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Parasympathetic Nervous Activity Mirrors Recovery Status in Weightlifting Performance After Training

Chen, Jui-Lien1; Yeh, Ding-Peng1; Lee, Jo-Ping1; Chen, Chung-Yu1; Huang, Chih-Yang2,3; Lee, Shin-Da4,5; Chen, Chiu-Chou1; Kuo, Terry BJ6; Kao, Chung-Lan6,7; Kuo, Chia-Hua1,4

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: June 2011 - Volume 25 - Issue 6 - p 1546-1552
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181da7858
Original Research

Chen, J-L, Yeh, D-P, Lee, J-P, Chen, C-Y, Huang, C-Y, Lee, S-D, Chen, C-C, Kuo, TBJ, Kao, C-L, and Kuo, C-H. Parasympathetic nervous activity mirrors recovery status in weightlifting performance after training. J Strength Cond Res 25(6): 1546-1552, 2011—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.

1Laboratory of Exercise Biochemistry, Taipei Physical Education College, Taipei, Taiwan; 2Graduate Institute of Basic Medical Science, Graduate Institute of Chinese Medical Science, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan; 3Department of Health and Nutrition Biotechnology, Asia University, Taichung, Taiwan; 4Department of Physical Therapy, Graduate Institute of Rehabilitation Science, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan; 5Department of Healthcare Administration, Asia University, Taichung, Taiwan; 6School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan; and 7Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

Address correspondence to Dr. Chia-Hua Kuo,, or Dr Chung-Lan Kao,

© 2011 National Strength and Conditioning Association