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Physiological Perspective of Endurance Overtraining – A Comprehensive Update



Overtraining is a condition in which adaptive mechanisms of athletes are stressed that diminishes the capacity to maintain a balance between exercise and recovery. Due to this chronic fatigue state the physical performance is hampered, leading to appearance of various pathophysiological and psychological symptoms. Excessive stress with insufficient recovery period is the main cause of overtraining. It usually happens due to sudden increase in training volume with shorter recovery times in between the successive training bouts. However, other stressors, apart from training, exist in an athlete’s life, and these may also ameliorate the chances of getting overtrained. Academic and parental pressures exist particularly in case of young athletes. Exterminating or minimising these causes by proper counselling on training loads, recovery times, nutrition and use of suitable markers can aid to prevent overtraining syndrome in athletes. Present review was undertaken to thoroughly scrutinize the physiological perspectives of overtraining with special emphasis on the different angles of recent research observations related to causes, markers, signs and symptoms, types, mechanisms involved, recognition and possible remedial measures of overtraining. Checking the prevalence of overtraining in young athletes with gender variation (if any) was another major concern of the review work
© 2012. Al Ameen Charitable Fund Trust, Bangalore
A l Am ee n J Me d Sc i (2 0 1 2) 5 (1 ) : 7 - 2 0
(A US National Library of Medicine enlisted journal)
I SS N 0 9 74 - 11 4 3
Physiological Perspective of Endurance Overtraining – A
Comprehensive Update
Amit Bandyopadhyay
, Ishita Bhattacharjee
Papadopoulou K. Sousana
Sports & Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Department of Physiology, University of
Calcutta, University College of Science & Technology, 92, APC Road, Kolkata-700009,
India and
Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Technological Educational
Institution of Thessaloniki, P.O. Box:14561, 54101 Thessaloniki, Greece
Abstract: Overtraining is a condition in which adaptive mechanisms of athletes are stressed
that diminishes the capacity to maintain a balance between exercise and recovery. Due to this
chronic fatigue state the physical performance is hampered, leading to appearance of various
pathophysiological and psychological symptoms. Excessive stress with insufficient recovery
period is the main cause of overtraining. It usually happens due to sudden increase in training
volume with shorter recovery times in between the successive training bouts. However, other
stressors, apart from training, exist in an athlete’s life, and these may also ameliorate the
chances of getting overtrained. Academic and parental pressures exist particularly in case of
young athletes. Exterminating or minimising these causes by proper counselling on training
loads, recovery times, nutrition and use of suitable markers can aid to prevent overtraining
syndrome in athletes. Present review was undertaken to thoroughly scrutinize the
physiological perspectives of overtraining with special emphasis on the different angles of
recent research observations related to causes, markers, signs and symptoms, types,
mechanisms involved, recognition and possible remedial measures of overtraining. Checking
the prevalence of overtraining in young athletes with gender variation (if any) was another
major concern of the review work.
Key words: Overtraining markers, fatigue, stress, injuries, recovery.
Athletes often engage in very hard training persistently to achieve better performance
without being aware of the fact that physiological improvements in sports only
occurs during the rest period following hard training. If sufficient rest is not included
in training program and optimal balance is not maintained between training and
recovery then complete regeneration can’t occur and performance plateaus [1] . This
state of chronic fatigue is known as overtraining characterized by an imbalance
between stress and recovery – one of the most etiological factors that lead to fatigue
and injuries in athletes [2-6]. In some cases, using the term “overtraining” may not be
appropriate, as other stressors (e.g. psychological, lifestyle, malnutrition, infection)
are also responsible for under-performance [7]. Several researchers refer the
overtraining syndrome differently as overfatigue, staleness, burnout, overuse and
overwork [8-10]. Lack of standard terminology creates confusion during diagnosis
Al Ameen J Med Sci; Volume 5, No.1, 2012 Bandyopadhyay A et al
© 2012. Al Ameen Charitable Fund Trust, Bangalore
Perhaps “Overtraining Syndrome” is the better terminology that can only be resolved
by at least two weeks rest [12]. It is very difficult to recognize overtraining at the
early stage and by the time it is detected, it is too late [13]. Various syndromes have
been proposed to identify overtraining called “Overtraining Syndrome” that has
received much attention of researchers and practitioners over the last two decades
due to its serious threat for athletic performance and health [14]. However present
review has been focused to look momentarily the various physiological aspects of
overtraining syndrome in athletes including the types, symptoms, causes, early
detection by different markers, prevention and its treatment as focused in different
angles of research and studies.
