This study analyzed changes in physiological parameters, hormonal markers and kayaking performance following 5-wk of reduced training (RT) or complete training cessation (TC). Fourteen top-level male kayakers were randomly assigned to either a TC (n = 7) or RT group (n = 7) at the end of their competitive season (T1). Subjects undertook blood sampling and an incremental test to exhaustion on a kayak ergometer at T1 and again following 5 weeks of RT or TC (T2). Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and oxygen uptake at second ventilatory threshold (VT2) significantly decreased following TC (-10.1% and -8.8%, respectively). Significant decreases were also observed in RT group but to a lesser extent (-4.8% and -5.7% respectively). Heart rate at VT2 showed significant increases following TC (3.5%). However, no changes, were detected in heart rate at VO2max in any group. Peak blood lactate remained unchanged in both groups at T2. Paddling speed at VO2max declined significantly at T2 in the TC group (-3.3%), while paddling speed at VT2 declined significantly in both groups (-5.0% and -4.2% for TC and RT, respectively). Stroke rate at VO2max and at VT2 increased significantly only following TC by 5.2% and 4.9%, respectively. Paddling power at VO2max and at VT2 decreased significantly in both groups although the values observed following RT were higher than those observed following TC. A significant decline in cortisol levels (-30%) was observed in both groups, while a higher increase in testosterone to cortisol ratio was detected in the RT group. These results indicate that a RT strategy may be more effective than complete TC in order to avoid excessive declines in cardiovascular function and kayaking performance in top-level paddlers. Key pointsShort-term (5-wk) training cessation in top-level athletes results in larger declines in physiological and performance parameters when compared to a reduced training approach.Following a competitive season in top-level athletes, both TC and RT strategies reflect an increased androgenic-anabolic activity. A higher T:C ratio was observed for the RT compared to the TC group.These results suggest the convenience of maintaining some reduced training program during transition periods in an attempt to minimize decreases in endurance performance between seasons.
Keywords: Detraining; aerobic power; hormonal profile.; kayaking; paddling parameters.