This excerpt is from the book, Triathlon Anatomy eBook. It's published with permission of Human Kinetics
Training Plan development
There is a lot of science behind optimal training plan development for triathletes. As multisport participation becomes more popular, the research literature on best practices and training methodologies expands at a staggering rate. Although the science of effective training is certainly important, so is the art of developing a training plan.
Triathlon coaching has been an area of explosive growth over the past decade. A range of professional triathlon coaching certifications is now available, and scores of coaching companies, large and small, have sprung up to meet the growing demands of this burgeoning field. Developing a multisport training plan can be daunting, and as athletes attempt to train effectively for three sports, they discover that a knowledgeable coach can save them time and headaches by shortening the learning curve. But although coaching does involve the science of training, it’s also important not to neglect the art of training an athlete. After all, if human performance improvement was as simple as adding 1 and 1 to equal 2, everyone would be getting faster and competing at a similar level. The truth is that each athlete is an experiment of one, and a good coach will discover the balance of training in order to help the athlete reach his goals while remaining healthy and injury free. Hence, the art of training.
In many ways, a triathlon coach is like a chef. Every chef has access to common ingredients. It’s how they mix, prepare, and then present the ingredients to create the dish that matters. And let’s face it: Some dishes are great while others are not so great. It’s the same with triathlon coaching and how the coach works with the athlete, addressing individual strengths and weaknesses in order to develop the ideal program for achieving goals.
Let’s begin our discussion of developing a training plan by exploring the basic ingredients that all triathlon coaches have at their disposal. Planning and strategic oversight of a program are important, and when it comes to designing a training plan, the first step is to determine your ultimate goal for that season. We’ll call this your A race. Next, you’ll need to determine races of lesser importance you’ll use in order to gain competitive experience and develop your race legs. Many elite athletes use these B and C priority events as hard training days to race themselves into shape, both physically and mentally.
Once the race schedule is mapped out and the commitment is made, it’s time to start developing your plan, working backward from your A race and using the principle of periodization. Your training ingredients include the variables of intensity, duration, and frequency; the mixture of these components will enable you to develop an effective plan.
For a more nonlinear approach to periodized training, focus on certain energy systems for periods of 4 to 6 weeks, while also incorporating training intensities to bolster other systems simultaneously, because no one energy system is developed at the exclusion of others. For example, an aerobic base development phase will also include some bouts of short, intense work that targets the anaerobic energy system. This makes the transition to a more specific block of hard training much easier while lowering the risk of overtraining and injury.
In addition to cardiorespiratory and sport-specific training, most coaches and athletes now agree that supplemental strength and flexibility training is crucial for enhanced performance and, more important, long-term health and well-being. Supplementary resistance work should be done year-round using a selection of exercises found in this book, with an approach that complements the seasonal training needs of the athlete. For example, when an athlete is in season, the focus of a strength training routine is mostly maintenance and injury prevention. On the other hand, during the preseason, the training focus is more on developing strength and a biomechanically sound foundation.
Table 3.1 shows a sample preseason program used by a beginner to intermediate-level triathlete with one to three years of experience who is preparing for an Olympic-distance triathlon. The emphasis is on aerobic base and basic strength development, with a total training commitment of 10 to 12 hours per week.
From this example, you’ll notice that each sport discipline is trained at least three times during the week in addition to three strength training sessions. Athletes should perform sport-specific training before strength work in order to ensure good form and enable solid development of technique. Muscles that are tired because of resistance training can foster poor movement patterns when swimming, cycling, and running, impeding efficiency and wasting energy.
With such a wide variety of strength training exercises from which to choose, it’s imperative that you have a focused strategy for continual improvement. Using the expert help of a coach or certified personal trainer, choose from the recommended exercises in this book to create a plan tailored to suit your individual needs.
Metabolism refers to all of the energy-requiring chemical reactions occurring inside your body. At any one time, trillions of reactions are going on inside of you, including the growth of new tissue, muscle contraction, and the breakdown of food for energy. The resting metabolic rate—the amount of energy needed during resting conditions—is lower in females because of their smaller body mass and muscle mass. When you run, your metabolic rate increases dramatically because of the increased demand for energy. The faster your metabolic pathways can use the available fuel to regenerate energy for muscle contraction, the faster you will be able to run any race.
