PURPOSE: Studies have indicated upper body involvement during football, provoking long-term muscular adaptations. This study aimed at examining the acute metabolic response in upper and lower body skeletal muscle to football training organized as small-sided games (SSG).
METHODS: Ten healthy male recreational football players [age 24 ± 1 (± SD) yrs; height 183 ± 4 cm; body mass 83.1 ± 9.7 kg; body fat 15.5 ± 5.4%] completed 1-h 5v5 SSG (4 × 12 min interspersed with 4-min recovery periods). Muscle biopsies were obtained from m. vastus lateralis (VL) and m. deltoideus (DE) pre- and post-SSG for muscle glycogen and metabolite analyses. Blood lactate samples were obtained at rest, middle and end of the SSG.
RESULTS: Muscle glycogen in VL decreased (P < 0.01) by 21% and tended (P = 0.08) to decrease in DE by 13%. Muscle lactate increased in VL (117%; P < 0.001) and DE (81%; P < 0.001) during the game, while blood lactate rose threefold. Muscle ATP and PCr were unaltered, but intermuscular differences were detected for ATP at both time points (P < 0.001) and for PCr at pre-SSG (P < 0.05) with VL demonstrating higher values than DE, while muscle creatine rose in VL (P < 0.001) by 41% and by 22% in DE (P = 0.02). Baseline citrate synthase maximal activity was higher (P < 0.05) in VL compared to DE, whereas baseline muscle lactate concentration was higher (P < 0.05) in DE than VL.
CONCLUSION: The upper body may be extensively involved during football play, but besides a rise in muscle lactate in the deltoideus muscle similar to the leg muscles, the present study did not demonstrate acute metabolic changes of an order that may explain the previously reported training effect of football play in the upper extremities.