Nederhof, E., Memmink, K. A., Zwerver, H. J., & Meeusen, R. (2006). The influence of high load training on reaction time in cyclists. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(5), Supplement abstract 2148.

This study investigated whether changes in psychomotor speed are present in early stages of overtraining. Cyclists (N = 14) completed an incremental exercise test, two questionnaires, and the finger pre-cueing task three times: before, right after, and two weeks after a training camp. Maximal work load, heart rate, oxygen uptake, and mood states were used to determine training status. The finger pre-cueing task is a complex four-choice reaction time task in which pre-cues reduce the task to a two-choice reaction time task in three out of four conditions (Miller, 1982). A control group of age and gender matched active individuals completed the FPT at the same time as the cyclists.

Five cyclists showed performance decrements and worsened mood states and were classified as overreached. Because performance and mood states had improved two weeks after the training camp, their status was specified as functional overreached. Seven athletes did not show differences on performance or mood states after the training camp and were classified as well-trained. Two athletes showed disturbed mood states before but not after the training camp and were excluded from analysis. There was no significant difference between the functionally overreached, well-trained, and the control groups. The functional overreached group showed longer reaction times compared to the control group right after the training camp.

Implication. Psychomotor slowness as an indication of central fatigue is not present in functional overreaching.

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