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  1. #1
    Peddlin' Around Detroit Motorad's Avatar
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    Why Use a Heart Rate Monitor?

    I quit smoking seven years ago; I went on the wagon two years ago; If I quit anything else, I could apply for Saint-hood. Having given up those vices, my blood pressure is much more consistent and at normal pressure.

    I don't foresee the interest in measuring my heart rate while cycling, because over the years, I learned to do ballpark pulse rate counts (count rate for 15 seconds) x (4) = beats per minute. I first thought that the interest in HRMs would dominate in the 50+ forum, but surprizingly this is discussed quite a bit in a lot of the forums.

    Why is there such an interest in HRMs? Is the interest for just making sure you don't overexert (i.e., you don't croak) ... or is it for training at levels that are supposed to be at a certain rate of your maximum heart rate (approaching professional training)?

    And if you are going to get an HRM, is it best to get a stand-alone HRM, instead of a cyclocomputer that has an HRM bundled into it?

  2. #2
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    I don't bother with one, but I do occasionally count my pulse, mainly out of curiosity. (My basal resting pulse is about 43 BPM, and I max out just over 150 BPM, which quickly drops back to about 90 when I stop.)
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  3. #3
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    Zone Training for better results. Some HR ranges are better for weight loss or cardio conditioning than others. Past a certain level (lactic threshold), you will only last so long before bonking, so by using a HR monitor you can make sure you don't exceed that upper limit if you still have a lot of distance left on your ride. That helps me because I can easily be goaded into exceeding my LT and burning up my reserves when I shouldn't and paying for it later.
    Specialized Roubaix SL4 Disc, Cannondale T2000 (touring), Stumpjumper M5 (Mtn - hardtail), Cannondale Rize4 (Mtn - full susp)

  4. #4
    Senior Member Skipper's Avatar
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    You could have done less typing if you had just asked, "If I am going to get an HRM, is it best to get a stand-alone HRM, instead of a cyclocomputer that has an HRM bundled into it?"

    I use a Garmin Edge 305, not because I need to but because I want to.

  5. #5
    Senior Member dendawg's Avatar
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    I bought one to use as a training device, as well as see how I am progressing. Both that I have bought had a built in cycle computer. First was a Polar 150. I later wanted to add cadence so I went with an Edge 305.

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I had a heart problem 8 years ago and used the HRM to give me confidence on what I was doing physically. No overstraining or higher HR for too long. So that is one reason- a check on a problem

    However- I go out on some long rides. I have to pace myself on those rides so if I stayed in my upper reaches for too long- I probably would not make the distance. I know what my max is, and what I can get up to. I treat my max as 165 but I like to ride at about 140 BPM. at this rate I am fast enough, comfortable and I can do the distance. I will go to 150 for hills- get up to 155 by the end of the hill and even reach my 165 by the end of the trickier hills.

    Only problem is that although I am comfortable at 140, I am also comfortable at 130. I am also once warmed up comfortable at 145. By using the HRM I can Keep myself in the zone of 140- so extending my ride. So second reason is to regulate my pace in the rides.

    I have to do a warm up on all rides. I cannot get on the bike and go out and get to 140 immediately. I get myself to 120 and slowdown, When breathing comfortable- I then go to 130, then slow down and recover. Then go to 140 and recover and finally to 150 and slow down again. Once I have hit that 150 and recovered- I know that my warm up has been successful and I will be able to do my ride without letting myself down on the ride
    Then somedays I will not warm up right and find myself Working hard- but a quick check on the HRM will show me that I am at 130. If I have not done the warm up right this will occur- so slow down and do the warm up again. If I still feel uncomfortable at 130- Then I know it will not be a good ride or I am about to come down with a cold.

    I am not a slave to the HRM and I don't wear it that often but If I am in training for an event or actually on an event, then the HRM will be used to keep an eye on what I am doing.