While your nervous system controls your body’s faster functions, like the initiation of reflexes and movement, hormones control the slower functions, like the regulation of growth and metabolism and the development of reproductive organs. Much of metabolism is under the direction of hormones, which act as conductors, initiating signals that lead to the transportation and use of fuel. And the two predominant fuels for running are carbohydrate and fat, which provide energy on a sliding scale. At slower speeds, your muscles rely more on fat and less on carbohydrate, and as you increase your running pace, the energy contribution from fat decreases while the energy contribution from carbohydrate increases.
The hormone insulin is responsible for carbohydrate metabolism. Consuming carbohydrate elevates your blood glucose concentration and increases insulin concentration. The increase in circulating insulin, which is secreted from your pancreas, stimulates specific proteins to transport the glucose from your blood into your muscles, where it is either used for immediate energy by your cells or stored as muscle glycogen for later use. Males typically have more glycogen stored in their muscles. Longer races like the marathon are limited, in part, by the amount of stored glycogen. Therefore, the lower muscle glycogen in women’s muscles can partly explain why they cannot run marathons as fast as men.
Research has shown that men also are more responsive to carbohydrate loading than women. In other words, women do not increase muscle glycogen as much as men in response to consuming more carbohydrate in their diets. However, some of this research is clouded by the fact that women consume fewer total calories than men, so the lack of glycogen storage may be due to a lower caloric or carbohydrate intake by women rather than an inherent sex difference in the ability to store glycogen. When women increase their total caloric intake as they also increase the amount of carbohydrate in their diets, they increase their muscle glycogen content by a similar amount as men. From a training perspective, while men simply need to increase the percentage of their calories coming from carbohydrate in order to carbo load and store more glycogen, women need to also increase the total number of calories in their diets to get the same effect.
Because carbohydrate is the predominant fuel source during running and the only fuel source at speeds faster than acidosis threshold, research has focused on how the hormonal differences between men and women affect insulin and alter carbohydrate metabolism. Most research has found that women use less carbohydrate than men when exercising at similar intensities.
When you finish a workout that severely lowers your muscle glycogen content, it’s important to replenish the carbohydrates so you can resynthesize more glycogen to be prepared for your next run. In fact, refueling nutrient-depleted muscles is possibly the single most important aspect of optimal recovery from training and racing. Scientists first discovered in the late 1960s that endurance performance is influenced by the amount of stored glycogen in skeletal muscles, and that intense endurance exercise decreases muscle glycogen stores. The faster you can resynthesize muscle glycogen, the faster your recovery. Research has shown that the rate of glycogen synthesis in the first few hours following a workout (the time when you are best able to store glycogen because the cells are most sensitive to insulin) is similar between the sexes. This suggests that recovery rates between males and females are similar, at least the component of recovery affected by the resynthesis of fuel.
As a consequence of not using as much carbohydrate during exercise, women rely more on fat than men. Indeed, it has been estimated that women use about 75 percent more fat than do men while running or cycling at 65 to 70 percent V·O2max. Women get about 39 percent of their energy from fat during exercise at 65 percent V·O2max, while men get about 22 percent of their energy from fat. However, the percentage of energy derived from fat varies significantly from person to person because factors such as training status, muscle fiber type, muscle glycogen content, and mitochondrial density all play a role.
While it is difficult to tease out the exact reasons for the difference between the sexes in the metabolism of carbohydrate and fat, it appears that estrogen is at least partly responsible. Research done on rats has shown that when male rats are given estrogen, they deplete less glycogen during exercise; the concentration of fatty acids in the blood increases, suggesting a greater availability of fat for energy; and they can exercise for longer periods before becoming exhausted. Increasing the amount of fatty acids circulating in the blood favors their use by muscle during exercise, resulting in a decreased reliance on muscle glycogen and blood glucose, thus delaying glycogen depletion and hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and postponing fatigue.
This switch in fuel use to a greater reliance on fat at the same running speed also occurs from endurance training. Training enhances fat use by increasing the mitochondria in your muscles, allowing for more aerobic metabolism and the sparing of muscle glycogen. This shift in the energy source for muscular activity is a major advantage in delaying the onset of fatigue in running events that are limited by the availability of muscle glycogen—marathons and ultramarathons. Because humans’ carbohydrate stores are limited, the difference in metabolism between the sexes may give female runners an advantage for very long endurance activities, during which there is a greater need to conserve carbohydrate and a greater use of fat because of the slower pace. In 2002 and 2003, Pam Reed showed that science may be on to something, by winning the 135-mile (217K) Badwater Ultramarathon, beating all of the men. In shorter races, however, when there is a greater demand to generate energy quickly for muscle contraction, relying more on fat will slow the pace because energy is derived much more quickly from carbohydrate than from fat.
