Cortisol (C) plays an important training role by regulating the availability of metabolic resources and by also controlling long-term changes in protein metabolism. The secretion of C is sensitive to the stressors of exercise, training and competition, which may subsequently influence athlete performance and adaptation. Little research has examined the effects of training and competition on the C concentrations of weightlifters. The aim was to examine the effects of training and competition on the salivary C (Sal-C) concentrations of weightlifters. Five male and four female Olympic weightlifters were monitored across a 5-week period before a major competition. Participants provided saliva samples across 10 workouts to assess the weekly effects of heavy (≥200 sets) and light (≤100 sets) training volume on Sal-C concentrations. During this period, the Sal-C concentrations and one repetition maximum (1RM) lifts for the snatch, clean and jerk, and the Olympic total, were also compared across two simulated and two actual competitions. The competition data were pooled for analysis. The actual competitions produced higher (128%-130%) Sal-C concentrations (p<0.001) and superior (1.9%-2.6%) 1RM lifts for the clean and jerk, and the Olympic total, compared with the simulated competitions (p<0.05). Individual Sal-C concentrations before the simulated competitions were positively correlated to all the 1RM lifts (r=0.48-0.49, p<0.05). There were no significant changes in Sal-C concentrations with training. Our data suggest that higher C concentrations may benefit the 1RM lifts of Olympic weightlifters during actual (v. simulated) competitions. On an individual level, a positive trend was also noted between C concentrations and the 1RM lifts during the simulated competitions.
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