Int J Sports Med 2010; 31(5): 319-326
DOI: 10.1055/s-0030-1248283
Training & Testing

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Influence of Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing Protocol and Resting VO2 Assessment on %HRmax, %HRR, %VO2max and %VO2R Relationships

F. A. Cunha1 , 3 , A. W. Midgley2 , W. D. Monteiro1 , 3 , P. T. V. Farinatti1 , 3
  • 1Salgado de Oliveira University, Physical Activity Sciences Graduate Program, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • 2University of Hull, Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, Hull, United Kingdom
  • 3Rio de Janeiro State University, School of Physical Education and Sports, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Further Information

Publication History

accepted after revision January 06, 2010

Publication Date:
03 March 2010 (online)


The findings of previous studies investigating the strength of the relationships between the percentages of maximal heart rate (%HRmax), heart rate reserve (%HRR), maximal oxygen uptake (%VO2max), and oxygen uptake reserve (%VO2R) have been equivocal. This inconsistency between studies could largely be due to differences in methodology. The purpose of this study was therefore to determine whether different VO2max test protocols and resting VO2 assessment influence the relationships between the %HRmax, %HRR, %VO2max, and %VO2R. Thirty-three young men performed maximal treadmill protocols (ramp, Bruce) to assess HRmax and VO2max. Resting VO2 was assessed as follows: a) resting VO2standard, using strict criteria (24 h exercise abstention, alcohol, soft drinks, or caffeine; 8 h fasting; 30 min assessment); b) resting VO2sitting and; c) resting VO2standing (both 5 min before exercise testing). The %HRR was closer to %VO2max than to %VO2R, especially in the ramp protocol (p<0.001). In the Bruce protocol, relationships were closer to the identity line, and there was no significant difference between %HRR and %VO2max, or %VO2R. The VO2max was significantly higher in the ramp protocol compared to the Bruce protocol (p<0.001). In both protocols resting VO2 assessment produced no significant difference in the intercepts and slopes of the %HRR-%VO2R relationships obtained from individual regression models. The %VO2R calculated using resting VO2standard was closer to %HRR compared to VO2sitting and VO2standing. The premise that %HRR is more strongly related to %VO2R than to %VO2max was not confirmed. Methodological differences should be considered when interpreting previous studies investigating %HRmax, %HRR, %VO2max, and %VO2R relationships.