The third macronutrient, protein, is often neglected in metabolism because it accounts for only 3 to 6 percent of the amount of energy expended while running. Rather, protein is used primarily for other things, such as building, maintaining, and repairing muscle, skin, and blood tissue, as well as aiding in the transportation of materials through the blood. Protein can be thought of as your body’s scaffolding and cargo. However, it can be used for energy if inadequate amounts of fat and carbohydrate are available because the body’s requirement for energy takes priority over tissue building. Although the amount of protein you use for energy may be small, even a small contribution to your daily run may be large if you run a lot and run often.
Exercise increases the use of amino acids from protein breakdown, and the amount of amino acids that your muscles use is inversely related to the amount of glycogen in the muscle. When glycogen is abundant, muscles rely on glycogen, but when glycogen is low, muscles begin to rely more on amino acids. Research has shown that females use less protein during exercise than do males. Because endurance-trained females use less muscle glycogen and rely more on fat than endurance-trained males, protein breakdown seems to be inhibited in females by virtue of the greater muscle glycogen.
Regardless of their differing levels of knowledge and experience, success for all triathletes begins with the planning process. In the forthcoming Complete Triathlon Guide (Human Kinetics, May 2012), USA Triathlon says that planning helps you identify clear goals, understand your current level of readiness, and establish an accurate training regimen. Planning also requires you to take a realistic look at your current position on a frequent basis throughout the season, acquire new information, and then make decisions on the way you are going to train.
According to Sharone Aharon, a contributor to Complete Triathlon Guide, the gold standard of developing an annual training plan and avoiding the pitfalls of poor planning is periodization. This refers to dividing a certain amount of time, in this case the training year, into smaller, easier-to-manage phases. The most common periodization refers to three segments of time that repeat themselves and differ by size:
1. Macrocycle. This is a long stretch of training that focuses on accomplishing a major overall goal or completing a race. "For example, if the Chicago Triathlon is your most important race of the season, the time from the first day of training at the beginning of the season until that race will be considered your macrocycle," says Aharon.
A macrocycle is then made up of several small- and medium-size phases and covers a period of a few weeks to 11 months. For most athletes, especially beginners, a macrocycle covers the entire racing season, focusing on one big race for the year and the development of their basic physical and technical skills.
2. Mesocycle. This is a shorter block of training within the macrocycle that focuses on achieving a particular goal. It usually covers 3 to 16 weeks and will repeat a few times, each time with a different training objective or goal. Coaches often use three mesocycles, or phases, within the annual training plan: preparatory, competitive, and transition.
The preparatory phase establishes the physical, technical, and psychological base from which the competitive phase is developed. The competitive subphases are dedicated to maximizing fitness for ideal performance; coaches refer to these as build, race, or peak phases. The transition phase, finally, is the rest and rejuvenation phase in between training cycles or seasons. "Keep in mind that the level of the athlete will also influence the length of each phase," Aharon comments. "A beginner most likely will have a very long preparatory phase, up to 22 weeks, to develop a strong foundation that will enable him or her to endure the load of progressive, more advanced training."
3. Microcycle. This is the basic training phase that repeats itself within the annual plan. It is the smallest training period and is structured according to the objectives, volume, and intensity of each mesocycle. The microcycle is probably the most important and functional unit of training, since its structure and content determine the quality of the training process.
A microcycle can last for 3 to 10 days but typically refers to the weekly training schedule. "The progression of the microcycles within the mesocycle has to take into consideration the important balance between work and rest," stresses Aharon. "Too much work without appropriate rest will lead to overtraining and injuries. On the other hand, too little work with too much rest will lead to underperformance."
One of the most valuable long-term pieces of information you can gather is resting heart rate. When you wake up each morning, take a minute to get an accurate resting heart rate and keep a log. You’ll find this an invaluable tool, providing feedback on injury, illness, overtraining, stress, incomplete recovery, and so on. It is also a very simple gauge of improvements in fitness. We know athletes who have gathered resting heart rate data for years and in a day or two can identify a 1 or 2 bpm elevation that precedes an illness or a bonk session. Some newer heart rate monitors have the capacity for 24-hour monitoring.
