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  1. #1
    Member brigadon's Avatar
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    Just Got Myself a Heart Rate Monitor

    There's been a whole lot of scientific investigation into sports training been done in the fifty years since I was a teenager killing myself riding big miles over the Scottish Grampians plains and mountains.

    The only advice I remember listening to at that time was from an article by TDF winner Fausto Coppi who said that the best training for cycling was "cycling, cycling, cycling".

    Well, I took this to heart and the result was that I ceased enjoying my cycling and burnt myself out after 3 years racing as a junior.

    Now that I've rediscovered the pleasure of sitting on a bike and having regained a moderate degree of fitness my aim is to enjoy my biking like I used to before I read that Coppi article.

    From reading in the web it seemed like a good idea to get a heart rate monitor and put some of this new science into practice, so I got one last weekend and spent some time today setting it up and learning to use it.

    I went for my first ride this afternoon. 10 minutes warmup then 20 minutes into a stiff wind on flat terrain.

    The results are both surprising and pleasing, but I need to do lots more riding and studying to fully understand and interpret them.

    Firstly I discovered that that "sweet" spot at the top of the effort range where cycling is still comfortable and seems effortless is just at the top of the "healthy heart zone",which is 110 beats p.min in my case,65% of "Maximum Heart Rate". A good place for fitness training but not enough effort for strength building.

    Pushing up through the 70%+ range is where the going gets tough, and no doubt I'll spend some time there on my next ride when I tackle a few hills. This is the "Fitness Zone" where the pain begins. Not so good in the short term, but essential for strength development. So it's going to be not too much and not too often....I have no ambitions to get into the record books as the first septuagenarian to win the Tour De France.

    The puzzling result from this afternoon's first trial is that riding as hard as I could I couldn't push the heart rate above 128 bpm which is a long way from my theoretical maximum of 174 bpm. Now, I wonder, does this indicate that I'm exceptionally weak, exceptionally unfit, or the opposite....that I'm pretty fit for my 72 years? Or does it mean something else?

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    Quote Originally Posted by brigadon
    The puzzling result from this afternoon's first trial is that riding as hard as I could I couldn't push the heart rate above 128 bpm which is a long way from my theoretical maximum of 174 bpm. Now, I wonder, does this indicate that I'm exceptionally weak, exceptionally unfit, or the opposite....that I'm pretty fit for my 72 years? Or does it mean something else?
    It probably means your MHR calculation is wrong. The normal MHR calculation is 220-age so your theoretical MHR would be 148. Taking this into account your figures are probably about right (although I'm no expert and only comment based on what I've read about HR training).

    cheers

    /kak

  3. #3
    OnTheRoad or AtTheBeach stonecrd's Avatar
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    Yes, MHR calculations are pretty faulty. I think mine comes out to 177 for my age and I have hit 189 on more than one occasion. Pick a point when you feel good and push hard, maybe going up a hill and just keep adjusting your max upward until you no longer are able to exceed it. Of course you should make sure by having a physical or discussing your training with your physician that pushing to your MHR is a OK for you. Now with that said most experts don't train against MHR but against your Lactate Threshold. This is the point where your circulatory system can no longer remove Lactate as fast as you are producing it and it starts to build up in your muscles causing fatigue. For me that is about 87% of my MHR. By staying below the LTH you can ride longer and by pushing your LTH you can increase it. At least that is my understanding

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    Give yourself a LT test on a trainer (more uniform), then use that figure to set up heart rate zones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brigadon
    The puzzling result from this afternoon's first trial is that riding as hard as I could I couldn't push the heart rate above 128 bpm which is a long way from my theoretical maximum of 174 bpm. Now, I wonder, does this indicate that I'm exceptionally weak, exceptionally unfit, or the opposite....that I'm pretty fit for my 72 years? Or does it mean something else?
    One of the early lessons I learnt about using HR is that your MAX HR is the maximum that YOU can attain. The formulas do not work!!!
    I also found that it depends on the type of exercise. On a treadmill I can just barely achieve 145. On the bike I can hit 188 on a steep hill. I am 52 yrs old.
    I understand that the level of fitness is related to resting HR and the speed of recovery. Max HR is down to genetics.
    "Live today as if it is your last, plan for tomorrow as if you will live forever"

