Is Anyone Conducting Training Studies with Female Athletes Anymore?

Article excerpt

At the 2009 Women's Breakfast of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), I was struck by a comment that one of the featured speakers made. She boldly asserted that "there are no researchers--especially females--who are conducting systematic and funded research with female athletes." I scratched my head and thought about the work of Anne Loucks, Barbara Drinkwater, Melinda Manore, Michelle Mottola, Wendy Kohrt, and my own mentor, ChristineWells. During graduate school, I eagerly read studies by these women who conducted (and are still conducting) landmark research on topics such as the female athlete triad, bone density and exercise, nutrition for the female athlete, pregnancy and exercise, and masters women athletes. These women, and others like them, have conducted many funded studies on important issues related to the health and well-being of active female athletes. There are also many talented researchers conducting studies examining the relationship between physical activity and public health in various populations of women, and there are many who have enlightened us about the psychological issues related to women in sport.

I then thought about our current time period--specifically about all the advances that have been made in the field of applied strength and conditioning to improve athletic performance (e.g., the use of dynamic warm-ups, plyometrics, the stretch-shortening cycle, periodization). Although there are women who are conducting applied strength and conditioning studies, I was hard-pressed to come up with the name of a woman who regularly conducts systematic and funded research in this area. I suspect that many of the women who have conducted training studies with women athletes have come from the University of Connecticut (Bill Kraemer's lab), but I felt compelled to look further into this topic. In other words, I started looking for a female counterpart to Bill Kraemer--someone who has designed systematic and funded studies to examine critical issues related to training and performance in female athletes. I sincerely hope that I am not overlooking someone here, as this Viewpoint article was not written to offend anyone. My point in writing this article is to generate some interest in conducting training studies in applied strength and conditioning, particularly with female athletes.

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A Small Survey

Since this is a "Viewpoint," I did not want to conduct a full-scale study examining whether anyone is publishing training studies with female athletes. However, I am a researcher, so I wanted to make sure that there was some factual basis to my premise that there are very few researchers--women or men--conducting for publishing) training studies and even fewer researchers conducting studies on issues that are relevant to female athletes. Therefore, I did a brief scan of the 2009 issues of two journals in which kinesiology professionals publish: four issues of Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (RQES) and nine issues of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR). To complete this journal scan, I obtained copies of all of the journals from 2009 and developed a tally sheet. The tally sheet enabled me to track information from each issue relative to: (1) the total number of articles; (2) the number of cross-sectional, meta-analytic, or literature review studies that used men and women as subjects, only women as subjects, and only men as subjects; and (3) the number of experimental or training studies designed to elicit physiological outcomes that used men and women as subjects, only women as subjects, and only men as subjects.

When I examined the types of articles published in these journals, I noticed that only one training study with a physiological outcome or performance variable was published in the four issues (69 articles total) of RQES published in 2009. That study included both male and female subjects. …