Düsseldorf, Universitätsstraße 1, 40225
Düsseldorf, Germany): for matched paired comparison in the EG the mean ES = 1.368,
α
= 0.05,
n = 11,
test two-tailed, 1-
β
= 0.982; for matched paired comparison in the CG
the mean
ES = 0.35, α= 0.05, n = 8,
test two-tailed [
24
,
25
,
27
32
,
34
,
52
], 1-
β
= 0.16; for two
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12 1250
independent groups comparisons, the mean ES = 0.99,
α
= 0.05, n = 19, test two-tailed,
1-β= 0.52.
The statistical analysis was performed with STATA
®
software for Windows 10, version
17 (Publisher: StataCorp. 2021. Stata Statistical Software: Release 17. College Station, TX,
USA, StataCorp LP).
3. Results
Table 1shows the means, standard deviations, and differences within and between
the groups in pre- and post-evaluation. The EG improved significantly in all tests over
time except for the Illinois Agility Test, whereas the CG did not show significant differ-
ences among pre- and post-evaluation. Within-group comparisons, greater improvements
were found in the right-side (dominant body-side) tests of the experimental group. The
differences between each group difference showed a positive trend for the EG, but only
three tests exhibited significant differences between groups (medicine ball chest press on
the right side and the Y-Balance test). Figure 4includes five graph bars (A–E), which show
the means and mean differences of each test for the two groups, respectively.
Figure 4.
Graph bar with pre-, post- and post–pre of standing long jump test (
A
), medicine ball chest
test (
B
), curl-up test (
C
), Illinois Agility Test (
D
), and Y-Balance Test (
E
). Note: *, significant difference
within group; §, significant difference between groups.
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12 1251
Table 1. Summary statistics of motor test results and differences within and between groups.
Within Groups Between Groups
EG (n= 11) CG (n= 8) Pre
(EG–CG)
Post
(EG–CG)
Variable Pre
(Mean ±SD)
Post
(Mean ±SD)
EG
(Mean ±SD) p. t(10)
Pre
(Mean ±SD)
Post
(Mean ±SD)
CG
(Mean ±SD) p. t(7) t(17) t(17)
SLJ 201.09 ±11.89 214.63 ±11.65 13.55 ±9.33 4.814
1
ƚ
209.5 ±14.17 212. 87 ±13.91 3.37 ±12.85 0.743 1.406 2.005
MBCr 503.64 ±48.22 548.18 ±41.67 44.55 ±22.52 6.559
1
ƚ
526.87 ±40.61 545.62 ±45.15 18.75 ±32.60 1.627 1.105 2.046 *
MBCl 507.27 ±52.74 555.45 ±54.84 48.18 ±46.87 3.409 * 538.12 ±43.75 543.75 ±56.29 5.62 ±46.40 0.343 1.348 1.962
CU 28.45 ±12.19 49.73 ±23.58 21.27 ±17.31 4.076 §28.5 ±10.46 35.75 ±10.82 7.25 ±11.77 1.742 0.009 1.976
Ill 18.22 ±0.82 18.13 ±0.57 0.09 ±0.77 0.382 17.99 ±0.62 18.14 ±0.82 0.145 ±0.61 0.667 0.635 0.709
YBr 97.05 ±5.92 105.46 ±5.3 8.41 ±4.44 6.285
1
ƚ
98.84 ±6.15 100.84 ±5.35 1.99 ±3.99 1.417 0.640 3.241 §
YBl 97.92 ±6.46 105.41 ±4.45 7.50 ±4.18 5.941
1
ƚ
101.11 ±3.44 102.14 ±3.99 1.03 ±2.04 1.429 1.267 4.016
1
ƚ
Note: SLJ, standing long jump test; MBCr, medicine ball chest test right side; MBCl, medicine ball chest test left side; CU, Curl-p test; Ill, Illinois Agility Test; YBr, Y-Balance Test right side;
YBl, Y-Balance Test left side; EG, experimental group; CG, control group; n, sample size; SD, standard deviation; p. t, paired t-test; t, Student’s test; p,p-value;
, difference;
*, p< 0.05;
§,p< 0.01;
1
ƚ
,p< 0.001.
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12 1252
4. Discussion
The present work aimed to investigate the effects of a circuit training with a core
exercise program on physical performance in competitive amateur soccer players. The
training was conducted during the off-season period, two times per week for 8 weeks. By
our hypothesis, we found significant improvements in lower and upper body strength (SLJ
and MDC on both sides, respectively), core endurance (CU), and balance (YBT on both
side) in the EG. On the contrary, the CG did not report significant changes in pre–post-test
comparisons.