Several factors affect heart rate at rest and during exercise. In general, the main factors affecting heart rate at rest are fitness and state of recovery. Gender also is suggested to play a role, albeit inconsistently (more about this later). In general, fitter people tend to have lower resting heart rates. Some great athletes of the past have recorded remarkably low resting heart rates. For example, Miguel Indurain, five-time winner of the Tour de France, reported a resting heart rate of only 28 bpm. The reason for this is that, with appropriate training, the heart muscle increases in both size and strength. The stronger heart moves more blood with each beat (this is called stroke volume) and therefore can do the same amount of work with fewer beats. As you get fitter, your resting heart rate should get lower.
The second main factor affecting resting heart rate is state of recovery. After exercise, particularly after a long run or bike ride, several things happen in the body. Fuel sources are depleted, temperature increases, and muscles are damaged. All of these factors must be addressed and corrected. The body has to work harder, and this increased work results in a higher heart rate. Even though you might feel okay at rest, your body is working harder to repair itself, and you’ll notice an elevated heart rate. Monitoring your resting heart rate and your exercise heart rate will allow you to make appropriate adjustments such as eating more or taking a day off when your rate is elevated.
These same factors of recovery and injury also affect heart rate during exercise. The factors that elevate resting heart rate also elevate exercise heart rate. If you’re not fully recovered from a previous workout, you might notice, for example, at your usual steady-state pace, an exercise heart rate that is 5 to 10 bpm higher than normal. This is usually accompanied by a rapidly increasing heart rate throughout the exercise session.
An extremely important factor affecting exercise heart rate is temperature. Warmer temperatures cause the heart to beat faster and place considerable strain on the body. Simply put, when it is hot, the body must move more blood to the skin to cool it while also maintaining blood flow to the muscles. The only way to do both of these things is to increase overall blood flow, which means that the heart must beat faster. Depending on how fit you are and how hot it is, this might mean a heart rate that is 20 to 40 bpm higher than normal. Fluid intake is very important under these conditions. Sweating changes blood volume, which eventually can cause cardiac problems. The simplest and most effective intervention to address high temperature and heart rate is regular fluid intake. This helps to preserve the blood volume and prevent the heart from beating faster and faster.
Another important factor affecting exercise heart rate is age. In general, MHR will decline by about 1 beat per year starting at around 20 years old. Interestingly, resting heart rate is not affected. This is why the basic prediction equation of 220 – age has an age correction factor. As a side note, this decrease in MHR often is used to explain decreases in .VO2max and endurance performance with increasing age, because the number of times the heart beats in a minute affects how much blood is moved and available to the muscles. We have coached and tested thousands of athletes, and the general trend is that athletes of the same age who produce higher heart rates often have higher fitness scores. However, your MHR is what it is, and you cannot change it. Don’t obsess over it.
A final factor is gender. Recent studies have suggested a variation in MHR between males and females. However, the data are inconclusive with the calculations resulting in lower MHRs for males versus females of the same age, while anecdotal reports suggest that the MHRs are actually higher in males. In general, females have smaller hearts and smaller muscles overall than males. Both of these factors would support the conclusion of a higher MHR in females, certainly at the same workload. We have to conclude that the jury is still out on the gender effect.
Robert Panzera of Cycling Camps San Diego on Strength & Conditioning, Goal Setting, & Periodization TrainingSubmitted by admin on Wed, 12/15/2010 - 19:52
The following is an excerpt from Daniels' Running Formula. It's published with permission of Human Kinetics.
Click here to view the pdf, "Understand the Training Principles".
The Bike, The Run, The Swim DVDs will take you through the nuances of technique and then go over detailed training plans in depth.
"The Core Strength: Pilates for Triathletes" is a superb teaching of core strength taught and flexibility by June Quick, Certified Pilates Instructor, licensed Physical Therapist, Certified Athletic Trainer, and Stanford University Swimming consultant. She explains the movements that are demonstrated by a beginner and pro triathlete, how to make some more advanced movements when you're ready, and pre-hab to prevent common athletic injuries.
If you're new to triathlon and learn better visually, this is the package you want. It's like having a coach start you out. If you've been around the track a few times, pun intended, you may still pick up some technique and training pointers.
Championship Productions forwarded these to me for review and I'm glad they. I had not heard of them but these are some really good training resources.
