Purpose: The aim of the study was to test protocol variations on the heart rate performance curve (HRPC) and the heart rate turn point (HRTP) according to Conconi et al. (1996). Respiratory gas exchange variables were used to define three phases of energy supply (I, II, III).
Methods: Eighteen healthy young male subjects performed 4 tests (T1-T4). T1: initial speed of 6 km x h(-1) followed by increments of 0.6 km x h(-1) every 60 s. Subjects were than randomized for the next three tests. T2: initial speed 5.6 km x h(-1) followed by increments of 0.2 km x h(-1) every 20 s; T3: similar to T2, in the second half of phase III acceleration (S) was increased. T4: like T2, at the beginning of phase III, S was increased. No differences were found in the degree of the deflection of the HRPC expressed as factor kHR between T1 (0.228 +/- 0.225) and T2 (0.248 +/- 0.231) but a significant increase was found in T3 (0.533 +/- 0.248) and T4 (0.770 +/- 0.258).
Results: The modifications of the protocol (T3 and T4) systematically influenced the deflection of the HRPC, but kHR was highly reproducible in all tests. Eleven subjects showed degrees of deflection in the HRPC in all tests. There were no significant differences for S, HR, and VO2 at the HRTP. An HRTP was not found in seven subjects in neither T1 or T2; however, in T3 and T4, these seven subjects showed a deflection of HRPC resulting from the protocol. The HRTP was found to be dependent on the start of the acceleration in phase III. In cases with a linear time course in the HRPC in T1 and T2, in T3 an HRTP was found at 15.6 km x h(-1) and in T4 at 13.6 km x h(-1) , respectively.
Conclusion: The Conconi test protocol with an accelerated increase in S in the final phase of the test has a major influence on the occurrence of the HRTP in cases of near linear HRPC.