The effects of core exercises on performance and physical fitness in different levels
of male soccer players have been previously investigated. Training protocol duration
and frequency varied normally from six to twelve weeks and from two to four times per
week, respectively [
24
,
25
,
27
32
,
34
,
52
]. Recently, a systematic review and meta-analysis
evidenced the efficacy of short-time CT programs (<30
0
) performed twice a week for at least
18 sessions [
18
]. In the current study, the CT time ranged from 21 to 28 minutes and the total
number of sessions was 16, close to the above-mentioned suggestion. Concerning duration,
an 8-week integrated training protocol performed two times per week demonstrated an
enhancement of neuromuscular control and agility, trunk, and upper body strength when
compared to isolated training [
35
]. This training time could be long enough to provide
improvements in neural aspects of strength, coordination, and motor control. Consequently,
gains in strength, balance, and agility can be expected. The current literature reports the
efficacy of a similar training period in soccer [
27
,
30
32
,
53
,
54
]. Recently, Mahmoud found
significant improvements both in lower (SLJ and vertical jump) and upper (medicine ball
throw) arms after a 10-week core exercise program with two sessions per week in younger
soccer players (15.40 years) [
47
]. Additionally, two researchers showed that two different
8-week core exercise programs (static and dynamic) applied for 30 min, two days per week,
increased strength levels measured by the SLJ and push-up test in younger soccer players
(15 years) [
54
]. Although the above-mentioned studies investigated younger samples
and the upper arm strength was evaluated differently, core exercises induced benefits in
strength. In our study, the SLJ and MBC significantly improved in the EG only. The selection
of exercises, load progression, and training length could be the main reason for this positive
change [
31
,
35
]. Furthermore, between-group comparisons highlighted differences in the
MBC for the right side only. This result can be related to the physiological discrepancy in
the right and left parts of the body and specific movement patterns during throwing [47].
As regards core endurance and strength, this study showed a significant improvement
in the experimental group after the 8-week CT with a core exercise program in the curl-up
test. Since the focus of the training protocol was mainly on the core musculature, this result
was expected. Despite no significant results appearing in the between-groups comparison,
the type one error value is near the critical level selected, and a larger sample should exhibit
a statistical discrepancy. However, several studies are in accordance with our results and
reported improvements after different periods of a core exercise program [
17
,
47
,
53
,
54
].
Afyon et al. administered a 12-week core exercise plan to 15 younger soccer players (U-16)
in addition to regular training. Compared to the control group (soccer training only), the
authors reported significant improvements in the plank test and larger benefits in lower
body strength (standing long jump and vertical jump), balance, and speed [
53
]. In addition,
Turna et al. showed significant differences in the 30 s abdominal crunch test after six weeks
of core training in adolescent soccer players [
55
]. Prieske et al. compared two different
core training programs (stable vs. unstable) in U-17 elite soccer players and found similar
improvements in maximal isometric trunk strength for extensor muscles [
17
]. Since the CU
represents an easy and dynamic method to assess core endurance in a different population,
this test was preferred to the plank test or the McGill test [
48
]. Furthermore, the crunch
exercise was selected within CT protocols for the muscular activation of the anterior core
region [37].
Concerning agility, the EG did not show improvements after the treatment. These
results are in line with the study of Server et al. [
34
], which analyzed the effects of two
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12 1253
different core training protocols (static and dynamic) executed three times per week for
an 8-week training period in young male soccer players and did not report significant
improvements in sprint and agility. On the contrary, Doganay et al. evidenced benefits in
quickness and agility (measured with the Hexagon test) after eight weeks of both core and
soccer training performed three times per week [
30
]. Similarly, Akif showed enhancements
in agility (IAT and T-Drill agility tests) with two core exercise sessions per week in amateur
players [
32
]. Although divergent results are presented in the literature, many important
elements, such as training protocols (static vs. dynamic exercises, bodyweight vs. strength
equipment), motor tests, and season period (in-season vs. off-season), could affect adap-
tations. The lack of improvements in IAT in the present work could be mainly related to
the off-season period: while static and dynamic exercises were added to a sport-specific
routine during the regular season [
27
,
30
,
32
], our research focused on core and functional
exercises alone. The absence of specific agility and quickness training in our protocol is
probably the reason for this lack. Consequently, the specificity of core exercise programs, in
addition to soccer training, has been related to different benefits [31].
The last evaluation of this study focused on whether core exercise protocol could
improve single-leg dynamic balance measured by the Y-Balance Test. Our results showed
that eight weeks of circuit training with core exercises induced benefits in both the right
and left sides of the body. The YBT requires lower limb strength, neuromuscular control,
flexibility, and an adequate level of core stability [
51
,
52
]. Consequently, this assessment
tool has been widely reported as an indirect measure of core efficiency and its role in
physical fitness is well documented [
11
,
12
]. Imai et al. compared the effects of two different
trunk training programs on balance and other performance parameters [
24
]. The authors
found significant improvements in the posteromedial and postero-lateral direction of the
YBT after 12 weeks of core training exercises (front plank, back bridge, side bridge, and
quadrupeds’ arm–leg extension) when compared to traditional trunk exercises (sit up and
back extension). Additionally, some researchers showed that eight weeks of core training
assessed three times per week (in season) improved the balance control of 11 male soccer
players measured by the sensory evaluation test (static balance) [
56
]. Differently, one
research did not report significant improvements in an experimental male soccer group on
balance performance in the dominant leg (balance error scoring system) after eight weeks
of core training [
57
]. Even if the training period was different, our results agree with Imai
et al. [
24
]. Since previous authors underlined the efficiency of an 8-week integrated training
on neuromuscular control and balance, this period represented a sufficient stimulus [
35
].
To the best of our knowledge, no other studies have analyzed the effect of specific circuit
training with core exercises in the soccer off-season period.
Although the heterogeneity of studies evaluating the balance performance after core
training in players makes it difficult to obtain a statement regarding soccer, it seems clear
that at least four weeks of core training performed twice per week could induce benefits in
athletes of several sports [
20
]. More evidence is needed to establish whether core exercises
should be included in soccer season training or during the pre/off-season period.
