European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 112, Issue 2, pp 711–723 | Cite as

Monitoring changes in physical performance with heart rate measures in young soccer players

  • M. BuchheitEmail author
  • M. B. Simpson
  • H. Al Haddad
  • P. C. Bourdon
  • A. Mendez-Villanueva
Original Article


The aim of the present study was to verify the validity of using exercise heart rate (HRex), HR recovery (HRR) and post-exercise HR variability (HRV) during and after a submaximal running test to predict changes in physical performance over an entire competitive season in highly trained young soccer players. Sixty-five complete data sets were analyzed comparing two consecutive testing sessions (3–4 months apart) collected on 46 players (age 15.1 ± 1.5 years). Physical performance tests included a 5-min run at 9 km h−1 followed by a seated 5-min recovery period to measure HRex, HRR and HRV, a counter movement jump, acceleration and maximal sprinting speed obtained during a 40-m sprint with 10-m splits, repeated-sprint performance and an incremental running test to estimate maximal cardiorespiratory function (end test velocity V Vam-Eval). Possible changes in physical performance were examined for the players presenting a substantial change in HR measures over two consecutive testing sessions (greater than 3, 13 and 10% for HRex, HRR and HRV, respectively). A decrease in HRex or increase in HRV was associated with likely improvements in V Vam-Eval; opposite changes led to unclear changes in V Vam-Eval. Moderate relationships were also found between individual changes in HRR and sprint [r = 0.39, 90% CL (0.07;0.64)] and repeated-sprint performance [r = −0.38 (−0.05;−0.64)]. To conclude, while monitoring HRex and HRV was effective in tracking improvements in V Vam-Eval, changes in HRR were moderately associated with changes in (repeated-)sprint performance. The present data also question the use of HRex and HRV as systematic markers of physical performance decrements in youth soccer players.


Association football Fitness monitoring Submaximal heart rate Heart rate recovery Heart rate variability 


