PSYCHOLOGICAL VARIABLES ARE BETTER DETECTORS OF OVERTRAINING THAN PHYSIOLOGICAL VARIABLES
Theriault, D., Richard, D., Labrie, A., & Theriault, G. (1997). Physiological and psychological variables in swimmers during a competitive season in relation to the overtraining syndrome. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 29(5), Supplement abstract 1237.
During a competitive swimming season a group of 22 swimmers was followed in order to assess levels of psychological stress, clinical fatigue, and potential physiological markers of stress and fatigue. Swimmers completed a battery of tests in order to evaluate training status at four stages of a training season (post-training camp, taper, high volume-high intensity, and post competition).
No correlations were found between psychological and clinical variables and the different physiological variables. Physiological variables were not altered when moderate elevations of stress and fatigue were detected consistently by psychological and clinical instruments. Measuring physiological variables does not seem useful in the detection of the overtraining syndrome when moderately high levels of stress and fatigue are encountered in the yearly monitoring of elite swimmers.
Implication. Psychological variables are associated more with the onset of and moderate levels of overtraining than are physiological variables. When monitoring training responses, coaches would be well advised to monitor psychological variables rather than physiological variables. Physiological variables are relatively unreliable in the detection of overtraining symptoms and eventually the overtrained state. Using physiological measures is not warranted if monitoring the stress of training is the purpose of testing.
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