Many limitations are presented in this study: (a) the sample size was small, so the
statistical power resulted low for some comparisons; (b) no specific treatment was planned
for the control group and participants were free to perform recreational activities; (c) no
training assessment was provided during CT execution, so the intensity and fatigue levels
were not evaluated.
5. Conclusions
The current literature highlights that training with core exercises could induce several
benefits in fitness and sports. Our protocol was effective in improving the strength, core
endurance, and balance of adult amateur soccer players.
Despite study limitations, our positive results showed that circuit training with core
exercises appears to be a good strategy for improving the performance of adult soccer
players during the off-season period. To provide more evidence, it is important to continue
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12 1254
investigating this kind of exercise program’s effects and to also apply the intervention to
the pre and in-season periods.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, G.B. and M.M.; methodology, G.B., M.M. and S.M.;
software, S.T. and P.M.L.; validation, M.M. and G.B.; formal analysis, M.M.; investigation, G.B.; data
curation, S.T. and M.M.; writing—original draft preparation, G.B. and M.M.; writing—review and
editing, S.M.; supervision, S.T. and P.M.L. All authors have read and agreed to the published version
of the manuscript.
Funding: This research received no external funding
Institutional Review Board Statement:
The study was conducted according to the guidelines of the
Declaration of Helsinki and approved by the Bioethics Committee (prot. N 25027).
Informed Consent Statement:
Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in
the study.
Data Availability Statement: Data may be requested from authors.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
References
1.
Marín-Pagán, C.; Blazevich, A.J.; Chung, L.H.; Romero-Arenas, S.; Freitas, T.T.; Alcaraz, P.E. Acute Physiological Responses to
High-Intensity Resistance Circuit Training vs. Traditional Strength Training in Soccer Players. Biology
2020
,9, 383. [CrossRef]
[PubMed]
2.
Giménez, J.V.; Gomez, M.A. Relationships Among Circuit Training, Small-Sided and Mini Goal Games, and Competition in
Professional Soccer Players: A Comparison of On-Field Integrated Training Routines. J. Strength Cond. Res.
2019
,33, 1887–1896.
[CrossRef] [PubMed]
3.
Paoli, A.; Pacelli, F.; Bargossi, A.M.; Marcolin, G.; Guzzinati, S.; Neri, M.; Bianco, A.; Palma, A. Effects of Three Distinct Protocols
of Fitness Training on Body Composition, Strength and Blood Lactate. J. Sports Med. Phys. Fit. 2010,50, 43–51.
4.
Anitha, D.J.; Kumaravelu, D.P.; Lakshmanan, D.C.; Govindasamy, K. Effect of Plyometric Training and Circuit Training on
Selected Physical and Physiological Variables among Male Volleyball Players. Int. J. Yoga Physiother. Phys. Educ.
2018
,3, 26–32.
[CrossRef]
5.
Alcaraz, P.E.; Sánchez-Lorente, J.; Blazevich, A.J. Physical Performance and Cardiovascular Responses to an Acute Bout of Heavy
Resistance Circuit Training versus Traditional Strength Training. J. Strength Cond. Res. 2008,22, 667–671. [CrossRef]
6.
MacInnis, M.J.; Gibala, M.J. Physiological Adaptations to Interval Training and the Role of Exercise Intensity. J. Physiol.
2017
,595,
2915–2930. [CrossRef]
7. Adamson, G.T. Circuit Training. Ergonomics 1959,2, 183–186. [CrossRef]
8.
Wirth, K.; Hartmann, H.; Mickel, C.; Szilvas, E.; Keiner, M.; Sander, A. Core Stability in Athletes: A Critical Analysis of Current
Guidelines. Sports Med. Auckl. NZ 2017,47, 401–414. [CrossRef]
9.
Akuthota, V.; Ferreiro, A.; Moore, T.; Fredericson, M. Core Stability Exercise Principles. Curr. Sports Med. Rep.
2008
,7, 39–44.
[CrossRef]
10.
Kibler, W.B.; Press, J.; Sciascia, A. The Role of Core Stability in Athletic Function. Sports Med. Auckl. NZ
2006
,36, 189–198.
[CrossRef]
11.
Prieske, O.; Muehlbauer, T.; Granacher, U. The Role of Trunk Muscle Strength for Physical Fitness and Athletic Performance in
Trained Individuals: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. Auckl. NZ 2016,46, 401–419. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
12.
Borghuis, J.; Hof, A.L.; Lemmink, K.A.P.M. The Importance of Sensory-Motor Control in Providing Core Stability: Implications
for Measurement and Training. Sports Med. Auckl. NZ 2008,38, 893–916. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
13.
Hibbs, A.E.; Thompson, K.G.; French, D.; Wrigley, A.; Spears, I. Optimizing Performance by Improving Core Stability and Core
Strength. Sports Med. Auckl. NZ 2008,38, 995–1008. [CrossRef]
14. Willardson, J.M. Core Stability Training: Applications to Sports Conditioning Programs. J. Strength Cond. Res. 2007,21, 979–985.
[CrossRef] [PubMed]
15.
Brumitt, J.; Matheson, J.W.; Meira, E.P. Core Stabilization Exercise Prescription, Part I: Current Concepts in Assessment and
Intervention. Sports Health 2013,5, 504–509. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
16. Willardson, J.M. A Periodized Approach for Core Training. ACSM’s Health Fit. J. 2010,12, 7–13. [CrossRef]
17.
