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Validity of Heart Rate-Based Indices to Measure Training Load and Intensity in Elite Football Players

Silva, Pedro2,3; Santos, Eduardo Dos3; Grishin, Mikhail1; Rocha, José Mário3

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 8 - p 2340–2347
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002057
Original Research

Silva, P, Santos, ED, Grishin, M, and Rocha, JM. Validity of heart rate-based indices to measure training load and intensity in elite football players. J Strength Cond Res 32(8): 2340–2347, 2018—This study aimed to identify the most sensible heart rate-based indices to physical measures of training load and intensity. Twenty professional football players competing in the Russian league and in the UEFA Champions League were monitored during 15 training sessions (270 individual records) using global positioning systems devices (10 Hz) and heart rate telemetry. Expert knowledge and a collinearity r < 0.5 were used initially to select the external physical markers for the final analysis. A multivariate-adjusted within-subjects model was used to quantify the correlations between heart rate indices with various measures of training intensity and load. The number of accelerations >2.5 m·s−2 and the number of high-intensity bursts remained in the final multivariate model for training load. The adjusted correlations with Banister's training impulse (TRIMP) were r = 0.49 and r = 0.3, respectively. For training intensity, the same previous variables expressed as per minute plus the volume of high-speed running per minute remained in the final model. The adjusted correlations with the percentage of time spent above 80% of individual maximum heart rate (tHR80%) were, in the same order, r = 0.3, r = 0.22, and r = 0.18. The results of this study demonstrate the validity of TRIMP and tHR80% as measures of training load and intensity, respectively, and identified accelerations and high-intensity repeated efforts (high-intensity bursts) as being moderately predictive of heart rate responses.

1FC Zenit, St. Petersburg, Russia;

2Center for Research, Education, Innovation, and Intervention in Sport, Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal; and

3Shanghai SIPG Football Club, Shanghai, China

Address correspondence to Pedro Silva,

Copyright © 2018 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.