Monitoring training and fatigue with heart rate variability: case study in a swimming Olympic champion

Issue: Vol. 5 No 3

Published by Journal of Fitness Research, 08/12/2016. Volume 5.3

Tags: Training Load , Fatigue , Heart Rate Variability , Swimming , Elite Athlete

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  1. Laurent Schmitt (Corresponding Author)
    National Ski-Nordic Centre, Premanon, 39220 Les Rousses, France.rnISSUL Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Lausanne, 1015, Lausanne, Switzerland.
  2. Jacques Regnard
    University of Franche-Comte, Research unit EA3920, “Prognostic markers and control factors in cardiovascular pathologies”, University Hospital of Besançon, 25030 Besançon, France.
  3. Denis Auguin
    National Swimming Centre, 06600 Antibes, France.
  4. Grégoire P. Millet
    ISSUL Institute of Sport Sciences, University of Lausanne, 1015, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Introduction: Training loads and heart rate variability (HRV) were monitored over 69 weeks in a swimming Olympic champion to assess if different types of HRV changes occurred during fatigue episodes.

Methods: Weekly training volume (km) and training load (TL, a.u.) were calculated. Morning HRV tests were performed by recording R-R intervals at rest during 8 min supine (SU) and 7 min standing (ST). HRV variables analysed were: heart rate (HR), power (in ms2) of low (LF), high (HF) and (LF+HF) frequencies.

Results: Over the period considered, training volume and TL amounted to 2408 km and 1075 a.u.. 55 HRV tests were completed, 10 took place in conditions of ‘fatigue’ defined by the coach after training sessions.Three different sub-categories of fatigue were disclosed: type 1. F(HF-LF-)SU_ST (n=6) embeded a decrease inHF (-55%), LF( -23%) and an increase in HR (+21%) in SU, concomitant with a decrease in HF (-50%), LF(-50%) and an increase in HR (+16%) in ST; type 2. F(LFST) (n=2) featured a decrease in LF (-61%) and an increase in HR (+19%) in ST; type 3. F(HFSUHF+ST) embedded a decrease in HF (-72%) and an increase inHR (+10%) in SU, with an increase in HF (+65%) and a decrease in HR (-14%) in ST.

Conclusion: In an elite swimmer, three different types of ‘fatigue’ shifts in HRV patterns were sorted. Each type corresponded to specific changes in sympathovagal settings. To our knowledge, this study is the first one reporting a practical way of monitoring different types of fatigue apart from Nordic skiers.

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Article Title

Monitoring training and fatigue with heart rate variability: case study in a swimming Olympic champion

Journal Title

Journal of Fitness Research Volume 5.3

Online Publication Date


Author Names

Laurent Schmitt (Corresponding Author)
Jacques Regnard
Denis Auguin
Grégoire P. Millet

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