Markers for Routine Assessment of Fatigue and Recovery in Male and Female Team Sport Athletes during High-Intensity Interval Training

PLoS One. 2015 Oct 7;10(10):e0139801. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139801. eCollection 2015.


Aim: Our study aimed to investigate changes of different markers for routine assessment of fatigue and recovery in response to high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Methods: 22 well-trained male and female team sport athletes (age, 23.0 ± 2.7 years; V̇O2 max, 57.6 ± 8.6 mL · min · kg(-1)) participated in a six-day running-based HIIT-microcycle with a total of eleven HIIT sessions. Repeated sprint ability (RSA; criterion measure of fatigue and recovery), countermovement jump (CMJ) height, jump efficiency in a multiple rebound jump test (MRJ), 20-m sprint performance, muscle contractile properties, serum concentrations of creatinkinase (CK), c-reactive protein (CRP) and urea as well as perceived muscle soreness (DOMS) were measured pre and post the training program as well as after 72 h of recovery.

Results: Following the microcycle significant changes (p < 0.05) in RSA as well as in CMJ and MRJ performance could be observed, showing a decline (%Δ ± 90% confidence limits, ES = effect size; RSA: -3.8 ± 1.0, ES = -1.51; CMJ: 8.4 ± 2.9, ES = -1.35; MRJ: 17.4 ± 4.5, ES = -1.60) and a return to baseline level (RSA: 2.8 ± 2.6, ES = 0.53; CMJ: 4.1 ± 2.9, ES = 0.68; MRJ: 6.5 ± 4.5, ES = 0.63) after 72 h of recovery. Athletes also demonstrated significant changes (p < 0.05) in muscle contractile properties, CK, and DOMS following the training program and after the recovery period. In contrast, CRP and urea remained unchanged throughout the study. Further analysis revealed that the accuracy of markers for assessment of fatigue and recovery in comparison to RSA derived from a contingency table was insufficient. Multiple regression analysis also showed no correlations between changes in RSA and any of the markers.

Conclusions: Mean changes in measures of neuromuscular function, CK and DOMS are related to HIIT induced fatigue and subsequent recovery. However, low accuracy of a single or combined use of these markers requires the verification of their applicability on an individual basis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Creatine Kinase / metabolism
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Fatigue / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology*
  • Myalgia / metabolism
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Running / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Creatine Kinase

Grant support

The present study was funded by the German Federal Institute of Sport Science ( The research was realized within REGman—Optimization of Training and Competition: Management of Regeneration in Elite Sports (IIA1-081901/12-16). Funding were received by TM MK MP AF. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.