Journal of Applied Physiology


Yann LE MEUR, Christophe HAUSSWIRTH, Françoise NATTA, Antoine COUTURIER, Frank BIGNET, Pierre-Paul VIDAL


In sport, high training load required to reach peak performance push human adaptation to their limits. In that process, athletes may experience general fatigue, impaired performance and may be identified as overreached (OR). When this state lasts for several months, an overtraining syndrome is diagnosed (OT). Until now, no variable per se can detect OR, a requirement to prevent the transition from OR to OT. It encouraged us to further investigate OR using a multivariate approach including physiological, biomechanical, cognitive and perceptive monitoring. Twenty-four highly trained triathletes were separated into an overload group and a normo-trained group (NT) during three weeks of training. Given the decrement of their running performance, eleven triathletes were diagnosed as OR after this period. A discriminant analysis showed that the changes of eight parameters measured during a maximal incremental test could explain 98.2% of the OR state (lactataemia, heart rate, biomechanical parameters and effort perception). Variations in heart rate and lactataemia were the two most discriminating factors. When the multifactorial analysis was restricted to these variables, the classification score reached 89.5%. Catecholamines and creatine kinase concentrations at rest did not change significantly in both groups. Running pattern was preserved and cognitive performance decrement was observed only at exhaustion in OR subjects. This study showed that monitoring various variables is required to prevent the transition between NT and OR. It emphasized that an OR index, which combines heart rate and blood lactate concentration changes after a strenuous training period, could be helpful to routinely detect OR.

  • overload
  • overtraining
  • fatigue markers
  • discriminant analysis