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The Relationship of Heart Rate and Lactate to Cumulative Muscle Fatigue During Recreational Alpine Skiing

Seifert, John; Kröll, Josef; Müller, Erich

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 2009 - Volume 23 - Issue 3 - pp 698-704
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181a2b55e
Original Research

Seifert, J, Kröll, J, and Müller, E. The relationship of heart rate and lactate to cumulative muscle fatigue during recreational alpine skiing. J Strength Cond Res 23(3): 698-704, 2009-Common indices of fatigue may not respond similarly between downhill skiing and other activities because of the influence of factors such as snow conditions, changing terrain, and skiing style. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship and predictors of common fatigue indices during downhill skiing. Ten healthy female recreational skiers skied for 3 hours under standardized conditions. Feedback on heart rate (HR) and finishing time were given to each skier at the end of each run to maintain a relatively stable load. A chronic stress score (Cstress) was calculated from creatine kinase (CK), cortisol, and isometric endurance. Finishing times and HR from runs 2, 12, and 24 were similar. Heart rate averaged 82% of HRmax. Heart rate was an insignificant predictor (p = .65) and was poorly correlated (r = 0.16) to Cstress. Blood lactate (LA) was a significant predictor of the Cstress (p = 0.05; r = 0.62). Pre- to postskiing peak forces were not different (p = 0.62), but skiers experienced a significant decrease in isometric endurance from 106.1 ± 29.6 to 93.2 ± 24.0 seconds. Endurance decreased by 13%, whereas cortisol and CK increased by 16 and 42%, respectively. Isometric contraction endurance and blood LA were significant predictors of overall stress. Individual compensation mechanisms and skiing style contributed to highly variable responses during skiing. Whereas HR may indicate stress within a given run, it is not a significant indicator of Cstress and fatigue during recreational alpine skiing. However, the cumulative stress variables and LA can be used in field testing of skiers. It is suggested that LA is a practical on-hill marker of chronic stress.

Movement Science/Human Performance Laboratory, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana; Department of Sport Science and Kinesiology CD-Laboratory, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria

Address correspondence to John Seifert,

© 2009 National Strength and Conditioning Association