JOURNAL ARTICLE

Serum sex hormone-binding globulin and cortisol concentrations are associated with overreaching during strenuous military training

Minna M Tanskanen, Heikki Kyröläinen, Arja L Uusitalo, Jukka Huovinen, Juuso Nissilä, Hannu Kinnunen, Mustafa Atalay, Keijo Häkkinen
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2011, 25 (3): 787-97
20543745
The purpose was (a) to study the effect of an 8-week Finnish military basic training period (BT) on physical fitness, body composition, mood state, and serum biochemical parameters among new conscripts; (b) to determine the incidence of overreaching (OR); and (c) to evaluate whether initial levels or training responses differ between OR and noOR subjects. Fifty-seven males (19.7 ± 0.3 years) were evaluated before and during BT. Overreaching subjects had to fulfill 3 of 5 criteria: decreased aerobic physical fitness (VO2max), increased rating of perceived exertion (RPE) in 45-minute submaximal test at 70% of VO2max or sick absence from these tests, increased somatic or emotional symptoms of OR, and high incidence of sick absence from daily service. VO2max improved during the first 4 weeks of BT. During the second half of BT, a stagnation of increase in VO2max was observed, basal serum sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) increased, and insulin-like growth factor-1 and cortisol decreased. Furthermore, submaximal exercise-induced increases in cortisol, maximum heart rate, and postexercise increase in blood lactate were blunted. Of 57 subjects, 33% were classified as OR. They had higher basal SHBG before and after 4 and 7 weeks of training and higher basal serum cortisol at the end of BT than noOR subjects. In addition, in contrast to noOR, OR subjects exhibited no increase in basal testosterone/cortisol ratio but a decrease in maximal La/RPE ratio during BT. As one-third of the conscripts were overreached, training after BT should involve recovery training to prevent overtraining syndrome from developing. The results confirm that serum SHBG, cortisol, and testosterone/cortisol and maximal La/RPE ratios could be useful tools to indicate whether training is too strenuous.

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