Original Article

European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 105, Issue 5, pp 705-713

Changes in heart rate recovery after high-intensity training in well-trained cyclists

  • Robert P. LambertsAffiliated withDepartment of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, The Sport Science Institute of South Africa, University of Cape Town Email author 
  • , Jeroen SwartAffiliated withDepartment of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, The Sport Science Institute of South Africa, University of Cape Town
  • , Timothy D. NoakesAffiliated withDepartment of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, The Sport Science Institute of South Africa, University of Cape Town
  • , Michael I. LambertAffiliated withDepartment of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, The Sport Science Institute of South Africa, University of Cape Town

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

Heart rate recovery (HRR) after submaximal exercise improves after training. However, it is unknown if this also occurs in already well-trained cyclists. Therefore, 14 well-trained cyclists (VO2max 60.3 ± 7.2 ml kg−1 min−1; relative peak power output 5.2 ± 0.6 W kg−1) participated in a high-intensity training programme (eight sessions in 4 weeks). Before and after high-intensity training, performance was assessed with a peak power output test including respiratory gas analysis (VO2max) and a 40-km time trial. HRR was measured after every high-intensity training session and 40-km time trial. After the training period peak power output, expressed as W kg−1, improved by 4.7% (P = 0.000010) and 40-km time trial improved by 2.2% (P = 0.000007), whereas there was no change in VO2max (P = 0.066571). Both HRR after the high intensity training sessions (7 ± 6 beats; P = 0.001302) and HRR after the 40-km time trials (6 ± 3 beats; P = 0.023101) improved significantly after the training period. Good relationships were found between improvements in HRR40-km and improvements in peak power output (r = 0.73; P < 0.0001) and 40-km time trial time (r = 0.96; P < 0.0001). In conclusion, HRR is a sensitive marker which tracks changes in training status in already well-trained cyclists and has the potential to have an important role in monitoring and prescribing training.

Keywords

Cycling Monitoring Performance Adaptation Autonomic nervous system