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J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Jun;25(6):1546-52. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181da7858.

Parasympathetic nervous activity mirrors recovery status in weightlifting performance after training.

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Laboratory of Exercise Biochemistry, Taipei Physical Education College, Taipei, Taiwan.


Heart rate variability (HRV) and parasympathetic power are closely related to the well-being and health status in humans. The main goal of the study was to determine whether these measures can reflect recovery status after weight training. After a 10-day detraining period, 7 weightlifters were challenged with a 2-hour weight training which elicited approximately fourfold increases in circulating muscle creatine kinase level and protracted pain feeling (p < 0.05). Weightlifting performance was then evaluated 3, 24, 48, and 72 hours after training to determine the degree of recovery from fatigue. Heart rate variability, circulating dehydroepiandrostendione sulfate (DHEA-S), and muscle damage markers were measured before each performance test. An electrocardiogram was recorded for 5 minutes continuously at rest in seated positions. After training, weightlifting performance of the subjects decreased below baseline in paralleled with suppressed parasympathetic power (high-frequency [HF] HRV), whereas sympathetic power (normalized low-frequency HRV) was slightly elevated at 3 hours of recovery (p < 0.05). Both weightlifting performances and parasympathetic power returned to baseline values in 24 hours and further increased above baseline during 48-72 hours of recovery in a similar fashion (p < 0.05). Circulating DHEA-S level dropped at 24 hours (p < 0.05) and returned to normal values by 48 hours. Muscle pain increased at 3 hours after training and remained higher than baseline values for the 72-hour recovery period (p < 0.05). Our data suggest that parasympathetic power, indicated by HF HRV, is able to reflect the recovery status of weightlifters after training.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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