Definition of Overtraining: Overtraining is the result of an imbalance between stress
and recovery [3, 5, 15-17]. It is a physical, behavioural and emotional condition that
occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual's exercise surpasses their
recuperation capacity [6, 18]. The progress of athletic performance is ceased, and can
even lead to a drop in strength and fitness. Overtraining is a common problem in
weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes [6, 18].
The term "overtraining syndrome" is commonly used to represent the emotional,
behavioural, and physical symptoms which appear due to overtraining that persists
for weeks to months. It is also defined as a neuroendocrine disorder characterized by
poor performance in competition, inability to maintain training loads, persistent
fatigue, reduced catecholamine excretion, frequent illness, disturbed sleep and
alterations in mood state [8, 19].
Definition of Overreaching: Overreaching is a term used to describe the phase just
prior to overtraining, which can require 2 days to 2 weeks of recovery time. This
usually occurs slowly over the course of a month or two, but it can happen much
quicker due to a dramatic increase in training volume and/or intensity [20].
Overreaching occurs when full recovery is not achieved for an extended time period
and fatigue builds up. Symptoms associated with overreaching are increased resting
heart rate, premature fatigue during training, decrease in work capacity, increased
heart rate during submaximal loads and an increased thirst, especially at night [20].
Difference between the consequences of overtraining and overreaching: Overtraining
is a syndrome that occurs on a fatigue continuum [1]. The consequences of
overreaching and overtraining may be of the following three categories [21]:-
Functional Overreaching: Short-term overtraining, mild and a normal part of
athletic training. It can be recovered within few days to weeks [12, 21-22].
Non-Functional Overreaching: Long-term and moderate kind of non-functional
overreaching that may restore the performance capacity and may last from
several weeks to months [21].
Overtraining Syndrome: The most severe cases are referred to as Overtraining
syndrome, where recovery period for normalization may take from several
months to years [4, 21, 23]. It is characterised by premature fatigue, decline in
performance, mood changes, emotional instability and decreased motivation.
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Overtraining syndrome among athletes: Gender related prevalence rate: Prevalence
of overtraining in sports varies with event type. Sports involving greater work-loads
such as (running [24], swimming [17, 25], cycling [26], and rowing [27-28]) show a
higher rate of overtraining syndrome. In the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996, Gould
et al. [29] demonstrated that out of 296 athletes of 30 different sports, 84 athletes
(28%) were in overtraining. In studies conducted in the Winter Olympics in Nagano,
1988, Gould et al. [30] observed that 8 of the 83 American Olympic athletes (almost
10%), participating at 13 different sports, were in overtraining condition. Those
athletes also considered other contributing factors to overtraining, such as excessive
trips, decrease of resting periods, decrease of the necessary time for recovery and a
`not very healthy' lifestyle. According to other researchers, the incidence of
overtraining may vary from 7 to 20% [17, 25]. Years later, research
involving endurance athletes (predominantly aerobic sports), especially swimmers,
observed similar results (7% to 21%), out of which, 10% presenting severe
symptoms [31-33].
Most of the research works and case studies depicted that nonfunctional overreaching
is much more prevalent than overtraining syndrome. It has been estimated that the
prevalence rate of overtraining syndrome is approximately between 20% and 60% of
athletes who experience the negative effects of overtraining at least once during their
career [34]. Such prevalence rate of between 20% and 60% seem to be more relevant
for nonfunctional overreaching than for overtraining syndrome [14, 35-38]. The
highly motivated and dedicated athlete is the most susceptible, since they continue
training despite extreme fatigue [6, 39]. It has also been suggested that females are
more prone to overtraining symptoms since they follow instructions more than males
[39]. Studies related to gender differences in overtraining is unavailable [39].
Overtraining in child and adolescent athletes: Although being more frequently found
in elite athletes, overtraining is also a problem in other levels of participation. Raglin
and Wilson [9] suggested that overtrained young athletes are succumbed to training
load comparable to adult and elite athletes. An intercultural and well-controlled study
[40] , using physical and psychological tests and training load registry, showed that
in 231 young swimmers, with age range of 14–18 years, 35% presented physical
fatigue, reaching the conclusion that the frequency of overtrained young athletes was
similar to that of elite athletes. Overuse injuries, overtraining and burntout are
growing problems among child and adolescent athletes in the United States [6, 41].
Approximately 50% of all injuries seen in paediatric sports medicine are related to
overuse [42].
Although inactivity and obesity are on the rise, the number of children and
adolescents participating in recreational athletics has grown considerably over the
past two decades [41]. Single sport specialization often leads to overtraining in
paediatric / adolescent athletes due to the fact that the growing bones of the young
athlete cannot withstand stress as the mature bones of adults do [43-44]. Young
athletes who participate in a variety of sports, involving different body parts, have
fewer injuries and are less susceptible to overtraining [45].
