Parasympathetic nervous activity mirrors recovery status in weightlifting performance after training

Jui Lien Chen, Ding Peng Yeh, Jo Ping Lee, Chung Yu Chen, Chih Yang Huang, Shin Da Lee, Chiu Chou Chen, Terry B.J. Kuo, Chung Lan Kao, Chia Hua Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Heart rate variability (HRV) and parasympathetic power are closely related to the well-being and health status in humans. Themain goal of the study was to determine whether these measures can reflect recovery status after weight training. After a 10-day detraining period, 7 weightlifters were challenged with a 2-hour weight trainingwhich elicited approximately fourfold increases in circulating muscle creatine kinase level and protracted pain feeling (p < 0.05). Weightlifting performance was then evaluated 3, 24, 48, and 72 hours after training to determine the degree of recovery from fatigue. Heart rate variability, circulating dehydroepiandrostendione sulfate (DHEA-S), and muscle damage markers were measured before each performance test. An electrocardiogram was recorded for 5 minutes continuously at rest in seated positions. After training, weightlifting performance of the subjects decreased below baseline in paralleled with suppressed parasympathetic power (high-frequency [HF] HRV), whereas sympathetic power (normalized low-frequency HRV) was slightly elevated at 3 hours of recovery (p < 0.05). Both weightlifting performances and parasympathetic power returned to baseline values in 24 hours and further increased above baseline during 48-72 hours of recovery in a similar fashion (p < 0.05). Circulating DHEA-S level dropped at 24 hours (p < 0.05) and returned to normal values by 48 hours. Muscle pain increased at 3 hours after training and remained higher than baseline values for the 72-hour recovery period (p < 0.05). Our data suggest that parasympathetic power, indicated by HF HRV, is able to reflect the recovery status of weightlifters after training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1546-1552
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Fatigue
  • Frequency-domain analysis
  • Muscle power
  • Strength performance
  • Vagal
  • Weightlifter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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