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Ditto to the advice above. One other thing to consider, and it may or may not apply to your situation. I found that my wireless computer created interference with my heart rate monitor and gave me faulty readings. So, if you're using a wireless computer, try the monitor with the computer off the bike.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  7. #7
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    I finally broke down and got a heartrate monitor a few weeks ago....always preferring to go "organic" before that. How do I find my personal max heart rate? Do I simply warm up on the trainer and then go like hell, seeing how far I can push it. How long should I be able to hold it before it becomes the max HR, or does the fact I can't hold it indicate the max HR? And I assume more than one effort on different days would be good?
    ..... "I renewed my youth, to outward appearance, by mounting a bicycle for the first time." Mark Twain, Speeches
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    Senior Member RockyMtnMerlin's Avatar
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    Here are some thoughts from Joe Friel, author of "Cycling Past 50."

    "But bear in mind that determining heart rate training zones is best done by using lactate threshold heart rate rather than max heart rate. Treat max heart rate as merely an "interesting number."

    I use that book a lot. Even if you are not into racing it has great tips for training for longer rides and touring. It has his method for determining lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR or sometimes just LT). It is also interesting to note that (unlike Max HR) this number is variable with fitness level, sleep habits etc and should be tested periodically. Having said all that 128 sounds kind of low. I assume that you did check with a physician before you started your program.

    I googled around and couldn't find a concise description of his method to cut and paste here, so best to try to find the book (or another source with a do-it-yourself LTHR test). It is easiest to do this with your bike on a trainer and with a friend to write down your numbers for you. But you could do it yourself.
    Last edited by RockyMtnMerlin; 04-11-06 at 08:20 AM.

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    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrannyGear
    I finally broke down and got a heartrate monitor a few weeks ago....always preferring to go "organic" before that. How do I find my personal max heart rate? Do I simply warm up on the trainer and then go like hell, seeing how far I can push it. How long should I be able to hold it before it becomes the max HR, or does the fact I can't hold it indicate the max HR? And I assume more than one effort on different days would be good?

    You might want to take a look at these sites.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/fitness/?...ers02-07#Heart
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/fitness/?...s01-03#Lactate
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/fitness/?...tters05-02#Low
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/fitness/?...30#Calculating
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/fitness/?...tters10-24#Max
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/fitness/?...ers07-04#heart
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  10. #10
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brigadon
    There's been a whole lot of scientific investigation into sports training been done in the fifty years since I was a teenager killing myself riding big miles over the Scottish Grampians plains and mountains.

    The only advice I remember listening to at that time was from an article by TDF winner Fausto Coppi who said that the best training for cycling was "cycling, cycling, cycling".

    Well, I took this to heart and the result was that I ceased enjoying my cycling and burnt myself out after 3 years racing as a junior.

    Now that I've rediscovered the pleasure of sitting on a bike and having regained a moderate degree of fitness my aim is to enjoy my biking like I used to before I read that Coppi article.
    If fun and enjoying the pleasure of cycling is really your goal my suggestion is: Toss the Heart Rate Monitor and "fitness rituals" in the same place as the Fausto Coppi training article and enjoy your cycling at whatever pace is enjoyable. Period.

  11. #11
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I hope you got an American calibrated heart rate monitor.

    Those from Europe and other countries use metric heart measurement and can give you faulty information.

    The heart rate conversion formula from metric is metric * 1.6 = American heart rates.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  12. #12
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I'll repost a previous post about Max HR, heart rate training and VO2 training.

    The 220 - age is only a very broad, usually incorrect calculation. It was thought of by two doctors as they reviewed some medical records on an airplane flight. No basis in research.

