Thursday, August 2, 2001 - Physiology
Rusko Heart Rate Monitoring Test

- By: Mike Cavaliere

This is a very simple heart rate monitoring test that is currently in use with many athletes around the globe. A detailed method appears below, but essentially all you have to do is lie quietly in a comfortable position for a few minutes and then stand up and remain still for a couple more minutes. The test initiates a heart rate response to the standing motion (and gravity) that the body has to quickly adapt to. Since this test is done under a fairly sensitive control and feedback system, it responds to positive and negative training and competition loads, as well as the onset of illness and other stresses in a fairly sensitive and individualistic way.

Athletes should do this test at least once a week, on a morning when they do not have to rush out of bed. Ideally, it should be done on the same days of the week and in the morning immediately after waking, before the athlete gets out of bed.

There are basically 2 forms of this test, however, both tests follow the same sequence:

1) The athlete lies on their back comfortably for 8 minutes.

2) Average the athlete's heart rate over the last 2 minutes of this 8 minute period.

3) At 8 minutes, the athlete stands up and remain standing still for 2 minutes.

4) Take your heart rate 15 seconds after standing.

5) Remain standing and average your heart rate after standing for 90 to 120 seconds.

This means that the test takes 10 minutes (8 minutes lying and 2 minutes standing). The test requires very little energy and can easily be done anywhere.

The 2 forms of this test refer to whether or not the athlete has a recording/memory-type heart rate monitor or a standard display heart rate monitor. If the athlete does have a recording heart rate monitor, it should be set to record every 5 seconds of the last 4 minute period of the test. If the athlete does not have a recording heart rate monitor, then the athelte should just record and calculate 3 data points visually:
1)the average of the last 2 minutes of lying,
2)15 seconds after standing and
3)the average of the last 30 seconds of standing (i.e., the 90-120th seconds after standing).

Even without a heart rate monitor, this test can still be done by taking the pulse manually.

The following charts give an idea of what data may look like, together with some basic interpretive guidelines.



In the above sample diagram, the suggestion is that a clearly elevated heart rate average between 90 and 120 seconds after standing (i.e., 8-10 beats+ above normal) is a possible sign of some failure to recover adequately. This may be due to hard training and poor recovery time, the onset of some illness, or other forms of life stress. On the other hand, if you the heart rate is dropping slightly, then this may be due to some positive adaptation to training and competition.

This test is used regularly by all of the Canadian National Ski Team athletes to monitor fatigue and adaption levels. It is generally done one day a week, on the same day that other regular testing would be done. It is done before the athlete gets out of bed in the morning. During hard training periods or periods of extreme stress (altitude adaption, travel, training camps, etc...), the test is generally done every day. The national team uses Polar recording heart rate monitors (such as the Polar Accurex Plus) and the data is downloaded and graphed for interpretation by coaches using the Polar computer interface.


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