Prieske, O.; Muehlbauer, T.; Borde, R.; Gube, M.; Bruhn, S.; Behm, D.; Granacher, U. Neuromuscular and Athletic Performance
Following Core Strength Training in Elite Youth Soccer: Role of Instability. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 2016,26. [CrossRef]
18.
Saeterbakken, A.H.; Stien, N.; Andersen, V.; Scott, S.; Cumming, K.T.; Behm, D.G.; Granacher, U.; Prieske, O. The Effects of Trunk
Muscle Training on Physical Fitness and Sport-Specific Performance in Young and Adult Athletes: A Systematic Review and
Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. Auckl. NZ 2022,52, 1599–1622. [CrossRef]
19.
Myer, G.D.; Ford, K.R.; Brent, J.L.; Hewett, T.E. The Effects of Plyometric vs. Dynamic Stabilization and Balance Training on
Power, Balance, and Landing Force in Female Athletes. J. Strength Cond. Res. 2006,20, 345–353. [CrossRef]
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12 1255
20.
Luo, S.; Soh, K.G.; Soh, K.L.; Sun, H.; Nasiruddin, N.J.M.; Du, C.; Zhai, X. Effect of Core Training on Skill Performance among
Athletes: A Systematic Review. Front. Physiol. 2022,13, 915259. [CrossRef]
21.
Zemková, E.; Zapletalová, L. The Role of Neuromuscular Control of Postural and Core Stability in Functional Movement and
Athlete Performance. Front. Physiol. 2022,13, 796097. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
22.
Stølen, T.; Chamari, K.; Castagna, C.; Wisløff, U. Physiology of Soccer: An Update. Sports Med. Auckl. NZ
2005
,35, 501–536.
[CrossRef] [PubMed]
23.
Toselli, S.; Mauro, M.; Grigoletto, A.; Cataldi, S.; Benedetti, L.; Nanni, G.; Di Miceli, R.; Aiello, P.; Gallamini, D.; Fischetti, F.; et al.
Assessment of Body Composition and Physical Performance of Young Soccer Players: Differences According to the Competitive
Level. Biology 2022,11, 823. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
24.
Imai, A.; Kaneoka, K.; Okubo, Y.; Shiraki, H. Effects of Two Types of Trunk Exercises on Balance and Athletic Performance in
Youth Soccer Players. Int. J. Sports Phys. Ther. 2014,9, 47–57. [PubMed]
25.
Bayrakdar, A.; Boz, H.K.; sildar, Ö. The Investigation of the Effect of Static and Dynamic Core Training on Performance on
Football Players. Turk. J. Sport Exerc. 2022,22, 87–95. [CrossRef]
26.
Hoshikawa, Y.; Iida, T.; Muramatsu, M.; Ii, N.; Nakajima, Y.; Chumank, K.; Kanehisa, H. Effects of Stabilization Training on Trunk
Muscularity and Physical Performances in Youth Soccer Players. J. Strength Cond. Res. 2013,27, 3142–3149. [CrossRef]
27.
Afyon, Y.A. The Effect of Core Training on Some Motoric Features of University Footballers. J. Educ. Train. Stud.
2019
,7, 79–85.
[CrossRef]
28.
Atli, A. The Effect of a Core Training Program Applied on Football Players on Some Performance Parameters. J. Educ. Issues
2021
,
7, 337–350. [CrossRef]
29. Vigneshwaran, G. Impact of Core Training on Speed among Soccer Players. IJARIIE 2017,3, 4192–4194.
30.
Do˘ganay, M.; Bingül, B.M.; Álvarez-García, C. Effect of Core Training on Speed, Quickness and Agility in Young Male Football
Players. J. Sports Med. Phys. Fit. 2020,60, 1240–1246. [CrossRef]
31.
Brull-Muria, E.; Beltran-Garrido, J.V. Effects of a Specific Core Stability Program on the Sprint and Change-of-Direction Ma-
neuverability Performance in Youth, Male Soccer Players. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public. Health
2021
,18, 10116. [CrossRef]
[PubMed]
32.
Afyon, Y.A.; Mulazimoglu, O.; Boyaci, A. The Effects of Core Trainings on Speed and Agility Skills of Soccer Players. Int. J. Sports
Sci. 2017,7, 239–244.
33.
Kubo, T.; Hoshikawa, Y.; Muramatsu, M.; Iida, T.; Komori, S.; Shibukawa, K.; Kanehisa, H. Contribution of Trunk Muscularity on
Sprint Run. Int. J. Sports Med. 2011,32, 223–228. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
34.
Sever, O.; Zorba, E. Comparison of Effect of Static and Dynamic Core Exercises on Speed and Agility Performance in Soccer
Players. Isokinet. Exerc. Sci. 2017,26, 29–36. [CrossRef]
35.
Distefano, L.J.; Distefano, M.J.; Frank, B.S.; Clark, M.A.; Padua, D.A. Comparison of Integrated and Isolated Training on
Performance Measures and Neuromuscular Control. J. Strength Cond. Res. 2013,27, 1083–1090. [CrossRef]
36.
Behm, D.G.; Drinkwater, E.J.; Willardson, J.M.; Cowley, P.M. The Use of Instability to Train the Core Musculature. Appl. Physiol.
