Validity and sensitivity of field tests' heart-rate recovery assessment in recreational football players

PLoS One. 2023 Mar 1;18(3):e0282058. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0282058. eCollection 2023.


We aimed at examining the criterion validity and sensitivity of heart-rate recovery (HRRec) in profiling cardiorespiratory fitness in male recreational football players in the untrained and trained status, using endurance field-tests. Thirty-two male untrained subjects (age 40 ± 6 years, VO2max 41.7 ± 5.7 ml·kg-1·min-1, body mass 82.7 ± 9.8 kg, stature 173.3 ± 7.4 cm) participated in a 12-week (2‒3 sessions per week) recreational football intervention and were tested pre- and post-intervention (i.e. untrained and trained status). The participants performed three intermittent field tests for aerobic performance assessment, namely Yo-Yo intermittent endurance level 1 (YYIE1) and level 2 (YYIE2) tests, and Yo-Yo intermittent recovery level 1 (YYIR1) test. VO2max was assessed by performing a progressive maximal treadmill test (TT) and maximal HR (HRmax) determined as the maximal value across the testing conditions (i.e., Yo-Yo intermittent tests or TT). HRRec was calculated as the difference between Yo-Yo tests' HRpeak or HRmax and HR at 30 s (HR30), 60 s (HR60) and 120 s (HR120) and considered as beats·min-1 (absolute) and as % of tests' HRpeak or HRmax values. Significant post-intervention improvements (p<0.0001) were shown in VO2max (8.6%) and Yo-Yo tests performance (23-35%). Trivial to small (p>0.05) associations were found between VO2max and HRRec (r = -0.05-0.27, p>0.05) across the Yo-Yo tests, and training status either expressed as percentage of HRpeak or HRmax. The results of this study do not support the use of field-test derived HRRec to track cardiorespiratory fitness and training status in adult male recreational football players.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Height
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness*
  • Exercise Test
  • Football*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Soccer*

Grant support

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.