Objective: In this cross-sectional study, we compared Spanish division one (n = 114) and division two (n = 80) soccer players in terms of their cardio-respiratory response during recovery following a maximum laboratory effort test. Approach: Following the maximum laboratory effort protocol, we measured oxygen consumption ((V) over dotO(2)), heart rate (HR), and ventilation ((V) over dot(E)) during recovery. Main results: Over the first 60 s of recovery, no significant differences were seen in either (V) over dotO(2) (28.7 versus 28.3 ml/kg/m, in division one and two players, respectively), HR, or (V)over dot(E) (p > 0.05). After 90 s, however, significant differences appeared between the players of the two divisions (p < 0.01), although not among playing positions. Significant differences in (V) over dotO(2 )(21.1 versus 26.0 ml/kg/m, in division one and two players, respectively) and HR were still apparent at 180 s into the recovery period. The change in professional soccer players' cardio-respiratory values over the recovery period following maximum effort are independent of the position played, but are associated with the division in which a player competes. Second division players show significantly higher (V) over dotO(2) and HR values than first division players at 180 s into the recovery period. Significance: These differences might influence performance in soccer and in other athletes whose sports require intermittent bouts of maximum effort and consequently times to repeat high-intensity efforts as short as possible.
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