|Could something as simple as a saliva test tell you if you or your clients are overtraining? I mean, common sense would dictate that cortisol, free T and IL-6 should tell us something.|
As you will remember from previous articles I wrote about overtraining. The only decently reliable method of seeing it coming is to assess you heart rate variability. On the other hand, athletes who are complaining of general fatigue and decreasing performances in the latter phase of their overtraining, when the symptoms become often almost unbearable, will also show high cortisol, low free testosterone and increased IL-6 levels.
It is thus only logical that the scientists assumed that it would be possible to evaluate the (overtraining) response of 20 moderate-to-highly trained young men to a standardized 6-week pre-season workout by the means of the said three parameters.
For this purpose, each subject was assessed at six separate sessions, next to their body composition, the scientists also measured the subjects' individual Recovery-Stress by the means of the standardized Recovery-Stress Questionnaire. In conjunction with the orally administered hormone / cytokine tests (always at 15:00-17:00 h) and the independently recorded training intensities and volumes (that was done by the researchers, not the subjects) on the bench, the back squat and the Olympic-style clean (+ auxiliary movements, see Table 1 | total session length including warm-up 45-60 minutes) these measurements were the basis for the scientists analysis.
|Table 1: Overview of the primary and auxiliary exercises in the std. RT protocol (Anderson. 2016).|
|Figure 1: Cortisol, IL-6 and free testosterone (left axes) and body weight (blue, right axis) development (Anderson. 2016).|
Since the subjects' performance on all the prime movers increased significantly, though, we can assume that at least some of these gains were muscle - and that in spite of the significant reduction of the free testosterone / cortisol ratio and the skyrocketing IL-6 levels.
|Table 2: REST-Q score by affective category (Anderson. 2016); * denotes sign. difference from baseline (p < 0.05); values for the score range from 1 = low anger, depression, etc. to 5 = high anger, depression, etc.|
Based on both the accepted physiological (weight, performance) and psychological (REST-Q) the subjects were, as the authors rightly point out "not symptomatic of overtraining". A conclusion that leaves us with the question...
- Anderson, Travis, Et Al. "Changes in Resting Salivary Testosterone, Cortisol and Interleukin-6 as Biomarkers of Overtraining." Sport And Health (2016): 2.
- Robson-Ansley, Paula J., Andrew Blannin, and Michael Gleeson. "Elevated plasma interleukin-6 levels in trained male triathletes following an acute period of intense interval training." European journal of applied physiology 99.4 (2007): 353-360.