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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 06-11-11, 09:28 AM   #1
DOOM_NX
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How to calculate the right training HR zone?

How do you guys determine your fat burning or other target heart rate zones? If I measure or calculate my Max HR, which formula should I use to find the right zone?
Do you guys rely on your HRM suggestions? Do you take a test of some kind?

I need some help cause I don't know whether I should rely on my HRM or manually change the training zone limits.
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Old 06-11-11, 09:53 AM   #2
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This is what I used to figure mine. I ask my doctor about it and he said it was a good way to do it also.
http://www.livestrong.com/article/17...ng-heart-rate/
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Old 06-11-11, 10:13 AM   #3
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Thank you Bendico. So percentage of RHR worked for you.
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Old 06-11-11, 10:27 AM   #4
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yea worked well for me last year I was 350 and now I am close to 300 LBS and that was one of my worries was blasting my heart out. I found this and as I stated ask my Dr. and he said it would be fine to do it this way. Great thing is loosing weight and riding more has caused my HR to lower also..
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Old 06-11-11, 10:52 AM   #5
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Yes I expect that to be the case. Lower resting heart rate and quicker recovery time should be some of the results of weight loss and training.

As I see you've come a long way from 48.5 BMI down to 43.2. That's very nice! Keep going!
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Old 06-11-11, 01:57 PM   #6
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Never ever take recommendation online and do them without first checking with a doctor! Or maybe a shrink.

I'm partial to the Karvonen training zones as a place to start.

After that, while wearing a HR monitor, I then found a nice long climb that took me at least 20-mins to complete (we use Mandeville Canyon 'round here). I ride the climb at my utmost without blowing up! You have to know yourself first (obviously) in order to do this. Then, make sure you're pushing yourself, and not just going easy.

The resulting HRavg is then considered my Threshold. I then re-calculate using Karvonen's zones but starting from my known HRavg.

At one point, I also went out and did a HRmax test on a similar climb. I plug this now known HRmax into the formula as well instead of just using guesstimates. (For instance, my known HRmax last year was 189 as opposed to the 220-age formula which resulted in 178 for me.)

These tests should probably be done at least once per year as the values will change with time.
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Old 06-11-11, 02:52 PM   #7
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I didn't really get the way to define the zones :$

How did you find your HRavg? How is HRavg implemented in the Karvonen's type?
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Old 06-11-11, 03:02 PM   #8
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I didn't really get the way to define the zones :$

How did you find your HRavg? How is HRavg implemented in the Karvonen's type?
Here's a web page that will do it for you.

HRavg was found using my Garmin computer: it does it automatically. Many other cycling computers can also do it.
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Old 06-11-11, 03:11 PM   #9
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You mean the average heart rate you had during the whole training session?
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Old 06-11-11, 03:16 PM   #10
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You mean the average heart rate you had during the whole training session?
Garmin can do that, yes. In my case, I only used it during the test I mentioned above (riding a 20-minute hill climb).
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Old 06-11-11, 03:21 PM   #11
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And then what did you do with that HRavg number?

Last edited by DOOM_NX; 06-11-11 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 06-11-11, 04:55 PM   #12
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And then what did you do with that HRavg number?
Oh, sorry.

The HRavg is then my Threshold. I can go higher, but don't last very long when doing so.

I break up my training exertions into "zones": 1--5. Some people use 6 zones, I like simplicity so I use 5. The exact percentages are another source of debate on which is best. Here are some suggestions using heart rate max:

Zone 1: 60% HRmax - Recovery ... energy comes from a higher %-age of fat stores
Zone 2: 75% HRmax - Aerobic
Zone 3: 85% HRmax - Hi-Aerobic
Zone 4: 90% HRmax - Lactate Threshold
Zone 5: 95% HRmax - VO2max ... energy comes from a higher %-age of blood glucose

The threshold (zone 4-lactate threshold) is the HRavg I recorded from my test.
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Old 06-11-11, 07:00 PM   #13
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Oh, I see... So, in the end, you determined your Lactate Threshold based on what you felt during that climb. It's still a guess though.
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Old 06-11-11, 07:30 PM   #14
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This is what I used to figure mine. I ask my doctor about it and he said it was a good way to do it also.
http://www.livestrong.com/article/17...ng-heart-rate/
The important number is your lactate threshold since once you surpass it blood concentrations increase with the fourth power of power output.