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Types: Overtraining syndrome is of two types – sympathetic and parasympathetic [2,
6, 21]. The sympathetic form is characterised by increased sympathetic tone in the
resting state and is more common in sprint type sports [1, 6, 21], whereas the
parasympathetic form is characterised by domination of parasympathetic tone in the
resting state as well as during exercise causing early onset of fatigue and apathy, and
is most commonly seen in endurance athletes [1]. The results of various exercise
physiological measurements differ between the sympathetic and parasympathetic
overtraining. In more severe and extensive cases, the sympathic kind, characterized
as exciting, is rarely found or perceived [24]. The overtraining symptoms reported in
the literature in endurance athletes, tend to reflect not only sympathic characteristics
but also parasympathic ones (Table-1). However, little evidence supports the
overtraining syndrome classification in these two presentations [5].
Table-1: Distinguishing Symptoms of Sympathetic and Parasympathetic overtraining [2]
Sympathetic overtraining Parasympathetic overtraining
Irritability Calmness
Sleeplessness Normal sleep
Lack of appetite Normal appetite
Weight loss No change in weight
Easy sweating Normal sweating
Nocturnal Sweating -----
Frequent headaches No headaches
Palpitation, heaviness and stabbing pain in
chest -----
Rapid resting pulse rate Normal pulse rate
Increased basal metabolism Normal basal metabolism
Slightly increased body temperature Normal body temperature
Delayed recovery of pulse rate Normal recovery pulse rate
Faster than normal increase in breathing rate
during exercise No breathing problems
Decreased tolerance to stress -----
Poor coordination of movements Climsy movements and poor coordination
specially during hard exercise
Shortened reaction time Normal reaction time
Shaky hands -----
Restlessness and / or depressed mood Normal mood
Signs and symptoms of overtraining: Numerous signs and symptoms of overtraining
have been identified but all of them are not necessarily present in each overtrained
athlete. Moreover, the presence of some of these symptoms does not automatically
mean that the individual is overtrained. The ultimate determination of overtraining is
whether performance is impaired or plateaued.
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Listed below are some frequently cited signs of overtraining [40]:
Increased occurrence of illness
Swelling of lymph glands
Decreased rate of healing
Impaired immune function
(neutrophils, lymphocytes,
mitogen responses, eosinophils)
Altered resting heart rate (HR),
blood pressure and respiration
Decreased body fat and post-
exercise body weight
Increased VO
, VE, and HR
during submaximal work
Decreased lactate response
Increased basal metabolic rate
Chronic fatigue
Sleep and eating disorders
Menstrual disruptions
Headaches, gastrointestinal
Muscle soreness and damage
Joint aches and pains
Increased serum cortisol and
Decreased serum testosterone,
Decreased testosterone :
Decreased muscle glycogen
Decreased serum hemoglobin,
iron, and ferritin
Negative N
Rhabdomyolysis [86]
elevated C-reactive protein
Decreased muscle strength,
power, endurance, cardiovascular
Decreased training tolerance
Increased recovery requirements
Decreased motor coordination
Increased technical faults
Depression and apathy
Decreased self-esteem
Decreased ability to
Decreased self-efficacy
Sensitive to stress
Lack of coordination
Etiology of overtraining syndrome: Excessive training is rarely the only reason for
overtraining [2]. Various factors including personal factors, such as general health
and nutritional status, mood, personality type, age, and medical conditions [6] as well
as external factors like intensity and amount of physical training, socio-economic and
psychological stressors, training history, environmental conditions (altitude,
temperature), sleep, drugs (medication, alcohol, tobacco) increases vulnerability to
the overtraining state [6, 46].
Mechanisms of overtraining: High amounts of stress in life impact ones ability to
adapt to a strength-training programme, with low-stress individuals showing
significantly greater improvements in squat and bench press strength than those with
high-stress levels. This study was conducted on 135-undergraduate students who
trained twice a week (1.5-hour training sessions) for 12-weeks [85]. Several authors
have suggested the possible underlying cause of overtraining syndrome and how the
overtraining processes are initiated.
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Some of the proposed mechanisms have been hypothesized as follows:
Glycogen Hypothesis, which has looked at reduced levels of glycogen as
markers of fatigue and overtraining.
Central Fatigue Hypothesis, which looks at, reduced levels of circulating
tryptophan (an amino acid), which cause it to be taken up in the brain to a greater
extent. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter which, when
elevated has effects on the body such as increased need for sleep and reduction in
appetite (both are tell-tale signs of overtraining).
