Background: Examine the heart rate-perceived exertion (HR-RPE) relationship under conditions of high-intensity training and taper.
Methods: Experimental design and participants: prospective with collegiate cyclists (n=11) completed six weeks of high-intensity interval training, followed by a one-week taper.
Interventions: participants completed a high-intensity training regimen along with graded exercise tests (GXT) throughout the training and the taper.
Measures: heart rates (HR) and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded following each stage of the GXTs. Scores on GXTs were also recorded.
Results: . The HR-RPE relationship during GXTs changed over the course of the training with greater RPEs for a given HR at the end of the training compared to the beginning. The most powerful predictors of the performance response to the taper were training induced changes in the HR-RPE relationship and decreases in HR for a given power output. Those individuals who reported higher RPEs for lower HRs were more likely to have better performance responses to taper (r=0.72) as were those who had larger changes in the HR-power output relationship (r=0.76).
Conclusions: These results indicate that changes in the HR-RPE relationship during high-intensity training may be used to monitor the magnitude of overreaching that is necessary for a positive response to a taper. For coaches and athletes, the HR-RPE ratio may be a practical measure for monitoring an aspect of fatigue associated with high-intensity training.