Published:  2019-09-14

Submaximal heart rate seems inadequate to prescribe and monitor intensified training

Authors:  Twan ten Haaf, Carl Foster, Romain Meeusen, Bart Roelands, Maria Francesca Piacentini, Selma van Staveren, Leo Koenderman, Jos J. de Koning

Tags:  Overtraining, endurance, fatigue, performance, physiology

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The aim of this study is to investigate whether the change in (sub)maximal heart rate after intensified training is associated with the change in performance. Thirty subjects were recruited who performed cardiopulmonary exercise tests to exhaustion 2 weeks before (pre), 1 week after (post) and 5 weeks after (follow-up) an 8-day non-competitive amateur cycling event (TFL). The exercise volume during the TFL was 7.7 fold the volume during the preparation period. Heart rate and cardiopulmonary parameters were obtained at standardised absolute submaximal workloads (low, medium and high intensity) and at peak level each test. Subjects were classified as functionally overreached (FOR) or acute fatigued (AF) based on the change in performance. No differences between FOR and AF were observed for heart rate (P = .51). On total group level (AF + FOR), post-TFL heart rate decreased significantly at low (−4.4 beats·min−1, 95% CI [−8.7, −0.1]) and medium (−5.5 beats·min−1 [−8.5, −2.4]), but not at high intensity. Peak heart rate decreased −3.4 beats·min−1 [−6.1, −0.7]. O2pulse was on average 0.49 ml O2·beat−1 [0.09, 0.89] higher at all intensities after intensified training. No changes in ⩒O2 (P = .44) or the ventilatory threshold (P = .21) were observed. Pearson’s correlation coefficients revealed negative associations between heart rate and O2pulse at low (r = −.56, P < .01) and medium intensity (r = −.54, P < .01), but not with ⩒O2 or any other submaximal parameter. (Sub)maximal heart rate decreased after the TFL. However, this decrease is unrelated to the change in performance. Therefore, heart rate seems inadequate to prescribe and monitor intensified training.