Programming resistance training during the in-season competitive phase can be quite challenging. This is because coaches need to ensure that athletes are receiving a sufficient training effect to maintain strength, power and muscle mass without compromising recovery and performance. Thus, picking the right days of the week to implement resistance training sessions that allows sufficient recovery before the next match is an important consideration. Post-exercise recovery is multifaceted and involves various components. For example, cardiovascular, neuromuscular, perceptual and biochemical variables will all be affected by training and likely recovery at varying time-points. Factors such as maximal force production and rate of force development are of particular importance to athletes involved in team-sports due to its strong association with sprinting and jumping performance.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports monitored markers of fatigue and recovery for 48 hours following a full-body resistance training session in trained men. Eight subjects with >2 years of routine resistance training experience performed an intensive resistance training session modeled off of typical in-season training routines of contact-based team sports. The session included various squat variations, power cleans, presses, rows and pull ups. Loads ranged between 1-2x body weight for most exercises. Before, 1 hour post and 24 and 48 hour post-training, subjects rated their perceived levels of fatigue, soreness, mood, stress and sleep quality on a 1-5 point scale. Leg soreness was also evaluated seated at rest and following a body-weight squat. At the same time-points (in addition to immediately post-training), maximal torque, rate of torque development and thigh muscle activation were evaluated.
The results showed that perceptual measures of fatigue and soreness did not return to baseline until 48 hours post-training. Maximal torque and muscle contractility recovered to baseline at 24 hours post-exercise. Interestingly, rate of torque development and and muscle activation did not significantly change throughout the observation period. This study demonstrated that there is a disconnect in the time-course of recovery between perceptual and neuromuscular performance following resistance training. Despite reporting high levels of fatigue and soreness at 24 hours post-training, neuromuscular performance was not different from pre-exercise levels.
Marshall, P. W., Cross, R., & Haynes, M. (2017). The fatigue of a full body resistance exercise session in trained men. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. In press.