"Talk Test" Put to the Test

Becca Borawski Jenkins


Coaching, Strength and Conditioning, Martial Arts


While there are endless gadgets on the market to measure your heart rate, most of us are familiar with the more folksy method known as the “talk test.”


Simply put, if you are exercising and still able to carry on a conversation you are probably in the lower range of intensity in your exercise. If you are unable to speak, then you are on the upper end of intensity.



In a recent study, researchers at the University of New Hampshire took a scientific approach to the Talk Test and compared it to both lactate threshold and ventilatory threshold.


Lactate is produced anytime we exercise. Our bodies have a mechanism to keep us in balance by removing lactate from our system. The lactate threshold is the point at which we can no longer effectively metabolize lactate and it starts to collect in our bodies. More intense exercise produces more lactate.



running, heart rate, exercise, fitness, lactate threshold, anaerobic threshold


The ventilatory threshold is the point at which you experience a sudden and drastic increase in oxygen uptake. It typically occurs shortly after the lactate threshold has been reached and is another indicator of increased intensity of exercise.


The researchers at University of New Hampshire measured subjects running on a treadmill while tracking their lactate and ventilatory threshold markers as well as having them perform a Talk Test.


The results were that the Talk Test correlated best with the lactate threshold, though this might seem counterintuitive as far as talking and ventilation being related.


Based on these findings the scientists determined the Talk Test is actually an effective measurement for individuals in beginner exercise programs who want to work effectively, but not at an excessive heart rate.


It was also considered to be an easy measure for endurance athletes who want to work for extended periods close to the lactate threshold.

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