In normal conditions, tryptophan can’t enter the brain. But after vigorous exercise,
the decrease in blood level of glycogen and long chain amino acid were noticed. As a
result tryptophan gets a preference and enters into the brain. Tryptophan then leads to
the formation of serotonin which causes central fatigue and thereby a change in
mood generally occurs.
Glutamine Hypothesis, which seeks to explain the decrease in immune function
and increase in illness during periods of overtraining, as glutamine is an
important amino acid used for fuel by lymphocytes in the immune system.
Hypothalamus and Hypothamic-pituitary-adrenal axis implications, where the
blood catecholamine, glucocorticoid and testosterone levels are altered.
Lack of day-to-day variations in training, which expose the athletes to “burn-out”
and potential overuse injuries.
Together, all of the above theories explain some aspect of overtraining syndrome, yet
a definite underlying cause has not been concluded upon.
The mechanisms underlying overtraining syndrome have not been clearly identified,
but a number of possible mechanisms for overtraining have been postulated [5,18-19]:
Microtrauma to the muscles is created faster than the body can heal them.
Amino acids are used up faster than they are supplied in the diet [47]. This is
sometimes called "protein deficiency".
The body becomes calorie-deficient and the rate of break down of muscle
tissue increases. Muscles also become deficient of glycogen [48].
Levels of cortisol (the “stress" hormone) are elevated for long periods of
time [49].
The body spends more time in a catabolic state than an anabolic state
(perhaps as a result of elevated cortisol levels) [50].
Excessive strain to the nervous system during training [2].
Thinking in a different angle, overtraining can be considered as a protection against
overload-dependent irreversible cellular damage and in part as ultimate negative
feedback regulation of the organism [51]. This includes:
i. Decrease in neuromuscular excitability [3, 24, 51-52].
ii. Decrease in sensitivity to adrenals to ACTH, i.e., decreased cortisol release
and depressed metabolic competence [3, 24, 49, 51].
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iii. Decrease in β-adrenoreceptor density causing depressed metabolic and
chronotropic competence [3, 24, 51, 53].
iv. Decrease in sympathetic intrinsic activity, i.e., depressed motivation [3, 24,
34, 51, 54-55].
v. Decreased turnover in contractile proteins [56].
vi. Increased synthesis of heatshock proteins – HSP70 [57].
vii. Inhibitory effects on first [58] and second α-motoneurons [52, 59].
viii. Depressed hypothalamic-pituitary activity can be observed [34, 49, 55].
Researcher Lucille Lakier Smith [87] has proposed the idea that overtraining may
begin with (and be caused by) tissue trauma.
First, it is important to note that some level of tissue trauma is reasonable. In fact, a
little bit of trauma is needed in order to force an adaptation (hence the name
Adaptive Microtrauma). If we don't impose some level of stress on our bodies, then
we have nothing to adapt to, and no improvements are made. The pattern then looks
like this:
Train (impose a stress on the body) –> Recover from that stress (heal)–> Train again
(breakdown a little more) –> Rinse and repeat
Training leads to trauma, which leads to a local inflammatory process and the release
of cytokines. Cytokines are basically like messengers which, transfer information
from cell to cell and, when they are found in increased concentrations in the blood,
they can transfer information around the whole body, having a more systemic effect.
There are various types of cytokines with some having pro-inflammatory properties
and others having anti-inflammatory properties. Three important pro-inflammatory
cytokines are interlukin-1ß, interlukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor.
Alteration of muscle Calcium Homeostasis can leads to overtraining: During
endurance training the maximum calcium uptake and Ca2+ affinity in sarcoplasmic
reticulum (SR) is reduced after training in rat model [60]. SR regulates the release of
Ca2+ into cytosol via ryanodine receptors (RyR) and SR Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA)
governs the transport from cytosol to the lumen of SR [61]. It is well known that SR
characteristic differs between muscle fiber types [62]. Among two main isoforms of
SERCA , SERCA1 is present in fast-twitch skeletal muscle fibers and SERCA2 is
present in cardiomyocytes and slow-twitch fibres [61,63]. Experimental evidences
suggest that the training induced changes in SERCA pumps are specific to the nature
of training [64-66]. In endurance trained subjects, Ca2+ release, SERCA and Ca2+
uptake rate are lower than untrained subjects [66]. It may be because of the fact that
type II muscle fibers are less in number than untrained ones [67]. SERCA are highly
energy consuming pumps which require 25-40% of ATP during muscle contraction
[68-69]. It was shown that ATP utilization by SERCA is higher in Fast twitch fibers
than that in slow twitch fibers [70]. It is well known that short endurance training can
reduce O
cost of cycling [71]. Since overtraining is a state of chronic fatigue,
less calcium is released and limits the number of attached actin-myosin bridges
connections of actin-myosin.
