Int J Sports Med 2003; 24(3): 173-178
DOI: 10.1055/s-2003-39087
Training & Testing
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Heart-Rate Recommendations: Transfer Between Running and Cycling Exercise?

K.  Roecker1 , H.  Striegel1 , H.-H.  Dickhuth1
  • 1Medical Clinic and Polyclinic, University of Freiburg, Department of Rehabilitative and Preventive Sports Medicine, Freiburg, Germany
Further Information

Publication History

Accepted after revision: September 25, 2002

Publication Date:
12 May 2003 (online)


With the expanding use of portable heart rate (HR) monitors in endurance sports, HR is increasingly used as a marker for exercise intensity. Hereby, HR at the so-called individual anaerobic threshold (IAT) is one possible reference point. However, once determined, it is often attempted to apply HR recommendations from one type of ergometry to different kinds of exercises. We examined whether HR at IAT and at 4 mmol × l-1 blood lactate is predictable from cycling to running and vice versa. Data of 371 subjects (304 male, 67 female) were analyzed. All subjects underwent an incremental test on a treadmill (TR, starting speed 6 or 8 km × h-1, increments 2 km × h-1 every 3 min) and on a bicycle ergometer (BE, start at 50 Watt, increments 25 or 50 Watt every 3 min). IAT was determined at a net increase of lactate concentration of 1 - 5 mmol × l-1 above lactate concentration at lactate threshold for running (as in: Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998, 30 (10); 1552 - 1557) and 1.0 mmol × l-1 for cycling. A maximum time span of three weeks was allowed between the tests. We found that heart rate at IAT or at 4 mmol × l-1 blood lactate did not correlate between cycling and running. A sports specific test seems to be a prerequisite for reliable heart rate recommendations.


