Monitoring Physical and Cognitive Overload During a Training Camp in Professional Female Cyclists

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose:

High training loads combined with other stressors can lead to performance decrements. The time needed to recover determines the diagnosis of (non)-functional overreaching or the overtraining syndrome. The aim of this study was to describe the effects of an 8-day (intensified) training camp of professional female cyclists on physical and cognitive performance.

Methods:

Nine subjects performed a 30-min time trial (TT), cognitive test, and Profile of Mood States questionnaire before, during, and after a training camp (49% increased training volume). On data collection, cyclists were classified as “overreached” (OR) or “adapted” (A) based on TT performance. Two-way repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to detect changes in physical and cognitive parameters.

Results:

Five cyclists were described as OR based on decreased mean power output (MPO) (–7.03%) on day 8. Four cyclists were classified as A (increased MPO: +1.72%). MPO and maximal heart rate were significantly different between A and OR groups. A significant slower reaction time (RT) (+3.35%) was found in OR subjects, whereas RT decreased (–4.59%) in A subjects. The change in MPO was negatively correlated with change in RT in the cognitive test (R2 = .52).

Conclusions:

This study showed that the use of objective, inexpensive, and easy-to-interpret physical and cognitive tests can facilitate the monitoring of training adaptations in professional female athletes.

The authors are with the Dept of Human Physiology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.

Address author correspondence to Romain Meeusen at rmeeusen@vub.ac.be.