Conflict of interest



  1. Achten J, Jeukendrup AE (2003) Heart rate monitoring: applications and limitations. Sports Med 33:517–538PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Al Haddad H, Laursen PB, Chollet D, Ahmaidi S, Buchheit M (2011) Reliability of resting and postexercise heart rate measures. Int J Sports Med [Epub ahead of print]Google Scholar
  3. Andrew GM, Guzman CA, Becklake MR (1966) Effect of athletic training on exercise cardiac output. J Appl Physiol 21:603–608PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Baquet G, van Praagh E, Berthoin S (2003) Endurance training and aerobic fitness in young people. Sports Med 33:1127–1143PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bloomfield DM, Magnano A, Bigger JT Jr, Rivadeneira H, Parides M, Steinman RC (2001) Comparison of spontaneous vs metronome-guided breathing on assessment of vagal modulation using RR variability. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 280:H1145–H1150PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Borresen J, Lambert MI (2007) Changes in heart rate recovery in response to acute changes in training load. Eur J Appl Physiol 101:503–511PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Borresen J, Lambert MI (2008) Autonomic control of heart rate during and after exercise: measurements and implications for monitoring training status. Sports Med 38:633–646PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Borresen J, Lambert MI (2009) The quantification of training load, the training response and the effect on performance. Sports Med 39:779–795PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bosquet L, Gamelin FX, Berthoin S (2008a) Reliability of postexercise heart rate recovery. Int J Sports Med 29:238–243PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bosquet L, Merkari S, Arvisais D, Aubert AE (2008b) Is heart rate a convenient tool to monitor over-reaching? A systematic review of the literature. Br J Sports Med 42:709–714PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bosquet L, Papelier Y, Leger L, Legros P (2003) Night heart rate variability during overtraining in male endurance athletes. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 43:506–512PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Boutcher SH, Stein P (1995) Association between heart rate variability and training response in sedentary middle-aged men. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 70:75–80PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brink MS, Visscher C, Coutts AJ, Lemmink KA (2010) Changes in perceived stress and recovery in overreached young elite soccer players. Scand J Med Sci Sports (epub ahead of print Oct 7). doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01237
  14. Buchheit M, Gindre C (2006) Cardiac parasympathetic regulation: respective associations with cardiorespiratory fitness and training load. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 291:H451–H458PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Buchheit M, Al Haddad H, Leprêtre PM, Millet G, Newton M, Ahmaidi S (2009) Cardiorespiratory and cardiac autonomic responses to 30–15 intermittent fitness test. J Strength Cond Res 23:93–100PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Buchheit M, Chivot A, Parouty J, Mercier D, Al Haddad H, Laursen PB, Ahmaidi S (2010a) Monitoring endurance running performance using cardiac parasympathetic function. Eur J Appl Physiol 108:1153–1167PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Buchheit M, Mendez-Villanueva A, Quod M, Bourdon P (2010b) Determinants of the variability of heart rate measures during a competitive period in young soccer players. Eur J Appl Physiol 109:869–878PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Buchheit M, Mendez-Villanueva A, Simpson BM, Bourdon PC (2010c) Match running performance and fitness in youth soccer. Int J Sports Med 31:818–825PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Buchheit M, Millet GP, Parisy A, Pourchez S, Laursen PB, Ahmaidi S (2008) Supramaximal training and post-exercise parasympathetic reactivation in adolescents. Med Sci Sports Exerc 40:362–371PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Buchheit M, Papelier Y, Laursen PB, Ahmaidi S (2007) Noninvasive assessment of cardiac parasympathetic function: post-exercise heart rate recovery or heart rate variability? Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 293:H8–H10PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Castagna C, Impellizzeri FM, Chaouachi A, Bordon C, Manzi V (2011) Effect of training intensity distribution on aerobic fitness variables in elite soccer players: a case study. J Strength Cond Res 25:66–71PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cohen J (1988) Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Lawrence Erlbaum, HillsdaleGoogle Scholar
  23. Coutts AJ, Slattery KM, Wallace LK (2007) Practical tests for monitoring performance, fatigue and recovery in triathletes. J Sci Med Sport 10:372–381PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gamelin FX, Baquet G, Berthoin S, Thevenet D, Nourry C, Nottin S, Bosquet L (2009) Effect of high intensity intermittent training on heart rate variability in prepubescent children. Eur J Appl Physiol 105:731–738PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gamelin FX, Berthoin S, Sayah H, Libersa C, Bosquet L (2007) Effect of training and detraining on heart rate variability in healthy young men. Int J Sports Med 28:564–570PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Glaister M, Stone MH, Stewart AM, Hughes M, Moir GL (2005) The influence of recovery duration on multiple sprint cycling performance. J Strength Cond Res 19:831–837PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Groslambert A, Mahon AD (2006) Perceived exertion: influence of age and cognitive development. Sports Med 36:911–928PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hamilton RM, McKechnie PS, Macfarlane PW (2004) Can cardiac vagal tone be estimated from the 10-second ECG? Int J Cardiol 95:109–115PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hautala AJ, Kiviniemi AM, Tulppo MP (2009) Individual responses to aerobic exercise: the role of the autonomic nervous system. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 33:107–115PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hautala AJ, Makikallio TH, Kiviniemi A, Laukkanen RT, Nissila S, Huikuri HV, Tulppo MP (2003) Cardiovascular autonomic function correlates with the response to aerobic training in healthy sedentary subjects. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 285:H1747–H1752PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Hooper SL, Mackinnon LT (1995) Monitoring overtraining in athletes. Recommendations. Sports Med 20:321–327PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hopkins WG, Marshall SW, Batterham AM, Hanin J (2009) Progressive statistics for studies in sports medicine and exercise science. Med Sci Sports Exerc 41:3–13PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Lamberts RP, Lemmink KA, Durandt JJ, Lambert MI (2004) Variation in heart rate during submaximal exercise: implications for monitoring training. J Strength Cond Res 18:641–645PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Lamberts RP, Lambert MI (2009) Day-to-day variation in heart rate at different levels of submaximal exertion: implications for monitoring training. J Strength Cond Res 23:1005–1010PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lamberts RP, Rietjens GJ, Tijdink HH, Noakes TD, Lambert MI (2010a) Measuring submaximal performance parameters to monitor fatigue and predict cycling performance: a case study of a world-class cyclo-cross cyclist. Eur J Appl Physiol 108:183–190PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lamberts RP, Swart J, Capostagno B, Noakes TD, Lambert MI (2010b) Heart rate recovery as a guide to monitor fatigue and predict changes in performance parameters. Scand J Med Sci Sports 20:449–457PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lamberts RP, Swart J, Noakes TD, Lambert MI (2009) Changes in heart rate recovery after high-intensity training in well-trained cyclists. Eur J Appl Physiol 105:705–713PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Leger LA, Boucher R (1980) An indirect continuous running multistage field test: the Universite de Montreal track test. Can J Appl Sport Sci 5:77–84PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Mandigout S, Melin A, Fauchier L, N’Guyen LD, Courteix D, Obert P (2002) Physical training increases heart rate variability in healthy prepubertal children. Eur J Clin Invest 32:479–487PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mirwald RL, Baxter-Jones AD, Bailey DA, Beunen GP (2002) An assessment of maturity from anthropometric measurements. Med Sci Sports Exerc 34:689–694PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mujika I, Padilla S (2001) Cardiorespiratory and metabolic characteristics of detraining in humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc 33:413–421PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Nunan D, Donovan G, Jakovljevic DG, Hodges LD, Sandercock GR, Brodie DA (2009) Validity and reliability of short-term heart-rate variability from the Polar S810. Med Sci Sports Exerc 41:243–250PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Osborne J, Waters E (2002) Four assumptions of multiple regression that researchers should always test. Practical assessment, research & evaluation 2. Accessed 11 May 2011
  44. Penttila J, Helminen A, Jartti T, Kuusela T, Huikuri HV, Tulppo MP, Coffeng R, Scheinin H (2001) Time domain, geometrical and frequency domain analysis of cardiac vagal outflow: effects of various respiratory patterns. Clin Physiol 21:365–376PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sandercock GR, Bromley PD, Brodie DA (2005) Effects of exercise on heart rate variability: inferences from meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc 37:433–439PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Saunders PU, Pyne DB, Telford RD, Hawley JA (2004) Factors affecting running economy in trained distance runners. Sports Med 34:465–485PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schmikli SL, Brink MS, de Vries WR, Backx FJ (2010) Can we detect non-functional overreaching in young elite soccer players and middle-long distance runners using field performance tests? Br J Sports Med [Epub ahead of print]Google Scholar
  48. Stolen T, Chamari K, Castagna C, Wisloff U (2005) Physiology of soccer: an update. Sports Med 35:501–536PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Task Force (1996) Heart rate variability: standards of measurement, physiological interpretation and clinical use. Task Force of the European Society of Cardiology and the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology. Circulation 93:1043–1065Google Scholar
  50. Uusitalo AL, Uusitalo AJ, Rusko HK (1998) Exhaustive endurance training for 6–9 weeks did not induce changes in intrinsic heart rate and cardiac autonomic modulation in female athletes. Int J Sports Med 19:532–540PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Uusitalo AL, Uusitalo AJ, Rusko HK (2000) Heart rate and blood pressure variability during heavy training and overtraining in the female athlete. Int J Sports Med 21:45–53PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Van Praagh E, Dore E (2002) Short-term muscle power during growth and maturation. Sports Med 32:701–728PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Vollaard NB, Constantin-Teodosiu D, Fredriksson K, Rooyackers O, Jansson E, Greenhaff PL, Timmons JA, Sundberg CJ (2009) Systematic analysis of adaptations in aerobic capacity and submaximal energy metabolism provides a unique insight into determinants of human aerobic performance. J Appl Physiol 106:1479–1486PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Buchheit
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. B. Simpson
    • 1
  • H. Al Haddad
    • 1
  • P. C. Bourdon
    • 1
  • A. Mendez-Villanueva
    • 1
  1. 1.Physiology Unit, Sport Science DepartmentASPIRE Academy for Sports ExcellenceDohaQatar

Personalised recommendations