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The slowing down of the muscular response represents a deterioration of the function
of actin-myosin bridges. Thus the delicate balance between beneficial effect of
endurance training and deleterious effects of overtraining is maintained by the
modest change in muscle Ca2+ homeostasis in overtrained athletes.
Recognition of overtraining: Recognizing overtraining syndrome is vital for its
prevention [72]. Several problems are encountered in detecting overtraining due to
the lack of objective parameters suitable for its diagnosis [73].
Several physiological, biochemical and immunological markers have been proposed
to identify overtraining. Taken alone, none of them have an absolute significance
[12]. These potential markers of overtraining include underperformance, chronic
fatigue, increased perceived exertion during exercise, reduced motivation, sleep
disturbance, increased early morning or sleeping heart rate, altered mood states, loss
of appetite, GI disturbance, recurrent infection, psychomotor speed, leukocyte
responses to antigens, salivary IgA, neutrophil / Lymphocyte Ratio, T-cell CD4+ /
CD8+ Ratio, T-cell CD4+ CD45RO+ expression, plasma cortisol or cortisol /
testosterone ratio, urinary steroids or catecholamines, plasma glutamine, plasma
cytokines, blood lactate response to incremental or high intensity exercise, plasma or
salivary cortisol response to high intensity exercise, increased gut permeability that
leads to GI tract infections [12].
Prevention of Overtraining: Overtraining is a cumulative process that requires
extensive recovery and therefore prevention of overtraining is encouraged rather than
treating the trouble [74]. In order to prevent overtraining, coaches often provide
combinations of training intensity, volume and frequency for individual athletes but
they must be continually aware of the possibility of occurrence of overtraining and
consider all the stresses in the athlete’s life and not just those associated with
Overtraining monitoring programme including measurement of early morning heart
rate, periodic recording of heart rate during and after submaximal exercise, a time
trial on a selected event, some measure of power output, a scale for perceived fatigue
taken over the whole season and lactate testing should be incorporated into the
training programme [6].
Some important guidelines recommended to prevent overtraining in athletes include:
Care should be taken for individual differences of athlete [75].
Progressive increase in training load with periodized training programmes
and sufficient recovery time should be provided [76].
Training volume and training intensity are inversely related [40].
Performing every set of every exercise of every session to absolute failure,
with no variation should be avoided [40].
Incorrect exercises that overuse certain muscles or joints and excessive
competitions should be avoided [40, 77].
Mental and relaxing sessions might be integrated in the daily training [6].
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Development of psychological, physiological and social abilities, through the
maintenance of good health and physical conditioning should be encouraged
A balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, proteins, nutrients and electrolytes
should be taken [12, 79].
Treatment of overtraining: Athletes with overtraining syndrome generally have
seriously disrupted competitive season [80]. According to current evidences,
physiological recovery with proper nutrition is an important aspect to treat the
overtraining syndrome. Low-level exercise has been shown to speed the recovery
process rather than complete rest [81]. The emphasis should be given at gradual
increase in volume rather than intensity. The longer the period of overtraining, the
more rest will be required. The length of rest range from few days to several weeks
depends on severity of overtraining [82].
Overtrained athletes and those leading towards overtraining may be “treated”
according to the following guidelines [18]:
Determination and elimination of factors leading to overtraining :
Allowing more time for the body to recover
Taking a break from training to allow time for recovery
Reducing the volume and/or the intensity of the training
Suitable periodization of training
Splitting the training program so that different sets of muscles are worked
on different days.
Increase sleep time.
Spa treatments :
Deep-tissue or sports massage or self-massage of the affected muscles.
Cryotherapy and thermotherapy.
Temperature contrast therapy
Hydro therapy
Alteration of dietary pattern :
Ensuring that calorie intake at least matches expenditure.
Ensuring total calories are from a suitable macronutrient ratio.
Addressing vitamin deficiencies with nutritional supplements.
A general guideline of nutritional modifications of overtrained athletes has been
prescribed by Downey and Hopkins [83] which shows the average requirement of
total calories (44-52g/kg/day) including carbohydrate (6-8g/kg/day), protein (1-
1.2g/kg/day), lipids (0.8-2.1g/kg/day). Simultaneously carbohydrate and water
ingestion during the endurance training at the rate of 0.4 g / kg / h and 5 ml / kg / h,
respectively has also been recommended [83]. Overtraining can deplete essential
micronutrients, e.g., zinc, magnesium, calcium, vitamin B and C, which must be
supplemented additionally. Anti-oxidants should be used for combating the free
radicals that form as a result of overtraining. DHEA, Glutamine, arginine and
ornithine supplementation are also suggested [84].
