Cardiac Remodeling in Endurance Athletes, with Dr. Brad Petek and Dr. Tim Churchill

We explore the ways in which the heart changes through training and adaptation with two leading experts in sports cardiology.

medical cardiac model

On several previous episodes of Fast Talk, we have discussed the structural and biochemical changes that take place through the process of adaptation—through training. Today we’re going to address one of the most important and interesting structural changes, something called exercise-induced cardiac remodeling.

As you train, your heart changes: This remodeling includes things like increases in chamber volume and muscle wall hypertrophy. Of course, these changes don’t happen after one set of intervals, so today we’ll discuss how long they take, and how quickly they are lost if you detrain or stop training because of injury. We’ll also explore both the performance changes and health consequences of this remodeling.

We’re excited to be joined today by two leading experts in this area of research and clinical practice, Dr. Bradley Petek and Dr. Timothy Churchill.

Dr. Petek is a cardiology fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the authors of the journal article entitled “Cardiac effects of detraining in athletes: a narrative review” that you’ll hear us refer to in the show.

And Dr. Churchill is a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He is a member of that hospital’s Cardiovascular Performance Program, where he studies cardiovascular adaptations to exercise as they apply to health, disease, and human performance.

We’ll also hear from coach Julie Young to get her sense of how this remodeling effects physiology testing.

We’ll also hear from coaches Julie Young and Jared Berg to get their understanding of how cardiac remodeling effects athletes of all abilities.

Let’s make you fast!


  • Chen, Y.-T., Hsieh, Y.-Y., Ho, J.-Y., Lin, T.-Y., & Lin, J.-C. (2021). Two weeks of detraining reduces cardiopulmonary function and muscular fitness in endurance athletes. European Journal of Sport Science, 1–8. Retrieved from
  • Dores, H., Gonçalves, P. de A., Monge, J., & Cardim, N. (2021). Cardiac remodeling induced by exercise in male master athletes. Retrieved from
  • Kusy, K., Błażejewski, J., Gilewski, W., Karasek, D., Banach, J., Bujak, R., … Grześk, G. (2021). Aging Athlete’s Heart: An Echocardiographic Evaluation of Competitive Sprint- versus Endurance-Trained Master Athletes. Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography, 34(11), 1160–1169. Retrieved from
  • Moulson, N., Petek, B. J., Drezner, J. A., Harmon, K. G., Kliethermes, S. A., Patel, M. R., … Zorn, S. T. (2021). SARS-CoV-2 Cardiac Involvement in Young Competitive Athletes. Circulation, 144(4), 256–266. Retrieved from
  • Nakisa, N., & Rahbardar, M. G. (2021). Evaluating the probable effects of the COVID-19 epidemic detraining on athletes’ physiological traits and performance. Apunts Sports Medicine, 56(211), 100359. Retrieved from
  • Petek, B. J., Groezinger, E. Y., Pedlar, C. R., & Baggish, A. L. (2022). Cardiac effects of detraining in athletes: A narrative review. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 65(4), 101581. Retrieved from
  • Petek, B. J., Gustus, S. K., & Wasfy, M. M. (2021). Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing in Athletes: Expect the Unexpected. Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine, 23(7), 49. Retrieved from

Episode Transcript

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