The aim of this work was to relate the activation of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems with the skin temperature (Tsk) of the lower limbs after a resistance training exercise. Under controlled conditions, the average Tsk in the areas of the anterior and posterior thighs, knees and legs was obtained with a thermal imager and the parasympathetic and sympathetic activation was registered with an Omegawave® device on 20 healthy and trained male volunteers (25.39 ± 8.21 years) before exercise, immediately after standard resistance training (3 exercises (2 quadriceps + 1 hamstrings) × 4 sets × 10 repetitions (70% 1RM), 90-sec recovery) and after 20 min of recovery. The results showed a significant effect of exercise and recovery on Tsk in all regions of interest (ROIs) considered (p < 0.05) and strong inverse relationships between sympathetic and parasympathetic activation values. Significant results were found for the total variation of Tsk (p < 0.05) with highly positive values for subjects with lower sympathetic activation and almost null or even negative values for those with higher sympathetic activation. Sympathetic activity was a significant predictor of total Tsk variation in the anterior thigh, posterior thigh and anterior knee but not in the posterior knee, anterior leg, and posterior leg. Baseline Tsk was a significant predictor of total Tsk variation the all ROIs except in the posterior knee. Tsk measured by thermography could be used to estimate the level of participation of muscle areas in exercise and registering the level of sympathetic activation before exercise could be interesting in predicting the athlete's physiological response to strength training.
Keywords: infrared thermography; strength training; sympathetic activation.