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Present review reveals that overtraining is considered as a state of fatigue where
performance fails to improve or even deteriorates, despite of continuous training. It is
due to physical and mental overloading which disturb the physiological and
psychological states of the athletes who fail to excel their best performance.
Excessive training with insufficient recovery is the main aetiology of overtraining
syndrome that leads to a debilitation of performance and well being for unlimited
period. Eliminating or minimising these problems by providing advice and guidelines
on training loads, recovery times, nutrition or pharmacological intervention and
regular monitoring of athletes using an appropriate battery of markers can help to
prevent overtraining in athletes.
Heart rate, plasma cortisol and blood lactate response to a standardized bout of high
intensity exercise are objective and prime markers of impending overtraining. By
increasing our knowledge and understanding of overtraining, coaches, parents, and
athletes can become more aware of even the slightest sign of this complex condition
and take the appropriate actions.
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... See Table 23.1 for a review of these terms. Functional overreaching is the appropriate term to use when an athlete is in the stages just prior to overtraining [ 1 ]. This type of overreaching can be a normal variant of athletic training. ...
... Lastly, the overtraining syndrome is a serious condition that consists of not only the physical consequences of overtraining but the emotional and behavioral conditions as well [ 1 ]. The overtraining syndrome is a chronic condition lasting for weeks or months at a time. ...
... This form occurs mainly in "power" or anaerobically centered athletes such as sprinters and weight lifters. The sympathetic form is considered to occur only in rare circumstances due to an increase in sympathetic tone, or an increased activation of the sympathetic nervous system, during rest [ 1 ]. Some signs and symptoms of sympathetic overtraining include fatigue, sleeplessness, weight loss, night sweats, palpitations, an increased basal metabolic rate, a delayed recovery of pulse rate, an increase in ventilation during exercise, reduced coordination, and restlessness. ...
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Athletes are constantly aiming to be the best they can be by incorporating a strict nutritional and training schedule into their daily lives. When athletes push themselves further than their bodies will allow, a state of staleness will occur. Overreaching, overtraining, and the overtraining syndrome are three different levels of staleness possible if an athlete does not take the proper precautions to prevent these conditions from occurring. Within these conditions, functional, metabolic, psychological, and physiological limitations are commonplace. A full recovery can last anywhere from a few days to years in the most extreme cases. In the past, these three terms were considered one and the same; however, recent research findings have split them into three distinct conditions with defining signs and symptoms. Some of these signs and symptoms overlap with those of clinical depression, so it is imperative for an athlete to be medically evaluated in order to determine the actual cause of their symptoms. If an athlete is diagnosed with overtraining, their symptoms can be used to determine which physiological pathway is causing the condition. Research has discovered a couple of possible new mechanisms for overtraining: the negative feedback system and protein deficiency. It is important to catch overreaching and overtraining in their early stages so that athletes and their coaches can implement a plan of prevention rather than treatment. Coaches and parents need to regularly communicate with their athletes and help maintain a safe and healthy training regimen.
... Throughout the experiment, Sinusoidal variation of training load was conducted on a daily basis (high frequency of the overloading) in the DSL group, while the variation was based on a weekly pattern in the WSL group. Studies indicate that more frequent loading of the training intensity can lead to an imbalance between physical stress and recovery and in turn to chronic fatigue (25). It has been reported that overreaching occurs when full recovery is not achieved for an extended time period (25). ...
... Studies indicate that more frequent loading of the training intensity can lead to an imbalance between physical stress and recovery and in turn to chronic fatigue (25). It has been reported that overreaching occurs when full recovery is not achieved for an extended time period (25). It is now thought that early stages of overtraining (overreaching) are typified by an increased catecholamine release in response to exercise, coupled with a decreased biological sensitivity of the catecholamine's effects (26). ...
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Background: It is well known that exercise training has positive effect on catecholamine response to a given work load. But in this regard, the effective method of training needs to be studied. Objectives: The aim of this study was to compare the effects of 8 weeks endurance exercise with two overloading patterns on the left ventricular catecholamine levels. Materials and methods: 29 male Wistar rats were randomly assigned to control (n = 9), daily sinusoidal overloading (n = 10) and weekly sinusoidal overloading (n = 10) groups. After the last exercise session, left ventricular blood samples were obtained immediately after lactate threshold test. Plasma concentrations of adrenaline and noradrenaline were measured by ELISA method. One way analysis of variance was used for analysis of the data. Results: Immediately after lactate threshold test, adrenaline level was significantly (P < 0.05) lower in weekly loading group than in control and daily loading groups. Adrenaline was higher in the daily loading group compared with control group but did not reach the significant level. Noradrenaline levels were not significantly (P > 0.05) different between three study groups. Conclusions: The results showed 8 weeks of endurance exercise with weekly sinusoidal overloading pattern could induce a lower adrenal medulla activity (reflection of physical and physiological improvement) than daily sinusoidal loading pattern in response to the same absolute work load.
