Purpose: The 2-bout exercise protocol has been developed to diagnose nonfunctional overreaching and the "overtraining syndrome." It consists of 2 maximal exercise bouts separated by 4 hours. Mental fatigue negatively influences performance, but the effects of its occurrence during the 2-bout exercise protocol have never been investigated. The aim of this study was to examine whether mental fatigue (induced during the rest period) influences physical and cognitive performance during/after the second exercise bout of the 2-bout exercise protocol. Methods: Nine healthy, well-trained male cyclists participated in a singleblind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study. The intervention consisted of either 1.5-hour rest (control) or performing a computer-based Stroop task to induce mental fatigue. Cognitive (Eriksen Flanker task), physiological (lactate, maximum heart rate, and maximum wattage), and subjective data (mental fatigue-visual analog scale, Profile of Mood States, and rating of perceived exertion) were gathered. Results: Ratings of fatigue, tension, and mental fatigue were affected in the mental fatigue condition (P < .05). Neither physiological nor cognitive differences were found between conditions. Ratings of mental fatigue were already affected after the first maximum exercise test (P < .05). Conclusions: Neither physical nor cognitive performance was affected by mental fatigue, but subjective ratings did reveal significant differences. It is recommended to exclude mentally challenging tasks during the 2-bout exercise protocol rest period to ascertain unaffected subjective test results. This study should be repeated in athletes diagnosed with nonfunctional overreaching/overtraining syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-516
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Issue number4
Early online date27 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Fatigue
  • Maximal exercise
  • Reactivity
  • Stroop

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