Physiological and performance adaptations to an in-season soccer camp in the heat: Associations with heart rate and heart rate variability

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Abstract

The aim of the present study was to examine the associations between adaptive responses to an in-season soccer training camp in the heat and changes in submaximal exercising heart rate (HRex, 5-min run at 9 km/h), postexercise HR recovery (HRR) and HR variability (HRV). Fifteen well-trained but non-heat-acclimatized male adult players performed a training week in Qatar (34.6 ± 1.9°C wet bulb globe temperature). HRex, HRR, HRV (i.e. the standard deviation of instantaneous beat-to-beat R–R interval variability measured from Poincaré plots SD1, a vagal-related index), creatine kinase (CK) activity, plasma volume (PV) changes, and post-5-min run rate of perceived exertion (RPE) were collected at six occasions in temperate environmental conditions (22°C). Players also performed the yo-yo intermittent recovery test level 1 (Yo-Yo IR1) in the same environmental conditions (22°C), both at the beginning and at the end of the training week. Throughout the intervention, HRex and HRV showed decreasing (P< 0.001) and increasing (P< 0.001) trends, respectively, while HRR remained unaffected (P= 0.84). Changes in HRex [−0.52, 90% confidence limits (−0.64; −0.38),P< 0.001] and SD1 [0.35 (0.19; 0.49),P< 0.001] were correlated with those in PV. There was no change in RPE (P= 0.92), while CK varied according to training contents (P< 0.001), without association with HR-derived measures. Yo-Yo IR1 performance increased by 7 ± 9% (P= 0.009), which was correlated with changes in HRex [−0.64 (−0.84; −0.28),P= 0.01]. In conclusion, we found that an in-season soccer training camp in the heat can significantly improve PV and soccer-specific physical performance; both of which are associated with changes in HRex during a 5-min submaximal run.

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