A systematic review on heart-rate recovery to monitor changes in training status in athletes

Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2012 Sep;7(3):251-60. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.7.3.251. Epub 2012 Feb 15.


Heart-rate recovery (HRR) has been proposed as a marker of autonomic function and training status in athletes. The authors performed a systematic review of studies that examined HRR after training. Five cross-sectional studies and 8 studies investigating changes over time (longitudinal) met our criteria. Three out of 5 cross-sectional studies observed a faster HRR in trained compared with untrained subjects, while 2 articles showed no change as a result of training. Most longitudinal studies observed a corresponding increase in HRR and power output (training status). Although confounding factors such as age, ambient temperature, and the intensity and duration of the exercise period preceding HRR make it difficult to compare these studies, the available studies indicated that HRR was related to training status. Therefore, the authors conclude that HRR has the potential to become a valuable tool to monitor changes in training status in athletes and less well-trained subjects, but more studies and better standardization are required to match this potential.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance*
  • Exercise Test*
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Fitness
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Recovery of Function
  • Time Factors