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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 05-17-11, 02:07 PM   #1
cohophysh
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Heart rate Q

So your thoughts. I'm 46, so do all the math and for an aerobic work out it says that 80% is about 139bpm. Okay, I am still breathing through my nose at that point. Now if I go until I can talk (as some convential wisdom recommends) but not sing my HR is about 165-175, which is obviously way out of the 80% range. So what are your thoughts? My only bad is I am a type 2 diabetic. No sign of heart disease, no angina, no heart issues whatsoever.
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Old 05-17-11, 03:08 PM   #2
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I'm 47 and diabetic and regularly bring my heart rate into the upper 160s. So far so good. When I looked into what was a good heart rate, the formulas told me the same thing they are telling you. Reading further, I found that most people disregard the formulas as they are generally useless.
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Old 05-17-11, 04:06 PM   #3
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My son is a 26 year old professional triathlete. I think I heard him say recently that his heart rate at race pace is 180.
Geeze. I'd burst a pipe if I tried that. Of course, the closest I get to serious exercise is purchasing the boy wheels that cost more than my whole bike. Exercise the bank card enough, and my heart rate goes up at the end of the month.
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Old 05-17-11, 04:29 PM   #4
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My thought is that the "220-Age" thing only works for people who haven't been exercising. I can push my HR pretty close to the 220-Age limit and not feel like I'm working especially hard... but I've now got tens of thousands of miles under my wheels. If you really want to know what your max heart rate is, you probably need some sort of cardiac stress test.
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Old 05-17-11, 04:30 PM   #5
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The max heart rate formula is basically a guestimate. But you might want to have a chat with your doctor...!
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Old 05-17-11, 04:50 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cohophysh View Post
So your thoughts. I'm 46, so do all the math and for an aerobic work out it says that 80% is about 139bpm. Okay, I am still breathing through my nose at that point. Now if I go until I can talk (as some convential wisdom recommends) but not sing my HR is about 165-175, which is obviously way out of the 80% range. So what are your thoughts? My only bad is I am a type 2 diabetic. No sign of heart disease, no angina, no heart issues whatsoever.
Your cycling maximum heart rate is your cycling maximum heart rate.

The formulas just produce an average, with a standard deviation of 10-12 beats.

Assuming the forumula you chose returned 173 and a 12 beat standard deviation, there's a 68% chance that your maximum heart rate falls within the range 161-185, a 14% chance for 149-161 and 14% for 185-197, a 2% chance for 137-149 and 2% for 197-209, etc.

That makes the formulas worthless for training purposes.

Your lactate threshold also varies with a low of perhaps 60% of VO2 max and 75% of maximum heart rate in sedentary individuals to maybe 90% of VO2 max and 95% of maximum heart rate in some elite endurance athletes.

So even knowing your maximum heart rate doesn't help too much.

The simplest inexpensive thing to do is to find your LTHR by riding as hard as you can for 30 minutes without stopping and average your heart rate over the last 20 minutes per Joe Friel's The Cyclist's Training Bible. Set your zones based on that under (1 active recovery, 2 endurance, 3 tempo) around (zone 4 threshold) and over (zone 5) with definitions varying depending on who you talk to (IIRC Friel runs zone 4 up to LTHR, starts 5a there, and adds 5b/5c)

Chris Carmichael's test protocol outlined in The Time Crunched Cyclist: Fit, Fast, and Powerful in 6 Hours a Week has a pair of 8 minute maximum efforts separated by an easy 10 minute spin; that's easier to do and easier to accommodate with traffic outside in suburban settings although the resulting zone definitions will be different.

If you really want you can do a ramp test to find your maximum aerobic power and cycling maximum heart rate (you get different muscle recruitment running, swimming, etc. and therefore different maximum heart rates).

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 05-17-11 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 05-17-11, 04:58 PM   #7
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...and folks, this might be obvious, but please check with your doctors before you start pushing your heart rates up to "near max."
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Old 05-17-11, 05:03 PM   #8
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My son is a 26 year old professional triathlete. I think I heard him say recently that his heart rate at race pace is 180.
Geeze. I'd burst a pipe if I tried that. Of course, the closest I get to serious exercise is purchasing the boy wheels that cost more than my whole bike. Exercise the bank card enough, and my heart rate goes up at the end of the month.

