To study the cumulative effects of exercise stress and subsequent recovery on performance changes and fatigue indicators, the training of eight endurance cyclists was systematically controlled and monitored for a 6-wk period. Subjects completed 2 wk of normal (N), intensified (ITP), and recovery training. A significant decline in maximal power output (N = 338 +/- 17 W, ITP = 319 +/- 17 W) and a significant increase in time to complete a simulated time trial (N = 59.4 +/- 1.9 min, ITP = 65.3 +/- 2.6 min) occurred after ITP in conjunction with a 29% increase in global mood disturbance. The decline in performance was associated with a 9.3% reduction in maximal heart rate, a 5% reduction in maximal oxygen uptake, and an 8.6% increase in perception of effort. Despite the large reductions in performance, no changes were observed in substrate utilization, cycling efficiency, and lactate, plasma urea, ammonia, and catecholamine concentrations. These findings indicate that a state of overreaching can already be induced after 7 days of intensified training with limited recovery.