Non-Functional Overreaching vs Overtraining Syndrome
Athletes who train and compete hard and long can work themselves to ‘death’, to where they actually stop improving and may start backsliding. Non-functional overreaching (NFO) is considered a short-term reduction in work capacity (reduced strength, power, speed, endurance) lasting a few weeks or months. Overtraining syndrome (OTS) may take months or even years to recover. Neither requires an explicit or acute injury but both could predispose one to chronic or multiple nagging ones. Diagnosing which is which and when an athlete is in such a state is an inexact science.
In the past it was thought that certain blood values or mood states (like depression) could useful. A group of Belgian researchers proposed that a Training Optimization Test (TOT, ”a two-bout maximal incremental exercise test protocol”) might allow them to determine, via discriminant analysis, how to diagnose NFO vs OTS. Previous studies suggested that hormonal imbalances were likely targets of investigation. Cortisol – which is sometimes a useful hormone, sometimes not, ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone), prolactin [PRL], and human growth hormone [GH], seemed most likely.
One hundred healthy, athletic subjects who had complained of reduced performance performed the TOT after a standardized diet one hour before the test. Blood was drawn pre- and post- each phase of the 2-stage test.
Hormonal and psychological results were valuable determinants of NFO and OTS, with ACTH and PRL being the ‘most indicative’. Cortical response was of nominal value, while delayed GH recovery is suggestive of OTS. Elevated ‘negative mood’ after the first test and more tension after the second were different in OTS and NFO.
MSSE Dec. 2019
Progressing Older Adults’ Resistance Training
Decades of research has shown resistance training for older adults (those older than me, of course) “experience significant improvements in quality of life and capacity for independent living through regular participation.” But there is no consensus on how or when to progress their training loads. The 3 most common are “ 1) rating of perceived exertion [RPE: subjective measure of work], 2) a targeted number of repetitions [inexact and imprecise compared to young athletes] and 3) a percentage of the one-repetition maximum [often calculated only in clinical studies, not in gym environments].”
Eighty-two older men and women were recruited to do 12 weeks of supervised training. Three groups were progressed according to one of the 3 protocols above. The primary outcomes were overall strength gain, “self-reported exercise tolerance and enjoyment recorded immediately after each session using an anonymous survey.”
All groups gained comparable strength and functional movement capacities but only the group that gave a RPE score by which to progress their training reported the training to be “significantly more tolerable and enjoyable than subjects in the other groups.”
Thus, using a 1-10 scale of difficulty, with1 being easiest, if a load is an 8 or higher, there should be no progression of load, just reps, until such time as it is reported as less than 8 for two consecutive sessions.
MSSE Nov. 2019