HR during tempo session

Our soccer team did a tempo session today, and I tracked down HR of one player (88’; gotta check HRmax, but around 200). Here is the result

The kid is around 19-20years old with HRmax of 205 bpm. After the session they are pretty “fresh” (can talk during run and during rest). We are talking about the pro athlete here.
100s for 18sec; 200 for 38sec

  • represent 50m walk (about 40’’)
    ++ represent 100m walk (about 1’30’’ to 2’)

The question arise: is higher HR good sign or bad? I think the faster the HR goes up and faster it goes down the better NOT the worst… Autonomic system respond faster to homeostatic perturbations and quickly adapt to “chase the stable state” — this is very important in HIIE games like soccer!


  • P.S.
    Not to be lame: this is a copy of mine post over the-elite-edge and michaelboyle forums.

I will measure tonight another HR on the same player during 4x(300+100+200).

I agree the gradient of HR increase/decrease can be used as an indexing tool.

I like to think of HR as one of the many indicators of “biologic cost” though,more than of “biologic power” (the reverse of the coin),with progressively higher outputs at progressively lower HR for given intensities being the true target of any training program.

Can you elaborate more on this pakewi?
Are you saing that “progressively higher outputs at progressively lower HR for given intensities being the true target of any training program” or against such a concept? I would disagree with such a goal…

Take the following situation: Athlete A do a 100m@75% and Athlete B do the same (suppose they have same max speed and same HRmax and even same VO2max).

Athlete A
After 100m run: 160 bpm
After 40sec: 150 bpm
During tempo session athlete demonstrate HR “drift” or progressivelly higher and higher pulses

Athlete B
After 100m run: 180 bpm
After 40sec: 140 bpm
During tempo session athlete demonstrate constatnt pulse variations

Which one is “better” prepared? Athlete A reach lower %HRmax, but it his recovery is slow compared to Athlete B, whose raise is pretty fast along with recovery of pulse. Is Athlete A more suited for continuous steady-state activities? Is Athlete B suited more to HIIE?

Here are the results of last week tempo session and today’s tempo session and their comparation

Altougth in Tempo session #2 the athletes covered greater distance (2400m vs. 2200m) in less time, it seems that according to HR analysis Tempo session #1 is more “aerobic” demanding because greater proportion of HR spent in 90-100% and 80-90%

Any thoughts?

There is typo error on graphs: ++ represent 1’30’’ walk (100m) in both sessions

with the soccer teams i have worked with the HR always gets reasonably high during tempo but their rate of recovery is always very fast as a majority of the season is spent at tempo pace

With the volume of tempo work CF’s sprinters did, I can only guess that they have pretty good aerobic capacity…
A comparation btw CF’s sprinters and others in VO2max and HR during tempo would be pretty usefull…

What about my friend Athlete C who does the very same 100m’s @75%,same velocity as his fellows A and B,and after each run displays 145bpm,and 105 after 40 seconds? Who is the BEST prepared athlete,then?

Heart rates regularly went over 200 but recovery was rapid. This is a typical sprinter’s response as accelerating the HR is more efficient for them.
I’m really more concerned with the intensity determined by time to assess the intensity level of the session.
The typical profile is:
HI speed work- feels easy when done but “know about it” the next day.
Tempo: Can feel blasted and very winded at the completion of the workout but totally fine 15 to 20 min later with no apparent after-effects.

I haven’t heard the word “gradient” since university math. What is it again?

Which session do you think is more beneficial? My suspicion is ‘Red’ in the comparison because of the increased variability.

Is your statement (A) true or is the capacity to drive it up part of a compensation strategy (B) with the benefit showing in a more rapid return to more normal rates?
If B is true then the strategy might favor shorter reps rather than longer.

100% agreed,Charlie.
Isn’t really such a capacity to drive up/down one’s HR (B),as opposed to rather constant medium/high HR ranges,part of the adaptation strategy which leads to higher power outputs at lower HR’s (A) in the long run?

In this sense you can think of it as “rate of change”. In math, graident is the steepness of the line and is usually found by dividing the y axis by the x axis. See

With this in mind are we suggesting that more reps of shorter duration are advantagous to the sprinter rather than fewer longer reps. Hence 20min of tempo may be more beneficial than a 20min steady run?

Surely so.And not only for the sprinter!

Sorry guys my comp cracked and last week I was (still am) in Cyprus with the soccer team.
Beneficial for what Charlie? Aerobic development or recovery? My opinion is that you can modify tempo run to serve couple purposes: (a) recovery, (b) aerobic development and maybe © submaximal lactate buffering (“toleration”) if longer reps and shorter rest are used.

In this hypothetical situation athlete C would be the best prepared AEROBICALY, but what consequences would this kind ofadaptation have on speed and power? Where is the line?

It is a bit unclear but my suspicion is that tempo for most sports without Special Endurance requirements but high aerobic requirements would be best served by distances of 100 to 200m in the tempo runs with high variability.

What do you mean by “high variability”?

Altought there is no need for Special Endurandce in team sports, there is a need for ability to repeat short sprints (RSA), and in some researchs it is correlated with bLA buffering capacity along with aerobic capacity.

Maybe we could use tempo runs to improve bLA buffering capacity along with aerobic capacity, but not to interfere with speed/power sessions by avoiding CNS fatigue by limiting speed to 70% but increasing duration of individual effort and shortening rests…??

My rationale for 300s in tempo for soccer players is because Al Vermeil recomended this…

Maybe the best solution is to do two types of tempo with team athletes:

  1. High variability, shorter durations (50-150m)
  2. Less variability, greater durations (200-300m) and shorter rest and maybe even shorter overall volume (in m).

The session 1 would be used to recover and improve aerobic capacity along by stimulating homeostasis systems to try to keep track of stable state. (improved recovery and speed up of breathing, HR and blood distribution)
Session two would be used to futher improve aerobic capacity and bLA buffering without inducing CNS fatigue and interferring with speed/power work.

Both types should be present in a given microcycle.

This would form a base for later specific metabolic conditioning and RSA drills on HI days!


Sounds to me a bit too much like the selection of intermediate speed tempo to achieve an endurance goal. Extensive tempo and alactic speed coexist nicely and the improvement of absolute speed, creating speed reserve, is very helpful in enhancing the capacity for repetitive short duration bursts, often sub-max in nature.