I got over 180 before just from a panic attack! A healthy heart can take anything you can throw at it. A healthy heart could theoretically pump 300 BPM for weeks at a time with no ill effects (doctor facts here), though I think the rest of you might not like that!. Just listen to your body, you will know your own limits better than a HRM. I hate HRM personally, I don't see the point unless you are a competitive athlete.
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Old 05-18-11, 05:27 AM   #9
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To the OP. I'm 48, still too close to 300 pounds for my comfort, had a knee replaced 6 months ago and for the past 2 months have been running on the treadmill. Following the "guidelines" I wouldn't even be running. After a quick call to my doc, here is what I have been doing. Start with a warmup on the treadmill, get to about 120-125 bpm. Then I run at a pace that gets me to 165-170 for a period of time (which gets longer and more comfortable), slow down to a walk and bring my HR back into the 120s before getting back to a run. Cycle and repeat. I am also hampered with other injuries as I am trying to get back into shape. So I am also using an elliptical machine to minimize further injury while recovering. I am almost recovered from an MCL strain in my old knee which I am sure is related to not working that leg as hard as the one with the new knee. And an old heel/tendon issue relating to stretching. At first I was a bit neurotic about numbers, but now am just keeping track a little as I go. Still helpful for quantifying progress.
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Old 05-18-11, 05:35 AM   #10
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My son is a 26 year old professional triathlete. I think I heard him say recently that his heart rate at race pace is 180.
Geeze. I'd burst a pipe if I tried that. Of course, the closest I get to serious exercise is purchasing the boy wheels that cost more than my whole bike. Exercise the bank card enough, and my heart rate goes up at the end of the month.
Your son's a pro, and you're buying his wheels?
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Old 05-18-11, 09:54 AM   #11
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snip Just listen to your body, you will know your own limits better than a HRM. I hate HRM personally, I don't see the point unless you are a competitive athlete.
I agree with listen to your body, but personally I find a HRM a help. I use it a lot to keep me honest, if I think i am working out hard and the Hrm doesn't reflect that I work harder. (a professional would use a watt measuring hub for this....for me an HRM is good enough) I also use it to push my self, ie run until I hit x bpm, then walk hard until ti moves down to x and repeat.
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Old 05-18-11, 10:07 AM   #12
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To the OP, I also am Type-2 and find very little correlation being a Type-2 diabetic and my heart rate for any given situation. I wear a heart monitor when I ride and an inspection of one of my latest rides gave me pause for concern. It shows the warm-up phase of my loop to have a heart rate of about 230-240 during the first five minutes of the ride, (along a residential street, basically flat terrain). Then, going up the only climb on the route, it shows my rate going from 150 up to about 160 as I near the summit, (a two-mile, about 4.7% grade). And, funny thing, on the downhill side and along a long run into town on a slightly downhill slope street, by heart rate was averaging in the 230-240 range. I didn't feel that I was pushing beyond my limits. Maybe my heart rate monitor is not recording accurately.

After you've received clearance from your doctor to proceed with intense physical exercise, go by how your body feels. You'll know when you are near your limits. And, losing weight will help immensely. By losing 40 pounds, I was able to discontinue diabetes medicine and now control my blood sugar through diet and exercise. Being diabetic does not mean that we can't maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. It just means that our bodies can no longer metabolize sugar we intake and needs a little help to do so.
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Old 05-18-11, 11:22 AM   #13
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I have gotten my HRmax pretty close. I am using 180bpm. From that I set my HRM to record %HR. When I cycle I know about how long I can ride at 85%, 92+%, and know I am in recovery mode in the 70% range. It has worked well so far for me.
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Old 05-18-11, 11:37 AM   #14
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What are your plans?

For most of us, the recipe is just ride.

You want to rack up miles. I have a couple HRM and I just don't
use them anymore. I train hard for a few days, and then I take a day or two off.