Nutr. Metab. Physiol. Appl. Nutr. Metab. 2010,35, 91–108. [CrossRef]
37.
Oliva-Lozano, J.M.; Muyor, J.M. Core Muscle Activity During Physical Fitness Exercises: A Systematic Review. Int. J. Environ. Res.
Public. Health 2020,17, 4306. [CrossRef]
38. Boyle, M. New Functional Training for Sports; 2edizione; Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL, USA, 2016; ISBN 978-1-4925-3061-9.
39.
Tabata, I.; Irisawa, K.; Kouzaki, M.; Nishimura, K.; Ogita, F.; Miyachi, M. Metabolic Profile of High Intensity Intermittent Exercises.
Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 1997,29, 390–395. [CrossRef]
40.
Bonacci, J.; Chapman, A.; Blanch, P.; Vicenzino, B. Neuromuscular Adaptations to Training, Injury and Passive Interventions:
Implications for Running Economy. Sports Med. Auckl. NZ 2009,39, 903–921. [CrossRef]
41.
Jones, A.M.; Vanhatalo, A.; Burnley, M.; Morton, R.H.; Poole, D.C. Critical Power: Implications for Determination of V˙O2max
and Exercise Tolerance. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2010,42, 1876–1890. [CrossRef]
42.
Dupont, G.; Moalla, W.; Guinhouya, C.; Ahmaidi, S.; Berthoin, S. Passive versus Active Recovery during High-Intensity
Intermittent Exercises. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2004,36, 302–308. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
43.
Reed, C.A.; Ford, K.R.; Myer, G.D.; Hewett, T.E. The Effects of Isolated and Integrated “core Stability” Training on Athletic
Performance Measures: A Systematic Review. Sports Med. Auckl. NZ 2012,42, 697–706. [CrossRef]
44.
Fernandez-Santos, J.R.; Ruiz, J.R.; Cohen, D.D.; Gonzalez-Montesinos, J.L.; Castro-Piñero, J. Reliability and Validity of Tests to
Assess Lower-Body Muscular Power in Children. J. Strength Cond. Res. 2015,29, 2277–2285. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
45.
Almuzaini, K.S.; Fleck, S.J. Modification of the Standing Long Jump Test Enhances Ability to Predict Anaerobic Performance.
J. Strength Cond. Res. 2008,22, 1265–1272. [CrossRef]
46.
Shinkle, J.; Nesser, T.W.; Demchak, T.J.; McMannus, D.M. Effect of Core Strength on the Measure of Power in the Extremities.
J. Strength Cond. Res. 2012,26, 373–380. [CrossRef]
47.
Mahmoud, M.H. Effect of Core Training Exercises on Some Physical and Technical Skill Abilities in Young Soccer Players. Int. J.
Sports Sci. Arts 2018,7, 33–44. [CrossRef]
48.
Baumgartner, T.; Jackson, A.; Mahar, M.; Rowe, D. Measurement for Evaluation in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 8th ed.;
McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages: Boston, MA, USA, 2006; ISBN 978-0-07-304526-9.
Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2022,12 1256
49.
Morrow, J.R.; Martin, S.B.; Jackson, A.W. Reliability and Validity of the FITNESSGRAM: Quality of Teacher-Collected Health-
Related Fitness Surveillance Data. Res. Q. Exerc. Sport 2010,81, S24–S30. [CrossRef]
50.
Raya, M.A.; Gailey, R.S.; Gaunaurd, I.A.; Jayne, D.M.; Campbell, S.M.; Gagne, E.; Manrique, P.G.; Muller, D.G.; Tucker, C.
Comparison of Three Agility Tests with Male Servicemembers: Edgren Side Step Test, T-Test, and Illinois Agility Test. J. Rehabil.
Res. Dev. 2013,50, 951–960. [CrossRef]
51.
Shaffer, S.W.; Teyhen, D.S.; Lorenson, C.L.; Warren, R.L.; Koreerat, C.M.; Straseske, C.A.; Childs, J.D. Y-Balance Test: A Reliability
Study Involving Multiple Raters. Mil. Med. 2013,178, 1264–1270. [CrossRef]
52.
Mendes, B. The Effects of Core Training Applied to Footballers on Anaerobic Power, Speed and Agility Performance. Anthropol.
2016,23, 361–366. [CrossRef]
53. Afyon, Y.A. Effect of Core Training on 16 Year-Old Soccer Players. Educ. Res. Rev. 2014,9, 1275–1279.
54.
Bavli, Ö.; Koç, C.B. Effect of Different Core Exercises Applied during the Season on Strength and Technical Skills of Young
Footballers. J. Educ. Train. Stud. 2018,6, 72–76. [CrossRef]
55.
Turna, B. The Effects of 6-Week Core Training on Selected Biomotor Abilities in Soccer Players. J. Educ. Learn.
2020
,9, 99.
[CrossRef]
56.
Hung, K.-C.; Chung, H.-W.; Yu, C.C.-W.; Lai, H.-C.; Sun, F.-H. Effects of 8-Week Core Training on Core Endurance and Running
Economy. PLoS ONE 2019,14, e0213158. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
57.
