Moderate exercise is a powerful therapy in the treatment and prevention of cardiac disease, but intense habitual exercise leads to cardiac adaptations for which the prognostic benefits are less clear. The athlete's heart syndrome refers to the morphological and electrical remodeling which occurs to varying extents dependent upon the sporting discipline. Its accurate differentiation from pathological entities is critical. This review describes the role multi-modality imaging serves in determining the limitations and consequences of intense exercise. Tissue characterization and imaging studies during exercise are emphasized as important future directions of inquiry with the potential to address remaining controversies.