If you enjoy lifting weights, whether for gains, competition or health, you may want to contact the Center of Excellence for Sport Science and Coach Education to learn some new techniques.

Caleb Bazyler, an assistant professor in the Department of Sport, Exercise, Recreation and Kinesiology, is leading the study with professor Michael Stone and three graduate students to see how different training levels leading up to athletic competitions impact an athlete’s performance in competition.

The study is a case series focusing on three ETSU weightlifting team members as they prepare for a national competition in December. The study hopes to determine when athletes are at their peak performance depending on their level of training.

“This particular study is actually building on some previous research I did during my dissertation,” Bazyler said. “Based on some of the findings in that study, we’re using it to develop this particular study with weightlifters before a national competition.”

Bazyler says the athletes will go through periods of training that are normal, intensified and reduced levels of training. Their performance, stress, amounts of sleep and jumping performance will be documented.

“Some research preliminary data we found from a different study is that jumping performance is strongly related to how the athletes do in an actual weightlifting competition,” he said.

Bazyler said jumping is a good surrogate measurement to use instead of making the athletes in the study lift, because they can show where they max out without interrupting their normal regimen or risking injury.

“Essentially, what we’re going to be doing with these athletes is looking at the time course of changes and certain inflammatory markers,” he said. “We’re also going to be looking at changes in jumping performance, and we’ll also be looking at strength and recovery from a questionnaire.”

The athletes train four times a week according to their regular training schedule, and the research team checks in with them twice a week to document changes and test their performance.

In order to examine how different training levels affect the athletes’ biochemistry, blood samples are taken to see different biochemical markers, including testosterone and cortisol ratios. Director of the East Tennessee Reproductive Endocrinology Laboratory Dr. Kevin Breuel is working with Bazyler to analyze athletes’ blood samples.

Bazyler recognizes the study focuses on a small sample of athletes, but the study follows the subjects over a long period of time. Instead of collecting all data at once from a large group, this study follows the athletes to view the changes in their performance and would not be possible with a large sample.

“That’s another thing that makes it unique and why it’s necessary for this to be a case series,” he said. “We’re able to get the unique responses of these athletes.”

The study will follow the weightlifters as they compete in December and through the spring following the competition.

“What you do makes a difference,” Bazyler said. “It can make a difference in either getting first place or not getting a medal at all, so small differences in training can influence your performance outcome.”