Aslan, A.K.; Nurtekin, E.; Samet, A.; Faruk, G. Postural Control and Functional Performance After Core Training in Young Soccer
Players. Malays. J. Mov. Helath Exerc. 2018,7, 23–28. [CrossRef]
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
Background: This study aims to present a critical review of the existing literature on the effect of core training on athletes’ skill performance, and to provide recommendations and suggest future research directions for both coaches and researchers. Methods: The data in this study were reported using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guideline. We collected studies in the literature using prominent academic and scientific databases such as Ebscohost, Scopus, PubMed, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. Only 16 of the 119 studies met all of the inclusion criteria, and were thus included in the systematic review. Each study’s quality was determined using the PEDro scale. The scoring of 16 studies ranges from 2 to 5. Results: Core training could potentially improve skill performance among football, handball, basketball, swimming, dancing, Karate, Muay Thai, gymnasts, volleyball, badminton, and golf players. Conclusion: Compared with the traditional training methods, core training is a new strength training method. Strong core muscles function as hubs in the biological motor chain, which create a fulcrum for the four limbs’ strength and establish a channel for the cohesion, transmission, and integration of the upper and lower limbs. In other words, core training optimizes the transfer and overall control of motion and force to the terminal segment within athletic actions. Meanwhile, core training could increase stability and stiffness in the spine to reduce unrequired “energy leaks” and torso movement during the exertion of external loads. This mechanism could help athletes achieve better skill performance. Therefore, this review suggests that core training should be considered integrated into athletes’ daily training routines. Systematic Review Registration : [ https://inplasy.com/ ], identifier [INPLASY2021100013].
Article
Full-text available
Soccer is a multifactorial sport, in which players are expected to possess well developed physical, psychological, technical, and tactical skills. Thus, the anthropometric and fitness measures play a determinant role and could vary according to the competitive level. Therefore, the present study aimed to verify differences in body composition and physical performance between two soccer team. 162 young soccer players (from the Under 12 to Under 15 age categories; age: 13.01 ± 1.15 years) of different competitive levels (elite—n = 98 and non-elite—n = 64) were recruited. Anthropometric characteristics (height, weight, lengths, widths, circumferences, and skinfold thicknesses (SK)), bioelectrical impedance, physical performance test as countermovement jump (CMJ), 15 m straight-line sprints, Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (Yo-Yo), and 20 + 20 m repeated-sprint ability (RSA)) were carried out. In addition, Body mass index (BMI), body composition parameters (percentage of fat mass (%F), Fat mass (FM, kg), and Fat-free mass (FFM, kg)) and the areas of the upper arm, calf and thigh were calculated, and the Bioelectric Impedance Vector Analysis (BIVA) procedures were applied. In addition, a linear discriminant analysis was assessed to determine which factors better discriminate between an elite and non-elite football team. Many differences were observed in body composition between and within each football team’s category, especially in triceps SK (p < 0.05), %F (p < 0.05), and all performance tests (p < 0.01). The canonical correlation was 0.717 (F(7,128) = 19.37, p < 0.0001), and the coefficients that better discriminated between two teams were 15 m sprint (−2.39), RSA (1−26), suprailiac SK (−0.5) and CMJ (−0.45). Elite soccer team players present a better body composition and greater physical efficiency. In addition, BIVA outcome could be a relevant selection criterion to scout among younger soccer players.
Article
Full-text available
Balance and core stabilization exercises have often been associated with improved athlete performance and/or decreased incidence of injuries. While these exercises seem to be efficient in the prevention of injuries, there is insufficient evidence regarding their role in sport-specific performance and related functional movements. The aim of this scoping review is (1) to map the literature that investigates whether currently available variables of postural and core stability are functionally related to athlete performance in sports with high demands on body balance and spinal posture and (2) to identify gaps in the literature and suggest further research on this topic. The literature search conducted on MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science, PubMed, and Cochrane Library databases was completed by Google Scholar, SpringerLink, and Elsevier. Altogether 21 articles met the inclusion criteria. Findings revealed that postural stability plays an important role in performance in archery, biathlon, gymnastics, shooting, and team sports (e.g., basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis). Also core stability and strength represent an integral part of athlete performance in sports based on lifting tasks and trunk rotations. Variables of these abilities are associated with performance-related skills in cricket, cycling, running, and team sports (e.g., baseball, football, hockey, netball, soccer, tennis). Better neuromuscular control of postural and core stability contribute to more efficient functional movements specific to particular sports. Training programs incorporating general and sport-specific exercises that involve the use of postural and core muscles showed an improvement of body balance, back muscle strength, and endurance. However, there is controversy about whether the improvement in these abilities is translated into athletic performance. There is still a lack of research investigating the relationship of body balance and stability of the core with sport-specific performance. In particular, corresponding variables should be better specified in relation to functional movements in sports with high demands on postural and core stability. Identifying the relationship of passive, active, and neural mechanisms underlying balance control and spinal posture with athlete performance would provide a basis for a multifaced approach in designing training and testing tools addressing postural and core stability in athletes under sport-specific conditions.
