Evaluating training adaptation with heart-rate measures: a methodological comparison

Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2013 Nov;8(6):688-91. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.8.6.688. Epub 2013 Mar 8.


The aim of this study was to compare 2 different methodological assessments when analyzing the relationship between performance and heart-rate (HR) -derived indices (resting HR [RHR] and HR variability [HRV]) to evaluate positive adaptation to training. The relative change in estimated maximum aerobic speed (MAS) and 10-km-running performance was correlated to the relative change in RHR and the natural logarithm of the square root of the mean sum of the squared differences between R-R intervals on an isolated day (RHR(day); Ln rMSSD(day)) or when averaged over 1 wk (RHR(week); Ln rMSSD(week)) in 10 runners who responded to a 9-wk training intervention. Moderate and small correlations existed between changes in MAS and 10-km-running performance and RHR(day) (r = .35, 90%CI [-.35, .76] and r = -.21 [-.68, .39]), compared with large and very large correlations for RHR(week) (r = -.62 [-.87, -11] and r = .73 [.30, .91]). While a trivial correlation was observed for MAS vs Ln rMSSD(day) (r = -.06 [-.59, .51]), a very large correlation existed with Ln rMSSD(week) (r = .72 [.28, .91]). Similarly, changes in 10-km-running performance revealed a small correlation with Ln rMSSD(day) (r = -.17 [-.66, .42]), vs a very large correlation for Ln rMSSD(week) (r = -.76 [-.92, -.36]). In conclusion, the averaging of RHR and HRV values over a 1-wk period appears to be a superior method for evaluating positive adaption to training compared with assessing its value on a single isolated day.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Physical Conditioning, Human*
  • Rest / physiology
  • Running / physiology*