"Since 1971, I’ve trained and coached athletes in a variety of sports with abilities ranging from beginner to professional. Some became national- and world-class competitors; others achieved less impressive, but no less important, personal goals. All improved their physical abilities in some way.
I don’t know who learned more - me or
them. My lessons came from observing how small changes in training
brought big results. Some riders obviously had a lot of potential when
they came to me. They were highly motivated and did challenging
workouts, but for some reason they weren’t getting all they could from
training. At first this was perplexing. How could athletes with such
great potential achieve so little? After years of reviewing hundreds of
training logs, I began to see patterns and understand why a person with
latent ability was not coming close to attaining it. He or she was
breaking one of what I call the Cardinal Rules of Training.
No matter what you want from riding, there are three rules you must obey. Breaking any of these means, at best, limited improvement, and, at worst, overtraining and loss of fitness. The Cardinal Rules of Training are as follows:
- Rule 1. Ride consistently.
- Rule 2. Ride moderately.
- Rule 3. Rest frequently.
These may seem overly simple. Sometimes, however, the most
important things in life are the simplest. Such is the case with
Rule 1 is based on the premise that nothing does more to limit or reduce fitness than missed rides. The human body thrives on regular patterns of living. When cycling routinely and uniformly progressing for weeks, months, and years, fitness steadily improves. Interruptions from injury, burnout, illness, and overtraining cause setbacks. Each setback means a substantial loss of cycling fitness and time reestablishing a level previously attained. Inconsistent riding is like pushing a boulder up a hill only to see it roll back down before reaching the top - frustrating.
Riders who violate the first rule of training are usually frustrated. The solution to their problem is simple: Train consistently. "Okay," they say, "but how do I do that?" Good question, and that leads to the other Cardinal Rules. The second Rule, ride moderately, is the first step in becoming more consistent. This one usually scares highly motivated, hard-charging cyclists. They can see themselves noodling around the block in slow motion and not even working up a sweat. However, that’s not what moderate means.
Moderate riding is that level of training to which your body is already adapted, plus about 10 percent. For example, if the longest recent ride is 40 miles, then a reasonable increase is to 45 miles next week. That’s moderate. A 60-mile ride would not be moderate and could lead to something bad, such as an injury or overtraining that forces several days off the bike and a lapse in consistency. Another moderate change is steadily progressing from riding flat terrain to rolling hills, to riding longer hills, to riding steep and long hills. Going from riding on the flats to steep, long hills is not moderate.
Consistent riding also requires frequent resting. That means planning rest at the right times, such as after challenging rides or hard weeks. Chapter 7 discusses this misunderstood concept in greater detail. Rest taken in adequate doses and at appropriate times produces consistent training and increased fitness.
Even though the Cardinal Rules of Training are basic, if you follow them, fitness will improve regardless of what else you do on the bike. They are deceptively simple to read about; incorporating them into training is a different matter. At first, it may be difficult to ride moderately and rest frequently. Keep working at it. Old habits are hard to break. When you initially train this way, it’s better to err on the side of being conservative with moderation and rest if you’re a rider who has frequent breakdowns and missed workouts. With experience you’ll become better at determining what is right for you.
Although what we have discussed so far came strictly from experience, the following basic components of training come mostly from science.
F.I.T. for Riding
Even though moderation is necessary, it’s obvious that a portion of your riding must be somewhat stressful to cause a positive change in fitness. Moderate stress comes from carefully manipulating three workout variables:
- Frequency - how often to ride
- Intensity - how hard to ride
- Time - how long to ride
The first question to ask at the start of a week is, "How often should I ride?" Training to race, for example, in the United States Cycling Federation’s national age-group championship, requires a different response to this question than if the goal is general health and fitness. The higher the goal for ultimate performance, the more often you need to ride.
Potential is an elusive concept: an ability that is possible but not yet realized. None of us ever knows how close we are to our potential. We do know, however, that getting there demands many sacrifices, one of which involves being on a bike several times a week instead of sitting in front of a TV nibbling on potato chips. When it comes to frequency, there are suggested minimums and maximums, depending on goals. If your reasons for riding are strictly health and basic fitness, the minimum number of rides each week is three. This assumes you ride only and don’t cross train. Because training in other aerobic sports has a cardiovascular benefit, you could get away with riding less frequently and still improve the most basic elements of health and fitness.
