Examination of various physiological, biochemical and psychological parameters of overtraining in response to a season of training in competitive swimmers

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Joseph Signorile - Committee Chair


Staleness, a severe chronic fatigue state occurring as a result of the failure of an athlete to adapt to overtraining, has received considerable attention. Reliable, sensitive, and specific markers which predict this phenomenon have yet to be discovered. This study examined the effects of overtraining on physiological, biochemical, and psychological variables in 10 swimmers during a 6 month training season. Eight active, college students who were not training for competition were used as controls. Variables were measured on 5 separate occasions: the 1st week of training, mid-season, during peak training, at the beginning of the taper period, and following the taper.One aspect of the study was to examine the data for markers of overtraining. Good markers were considered those which showed a dose-response relationship between that variable and training yardage in the swimmers with no changes for the controls. Repeated measures factorial ANOVA's revealed a limited number of variables showing significant changes corresponding to overtraining in the swimmers only. These included the rating of daily functioning, the rating of general state of well being, and illness (p $<$.05). Other variables which showed no significant differences, yet exhibited trends which corresponded to overtraining in the swimmers were percent body fat, orthostatic heart rate, maximal oxygen consumption, hemoglobin concentration, peak lactate, various Profile of Mood State (POMS) variables, and rating of sleep quality.In addition, a decrease in performance and a significant increase in the POMS composite score were used as criteria to indicate excessive training fatigue (acute) or staleness (symptoms persisting after 2 weeks of decreased training or rest). Although no swimmer experienced staleness, a group of three swimmers developed criteria for excessive training fatigue. No variables showed consistent changes from baseline for all three of these swimmers.A number of overtraining markers tracked well with increases and decreases in training yardage for the group, however, when these variables were applied to the individuals experiencing excessive training fatigue no markers proved reliable. Future research should concentrate on tracking individuals using more data points, different markers, and the interaction of various markers to develop a better predictive index.


Biology, Animal Physiology; Health Sciences, Recreation; Psychology, Physiological

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