Article
Full-text available
Background The role of trunk muscle training (TMT) for physical fitness (e.g., muscle power) and sport-specific performance measures (e.g., swimming time) in athletic populations has been extensively examined over the last decades. However, a recent systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of TMT on measures of physical fitness and sport-specific performance in young and adult athletes is lacking. Objective To aggregate the effects of TMT on measures of physical fitness and sport-specific performance in young and adult athletes and identify potential subject-related moderator variables (e.g., age, sex, expertise level) and training-related programming parameters (e.g., frequency, study length, session duration, and number of training sessions) for TMT effects. Data Sources A systematic literature search was conducted with PubMed, Web of Science, and SPORTDiscus, with no date restrictions, up to June 2021. Study Eligibility Criteria Only controlled trials with baseline and follow-up measures were included if they examined the effects of TMT on at least one measure of physical fitness (e.g., maximal muscle strength, change-of-direction speed (CODS)/agility, linear sprint speed) and sport-specific performance (e.g., throwing velocity, swimming time) in young or adult competitive athletes at a regional, national, or international level. The expertise level was classified as either elite (competing at national and/or international level) or regional (i.e., recreational and sub-elite). Study Appraisal and Synthesis Methods The methodological quality of TMT studies was assessed using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale. A random-effects model was used to calculate weighted standardized mean differences (SMDs) between intervention and active control groups. Additionally, univariate sub-group analyses were independently computed for subject-related moderator variables and training-related programming parameters. Results Overall, 31 studies with 693 participants aged 11–37 years were eligible for inclusion. The methodological quality of the included studies was 5 on the PEDro scale. In terms of physical fitness, there were significant, small-to-large effects of TMT on maximal muscle strength (SMD = 0.39), local muscular endurance (SMD = 1.29), lower limb muscle power (SMD = 0.30), linear sprint speed (SMD = 0.66), and CODS/agility (SMD = 0.70). Furthermore, a significant and moderate TMT effect was found for sport-specific performance (SMD = 0.64). Univariate sub-group analyses for subject-related moderator variables revealed significant effects of age on CODS/agility ( p = 0.04), with significantly large effects for children (SMD = 1.53, p = 0.002). Further, there was a significant effect of number of training sessions on muscle power and linear sprint speed ( p ≤ 0.03), with significant, small-to-large effects of TMT for > 18 sessions compared to ≤ 18 sessions (0.45 ≤ SMD ≤ 0.84, p ≤ 0.003). Additionally, session duration significantly modulated TMT effects on linear sprint speed, CODS/agility, and sport-specific performance ( p ≤ 0.05). TMT with session durations ≤ 30 min resulted in significant, large effects on linear sprint speed and CODS/agility (1.66 ≤ SMD ≤ 2.42, p ≤ 0.002), whereas session durations > 30 min resulted in significant, large effects on sport-specific performance (SMD = 1.22, p = 0.008). Conclusions Our findings indicate that TMT is an effective means to improve selected measures of physical fitness and sport-specific performance in young and adult athletes. Independent sub-group analyses suggest that TMT has the potential to improve CODS/agility, but only in children. Additionally, more (> 18) and/or shorter duration (≤ 30 min) TMT sessions appear to be more effective for improving lower limb muscle power, linear sprint speed, and CODS/agility in young or adult competitive athletes.
Article
Full-text available
Although it is recommended to use sport-specific training programs to optimize performance, studies analyzing the effects of the core stability training with high levels of sport-specificity on athletic performance are insufficient and unclear. The objective of this study was to analyze the effects of the level of specificity of a CORE stability program on specific soccer actions. Fourteen youth players were randomly assigned to the specific core stability group (SCS; n = 7) or the general core stability group (GCS; n = 7). The eight-week intervention consisted of two weekly training sessions added to the usual soccer training. Both groups performed four CORE stability tasks. The SCS group followed the principle of sports specificity, while the GCS group performed CORE stability commons. Ten-meter linear sprinting (Sprint) and change-of-direction maneuverability (V-cut) were evaluated before and after the intervention programs. A statistically significant improvement was obtained in Sprint (d = 0.84 95% CI (0.22, 1.45), p = 0.008) and V-cut (d = 1.24 95% CI (0.52, 1.93), p < 0.001). At posttest, statistically nonsignificant differences were obtained between groups in Sprint (d = 1.03 95% CI (−0.25, 2.30), p = 0.082) and V-cut (d = −0.56 95% CI (−1.89, 0.78), p = 0.370). In conclusion, sprint and change-of-direction maneuverability were improved, but there was no superiority of any type of training.
Article
Full-text available
In this study, it was aimed to examine the effect of a core training program that was applied on football players on some performance parameters. In total, 40 football players, aged between 18 and 24 years old, who regularly trained in football and were from various amateur football teams participated: 20 athletes in the training group and 20 athletes in the control group. It was taken the pre-test measurements of the athletes’ vertical jump, 30-m speed, agility, and flexibility; after the 6-week core training program, which was applied three days a-week, and it was taken the post-test measurements of the athletes. The training group applied the core training in addition to football training for 6-week, whereas the participants in the control group did not apply any training program other than their ongoing football training. It was used the SPSS 22 statistics program to evaluate the data and Shapiro-Wilk test to determine the normality distribution of the data. Owing to the normal distribution of the data, it was used a paired t-test to compare the pre-test and post-test values within the groups and accepted the confidence interval for statistical processes as p < 0.05. It was found a statistically significant difference in the vertical jump pre-test and post-test values of the training group (p < 0.05). In the control group, there was no statistically significant difference in the vertical jump pre-test and post-test values (p > 0.05). It was found a statistically significant difference in the 30-m speed pre-test and post-test values of the training group (p < 0.05). In the control group, there was no statistically significant difference in the 30-m speed pre-test and post-test values (p > 0.05). It was found a statistically significant difference in the agility pre-test and post-test values of the training group (p < 0.05). In the control group, no statistically significant difference was found in the agility pre-test and post-test values (p > 0.05). Considering the in-group flexibility pre-test and post-test comparisons, a statistically significant difference was found in the flexibility pre-test and post-test values of the training group (p < 0.05). In the control group, there was no statistically significant difference in flexibility pre-test and post-test values (p > 0.05). Based on the results of the present research, the 6-week core training program that was applied to football players improved the performance of vertical jump, 30-m speed, agility, and flexibility.