... Recent research has demonstrated that endurance and cross-training athletes partake in multiple high-intensity competition events, which limits the recovery opportunities. The result is extreme stress to the body which is not counterbalanced by proper rest [1]. The lack of rest between intra-competition bouts impairs regeneration and leads to decrements in strength, power, and endurance-based performance [2,3]. ...
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of antioxidant-rich marine phytoplankton supplementation (Oceanix, OCX) on performance and muscle damage following a cross-training event in endurance-trained subjects. Additionally, an animal model was carried out to assess the effects of varying dosages of OCX, with exercise, on intramuscular antioxidant capacity. Methods: In the human trial, endurance-trained subjects (average running distance = 29.5 ± 2.6 miles × week-1) were randomly divided into placebo (PLA) and OCX (25 mg) conditions for 14 days. The subjects were pre-tested on a one-mile uphill run, maximal isometric strength, countermovement jump (CMJ) and squat jump (SJ) power, and for muscle damage (creatine kinase (CK)). On Day 12, the subjects underwent a strenuous cross-training event. Measures were reassessed on Day 13 and 14 (24 h and 48 h Post event). In the animal model, Wistar rats were divided into four groups (n = 7): (i) Control (no exercise and placebo (CON)), (ii) Exercise (E), (iii) Exercise + OCX 1 (Oceanix, 2.55 mg/day, (iv) Exercise + OCX 2 (5.1 mg/day). The rats performed treadmill exercise five days a week for 6 weeks. Intramuscular antioxidant capacity (superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px)) and muscle damage (CK and myoglobin (MYOB) were collected. The data were analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA and t-test for select variables. The alpha value was set at p < 0.05. Results: For the human trial, SJ power lowered in PLA relative to OCX at 24 h Post (-15%, p < 0.05). Decrements in isometric strength from Pre to 48 h Post were greater in the PLA group (-12%, p < 0.05) than in the OCX. Serum CK levels were greater in the PLA compared to the OCX (+14%, p < 0.05). For the animal trial, the intramuscular antioxidant capacity was increased in a general dose-dependent manner (E + Oc2 > E + Oc1 > E > CON). Additionally, CK and MYOB were lower in supplemented compared to E alone. Conclusions: Phytoplankton supplementation (Oceanix) sustains performance and lowers muscle damage across repeated exercise bouts. The ingredient appears to operate through an elevating oxidative capacity in skeletal muscle.
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From an operational standpoint, overtraining can be defined as stress > recovery (regeneration) imbalance, that is, too much stress combined with too little time for regeneration –In this context, stress summarizes all individual training, non-training, and competition-dependent stress factors,–Particularly, additional exogenous non-training stress factors, such as social, educational, occupational, economic, nutritional factors, travel, and endogenous factors (genetic predisposition) exacerbate the risk of a resulting overtraining syndrome in a completely individual manner .The term overtraining syndrome describes an impaired state of health which is caused by overtraining and characterized by particular findings.
Overtraining is characterized by the imbalance between stress and recovery. Besides that, stress factors can be found not only in situations of training and competition, but also in extra-training and extra-competition ones. The athletes, in the attempt of reaching high performance levels with training, can become excessively trained, showing signs and symptoms of overtraining. Overtraining can be identified through symptoms like underperformance, chronic fatigue, respiratory infections and mood swings. Although there is no indication that overtraining causes irreversible damage to the athlete, the risk of injury, diseases or drop-out of sport is increased, reducing athletes' life quality. Based on these considerations, parameters and instruments for monitoring and prevention in physiological and psychological fields are studied in this work. Therefore, the best strategy for monitoring is to associate psychological parameters with physiological evaluations. Concerning prevention and treatment of overtraining, the implantation of systematized program of prevention of harmful effects in the athlete's performance, in his health and consequently in his well-being is advisable.
