Want to make sure your athletes aren’t overextending themselves during training? Get them talking. A report published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2011; 25 [3], 590–96) says that the widely used “Talk Test” is an easy-to-implement method for setting exercise intensity. While many professionals employ calculations such as maximum heart rate, the study’s researchers suggest that the Talk Test is also an adequate measure of ventilatory threshold. Subjects were 14 noncompetitive runners who were asked to perform two incremental exercise tests while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The runners then completed three 40-minute steady-state runs based on the following Talk Test stages from the two incremental tests: the stage before the last positive stage (LP-1), the last positive stage (LP) and the equivocal stage (EQ). Percent of maximum heart rate (%HRmax) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were measured during each of the three increasingly intense runs. According to the data, the runners’ %HRmax and RPE levels were considered acceptable during both LP stages, but were too high during the EQ stage.

The authors’ conclusion: “The results of this test suggest that the absolute exercise intensity during LP-1 and LP stages of incremental exercise tests with the Talk Test may produce steady-state exercise responses appropriate for training in well-trained and athletic individuals and that the reproducibility of the Talk Test is satisfactory.”