European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 113, Issue 2, pp 371–384 | Cite as

Consecutive days of cold water immersion: effects on cycling performance and heart rate variability

  • Jamie Stanley
  • Jonathan M. Peake
  • Martin Buchheit
Original Article

Abstract

We investigated performance and heart rate (HR) variability (HRV) over consecutive days of cycling with post-exercise cold water immersion (CWI) or passive recovery (PAS). In a crossover design, 11 cyclists completed two separate 3-day training blocks (120 min cycling per day, 66 maximal sprints, 9 min time trialling [TT]), followed by 2 days of recovery-based training. The cyclists recovered from each training session by standing in cold water (10 °C) or at room temperature (27 °C) for 5 min. Mean power for sprints, total TT work and HR were assessed during each session. Resting vagal-HRV (natural logarithm of square-root of mean squared differences of successive RR intervals; ln rMSSD) was assessed after exercise, after the recovery intervention, during sleep and upon waking. CWI allowed better maintenance of mean sprint power (between-trial difference [90 % confidence limits] +12.4 % [5.9; 18.9]), cadence (+2.0 % [0.6; 3.5]), and mean HR during exercise (+1.6 % [0.0; 3.2]) compared with PAS. ln rMSSD immediately following CWI was higher (+144 % [92; 211]) compared with PAS. There was no difference between the trials in TT performance (−0.2 % [−3.5; 3.0]) or waking ln rMSSD (−1.2 % [−5.9; 3.4]). CWI helps to maintain sprint performance during consecutive days of training, whereas its effects on vagal-HRV vary over time and depend on prior exercise intensity.

Keywords

Autonomic nervous system Training block High-intensity cycling Sprints Post-exercise recovery Hydrotherapy 

Abbreviations

CI

Confidence interval

CWI

Cold water immersion

ES

Effect size

HR

Heart rate

HR(ave)

Mean heart rate

HR(peak)

Peak heart rate

HR(post-recovery)

Heart rate immediately following the recovery intervention

HR(post-session)

Heart rate immediately following the laboratory training session

HR(wake)

Heart rate upon waking

HRV

Heart rate variability

ln rMSSD

Natural logarithm of the square-root of mean squared differences of successive RR intervals

ln rMSSD(post-session)

ln rMSSD immediately following the laboratory training session

ln rMSSD(post-recovery)

ln rMSSD immediately following the recovery intervention

ln rMSSD(sleep)

ln rMSSD during estimated slow wave sleep

ln rMSSD(wake)

ln rMSSD upon waking

PAS

Passive recovery

PPO

Peak power output

RPE

Rating of perceived exertion

TT

Time-trial

VO2peak

Peak oxygen uptake

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jamie Stanley
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jonathan M. Peake
    • 1
    • 3
  • Martin Buchheit
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre of Excellence for Applied Sport Science ResearchQueensland Academy of SportBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Human Movement StudiesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Biomedical SciencesQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  4. 4.Physiology Unit, Sport Science Department, AspireAcademy for Sports ExcellenceDohaQatar

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