    There are many other more sophisticated "formulas" for calculating MHR, but the best way is to have a test to see.

    And we 50+rs aren't really that fragile regarding our heart rates.

    Here is a recent posting on this exact topic from an expert on the ACE (American Council for Exercise) forum:


    If something is written down often enough, people will begin to believe it is true.

    We see so often the generic Max Heart Rate calculation formula 220 - age. I hear so many people say things like:
    "I'm 40 and my HR got up to 180, but I felt fine. Should I go see a doctor?"
    "I'm trying to exercise in my target HR but I feel like I'm killing myself."

    I'm hoping to raise people's awareness of just how flawed 220 - age is. It is not useless. It is easy to remember, easy to calculate, and may make a reasonable estimate for much of the population.

    However, it has a standard error of about 10 bpm (depending on your source). Standard error means that ~67% of the population will fall within 10 beats of the formula. 95% of the population will have a range of 40 beats per minute (20 to either side). Another way to think about it is that 1/3 of your clients will fall 10 or more beats per minutes away from the 220 - age formula. 1 in 20 may be 20 beats away from the formula.

    For example, say you have a 40 year old client with resting HR of 70:
    220 - 40 = 180 theoretical maxHR.
    Based on that, say you suggest a targetHR of 80% HRR = 158.
    If your client's actual maxHR is just one standard deviation lower (170), then you've inadvertantly suggested a target of 88% of maxHRR.

    The ACE Personal Trainer Manual just barely mentions this.

    quote:...takes into consideration the person's resting heart rate.

    To clarify, most target heart range recommendations rely either on % of MaxHR, or % of Heart Rate Reserve (which incorporates resting heart rate and MaxHR). Either one relies on a reasonably accurate assessment of MaxHR.

    Heart Rate Reserve & lactate threshold

    Frisbee wrote: I take 220-age-RHR x 65% + RHR = THR

    That's the basic Karvonen (heart rate reserve) method with an estimated MaxHR. That is the same formula I used in my calcuation above, but I didn't write out all the steps of the math. I'll restate the example using 65% and show more math:

    Example: say you have a 40 year old client with resting HR of 70:

    220 - 40 = 180 theoretical maxHR.

    Carrying out your formula for a 65% target:

    (180 - 70)*.65 + 70 = 72 + 70 = 142 suggested target heart rate.

    Now, let's say your client's actual max heart rate is one standard deviation lower (170). That would mean the calculations should have looked like this:

    (170 - 70)*.65 + 70 = 72 + 70 = 135 ACTUAL 65% of HRR.

    The recommendation of 142 would really be recommendation for 72% of HRR.

    It is unlikely that your client's perceived exertion would match your expectations. She is working a lot harder than you would expect.

    Resting heart rate provides a correction, but it is not enough to counter the fallibility of 220 - age.

    Frisbee wrote: what about lactic acid threshold testing?

    If you mean in a lab with blood draws, it provides excellent information about pace. However, lactate threshold is, fortunately, quickly trained. Because it is changing, your client should in theory have this checked regularly. I don't imagine I will ever have clients willing to subject themselves to regular laboratory lactate threshold testing, let alone afford it. (The same test would, however, probably get me a good working MaxHR.)

    If you mean using normal models to estimate lactate threshold, I find them difficult to apply. The only common non-lab, yet well accepted test I'm aware of is the "point of deflection" method. In my limited experience, it is hard to zero in on that point of deflection. It is an interesting test to give to a client who is interested and ready to train hard. But I make sure they are aware that it is a fallible test. Furthermore, I wouldn't give it to someone who was not in very good condition.

    The VO2Max tests in the ACE trainer manual (and similar tests from other sources), I've found to be quite fallible. I do use some of them because they aren't terrible. Also, there are enough to choose from that you can give one which is appropriate to the client. (E.g., few clients would be unable to handle the Rockport 1 mile walk test.)

