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Cardiac-Autonomic Responses to In-Season Training Among Division-1 College Football Players

Flatt, Andrew A.1,2; Esco, Michael R.2; Allen, Jeff R.3; Robinson, James B.3; Bragg, Amy4; Keith, Clay M.3; Fedewa, Michael V.2; Earley, Ryan L.5

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 14, 2018 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002475
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Despite having to endure a rigorous in-season training schedule, research evaluating daily physiological recovery status markers among American football players is limited. The purpose of this study was to determine if recovery of cardiac-autonomic activity to resting values occurs between consecutive-day, in-season training sessions among college football players. Subjects (n = 29) were divided into groups based on position: receivers and defensive backs (SKILL, n = 10); running backs, linebackers and tight-ends (MID-SKILL, n = 11) and linemen (LINEMEN, n = 8). Resting heart rate (RHR) and the natural logarithm of the root-mean square of successive differences multiplied by twenty (LnRMSSD) were acquired at rest in the seated position prior to Tuesday and Wednesday training sessions and repeated over three weeks during the first month of the competitive season. A position × time interaction was observed for LnRMSSD (p = 0.04), but not for RHR (p = 0.33). No differences in LnRMSSD between days was observed for SKILL (Tuesday = 82.8 ± 9.3, Wednesday = 81.9 ± 8.7, p > 0.05). Small reductions in LnRMSSD were observed for MID-SKILL (Tuesday = 79.2 ± 9.4, Wednesday = 76.2 ± 9.5, p < 0.05) and LINEMEN (Tuesday = 79.4 ± 10.5, Wednesday = 74.5 ± 11.5, p < 0.05). The individually averaged changes in LnRMSSD from Tuesday to Wednesday were related to PlayerLoad (r = 0.46, p = 0.02) and body mass (r = -0.39, p = 0.04). Cardiac-parasympathetic activity did not return to resting values for LINEMEN or MID-SKILL prior to the next training session. Larger reductions in LnRMSSD tended to occur in players with greater body mass despite having performed lower workloads, though some individual variability was observed. These findings may have implications for how coaches and support staff address training and recovery interventions for players demonstrating inadequate cardiovascular recovery between sessions.

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL

1Georgia Southern University (Armstrong Campus), Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology, Biodynamics and Human Performance Center, 11935 Abercorn St. Savannah, GA

2Department of Kinesiology, Exercise Physiology Laboratory, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

3Department of Athletics, Sports Medicine, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

4Department of Athletics, Performance Nutrition, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

5Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Corresponding Author: Andrew A. Flatt, Georgia Southern University (Armstrong Campus), Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology, Biodynamics and Human Performance Center, 11935 Abercorn St. Savannah, GA 31419, Phone: 912-344- 3317, andrew.flatt@armstrong.edu

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

No funding was received for this study.

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.