Urhausen, A., Coen, B., & Kindermann, W. (2001). Intensive training vs. rest: Effects on ergometric, hormonal, and psychological results. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33(5), Supplement abstract 755.

This research investigated the short-term sensitivity of factors (blood parameters, mood state), which are supposedly associated with overtraining, to the effects of two days of high-intensive training and two days of rest. Ss were cyclists (N = 11) and runners (N = 7). Intensive training consisted of 8 x 2-min at 116% individual anaerobic threshold (IAT) for cyclists on a cycle ergometer and 8 x 2-min at 112% for runners on a treadmill. A ninth interval was performed until exhaustion. After one recovery day, a stress test at 110% or 112% IAT was performed until exhaustion. In the control condition, athletes rested for three days.

The stress test duration improved 17% more than the resting group for cyclists (significant) but changed by -2% for runners (non-significant). Self-confidence was related to performance and maximal blood lactate. Explosive strength had decreased by 13% in cyclists and 23% in runners. Exercise-induced increases of adrenocorticotropic and growth hormones were impaired by 30% (cyclists) and 64% (runners) in comparison to the rested athletes. Serum urea, ammonia, and uric acid did not differ between the three groups. Creatine kinase activity was higher by 218% in runners after the day of rest.

Implication. Markers of overtraining can be influenced by short periods of intensive training without/before a drop in performance [indicating they are not related to performance]. The severity of effect appears to be sport-specific.

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