Stability of Heart Rate at Physiological Thresholds Between Temperate and Heat Stress Environments in Endurance-Trained Males

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Many endurance athletes perform specific blocks of training in hot environments in “heat stress training camps.” It is not known if physiological threshold heart rates measured in temperate conditions are reflective of those under moderate environmental heat stress. A total of 16 endurance-trained cyclists and triathletes performed incremental exercise assessments in 18°C and 35°C (both 60% relative humidity) to determine heart rates at absolute blood lactate and ventilatory thresholds. Heart rate at fixed blood lactate concentrations of 2, 3, and 4 mmol·L−1 and ventilatory thresholds were not significantly different between environments (P > .05), despite significant heat stress-induced reductions in power output of approximately 10% to 17% (P < .05, effect size = 0.65–1.15). The coefficient of variation for heart rate at these blood lactate concentrations (1.4%−2.9%) and ventilatory thresholds (2.3%−2.7%) between conditions was low, with significant strong positive correlations between measurements in the 2 environments (r = .92–.95, P < .05). These data indicate heart rates measured at physiological thresholds in temperate environments are reflective of measurements taken under moderate environmental heat stress. Therefore, endurance athletes embarking on heat stress training camps can use heart rate–based thresholds ascertained in temperate environments to prescribe training under moderate environmental heat stress.

Maunder, Plews, and Kilding are with the Sports Performance Research Inst New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Merien is with the AUT-Roche Diagnostics Laboratory, School of Science, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.

Maunder (ed.maunder@aut.ac.nz) is corresponding author.
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