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Endurance Running Training Individually Guided by HRV in Untrained Women

da Silva, Danilo F.1; Ferraro, Zachary M.2; Adamo, Kristi B.3; Machado, Fabiana A.1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 736–746
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002001
Original Research

da Silva, DF, Ferraro, ZM, Adamo, KB, and Machado, FA. Endurance running training individually guided by HRV in untrained women. J Strength Cond Res 33(3): 736–746, 2019—The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of heart rate variability (HRV)-guided training compared with a standardized prescription on (a) time to complete 5-km running performance (t5km), (b) peak treadmill running speed (Vpeak) and its time limit (tlim at Vpeak), and (c) autonomic cardiac modulation (i.e., parasympathetic activity and recovery) in untrained women. Additionally, we correlated changes in t5km with changes in Vpeak, tlim at Vpeak and autonomic cardiac modulation. Thirty-six untrained women were divided into a HRV-guided training group (HRVG) and a control group (CG). The CG followed a predefined program, alternating moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The determination of MICT or HIIT was based on the pretraining HRV for HRVG. MICT was performed if HRV was <mean − 1 SD of previous measures. Otherwise, HIIT was prescribed. The t5km, Vpeak, tlim at Vpeak, parasympathetic activity (i.e., rMSSD) and parasympathetic reactivation (i.e., HRR) were measured before and after the training period. The t5km decreased to a greater magnitude in the HRVG (−17.5 ± 5.6% vs. −14 ± 4.7%; Effect Size (ES) between-group difference = moderate). rMSSD and tlim at Vpeak only improved in HRVG (+23.3 ± 27.8% and +23.6 ± 31.9%, respectively). The HRVG experienced greater improvements in Vpeak and HRR (Vpeak: 10 ± 7.3% vs. 8.2 ± 4.7%; HRR: 19.1 ± 28.1% vs. 12.6 ± 12.9%; ES between-group difference = small). Although HRVG performed less MICT than CG, the volume of MICT was negatively related to changes in t5km. Vpeak changes were highly correlated with t5km changes. The greater improvements in HRVG for t5km and autonomic modulation reinforce the potential application of this tool.

1Department of Physical Education, State University of Maringa, Maringa, Brazil;

2Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; and

3School of Human Kinetics, Faculty of Health Science, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Address correspondence to Fabiana A. Machado,

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.