  • 1 American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. . recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in adults.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998;  30 975-991
  • 2 American College of Sports Medicine. .ACSM's guidelines for exercise testing and prescription, 7th Ed.. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006
  • 3 American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. . The recommended quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and flexibility in adults.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1990;  22 265-274
  • 4 Andreacci JL, LeMura LM, Cohen SL, Urbansky EA, Chelland SA, VonDuvillard SP. The effects of frequency of encouragement on performance during maximal exercise testing.  J Sports Sci. 2002;  20 345-352
  • 5 Branch JD, Pate RR, Bourque SP. Moderate intensity exercise training improved cardiorespiratory fitness in women.  J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 2000;  9 65-73
  • 6 Brawner CA, Keteyian SJ, Ehrman JK. Percent heart rate reserve is equivalent to VO2 reserve in patients with heart disease.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002;  34 418-422
  • 7 Bruce RA, Kusumi F, Hosomer D. Maximal oxygen uptake and nomographic assessment of functional aerobic impairment in cardiovascular disease.  Am Heart J. 1973;  85 546-562
  • 8 Buchfuhrer MJ, Hansen JE, Robinson TE, Sue DY, Wasserman K, Whipp BJ. Optimizing the exercise protocol for cardiopulmonary assessment.  J Appl Physiol. 1983;  55 1558-1564
  • 9 Byrne NM, Hills AP, Hunter GR, Weinsier RL, Schutz Y. Metabolic equivalent: one size does not fit all.  J Appl Physiol. 2005;  99 1112-1119
  • 10 Byrne NM, Hills AP. Relationships between HR and VO2 in the obese.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002;  34 1419-1427
  • 11 Colberg SR, Swain DP, Vinik AI. Use of heart rate reserve and rating of perceived exertion to prescribe exercise intensity in diabetic autonomic neuropathy.  Diabetes Care. 2003;  26 986-990
  • 12 Compher C, Frankenfield D, Keim N, Roth-Yousey L. Best practice methods to apply to measurement of resting metabolic rate in adults: a systematic review.  J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;  106 881-903
  • 13 Davenport MH, Charlesworth S, Vanderspank D, Sopper MM, Mottola MF. Development and validation of exercise target heart rate zones for overweight and obese pregnant women.  Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2008;  33 984-989
  • 14 Fardy PS, Hellerstein HK. A comparison of continuous and intermittent progressive multistage exercise testing.  Med Sci Sports. 1978;  10 7-12
  • 15 Franklin BA, Hodgson J, Buskirk ER. Relationship between percent maximal O2 uptake and percent maximal heart rate in women.  Res Q Exerc Sport. 1980;  51 616-624
  • 16 Gaskill SE, Bouchard C, Rankinen T, Rao DC, Wilmore JH, Leon AS, Skinner JS. Percent heart rate reserve is better related to %VO2max than to %VO2 reserve: the Heritage Family Study.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004;  36 ((Suppl.)) S3
  • 17 Harris DJ, Atkinson G. International Journal of Sports Medicine – Ethical Standards in Sport and Exercise Science Research.  Int J Sports Med. 2009;  30 701-702
  • 18 Howley ET, Basset JR, Welch HG. Criteria for maximal oxygen uptake: review and commentary.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1995;  27 1292-1301
  • 19 Hui SS, Chan JW. The relationship between heart rate reserve and oxygen uptake reserve in children and adolescents.  Res Q Exerc Sport. 2006;  77 41-49
  • 20 Jones AM, Doust JH. A 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running.  J Sports Sci. 1996;  14 321-327
  • 21 Katch V, Weltman A, Sady S, Freedson P. Validity of the relative percent concept for equating training intensity.  Eur J Appl Physiol. 1978;  39 219-227
  • 22 Lee JY, Jensen BE, Oberman A, Fletcher GF, Fletcher BJ, Raczynski JM. Adherence in the training levels comparison trial.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996;  28 47-52
  • 23 Londeree BR, Ames SA. Trend analysis of the %VO2max – HR regression.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1976;  8 123-125
  • 24 Lounana J, Campion F, Noakes TD, Medelli J. Relationship between %HRmax, %HRreserve, %VO2max, and %VO2 reserve in elite cyclists.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;  39 350-357
  • 25 Mathews C, Heil B, Friedson P, Pastides H. Classification of cardiorespiratory fitness without exercise testing.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999;  31 486-493
  • 26 Mezzani A, Corra U, Giordano A, Cafagna M, Adriano EP, Giannuzzi P. Unreliability of the %VO2 reserve vs. %heart rate reserve relationship for aerobic effort relative intensity assessment in chronic heart failure patients on or off beta-blocking therapy.  Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2007;  14 92-98
  • 27 Midgley AW, Bentley DJ, Luttikholt H, McNaughton LR, Millet GP. Challenging a dogma of exercise physiology: does an incremental exercise test for valid VO2max determination really need to last between 8 and 12 min?.  Sports Med. 2008;  38 441-447
  • 28 Midgley AW, McNaughton LR, Carroll S. Effect of the VO2 time-averaging interval on the reproducibility of VO2max in healthy athletic subjects.  Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2007;  27 122-125
  • 29 Midgley AW, McNaughton LR, Jones AM. Training to enhance the physiological determinants of long-distance running performance: can valid recommendations be given to runners and coaches based on current scientific knowledge?.  Sports Med. 2007;  37 857-880
  • 30 Myers J, Bellin D. Ramp exercise protocols for clinical and cardiopulmonary exercise testing.  Sports Med. 2000;  30 23-29
  • 31 Myers J, Buchanan N, Walsh D, Kraemer M, McAuley P, Hamilton-Wessler M. Comparison of the ramp vs. standard exercise protocols.  J Am Coll Cardiol. 1991;  17 1334-1342
  • 32 Pinet BM, Prud’homme D, Gallant CA, Boulay P. Exercise intensity prescription in obese individuals.  Obesity. 2008;  16 2088-2095
  • 33 Poehlman ET. A review: exercise and its influence on resting energy metabolism in man.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1989;  21 515-525
  • 34 Rotstein A, Meckel Y. Estimation of %VO2 reserve from heart rate during arm exercise and running.  Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000;  83 545-550
  • 35 Saltin B, Blonquist B, Mitchell RL, Johnson JR, Wildenthal K, Chapman CB. Response to submaximal and maximal exercise after bed rest and training.  Circulation. 1968;  38 ((Suppl. 7)) VII1-VII78
  • 36 Savage PD, Toth MJ, Ades PA. A re-examination of the metabolic equivalent concept in individuals with coronary heart disease.  J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2007;  27 143-148
  • 37 Simmons DN, Berry MJ, Hayes SI, Walschlager SA. The relationship between %HRpeak and %VO2peak in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000;  32 881-886
  • 38 Skinner JS, Jankowski LW. Individual variability in the relationship between heart rate and oxygen intake.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1974;  6 68-72
  • 39 Speakman JR, Selman C. Physical activity and resting metabolic rate.  Proc Nutr Soc. 2003;  62 621-634
  • 40 Swain DP, Abernathy KS, Smith CS, Lee SJ, Bunn SA. Target heart rates for the development of cardiorespiratory fitness.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1994;  26 112-116
  • 41 Swain DP, Franklin BA. VO2 reserve and the minimal intensity for improving cardiorespiratory fitness.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002;  34 152-157
  • 42 Swain DP, Leutholtz BC, Branch JD. Relationship between % heart rate reserve and %VO2 reserve in treadmil exercise.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998;  30 318-321
  • 43 Swain DP, Leutholtz BC. Heart rate reserve is equivalent to %VO2 reserve, not to %VO2max.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1997;  29 837-843
  • 44 Swain DP. Energy cost calculations for exercise prescription.  Sports Med. 2000;  30 17-22
  • 45 Van Pelt RE, Dinneno FA, Seals DR, Jones PP. Age-related decline in RMR in physically active men: relation to exercise volume and energy intake.  Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2001;  281 E633-E639
  • 46 Van Pelt RE, Jones PP, Davy KP, Desouza CA, Tanaka H, Davy BM, Seals DR. Regular exercise and the age-related decline in resting metabolic rate in women.  J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1997;  82 3208-3212
  • 47 Wenger HA, Bell GJ. The interactions of intensity, frequency and duration of exercise training in altering cardiorespiratory fitness.  Sports Med. 1986;  3 346-356
  • 48 Will PM, Walter JD. Exercise testing: improving performance with a ramped Bruce protocol.  Am Heart J. 1999;  138 1033-1037
  • 49 Zar JH. Comparing simple linear regression equations. Biostatistical Analysis.. Englewoods Cliff, Prentice-Hall: 718; 1984


Dr. Paulo de Tarso Veras Farinatti

Rio de Janeiro State University

School of Physical Education

Rua São Francisco Xavier 524 sala 8133F

20550013 Rio de Janeiro


Phone: + 55/21/25877847

Fax: + 55/21/25877862