HRV-Guided Training for Professional Endurance Athletes: A Protocol for a Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jul 29;17(15):5465. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17155465.


Physiological training responses depend on sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) balance. This activity can be measured using heart rate variability (HRV). Such a measurement method can favor individualized training planning to improve athletes' performance. Recently, HRV-guided training has been implemented both on professional and amateur sportsmen and sportswomen with varied results. There is a dearth of studies involving professional endurance athletes following a defined HRV-guided training protocol. The objectives of the proposed protocol are: (i) to determine changes in the performance of high-level athletes after following an HRV-guided or a traditional training period and (ii) to determine differences in the athletes' performance after following both training protocols. This will be a 12-week cluster-randomized controlled protocol in which professional athletes will be assigned to an HRV-based training group (HRV-G) or a traditional-based training group (TRAD-G). TRAD-G will train according to a predefined training program. HRV-G training will depend on the athletes' daily HRV. The maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) attained in an incremental treadmill test will be considered as the primary outcome. It is expected that this HRV-guided training protocol will improve functional performance in the high-level athletes, achieving better results than a traditional training method, and thus providing a good strategy for coaches of high-level athletes.

Keywords: HRV; VO2max; endurance training; high level athletes; running; training performance.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Athletes
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Running*