    But the bottom line is that you must tune into your clients' percieved exertion so that you can recognize when your tests and formulas are off.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  13. #13
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox
    I hope you got an American calibrated heart rate monitor.

    Those from Europe and other countries use metric heart measurement and can give you faulty information.

    The heart rate conversion formula from metric is metric * 1.6 = American heart rates.

    And I thought I was doing so well. (Its currently 1.73 by the way.)

    Until you get fit- Forget the Theoretical max heart rate. Find the rate at which you are breathing hard. Providing you can talk to a rider alongside in comfort with just a few extra breaths- That is your riding pace- When it gets so that you are getting laboured talking- have to----break the sentences----down so that you-----can occasional---ly breath. then this is where you are working hard- and working the heart and lungs and legs, then this is just a bit higher than your optimum riding effort. And if you cannot get a word out to your riding partner- You have just hit a steep hill.

    Check this amount of effort against your Heart rate, and you will find your pacing. Everyone is different so don't go by rules- go at your pace.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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    Member brigadon's Avatar
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    Thanks for all of the comments.

    I can see that the whole business of HRMs is not as simple as the first impression given in the manufacturers manual.

    Why I decided to get one was firstly to get an indication that I wasn't in danger of killing myself through over-exertion.

    Secondly, I needed to get some independant reassurance that my usually moderate level of exertion was sufficient to gain some fitness and a bit of strengthening without risking the pleasure I've been getting from my recent return to biking.

    Thirdly, there will be a level of exercise intensity below which my present fitness will go backwards and this prospect seems real with advancing age and inconsistent motivation. The HRM might be useful in judging this threshhold.

    I agree with Big Paulie that I will probably get bored with the new gadget and sell it on EBay before long....the young shop assistant who sold it to me said as much. In the meantime my wife appreciates that I'm taking some steps to avoid overdoing things.

    >> I hope you got an American calibrated heart rate monitor.

    >>Those from Europe and other countries use metric heart measurement and >>can give you faulty information.

    >>The heart rate conversion formula from metric is metric * 1.6 = American heart rates.

    DnvrFox........what does this comment mean?
    Did I miss a funny?

  15. #15
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=brigadon]Thanks for all of the comments.


    Why I decided to get one was firstly to get an indication that I wasn't in danger of killing myself through over-exertion.

    Probably the reason most of us get one

    Secondly, I needed to get some independant reassurance that my usually moderate level of exertion was sufficient to gain some fitness and a bit of strengthening without risking the pleasure I've been getting from my recent return to biking.

    Main reason I use mine now is to ensure that I am working hard enough and not taking it easy


    Thirdly, there will be a level of exercise intensity below which my present fitness will go backwards and this prospect seems real with advancing age and inconsistent motivation. The HRM might be useful in judging this threshhold.

    Same reason as above

    I agree with Big Paulie that I will probably get bored with the new gadget and sell it on EBay before long....the young shop assistant who sold it to me said as much. In the meantime my wife appreciates that I'm taking some steps to avoid overdoing things.

    Been using mine for 10 years or so---- On and off- but are a good indicator of how fit you are- Once you have found your level of fitness- But I use mine to pace myself over the longer rides and it works. I like to ride at around 140 to 145 BPM. Below that and I am not working hard enough, and above this and I am not going to last. Then where you have to put in effort you do not put in too much effort unless it is required and then not for too long

    >> I hope you got an American calibrated heart rate monitor.

    >>Those from Europe and other countries use metric heart measurement and >>can give you faulty information.

    >>The heart rate conversion formula from metric is metric * 1.6 = American heart rates.

    DnvrFox........what does this comment mean?


    Think metric and converting KPH to MPH- Same applies to us Europeans on heart rate as we have the hills, the Pollution free air in the mountains and the Extra fitness over most other countries that means that we are able to push ourselves to far greater limits than most mortals.
    So divide our quoted heart rates- miles done- %age of hills by 1.6 and you will cut out our advantage of living in a better biking environment -- and our bragging


    Did I miss a funny?

