Monitoring Training Load, Immune-Endocrine, Autonomic Nervous System Responses, and Swimming Performance in Women’s Water Polo
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Purpose: The purposes of the study were to: i) verify the variations in training load and the subsequent effects on swimming performance parameters, biochemical parameters, and autonomic nervous activity during a water polo season; ii) investigate the sensitivity of physiological markers in tracking training load and performance variations, and iii) verify the overreaching prevalence. Method: The training load of 20 female water polo players was monitored (using the session rating of perceived exertion method [sRPE], training monotony, and strain), and the lactate minimum speed (LMS), repeated sprint ability (RSA), plasma hormone and glutamine concentration, salivary immunoglobulin A (SIgA), and heart rate variability (lnRMSSD) were evaluated during the season. Result: The training load parameters were higher in the competitive cycle (p ≤ 0.002). The LMS improved only in the general cycle from baseline (p = .015), while the RSA best time improved in the general (p = .002) and specific cycles (p = .012) from baseline and deteriorated in the competitive from general cycle (p = .008). The SIgA secretion rate presented a reduction only in the specific cycle from baseline (p = .032), while the lnRMSSD increased in the general (p = .038) and competitive (p < .001) cycles from baseline. Five athletes were diagnosed as overreaching state. Conclusion: Therefore, the physiological markers (i.e., plasma hormone and glutamine concentration, SIgA, and lnRMSSD) showed little sensitivity to detect changes in training load and swimming performance. The higher training loads applied in the competitive cycle seem to limit swimming performance gains.