Other than achieving high levels of fitness, another frequency issue is how to get in shape the fastest. When first starting to train on a bike, five or six rides each week will cause the most rapid change in fitness. Scientific research shows an increase in aerobic capacity, one measure of fitness, of about 43 percent for novices training this frequently. Three to four rides each week bring a 20- to 25-percent improvement.
If you already have a high aerobic capacity from many weeks of consistent training, all you need to maintain it is four rides a week. High-performance racers, however, usually ride five to seven times a week.
Regardless of training frequency and time, the single most critical training variable is how hard and fast you ride. There are several ways of measuring intensity. The one you’re most likely to have available is heart rate. The greatest changes in aerobic capacity come from training at high heart rates, in excess of 90 percent of maximum. Although the highly motivated athlete often seeks such benefits, frequent training over 90 percent of maximum heart rate obviously violates the Cardinal Rule of moderation and will eventually lead to inconsistency and loss of fitness.
The key to cycling intensity is knowing when to ride at higher heart rates and when to slow down. So, 90 percent plus is the high side, but what about the low end? Riding less than 50 percent of maximum heart rate has little or no impact on aerobic fitness. Such low-effort riding is of little physiological value except, perhaps, for recovery.
Getting intensity right is the trickiest aspect of training. Later, this chapter will teach you how to use a heart rate monitor, and chapters 5 and 6 will pull all pieces of the training puzzle together with suggested routines based on riding goals.
The duration of your rides is the second most effective variable in improving fitness. In fact, there’s good reason to believe that longer, slower workouts are equivalent to shorter, faster training sessions in improving aerobic capacity. Because lower intensity workouts are easier on the body, most athletes and coaches recommend building a base of endurance with long, steady rides before starting to do high-intensity workouts, such as intervals, later in the training year.
The length of your rides depends on what you’re used to. In your first five years of cycling, you should be able to increase riding mileage or time by about 10 percent over the previous year’s volume. However, if you’ve ridden for several years, there’s a limit to how many miles you need to improve. Through experience, you may have already discovered that limit - due primarily to an inability to recover and go again."
"The main aim of the taper is to reduce the negative physiological and psychological impact of daily training. In other words, a taper should eliminate accumulated or residual fatigue, which translates into additional fitness gains. To test this assumption, Mujika and colleagues (1996a) analyzed the responses to three taper segments in a group of national- and international-level swimmers by means of a mathematical model, which computed fatigue and fitness indicators from the combined effects of a negative and a positive function representing, respectively, the negative and positive influence of training on performance (figure 1.1). As can be observed in figure 1.1, NI (negative influence) represents the initial decay in performance taking place after a training bout and PI (positive influence) a subsequent phase of supercompensation.
The mathematical model indicated that performance gains during the tapering segments were mainly related to marked reductions in the negative influence of training, coupled with slight increases in the positive influence of training (figure 1.2). The investigators suggested that athletes should have achieved most or all of the expected physiological adaptations by the time they start tapering, eliciting improved performance levels as soon as accumulated fatigue fades away and performance-enhancing adaptations become apparent.
The conclusions of Mujika and colleagues (1996a), drawn from real training and competition data from elite athletes but attained by mathematical procedures, were supported by several biological and psychological findings extracted from the scientific literature on tapering. For instance, in a subsequent study on competitive swimmers, Mujika and colleagues (1996d) reported a significant correlation between the percentage change in the testosterone-cortisol ratio and the percentage performance improvement during a 4-week taper. Plasma concentrations of androgens and cortisol have been used in the past as indexes of anabolic and catabolic tissue activities, respectively (Adlercreutz et al. 1986). Given that the balance between anabolic and catabolic hormones may have important implications for recovery processes after intense training bouts, the testosterone-cortisol ratio has been proposed and used as a marker of training stress (Adlercreutz et al. 1986, Kuoppasalmi and Adlercreutz 1985). Accordingly, the observed increase in the testosterone-cortisol ratio during the taper would indicate enhanced recovery and elimination of accumulated fatigue. This would be the case regardless of whether the increase in the testosterone-cortisol ratio was the result of a decreased cortisol concentration (Bonifazi et al. 2000, Mujika et al. 1996c) or an increased testosterone concentration subsequent to an enhanced pituitary response to the preceding time of intensive training (Busso et al. 1992, Mujika et al. 1996d, Mujika et al. 2002a)."