Evaluating Training Adaptation With Heart-Rate Measures: A Methodological Comparison

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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The aim of this study was to compare 2 different methodological assessments when analyzing the relationship between performance and heart-rate (HR) -derived indices (resting HR [RHR] and HR variability [HRV]) to evaluate positive adaptation to training. The relative change in estimated maximum aerobic speed (MAS) and 10-km-running performance was correlated to the relative change in RHR and the natural logarithm of the square root of the mean sum of the squared differences between R-R intervals on an isolated day (RHRday; Ln rMSSDday) or when averaged over 1 wk (RHRweek; Ln rMSSDweek) in 10 runners who responded to a 9-wk training intervention. Moderate and small correlations existed between changes in MAS and 10-km-running performance and RHRday (r = .35, 90%CI [–.35, .76] and r = –.21 [–.68, .39]), compared with large and very large correlations for RHRweek (r = –.62 [–.87, –.11] and r = .73 [.30, .91]). While a trivial correlation was observed for MAS vs Ln rMSSDday (r = –.06 [–.59, .51]), a very large correlation existed with Ln rMSSDweek (r = .72 [.28, .91]). Similarly, changes in 10-km-running performance revealed a small correlation with Ln rMSSDday (r = –.17 [–.66, .42]), vs a very large correlation for Ln rMSSDweek (r = –.76 [–.92, –.36]). In conclusion, the averaging of RHR and HRV values over a 1-wk period appears to be a superior method for evaluating positive adaption to training compared with assessing its value on a single isolated day.

Plews and Laursen are with High Performance Sport New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand. Kilding is with Sport Performance Research Inst New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Buchheit is with the Football Performance and Science Dept, Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence, Doha, Qatar.