THE NEW HEART RATE BASED TEST GIVES A PRE-WARNING OF AN
A new test based on the heart rate to measure
an overtraining condition has been developed in Finland. This Overtraining Test
in Polar Precision Performance Software shows a threatening overtraining
condition in time, far more and easily than laboratory tests.
has been developed by Dr. Arja Uusitalo, specialist in sports medicine, at the
Research Institute for Olympic Sports in Jyväskylä, in collaboration
with the Finnish company Polar Electro, the original developer of wireless
heart rate monitoring. The test is based on the material of the doctoral thesis
of Dr. Uusitalo, reviewed at the University of Tampere in October 1998.
The Polar Overtraining Test applies the latest knowledge of the connections
between the heart rate and the physical condition. According to the most recent
information, the heart rate at rest and during exercise, the heart rate
variability, and, for instance, the recovery heart rate after exertion,
accurately depict the performance level of the athlete's and exerciser's
Heart rate as a reliable indicator of an overtraining
The Polar Overtraining Test is the first objective method
suitable for field use, reliably showing early warning signs of overtraining or
of an already existing overtraining condition. Other methods available, for
instance tests based on the measuring of stress hormones, always require blood
samples and laboratory calls.
The measuring method based on the heart
rate can partly replace extensive laboratory testing. This test takes into
consideration the individual differences between athletes by measuring the
initial level of each athlete prior to the training season. These initial
values serve as references during the training season.
Overtraining Test is based on the capability of Polar's most advanced heart
rate monitor, Polar Vantage NV, to detect and record the heart rate
variability. The method measures the heart rate variability and the heart rate
in an orthostatic test. Changes in the heart rate and heart rate variability
caused by standing up are compared with initial values at the beginning of the
training season. Changes in the heart rate warn about a threatening
overtraining condition, also indicating the type of overexertion in question.
The heartbeat can be measured in real time with wireless ECG accurate
heart rate monitors. Polar Electro have intense collaboration with the world's
leading research institutes and universities in this field. - We are presently
running several studies to further develop methods based on the heart rate for
the needs of athlete training, fitness exercise, and rehabilitation, says Dr.
Raija Laukkanen, Research Manager at Polar.
Direct feedback from the trainer's own body
The Polar Overtraining Test is carried out by means of the heart
rate monitor and a specially designed computer program. According to Dr. Arja
Uusitalo, the method is specially designed as an aid for athletes, coaches, and
- The initial measurements are made with the heart
rate monitor in preferably standardized conditions. It is most convenient if
the athlete makes them when getting up in his own home in the morning. He lets
the monitor register the heart rate for some time while lying down, then
entering the interval of getting up into the monitor, after which he continues
to measure the heart rate for a while after getting up. The information
registered in the heart rate monitor is transferred into the computer, explains
The initial measurings form the basis for the follow-up
during the training season. The computer analyses the new data recorded by the
athlete¥s heart rate monitor, and provides a detailed account of the
Dr. Uusitalo points out that an overtraining condition
always has to be taken seriously, as it may have long term, and sometimes even
permanent consequences. Some athletes never reach their former top performance
level after an overtraining condition. - The most demanding task for the coach
and the athlete is to find out the cause of the overtraining condition and how
to control it. What makes it easier, is that a new test will tell whether the
condition was fatigue, caused by an acute stress situation, or an athletic
burn-out as a result of too heavy training.
It is particularly
important for young athletes to avoid training too hard which might lead to an
overtraining condition. The subjects of Dr. Uusitalo's study were 18-35-year
-old athletes used to hard training, but according to her, the test can also be
recommended as support for the coaching of teen-aged athletes.
athletes are highly motivated, but they lack both experience and knowledge
about the reactions of their body, as well as about the progress of the
training process. This is why it is difficult for them to recognize an
overtraining condition, or warning signs prior to it, Dr. Uusitalo points out.
An easily accessible Overtraining Test is a good aid for young
athletes when learning to listen to their body and to recognize its ways of
reacting to changing physical pressure.
Uusitalo A. Ability of non-invasive and invasive methods of
autonomic function measurements and stress hormones to indicate endurance
training-induced stress, Doctoral thesis. Acta Universitatis Tamperensis 621,
University of Tampere, Tampere 1998.