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    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  16. #16
    Member brigadon's Avatar
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    >>Secondly, I needed to get some independant reassurance that my usually moderate level of exertion was sufficient to gain some fitness and a bit of >>strengthening without risking the pleasure I've been getting from my recent return to biking.

    >>Main reason I use mine now is to ensure that I am working hard enough and not taking it easy

    I think I'm beginning to reach a fitness level where I can understand your viewpoint Stap.

    This is my third season since returning to reasonably ( for an old codger) serious biking and just recently I've began to experience a feeling of heightened mood when I'm pushing the pedals just right....hard, but not too hard. Could this be the endorphins I read about? Is it addictive.......I hope so

  17. #17
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brigadon

    >> I hope you got an American calibrated heart rate monitor.

    >>Those from Europe and other countries use metric heart measurement and >>can give you faulty information.

    >>The heart rate conversion formula from metric is metric * 1.6 = American heart rates.

    DnvrFox........what does this comment mean?
    Did I miss a funny?
    Today, my wife and I were riding our bicycles along Mission Bay in San Diego. Mission Bay was low because the tide was low. You could easily see the high water line.

    So, I told my wife, "Look at how low the water is. The drought has really hit and affected this area. It is really bad!"

    She believed me at first hearing, and then her wheels in her head started turning, and I was once again discovered.

    You have to get to know me.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  18. #18
    Member brigadon's Avatar
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    I learned two things today..... first I found that the low maximum heart rate of 128 bpm that I could reach on my short ride yesterday was almost certainly due to an inadequate warmup. Today I did a 20 minute warmup gradually increasing in intensity. When I then hit a short sharp hill I had no trouble pushing my heart rate to 146bpm which is 84% of my "fictitious" maiximum heart rate.

    So I now feel a little more normal and able to interpret the figures with more confidence.

    Second thing I learned was that DnvrFox has a Scottish ancestry ....there is no way to acquire such a sense of humour except through an inherited dominant gene . I should know!


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    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brigadon
    Second thing I learned was that DnvrFox has a Scottish ancestry ....there is no way to acquire such a sense of humour except through an inherited dominant gene . I should know!

    I am a Heinz 57 - there may be some scottish, who knows.

    I once had a whole group of folks convinced that the footprints in the snow of a man in the path we were following were someone walking backwards because they were pointed in the opposite direction than we were going. Truly!
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  20. #20
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brigadon
    I learned two things today..... first I found that the low maximum heart rate of 128 bpm that I could reach on my short ride yesterday was almost certainly due to an inadequate warmup. Today I did a 20 minute warmup gradually increasing in intensity. When I then hit a short sharp hill I had no trouble pushing my heart rate to 146bpm which is 84% of my "fictitious" maiximum heart rate.

    So I now feel a little more normal and able to interpret the figures with more confidence.

    Second thing I learned was that DnvrFox has a Scottish ancestry ....there is no way to acquire such a sense of humour except through an inherited dominant gene . I should know!


    I do a warm up of 2 miles at around 120, then first slope get to 135 and I am puffing, let it drop to 120. Next slope get to 145 and let it drop to 130ish. Then push to 150 and I am shattered. I then relax down to completely comfortable and I can then do the ride at 140 to 145 within my comfort zone. If I did not do the warm up- then I am shattered at 135 and it will take a long time to recover.

    I used to do long distance crosscountry runs and my warm up before the run was just some gentle jogging and stretching. At the two mile mark I was at the back of the field but from then on I started to work just a bit harder and a bit harder and so on. I was always way up the front by the end and it took a national runner or two to keep me off the Podium.

    This is a system that works for me still on the bike, and the system is worth a try- but at your level of fitness.

    Talking of Family quips dnvr Why is the sea so salty? Its because people keep throwing their empty potatoe crisp packets in the sea and it makes it salty-- my 25 year old daughter believed this until she was about 15, and I must have told her this when she was about 6.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

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