Submaximal heart rate seems inadequate to prescribe and monitor intensified training

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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]. O 2 pulse was on average 0.49 ml O 2 ·beat −1 [0.09, 0.89] higher at all intensities after intensified training. No changes in ⩒O 2 (P =.44) or the ventilatory threshold (P =.21) were observed. Pearson’s correlation coefficients revealed negative associations between heart rate and O 2 pulse at low (r = −.56, P <.01) and medium intensity (r = −.54, P <.01), but not with ⩒O 2 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1082-1091
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number8
Early online date14 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


  • endurance
  • fatigue
  • Overtraining
  • performance
  • physiology


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