Saunders, M. J., Filak, C. A., Crippen, D. C., & Bradley, G. E. (2008). Influence of reduced-volume training bout on markers of recovery during intensive training in professional cyclists. ACSM 55th Annual Meeting Indianapolis, Presentation Number 1289.

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This investigation determined the effects of heavy endurance training on markers of recovery in professional cyclists. It also examined the effects of one day of reduced-volume training on these markers. Professional cyclists (N = 20) were studied during four consecutive days at pre-season training camps. Training distance, time, heart rate, power, and total work were recorded for each training session. High training volumes were performed for the first three days. On the fourth day, a reduced-training group (N = 8) completed significantly lower training volumes while a maintained-training group (N = 12) continued with the established training volumes of the three previous days. Subjective ratings of physical energy and fatigue, mental energy and fatigue, and muscle soreness were obtained before each day’s training session. In addition, plasma creatine kinase levels were obtained prior to the first training session, and 18-hours following the second and fourth sessions.

Three days of heavy training elicited significant increases in physical fatigue, mental fatigue, muscle soreness, and plasma creatine kinase. No significant differences were observed in physical or mental energy. Physical and mental energy, muscle fatigue, and plasma creatine kinase returned to near baseline levels after the reduced-training day. However, physical fatigue and muscle soreness remained significantly elevated over baseline levels even with the reduced work.

Implication. A single day of reduced-volume training elicited partial improvements in recovery variables during heavy training in professional cyclists. These data substantiate the need to have "recovery opportunities" after successive days of hard work. Traditionally, such opportunities come on weekends when at least half of Saturday and all of Sunday involve no training. As well, this study substantiates the role of "unloading sessions" and "unloading phases" in periodic training schedules. The role of reduced training or periods of rest is important to avoid overreaching and overtraining.

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