But by hard, I don't mean fast. Right now I alternate between riding and a 5 mile walk.
Last weekend I did my first 25 mile ride of the year, but I can produce witnesses that
will tell you I was not fast
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Old 05-18-11, 11:53 AM   #15
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I can't offer any insights. I'm on a small dosage of a hypertension med and I understand they can depress heart rates. I don't wear a monitor when I ride, but I do check the monitor on the gym treadmills from time to time when I run, and for me mid-to-high 150s is about the most I can sustain for extended periods. I can go considerably higher, but not for long periods without losing my lunch. That's at 56 years old.
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Old 05-18-11, 12:35 PM   #16
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I got over 180 before just from a panic attack! A healthy heart can take anything you can throw at it. A healthy heart could theoretically pump 300 BPM for weeks at a time with no ill effects (doctor facts here), though I think the rest of you might not like that!. Just listen to your body, you will know your own limits better than a HRM. I hate HRM personally, I don't see the point unless you are a competitive athlete.
I'm sorry, but this just smacks of the worst kind of internet misinformation. Doctor facts? Really? What doctor?

For the OP, the 220 formula is not all that useful for many people - because, as has been noted, it's based on averages and educated guesses. I'm 48, weight 225 and have a max HR when running of 217 - this is from a stress test for an employer. What does that mean? Actually, it means my heart really isn't very efficient for my size - and it has to beat faster to make up for the lack of volume pumped per beat. My calculated VO2 max from the same test was actually fairly mediocre - the faster than average HR doesn't really help me perform.

I have gotten into decent shape over the last 5 years, and now participate in lots of long bike rides, long and hard day hikes (been up to Half Dome - a 16 mile hike with a lot of elevation gain - each of the last 3 years) and some swimming. I like to use a HR monitor to pace myself on these rides - I can ride all day at 160bpm or less, but will blow up if I spend a lot of time above 175. The range in between is what I try to use for climbs and other relatively short efforts.

The moral is that my HR is not a good predictor of what will work for you. Short of a stress test or doing one of the threshold tests mentioned by Drew Eckhardt, your best alternative is to do as your doctor suggested and get comfortable with what hr zones leave you gasping and where that crossover point is. Then you'll have to be disciplined to build your aerobic capacity slowly over time - this is hard work, and takes months to get to a decent base level of fitness, and most people continue to improve with consistent exercise for several years. As you get in better shape, a trainer or a good book such as those Drew mentioned can show you the kinds of intervals and other exercises to improve certain aspects (power, ability to recover, ability to go longer above the lactate threshold, etc.).

JB

edit - ok, I did find a couple of references to people with a certain heart condition (SVT) who might have HR's that high (300 bpm) - but it's not a healthy heart! This is a medical condition that is treated with medication.

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Old 05-18-11, 12:48 PM   #17
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I can't offer any insights. I'm on a small dosage of a hypertension med and I understand they can depress heart rates. I don't wear a monitor when I ride, but I do check the monitor on the gym treadmills from time to time when I run, and for me mid-to-high 150s is about the most I can sustain for extended periods. I can go considerably higher, but not for long periods without losing my lunch. That's at 56 years old.
Not all of them.

I was on one of those for a while. I just couldn't ride well.

A lot of people have to try a few before they find one that works for them.
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Old 05-18-11, 01:05 PM   #18
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Here's an interesting article with a few ways to determine your max. HR: http://www.howtobefit.com/determine-...heart-rate.htm

You could do the "walk a mile" version on the treadmill if you don't want to go to a track. Just note that the max. for you riding a bike will likely be lower than it will be for running/walking, as she notes in the article.

There are some interesting insights/facts that surprised me - the big one being that if you are in good condition, your max does not go down with age. I'm not sure if the author is basing that strictly on her personal experience or if she has any studies to back that up.

JB

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Old 05-18-11, 01:13 PM   #19
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Max HR has nothing to do with your physical fitness, it is simply a measure of the maximum that your heart is capable of beating. Kind of like your height - everyone is different.

Your ability to sustain efforts at different heart rates & perceived exertion has everything to do with your health.

Talk to your doctor, but if you can comfortably hold a heart rate while doing activity, you should be fine. After all, if you didn't have a HR monitor, would you slow down because it was too hard??

I like my HR monitor - it helps me judge whether I'm really working hard, having an off day & just feeling tired or if I should back off a bit before I implode.
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Old 05-18-11, 03:21 PM   #20
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Great discussion, thanks for all of the input, definitely food for thought. My legs usually tell me that I am at my limit before my lungs and heart do. Anyhow, I was able to tolerate with some ease 40 minutes on the elliptical with my HR at about 160. A little heavy breathing but still able to talk.

