Translation of exercise testing to exercise prescription using the talk test

J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Mar;25(3):590-6. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318207ed53.


Traditionally defined in terms of %maximal heart rate (%HRmax) or %maximal metabolic equivalents, the process of exercise prescription is still difficult and individually imprecise. An alternative, and simpler, method is to define exercise intensity in terms of the Talk Test, which may be a surrogate for ventilatory threshold and more consistent with contemporary recommendations for index training intensity in well-trained and athletic individuals. This study was designed to determine how much of a reduction in the absolute exercise intensity from those observed during incremental exercise testing was necessary to allow for comfortable speech during exercise training. Fourteen well-trained (5-7 h·wk(-1)) individuals performed 2 incremental exercise tests (to evaluate reproducibility) and 3 steady-state training bouts (40 minutes), based on the stage before the last positive (LP) stage of the Talk Test (LP-1), the LP stage, and the equivocal (EQ) stage. The LP-1 and LP runs resulted in %HRmax and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) values within the recommended range for exercise training, the EQ run in an unacceptably high %HRmax and RPE. Most subjects could still speak comfortably during the LP-1 and LP stages, and no subject could speak comfortably during the EQ stage. The HR (r = 0.84), RPE (r = 0.81), and Talk Test (r = 0.71) responses during paired incremental tests were well correlated. The results of this test suggest that the absolute exercise intensity during the LP-1 and LP stages of incremental exercise tests with the Talk Test may produce steady-state exercise responses appropriate for training in well-trained and athletic individuals and that the reproducibility of the Talk Test is satisfactory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Equivalent
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Endurance
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Running / physiology
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Young Adult