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New Article Adjusts Vagal Tank Model for Sports to Help Prevent Overtraining

Hottenrott et al. (2019) adjusted the “Vagal Tank Model” (Laborde et al., 2018) for application in sports, including the Orthostatic test.

The purpose of this vagal tank theory for sports is to provide a practical model that can be integrated into future research and would be helpful for coaches and athletes in field use.

With the use of the orthostatic test, vagal tank theory offers an exceptional non-invasive possibility to detect and evaluate the transition from functional overreaching to overtraining in elite endurance athletes.  A regular and standardized procedure of the orthostatic test of e.g. 2 min supine followed by 2 min standing measurement in the morning after awaking can serve as an easily obtainable “tool” for athletes and coaches to operationalize training load.

Three typical responses to training stimuli are displayed in the model. The first one shows the response to a moderate parasympathetic stimuli, for example aerobic endurance training lasting several days up to 2-3 weeks. The second one shows the response to a very high parasympathetic stimulus, e.g. an increase of aerobic training volume for several days up to 2-3 weeks by 100-200% from the initial training load (at baseline). A third case shows the reaction to a sympathetic stimulus, e.g. triggered by several days of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or a micro-shock-cycle from the initial training load (at baseline).

For the determination of the baseline level, no excessive training should take place, but rather regenerative training, as this would affect the baseline level. A high level of physical activity reduces cardiac vagal activity, whereas a high volume of aerobic training can in turn increase it.

Read more at: Hottenrott, L., Hottenrott, K., & Ketelhut, S. (2019). Commentary: Vagal Tank Theory: The Three Rs of Cardiac Vagal Control Functioning–Resting, Reactivity, and Recovery. Frontiers in Neuroscience13, 1300.

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