Annual Meeting Abstracts: H-24 – Free Communication/Poster: Strength and Power Studies
Determining the correct workload for high-level athletes is a problem facing coaches. A period of loading too low in intensity and duration would lead to no improvement in performance. Moreover, a period of intense loading too long in duration, coupled with a period of reduced loading too short in duration, could result in no improvement in performance and could potentially lead to overtraining. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine if the ratio of serum testosterone to cortisol ratio (T/C) could be monitored and adjusted to improve performance in national-caliber weightlifters. Previous research from this lab has indicated a 6-week program was not effective in producing optimal performance gains. The goal of this research was to manipulate the original program by including 2 additional weeks of reduced training load to achieve T/C recovery. METHODS: Seven male, competitive weightlifters (mean ± SD; age 19.75 ± 2.05 years; weight 94.88 ± 19 kg), who have competed at a national-level contest, were recruited from the USA Weightlifting Regional Development Center to participate in this 8-week study. The training program consisted of 2-weeks of build up (92 weekly repetitions; 85% mean training intensity) 2-weeks of hard training (188, 95%), and 4-weeks of reduced volume training (75, 80%). T/C ratio was measured weekly by radioimmunoassay. Weightlifting performance changes were determined by testing one-repetition maximum for the snatch and the clean and jerk. RESULTS: The training program was successful in producing recovery, and super-compensation, of mean T/C ratio. Following 1-week of rest and active recovery, baseline levels of T/C ratio were measured at 28 ± 15.9. During the 2-weeks of high training load, mean T/C ratio reached a low of 23.4 ± 12.3. Following the 4-weeks of reduced training load, mean T/C ratio significantly increased to levels nearly 33% greater than baseline to 41.8 ± 15.4 (p<0.05). Weightlifting performance significantly increased following the experimental training (p<0.05). Subjects succeeded with combined weights averaging 12.1 ± 2.78 kg above entry competition totals. 5 subjects reported an increase of at least 5-kg above previous competition 1 RM snatch and clean and jerk. CONCLUSIONS: It appears that this 8-week program was successful in favorably controlling T/C ratio, improving weightlifting performance, and validates the concept that T/C ratio may be an effective indicator of loading and recovery for weightlifting performance. T/C ratio may potentially be used to plan training cycles, thus avoiding unplanned overreaching or overtraining by the athlete.