Hormonal responses to training and its tapering off in competitive swimmers: relationships with performance

Abstract

During a winter training season, the effects of 12 weeks of intense training and 4 weeks of tapering off (taper) on plasma hormone concentrations and competition performance were investigated in a group of highly trained swimmers (n = 8). Blood samples were collected and the swimmers performed their speciality in competition at weeks 10 (mid-season), 22 (pre-taper) and 26 (post-taper). No statistically significant changes were observed in the concentrations of total testosterone (TT), non-sex hormone binding globulin-boundtestosterone (NSBT), cortisol (C), luteinising hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, triiodothyronine, thyroxine plasma catecholamines, creatine kinase and ammonia during training and taper. Mid-season NSBT: C ratio and the amount of training were statistically related (r = 0.82,P < 0.05). Competition performance slightly declined during intense training [0.52 (SD 2.51) %, NS] and improved during taper [2.32 (SD 1.69)%,P < 0.01]. Changes in performance during training and taper correlated with changes in ratios TT: C (r = 0.86,P < 0.01andr = 0.81,P < 0.05, respectively) and NSBT: C (r = 0.77,P < 0.05 andr = 0.76,P < 0.05, respectively). In summary, these results showed that the monitored plasma hormones and metabolic indices were unaltered by 12 weeks of intense training and 4 weeks of taper. The TT: C and NSBT: C ratios, however, appeared to be effective markers of the swimmers' performance capacities throughout the training season.

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Correspondence to Iñigo Mujika.

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Mujika, I., Chatard, JC., Padilla, S. et al. Hormonal responses to training and its tapering off in competitive swimmers: relationships with performance. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 74, 361–366 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02226933

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Key words

  • Taper
  • Testosterone
  • Cortisol
  • Swimming
  • Performance