Article
Full-text available
Abstract: The aim of this study was to evaluate and compare the cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses induced by high-intensity resistance circuit-based (HRC) and traditional strength (TS) training protocols. Ten amateur soccer players reported to the laboratory on four occasions: (1) protocol familiarization and load determination; (2) maximal oxygen consumption test; (3) and (4) resistance training protocols (HRC and TS), completed in a cross-over randomized order. In both protocols, the same structure was used (two blocks of 3 sets × 3 exercises, separated by a 5-min rest), with only the time between consecutive exercises differing: TS (3 min) and HRC (~35 s, allowing 3 min of local recovery). To test for between-protocol differences, paired t-tests were applied. Results showed that oxygen consumption and heart rate during HRC were 75% and 39% higher than TS, respectively (p < 0.001). After the training sessions, blood lactate concentration at 1.5, 5 and 7 min and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption were higher in HRC. The respiratory exchange ratio was 6.7% greater during HRC, with no between-group differences found post-exercise. The energy cost of HRC was~66% higher than TS. In conclusion, HRC training induces greater cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses in soccer players and thus may be a time-effective training strategy.
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this study was to systematically review the current literature on the electromyographic (EMG) activity of six core muscles (the rectus abdominis, the internal and external oblique, the transversus abdominis, the lumbar multifidus, and the erector spinae) during core physical fitness exercises in healthy adults. A systematic review of the literature was conducted on the Cochrane, EBSCO, PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science electronic databases for studies from January 2012 to March 2020. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were used. The inclusion criteria were as follows: a) the full text available in English; b) a cross-sectional or longitudinal (experimental or cohorts) study design; c) the reporting of electromyographic activity as a percentage of maximum voluntary contraction (% MVIC), millivolts or microvolts; d) an analysis of the rectus abdominis (RA), transversus abdominis (TA), lumbar multifidus (MUL), erector spinae (ES), and the internal (IO) or external oblique (EO); e) an analysis of physical fitness exercises for core training; and f) healthy adult participants. The main findings indicate that the greatest activity of the RA, EO, and ES muscles was found in free-weight exercises. The greatest IO activity was observed in core stability exercises, while traditional exercises showed the greatest MUL activation. However, a lack of research regarding TA activation during core physical fitness exercises was revealed, in addition to a lack of consistency between the studies when applying methods to measure EMG activity.
Article
Full-text available
This study was carried out to investigate the effect of static and dynamic core training on the performance of football players. In this study, static and dynamically applied core exercises were evaluated in terms of speed and agility in football players, and then their effects on anaerobic power tests, core stabilization tests and body composition were compared. While 10 of the 30 football players participating in the study were practicing dynamic core exercises and 10 of them were practicing static core exercises 2 days a week for about 9 weeks and 30 minutes a day, 10 athletes continued their football training with the other group athletes as control groups. The effects of the exercises, performed at the end of 9 weeks on performance, body composition, and core stabilization tests were compared in the pre and post-test in order (p<0.05). There is no significant difference in the height, body weight, body mass index parameters of 30 subjects (10 control, 10 static core, 10 dynamic core) belonging to the 3 groups participating in the study. Significant differences were found at waist level and hip circumference at the level of p<0.05 in comparisons between the first and last measurements of all anthropometric measurements. While there was a significant increase in the duration of leg lift, push-up, plank, shuttle, and isometric tests, a decrease was observed in the plank, shuttle and isometric test times in the control group. In the pre and post-test comparisons, 30 m speed, long jump, vertical jump, agility 550 and arrowhead agility tests showed a significant difference at p<0.05 level. It can be said that core studies should be included in training aimed at increasing performance in the football branch.
Article
Background: Core training effectively improves sport performance. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of core training on the performance measures of speed, agility and quickness of U19 male football players. Methods: A total of 24 young male football players were divided into 12 in the experimental group (aged 18.17±0.72) and 12 in the control group (aged 18.31±0.75). The experimental group performed 30-35 min core training three days a week for eight weeks while the control group continued their routine training. Measurements included a 40-meter sprint test for speed, a hexagon test for quickness and an agility-T test for agility. Pre-test measurements at the start of the study and post-test measurements after eight weeks were compared by an ANOVA 2×2. A significant level of P<0.05 was established. Results: In the experimental group, there were an improvement in quickness (pre: 17.27±3.24"; post: 16.79±3.09"; P=0.005, η<sup>2</sup>=0.53) and agility (pre: 12.86±1.17"; post: 12.38±1.12"; P=0.003, η<sup>2</sup>=0.56), but the speed did not change (pre: 6.14±0.57"; post: 6.00±0.45", P=0.653). Conclusions: The use of core training in combination with normal football training is shown to be effective in improving quickness and agility but not speed among young male football players after a period of eight weeks. So, it appears reasonable to include specific core training programs within football training.