A test for determining critical heart rate using the critical power model

Michelle Mielke, Terry J. Housh, Russell C. Hendrix, Jorge Zuniga, Clayton L. Camic, Richard J. Schmidt, Glen O. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The purposes of this study were to (a)determine if the mathematical model that has previouslybeen used to estimate the critical power (CP) was applicable to heart rate (HR) to estimate the critical heart rate (CHR), and (b)compare the CHR to the HR values at the CP (CPHR),ventilatory threshold (VT HR), and respiratory compensation point (RCPHR). Fifteen women (mean age ± SD = 21.7 ± 2.1 years) performed an incremental test to exhaustion to determine VO2peak, VTHR, and RCPHR. The subjects also performed 4 exhaustive workbouts at different power outputs for the determination of CP and CHR. For each power output, the total number of heart beats (HBlim) was calculated as the product of the average 5-second HR (bpm) and total time to exhaustion (T lim in minutes). The HBlim and total work (Wlim in kilogramsmeters) were plotted as a function of the Tlim at each power output, and the slope coefficients of the regression lines between HBlim or Wlim and Tlim were defined as the CHR and CP, respectively. A 1-way repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicated that CHR (172 ± 11 bpm, 92.9 ± 2.7%HRmax) was similar to RCPHR (172 ± 9 bpm, 92.9 ± 2.2%HRmax) but was higher (p<0.05) than CPHR (1546 10 bpm, 83.2 ± 4.0%HRmax) and VTHR (152 6 12 bpm, 82.1 ± 4.3%HRmax). The relationship between HR and Tlim from the CHR test can be described by the CP model. The CHR test maybe a practical method for estimating RCP without the need to measure expired gas samples. Furthermore, like the RCP, the CHR test may be used to demarcate the heavy from severe exercise intensity domains, predict endurance exercise performance, and prescribe a training intensity for competitive cyclists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)504-510
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of strength and conditioning research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Endurance exercise
  • Exercise intensity domain
  • Fatigue threshold
  • Heart rate
  • Respiratory compensation point
  • Ventilatory threshold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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