  • 1 Basset F A, Boulay M R. Specificity of treadmill and cycle ergometer tests in triathletes, runners and cyclists.  Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000;  81 214-221
  • 2 Beaver W L, Wasserman K, Whipp B J. A new method for detecting anaerobic threshold by gas exchange.  J Appl Physiol. 1986;  60 2020-2027
  • 3 Beneke R, von Duvillard S P. Determination of maximal lactate steady state response in selected sports events.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996;  28 241-246
  • 4 Bijker K E, de Groot G, Hollander A P. Delta efficiencies of running and cycling.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001;  33 1546-1551
  • 5 Bland J M, Altman D G. Measuring agreement in method comparison studies.  Stat Methods Med Res. 1999;  8 135-160
  • 6 Carter H, Jones A M, Barstow T J, Burnley M, Williams C A, Doust J H. Oxygen uptake kinetics in treadmill running and cycle ergometry: a comparison.  J Appl Physiol. 2000;  89 899-907
  • 7 Coen B, Schwarz L, Urhausen A, Kindermann W. Control of training in middle and long-distance running by means of the individual anaerobic threshold.  Int J Sports. 1991;  12 519-524
  • 8 Coggan AR, Raguso CA, Williams B D, Sidossis L S, Gastaldelli A. Glucose kinetics during high-intensity exercise in endurance-trained and untrained humans (see comments).  J Appl Physiol. 1995;  78 1203-1207
  • 9 Collins M A, Cureton KJ, Hill D W, Ray C A. Relationship of heart rate to oxygen uptake during weight lifting exercise.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991;  23 636-640
  • 10 Coyle EF, Coggan AR, Hopper M K, Walters TJ. Determinants of endurance in well-trained cyclists.  J Appl Physiol. 1988;  64 2622-2630
  • 11 Dickhuth HH, Yin L, Niess A, Roecker K, Mayer F, Heitkamp H C, Horstmann T. Ventilatory, lactate-derived and catecholamine thresholds during incremental treadmill running: relationship and reproducibility.  Int J Sports Med. 1999;  20 122-127
  • 12 Fairshter RD, Walters J, Salness K, Fox M, Minh V D, Wilson AF. A comparison of incremental exercise tests during cycle and treadmill ergometry.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1983;  15 549-554
  • 13 Kindermann W, Schramm M, Keul J. Aerobic performance diagnostics with different experimental settings.  Int J Sports Med. 1980;  1 110-114
  • 14 Ljunggren G, Ceci R, Karlsson J. Prolonged exercise at a constant load on a bicycle ergometer: ratings of perceived exertion and leg aches and pain as well as measurements of blood lactate accumulation and heart rate.  Int J Sports Med. 1987;  8 109-116
  • 15 McArdle W D, Katch F I, Pechar G S. Comparison of continuous and discontinuous treadmill and bicycle tests for max V˙O2. .  Med Sci Sports. 1973;  5 156-160
  • 16 McArdle W D, Magel J R. Physical work capacity and maximum oxygen uptake in treadmill and bicycle exercise.  Med Sci Sports. 1970;  2 118-123
  • 17 McLellan T M, Jacobs I. Reliability, reproducibility and validity of the individual anaerobic threshold.  Eur J Appl Physiol. 1993;  67 125-131
  • 18 Miles D S, Critz J B, Knowlton R G. Cardiovascular, metabolic, and ventilatory responses of women to equivalent cycle ergometer and treadmill exercise.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1980;  43 243-251
  • 19 Nagle F, Balke B, Baptista G, Alleyia J, Howley E. Compatibility of progressive treadmill, bicycle and step tests based on oxygen uptake responses.  Med Sci Sports. 1971;  3 149-154
  • 20 Pannier J L, Vrijens J, van Cauter C. Cardiorespiratory response to treadmill and bicycle exercise in runners.  Eur J Appl Physiol. 1980;  43 243-251
  • 21 Pfitzinger P, Freedson P S. The reliability of lactate measurements during exercise.  Int J Sports Med. 1998;  19 349-357
  • 22 Roecker K, Niess A M, Horstmann T, Striegel H, Mayer F, Dickhuth HH. Heart rate prescriptions from performance and anthropometrical characteristics.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2002;  34 881-887
  • 23 Roecker K, Schotte O, Niess A M, Horstmann T, Dickhuth HH. Predicting competition performance in long-distance running by means of a treadmill test.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998;  30 1552-1557
  • 24 Sjödin B, Jacobs I. Onset of blood lactate accumulation and marathon running performance.  Int J Sports Med. 1981;  2 23-26
  • 25 Snyder A C, Woulfe T, Welsh R, Foster C. A simplified approach to estimating the maximal lactate steady state.  Int J Sports Med. 1994;  15 27-31
  • 26 Stegmann H, Kindermann W. Comparison of prolonged exercise tests at the individual anaerobic threshold and the fixed anaerobic threshold of 4 mmol × l-1 lactate.  Int J Sports Med. 1982;  3 105-110
  • 27 Swain D P, Abernathy K S, Smith C S, Lee S J, Bunn S A. Target heart rates for the development of cardiorespiratory fitness.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1994;  26 112-116
  • 28 Swain D P, Leutholtz B C, King M E, Haas L A, Branch J D. Relationship between % heart rate reserve and % V˙O2 reserve in treadmill exercise.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998;  30 318-321
  • 29 Tarnopolsky L J, MacDougall J D, Atkinson SA, Tarnopolsky M A, Sutton J R. Gender differences in substrate for endurance exercise.  J Appl Physiol. 1990;  68 302-308
  • 30 Urhausen A, Coen B, Weiler B, Kindermann W. Individual anaerobic threshold and maximum lactate steady state.  Int J Sports Med. 1993;  14 134-139
  • 31 Wasserman K, Whipp BJ, Koyl SN, Beaver WL. Anaerobic threshold and respiratory gas exchange during exercise.  J Appl Physiol. 1973;  35(2) 236-243
  • 32 Weltman A, Weltman J, Rutt R, Seip R, Levine S, Snead D, Kaiser D, Rogol A. IPercentages of maximal heart rate, heart rate reserve, and V˙O2peak for determining endurance training intensity in sedentary woman.  Int J Sports Med. 1989;  10 212-216
  • 33 Whaley MH, Kaminsky LA, Dwyer GB, Getchell LH, Norton JA. Predictors of over- and underachievement of age-predicted maximal heart rate.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992;  24(10) 1173-1179

Dr. K. Roecker

Medical Clinic and Polyclinic · University of Freiburg · Dept. of Rehabilitative and Preventive Sports Medicine

Hugstetter Str. 55 · 79106 Freiburg · Germany ·