Effects of placebo on bench throw performance of Paralympic weightlifting athletes: A pilot study

Background The aim of the present study was to analyse the effects of placebo on bench throw performance in Paralympic weightlifting athletes. Methods The study involved four Paralympic weightlifting male athletes (age: 40.25 ± 9.91 years, weight: 60.5 ± 8.29 kg, height: 1.60 ± 0.15 m) that visited the laboratory in three occasions, separated by 72 h. In the first session, the athletes were tested for bench press one repetition maximum (1RM). The other two sessions were performed in a randomized counter-balanced order and involved bench throw tests performed either after taking placebo while being informed that the capsule contained caffeine or without taking any substance (control). The bench throw tests were performed with loads corresponding to 50, 60, 70 and 80% of the bench press 1RM. Results According to the results, mean velocity (∆: 0.08 m/s, ES 0.36, p < 0.05) and mean propulsive velocity (∆: 0.11 m/s, ES 0.49, p < 0.05) at 50% of 1RM were significantly higher during placebo than control (p < 0.05). However, there were no difference between control and placebo for 60, 70 and 80% of 1RM (p > 0.05). Conclusion Our results suggest that placebo intake, when the athletes were informed they were taking caffeine, might be an efficient strategy to improve the performance of explosive movements in Paralympic weightlifting athletes when using low-loads. This brings the possibility of using placebo in order to increase performance, which might reduce the risks associated with ergogenic aids, such as side-effects and positive doping testing.

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