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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Feb;39(2):350-7.

Relationship between %HRmax, %HR reserve, %VO2max, and %VO2 reserve in elite cyclists.

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Unit for Exercise Biology and Sports Medicine, University Hospital Center, Amiens, France.



To evaluate the relations between %HRmax, %HRR, %VO2max, and %VO2R in elite cyclists and to check whether the intensity scale recommended by ACSM in its 1998 position stand is also applicable to this specific population.


Twenty-six male elite road cyclists (25.1 +/- 0.7 yr, 71.0 +/- 1.2 kg, 70.9 +/- 1.2 mL x kg(-1) x min(-1), 433.9 +/- 9.8 W) performed an incremental maximal exercise test (50 W x 3 min(-1)). Individual linear regressions based on HR and VO2 values measured at rest, end of each stage, and maximum, were used to calculate slopes and intercepts, and to predict %HRmax, %HRR, %VO2max, or %VO2R for a given exercise intensity.


Below 85% VO2max or VO2R, predicted %HRmax values were significantly higher (P < 0.001) than the ACSM intensity scale (58, 65, 73, and 87% vs 55, 62, 70, and 85% HRmax at 40, 50, 60, and 80% VO2max, and 48, 61, 74% vs 35, 55, and 70% HRmax at 20, 40, and 60% VO2R). The %HRR versus %VO2max regression mean slope (1.069 +/- 0.01) and intercept (-5.747 +/- 0.80) were significantly different (P < 0.0001) from 1 and 0, respectively. Conversely, the %HRR versus %VO2R regression was indistinguishable from the line of identity (mean slope = 1.003 +/- 0.01; mean intercept = 0.756 +/- 0.7). Predicted %VO2R values were equivalent to %HRR in the 35-95%HRR range. %VO2max was equivalent to %HRR at and above 75%HRR, and it was significantly higher at (P < 0.05) and below 65%HRR (P < 0.001).


The intensity scale recommended by ACSM underestimates exercise intensity in elite cyclists. Prediction of %HRR by %VO2R is better than by %VO2max. Thus, elite cyclists should use %HRR in relation to %VO2R rather than in relation to %VO2max.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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