I had a stress test about two or three years ago, at my own request. About 10 minutes into it, with the machine at about 10+ incline and 5mph, the doc looked over the top of his glasses at me and asked quite sternly "Why are you here and who sent you?" Then proceeded to tell me that if I had any heart problems I wouldn't be able to do what I was doing. Then he said "carry on, you have nothing to worry about."
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Old 05-18-11, 03:30 PM   #21
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I got over 180 before just from a panic attack! A healthy heart can take anything you can throw at it. A healthy heart could theoretically pump 300 BPM for weeks at a time with no ill effects (doctor facts here), though I think the rest of you might not like that!. Just listen to your body, you will know your own limits better than a HRM. I hate HRM personally, I don't see the point unless you are a competitive athlete.
Your heart cannot pump at 300 BPM unless you have a very serious issue with the electrical components of your heart. Your heart would not have enough time to fill up and pumping would be extremely hindered. SO even though in theory your heart could do this if it was powered from some outside source, youd be screwed really quick. Not a chance you would be able to exercise.
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Old 05-18-11, 07:22 PM   #22
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So your thoughts. I'm 46, so do all the math and for an aerobic work out it says that 80% is about 139bpm. Okay, I am still breathing through my nose at that point. Now if I go until I can talk (as some convential wisdom recommends) but not sing my HR is about 165-175, which is obviously way out of the 80% range. So what are your thoughts? My only bad is I am a type 2 diabetic. No sign of heart disease, no angina, no heart issues whatsoever.
Just a suggestion:

Don't become obsessed with your HR ranges, the numbers that is. Nothing wrong with being aware of them, just don't rely on those numbers as anything than a rough guide.

I say that, because, unless you want to have a properly supervised exercise stress test every 6 months or so, you or no one else will know what your maximum HR is. Yes, there are formulae and other methods to estimate, but nothing with the accuracy of an exercise stress test in the proper environment.

From there, the heart rate ranges for effective exercise are calculated.

Secondly, your max and resting HR will change over time as your heart becomes stronger, lose weight, become more fit, medication effects .... etc.
This of course means, that your HR exercise rates will also change.

A much more practical way is to use an RPE Chart. There are variations, but the following is pretty generic.

RPE Chart

A great way to gauge the intensity or your cardio workouts is using the RPE scale or Rate of Perceived Exertion. It is a scale from 1-10 broken down as follows:

1-No effort (laying in bed)
2 – Very minimal effort (walking around the house)
3 – Minimal effort (vacuuming or cleaning)
4 – Some effort (a warm up/cool down level for most workouts)
5 – Easy/Moderate effort (a level you can converse through and maintain for 30+ min)
6 – Moderate effort (conversing is a little more difficult; you are breathing heavy; can maintain for 15 min or so)
7 – Moderate/Hard effort (conversing is difficult; can maintain for 3-5 min or so)
8 – Hard effort (no talking zone; can maintain for 1 min)
9 – Very Hard effort (no talking zone; can maintain for 30 seconds)
10 – Sprint effort (all out, as hard as you can; no talking zone; can only maintain for 10-20 sec)

When creating an interval cardio workout you want to go back and forth between the higher intensities and lower intensities. Hopefully this will give you more guidance as to how hard you really should be working.

If you are using your own HR range numbers as an exercise guide, this will provide a subjective guide / benchmark to see if your HR ranges are reasonable.
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Old 05-18-11, 07:55 PM   #23
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220- age is complete bunk. its rooted in a bs study done back in the 20's using a small sample size. it's completely untrue. at 33 i routinely get my heart rate up to 191 on serious hills and keep it there for 5+ minutes. The reality for you is that your max heart rate is probably much higher and 140 is probably a perfectly good training zone for you to build aerobic endurance but without more specific testing, it's tough to say. you can do a 30 minute time trial at max effort and after 10 minutes hit the lap function on your HR monitor. the average hr number you get for the remaining 20 minutes will give you a solid estimate of your lactate threshold which is a pretty important number to know for training purposes.
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Old 05-18-11, 07:57 PM   #24
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Thanks Seve...excellent advice, I will check out the website
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Old 05-19-11, 12:09 AM   #25
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Up til a couple of years ago, I had cardiologist clearance to run the HR up to 220 based on my stress test results. I could hold 220 without a blip and maintain a blood O2 saturation of 93%. Now that I have the little issue with my SA-Node expressing itself, I just recently got cleared to run it up to 130. Then again, that 130 is now working my heart like it's pushing 200 BPM because of the meds I now have to take.
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