Athletes fail to perform to the best of their ability if they become infected, stale, sore or malnourished. Excessive training with insufficient recovery can lead to a debilitating syndrome in which performance and well being can be affected for months. Eliminating or minimizing these problems by providing advice and guidelines on training loads, recovery times, nutrition or pharmacological intervention and regular monitoring of athletes using an appropriate battery of markers can help prevent the development of an overtraining syndrome in athletes. The potential usefulness of objective physiological, biochemical and immunological markers of overtraining has received much attention in recent years. Practical markers would be ones that could be measured routinely in the laboratory and offered to athletes as part of their sports science and medical support. The identification of common factors among overtrained athletes in comparison with well-trained athletes not suffering from underperformance could permit appropriate intervention to prevent athletes from progressing to a more serious stage of the overtraining syndrome. To date, no single reliable objective marker of impending overtraining has been identified. Some lines of research do, however, show promise and are based on findings that overtrained athletes appear to exhibit an altered hormonal response to stress. For example, in response to a standardized bout (or repeated bouts) of high intensity exercise, overtrained athletes show a lower heart rate, blood lactate and plasma cortisol response. Several immune measures that can be obtained from a resting blood sample (e.g. the expression of specific cell surface proteins such as CD45RO+ on T-lymphocytes) also seem to offer some hope of identifying impending overtraining. If an athlete is suspected of suffering from overtraining syndrome, other measures will also required, if only to exclude other possible causes of underperformance including post-viral fatigue, glandular fever, clinical depression, poor diet, anaemia, asthma, allergies, thyroid disorders, myocarditis and other medical problems interfering with recovery.
Fiercer competition between athletes and a wider knowledge of optimal training regimens dramatically influence current training methods. A single training bout per day was previously considered sufficient, whereas today athletes regularly train twice a day or more. Consequently, the number of athletes who are overtraining and have insufficient rest is increasing. Positive overtraining can be regarded as a natural process when the end result is adaptation and improved performance; the supercompensation principle — which includes the breakdown process (training) followed by the recovery process (rest) — is well known in sports. However, negative overtraining, causing maladaptation and other negative consequences such as staleness, can occur. Physiological, psychological, biochemical and immunological symptoms must be considered, both independently and together, to fully understand the ’staleness’ syndrome. However, psychological testing may reveal early-warning signs more readily than the various physiological or immunological markers. The time frame of training and recovery is also important since the consequences of negative overtraining comprise an overtraining-response continuum from short to long term effects. An athlete failing to recover within 72 hours has presumably negatively overtrained and is in an overreached state. For an elite athlete to refrain from training for >72 hours is extremely undesirable, highlighting the importance of a carefully monitored recovery process. There are many methods used to measure the training process but few with which to match the recovery process against it. One such framework for this is referred to as the total quality recovery (TQR) process. By using a TQR scale, structured around the scale developed for ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), the recovery process can be monitored and matched against the breakdown (training) process (TQR versus RPE). The TQR scale emphasises both the athlete’s perception of recovery and the importance of active measures to improve the recovery process. Furthermore, directing attention to psychophysiological cues serves the same purpose as in RPE, i.e. increasing self-awareness. This article reviews and conceptualises the whole overtraining process. In doing so, it (i) aims to differentiate between the types of stress affecting an athlete’s performance; (ii) identifies factors influencing an athlete’s ability to adapt to physical training; (iii) structures the recovery process. The TQR method to facilitate monitoring of the recovery process is then suggested and a conceptual model that incorporates all of the important parameters for performance gain (adaptation) and loss (maladaptation).
The present study explored the experiences of five competitive endurance athletes (1 female, 4 male) diagnosed with the overtraining syndrome (OTS). A multicontextual method of inquiry was used, which first involved a medical examination whereby OTS was diagnosed according to established criteria. In addition, 2 questionnaires were administered: the Athlete Daily Hassle Scale (Albinson & Pearce, 1998) and the Coping Response Inventory (Moos, 1992), and a semistructured interview was conducted. Individual case studies were then developed and cross-case analysis carried out. Findings from the present study illustrate that together with sport stress, nonsport stress appears to make an important contribution to the experience of those athletes diagnosed with the OTS. This finding provides evidence to support anecdotes in previous reports. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Examined if mental skills and strategies such as high confidence, commitment, and the use of cooperative routines, as well as previously unexamined physical, social, and environmental factors affect Olympic performance. Athletes and coaches from 8 US Olympic teams were interviewed. Four teams met/exceeded performance expectations and 4 teams failed to perform up to performance predictions. Focus group interviews were conducted with 2 to 4 athletes from each team. Individual interviews were conducted with 1 or 2 coaches from each team. Differences existed between teams that met/exceeded performance expectations and teams that failed. Teams that met/exceeded expectations participated in resident training programs, experienced crowd and family or friend support, used mental preparation, and were highly focused and committed. Teams that failed to meet expectations experienced planning and team cohesion problems, lacked experience, faced travel problems, experienced coaching problems, and encountered problems related to focus and commitment. Results showed that achievement of peak performance at the Olympic Games is a complex and delicate process influenced by a variety of psychological, physical, social, and organizational factors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)