With lactate threshold occurring at 75-95% of maximum heart rate you want to approximate LTHR and ignore maximum heart rate or the difference between resting and maximum heart rates.

Even if you accept that huge variation the maximum heart rate formulas would be irrelevant since they're based on averages with a 10-12 beat standard deviation. There'd be a 34% chance for above and below the average within +12 or -12 BPM, 14% for +12 to +24 or -12 to -24, 2% for +24 to +36 or -24 to -36.

Most reliable without going to a lab is to do a 30 minute all-out effort and use the average over the last 20 minutes as your LTHR.

Zone 1 active recovery < 81%
Zone 2 endurance 85-89%
Zone 3 tempo 90-93%
Zone 4 sub threshold 94-99%
Zone 5a supra threshold 100-102%
Zone 5b VO2 max 103-106
Zone 5c neruomuscular > 106%

Chris Carmichael has a set of zones built around a pair of 8 minute all-out efforts which are easier to accommodate psychologically and logistically.
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Old 06-11-11, 10:10 PM   #15
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Oh, I see... So, in the end, you determined your Lactate Threshold based on what you felt during that climb. It's still a guess though.
A very educated guess. Research studies have correlated this type of test to lab accuracy. Actual threshold's (as measured in a lab setting) may be 2-3bpm's higher, but that's about it. In the end, though, yes: it's only as accurate as you make it. If you really don't "give it your all", then the results could be off. But, if you don't give it your all in this type a setting, maybe you really don't have any more to give?
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Old 06-12-11, 05:31 PM   #16
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Thank you guys! This was really helpful!

I just don't know if it's safe to "give it all" for 20 minutes... on a bike... right on the road...

I'm just starting and I'm not fit at all. I wouldn't want to faint on the bike or do any damage to my body. I just got this Sigma Sport Onyx HRM and would like to use it during my workouts. I need to be in the "fat burning zone" or even the aerobic one, but I don't know if I should trust the default settings...
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Old 06-12-11, 07:34 PM   #17
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Given what you said are your goals, I wouldn't even recommend doing a "threshold test". Your body will burn calories from fat at all the levels (zones), just in a higher percentage at the lower ones.
  • Your best bet is to ride at an easy pace (say, a 1, 2, or 3 on a "perceived exertion" scale of 1-10) for as long as you can. If you have limited time available, this is where you'd increase the intensity, but only after riding for awhile to prepare your muscles & ligaments for the demands you will place on them.
  • Measure your rides in minutes or hours, not in miles.
  • Try to ride as often as you can. As you start, this will be hard, but it will get easier as you go. Eventually, maybe 6 rides a week. Or rather, 6 exercise sessions a week (it could be some other aerobic activity like walking/running or swimming). One day will be a harder (longer or faster or hillier) effort, followed by 1 or 2 easy days for recovery.

Oh, and exercise is for establishing health. Diet is for losing weight.
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Old 06-12-11, 07:54 PM   #18
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Given what you said are your goals, I wouldn't even recommend doing a "threshold test". Your body will burn calories from fat at all the levels (zones), just in a higher percentage at the lower ones.

  • Your best bet is to ride at an easy pace (say, a 1, 2, or 3 on a "perceived exertion" scale of 1-10) for as long as you can. If you have limited time available, this is where you'd increase the intensity, but only after riding for awhile to prepare your muscles & ligaments for the demands you will place on them.
  • Measure your rides in minutes or hours, not in miles.
  • Try to ride as often as you can. As you start, this will be hard, but it will get easier as you go. Eventually, maybe 6 rides a week. Or rather, 6 exercise sessions a week (it could be some other aerobic activity like walking/running or swimming). One day will be a harder (longer or faster or hillier) effort, followed by 1 or 2 easy days for recovery.


Oh, and exercise is for establishing health. Diet is for losing weight.
Thanks a lot for the advice. I had a lot of this in mind.

Although, I don't know how to measure the perceived exertion level. I have a hunch that it will always be 10, at least the first days
I don't have limited time. I'll have 3 months of vacation to concentrate on burning fat.
I plan on exercising at least 5 times a week for about an hour each session. More if I can.

And I know exercise without diet is useless, but it's a very good way to burn calories and speed up my BMR.
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