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Detraining Increases Body Fat and Weight and Decreases V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak and Metabolic Rate

Ormsbee, Michael J.1; Arciero, Paul J.2

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 8 - p 2087–2095
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31823b874c
Original Research

Ormsbee, MJ and Arciero, PJ. Detraining increases body fat and weight and decreases V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak and metabolic rate. J Strength Cond Res 26(8): 2087–2095, 2012—Competitive collegiate swimmers commonly take a month off from swim training after their last major competition. This abrupt cessation of intense physical training has not been well studied and may lead to physiopsychological decline. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the effects of swim detraining (DT) on body composition, aerobic fitness, resting metabolism, mood state, and blood lipids in collegiate swimmers. Eight healthy endurance-trained swimmers (V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak, 46.7 ± 10.8 ml·kg 1·min 1) performed 2 identical test days, 1 in the trained (TR) state and 1 in the detrained (∼5 weeks) state (DT). Body composition and circumferences, maximal oxygen consumption (V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak), resting metabolism (RMR), blood lipids, and mood state were measured. After DT, body weight (TR, 68.9 ± 9.7 vs. DT, 69.8 ± 9.8 kg; p = 0.03), fat mass (TR, 14.7 ± 7.6 vs. DT, 16.5 ± 7.4 kg; p = 0.001), and waist circumference (TR, 72.7± 3.1 vs. DT, 73.8 ± 3.6 cm; p = 0.03) increased, whereas V[Combining Dot Above]O2peak (TR, 46.7 ± 10.8 vs. DT, 43.1 ± 10.3 ml·kg 1·min 1; p = 0.02) and RMR (TR, 1.34 ± 0.2 vs. DT, 1.25 ± 0.17 kcal·min 1; p = 0.008) decreased, and plasma triglycerides showed a trend to increase (p = 0.065). Our data suggest that DT after a competitive collegiate swim season adversely affects body composition, fitness, and metabolism. Athletes and coaches need to be aware of the negative consequences of detraining from swimming, and plan off-season training schedules accordingly to allow for adequate rest/recovery and prevent overuse injuries. It's equally important to mitigate the negative effects on body composition, aerobic fitness and metabolism so performance may continue to improve over the long term.

1Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Nutrition, Food, and Exercise Sciences, The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

2Human Performance Laboratory, Health and Exercise Sciences Department, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York

Address correspondence to Dr. Paul J. Arciero,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association