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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 07-15-11, 09:06 AM   #1
Mithrandir
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I can't get it up anymore

So I have a problem with my heart rate lately: I can't get it up anymore when I bike!

When I first started cycling 3 months ago I had no problem whatsoever getting my HR up to 165. If I really pushed I could get it up to 175.


Fast forward a few months, and I'm now biking more than I've ever done in my life, but I've noticed a downward trend in my heart rate, so much so that I'm now worried that biking is no longer providing me with a good workout anymore.

For example:

I biked to work yesterday morning, and my HR was 137av/150max. I couldn't get it past 150, when back in May it simply took a minute or so of biking and I'd already shoot up to 165. On the trip back, I was fighting a giant head wind and traveling uphill, pedaling with everything I could in my muscles... and I got 135av/149max. What on earth?

So I looked back at my records and took a peek at the last time I did my hill training course: 142av/154max. Argh! I try do these routes as hard as I can, until my muscles can't take it anymore. What is going on?!

Compare this to the 160av/175max I got in early June, or the 158av/168max in May and a host of similar readings.

Am I just biking too much and not letting my muscles recover enough? I usually only have one day of rest per week now, should I increase that?

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Old 07-15-11, 09:47 AM   #2
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A lower heart rate can be a sign you are getting in better shape and don't need to put out as much effort as before. Don't make too much of heart rate in isolation from speed, conditions, length of ride, etc.

Your resting heart rate is a better indication of too much riding, i.e. where it doesn't get as low as it should.
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Old 07-15-11, 09:56 AM   #3
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Couple causes I can think of:
  • Improved fitness, as Cych said,
  • Could be sick, low-grade infection somewhere or cold,
  • Not enough rest between workouts,
  • Not enough quality sleep at night.

In the "God, he's unsympathetic category", my first impulse was to say that "You're not doing it right": ride faster <sorry>. However, only you can decide if this is a valid reason.
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Old 07-15-11, 11:34 AM   #4
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You need steeper hills and taller gears. My HR doesn't peak above the range you're seeing even when I'm pushing it pretty hard on the flats and little rollers, but when faced with a mile long 10% climb on my 44/17 singlespeed I can put my HR into the mid-160s.
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Old 07-15-11, 12:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post
In the "God, he's unsympathetic category", my first impulse was to say that "You're not doing it right": ride faster <sorry>. However, only you can decide if this is a valid reason.
No apologies necessary, I am finding myself disappointed by my speed as well. I really wish I could go faster, and I keep pushing as hard as I can go, but my muscles simply do not have it in them to go any faster :\

I can feel them mildly aching every day now, even after a day of rest. Usually I don't feel anything walking, but as soon as I hit some stairs, bam, I can feel it. Is this a bad sign? I'm wondering if I'm not letting them recover enough.
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Old 07-15-11, 12:19 PM   #6
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Muscles do work and consume oxygen. Heart and Lungs supply oxygen and evacuate CO2. If the heart and lungs are more efficient, your HR will beat slower and you'll be less winded. But maybe the level of power in the muscle may not bulked up or increased. But you are more fit. In fact, if you recorded your resting heart rate beofre (e.g. when you wake up in the morning), it should be much lower now that you are fit. When I stopped riding for a couple of years after my cycling accident, I gained a lot of weight and lost muscle. My resting HR went up to 65 bpm in the AM. It was 31 bpm back in college when I rode 20 miles a day and had 3000+ ft of elevation gain. So you might want to note those improvements to your fitness. I'm back down to 49 bpm at night.

To improve your power, I've used weight room, and interval training on hills in bigger gears and honk out of the saddle. But I sometimes question the need to really push harder. I have too many colleagues who "push" and everyone over 35 is scheduled for orthopedic surgery - either knee, hip, elbow, shoulder, etc. And it's due to working out too much. And at my age, it just isn't ligaments and bone that can be damaged by falls, but cartilage, miniscus membranes, and tendon inflammation and detachment from the muscles. It sucks to get old. But I know a buddy who just detached the achilles tendon behind ankle spiking at beach volleyball. Agony. And I just had rotator cuff repair last year. Ouch!

They have a saying - after 35, if it don't hurt, it's broke! And I;m getting on the closer side to 50.
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Old 07-15-11, 12:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post

I can feel them mildly aching every day now, even after a day of rest.
You've hit a plateau.

Take 4 days off. You can walk as much as you want,
and I suggest you go on some long walks or a hike.

And then start back in.

Don't worry about your HR.

Start timing your rides. Try and shave a little off. Just a little.

Try 2 rest days a week for a while. The amount of rest you need depends on how much
you need to recover. Do you know the drill? Take BP before you get up in the morning.
Track your sleep and resting HR.

And get some Omega 3.
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Old 07-15-11, 02:36 PM   #8
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I'm in the same boat. 140 is pretty hard work now. My resting HR has dropped to 44. Went to the doctor yesterday (Ear infection). Nurse freaked at my 48 bpm reading. I also had a temperature of 95.3?
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Old 07-16-11, 08:39 PM   #9
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...and here I was walking into a thread I thought was going to be comically amusing, don't tease us with these wicked thread titles.
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Old 07-17-11, 05:45 AM   #10
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I notice the same thing at the beginning of the season every year. I can push my HR higher/easer in the spring than I can a few months later. It isn't that I can't get it up there, it just takes much more PAIN to do it! The other thing is if you don't let your muscles get some recovery time it will keep you from rididng at your peak. For instance, I usually take about 3 days off before a century ride that I plan to ride hard and my average HR and max are usually much higher for a 5 hour ride than they are for 2 hour training rides because my leggs are fresh.
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Old 07-18-11, 06:29 AM   #11
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Congrats. You're just in better shape. When i got back to riding while badly out of shape I went anaerobic at 133 beats per minute and my absolute high end heart rate that I could get to was about 164. Now I can ride for a good long period at 150 and hit 177 on a tough hill a while ago. All your lowered heart rate means is you can work harder before going anaerobic. If your legs won't get you there then it's just a matter of more strength training or more riding to get your legs back up to match your heart's ability and at some point you'll be able to tax your heart again. It's all good.
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