    Plus the fact that as my riding partners know about the Heart problem- It scares the Sh*t out of them when we get to the top of a hard climb and the alarm goes off.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  7. #7
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Three reasons someone might want to measure:
    1-Just curious to know what their HR is and how it varies
    2-Medical reasons (some of us Afib types)
    3-Focusing on overall performance-training aide
    Okay-maybe there is a 4th-some folks just have to have all the latest and greatest electronic gadgets....


    Geez........I think I can check off "all the above"!!!!

  8. #8
    Senior Member RDW3261's Avatar
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    I use mine to make sure I get a good work out. I try and do 30 to 60 minutes in the zone each ride. If I don't have one on I tend to day dream on rides. I use it to concentrate more.

  9. #9
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RDW3261
    I use mine to make sure I get a good work out. I try and do 30 to 60 minutes in the zone each ride. If I don't have one on I tend to day dream on rides. I use it to concentrate more.
    Daydreaming is cool! I daydream that I can keep up with the fast riders.

  10. #10
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    I have a stand-alone HRM, a Cat Eye, because I use it in other athletic pursuits (heresy!).

    I use it so I know how close I am to my max HR -- then I have an idea how long I can stay there -- as well as to focus on staying at 75-80% of my max HR during tempo training. Perceived exertion has its place, to be sure. There will be times when I perceive that I'm this () close to dying when in reality I'm at 80% and need a day off.

    As someone else said, it helps to keep me focused, esp. on the back of the tandem, where opportunities to gawk & talk abound.
    When my feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, "Oh, *****, she's awake!"

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  11. #11
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    I quit using HR monitors many years ago, but then started using them again after having a poor training cycle for a marathon where I suspect I "over trained." So I use a HR monitor, to "prove" to myself that my recovery, or easy workouts -- are actually as easy as they should be.

    Everybody else that uses HR monitors are mostly just a bunch of goobers who like to think they are being scientific.

    Zone HR Training is most effective for those engaged in structured training plans using "periodization."
    Most of the goobers like to think they are "doing that" too - because Pro coaches and cyclists do it.

  12. #12
    The guy in the 50+ jersey PAlt's Avatar
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    I use a Polar S725x. I am trying to build my endurance & climbing strength, am using zone training to help build base miles (Z1 & 2), as well as doings intervals and spinning and climbing drills to build strength (upper Z3 to Z5). Had an exercise physiologist tell me that at age 50 & above, our bodies want to lose muscle mass, relative to younger folks, so it's important to build or keep muscle. Also told me that since I'd lost weight, and he estimated I was generally riding in Z3 during my rides, that I was neither building muscle nor building endurance, just sort of "static". Since these are goals for me, the HRM was and is a good investment.

  13. #13
    Senior Member
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    I use a Timex "iron man" series hrm. Like others I use it to keep a little better track on when I might be overdoing it without realizing it. My max hr is in the low 170's. sometimes when riding with a group I will look down and note my rate at 165+. That being the case I know I will not last too much longer. It's funny becuase many times when my heart rate is way up I actually feel pretty good.
    Doing this lets me drop back down to an 80% of max rate where I know I can ride all day. In hot weather I also watch to check recovery rate, again another good thing to check as a way of knowing if you are overdoing it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Red Baron's Avatar
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    I wouldn't exercise w/o one. Being an engineer, I LOVE Data. Spreadsheets are our Friend!

    Best training device I've had the pleasure to deal with.

    Lovely wife on the other hand, doesn't really use the one I got her.
    **Fate is a fickle thing, and in the end the true measure of a person is not fate itself, but how they master it**

  15. #15
    DoubleTrouble cgallagh's Avatar
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    Everybody else that uses HR monitors are mostly just a bunch of goobers who like to think they are being scientific.

    Glad to know someone has their "finger on the pulse" so to speak. Pun intended. Maybe a little generalization going on here on the number of goobers.
    Two blondes walked into a building-You think one of them would have seen it.
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  16. #16
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe
    Three reasons someone might want to measure:
    1-Just curious to know what their HR is and how it varies
    2-Medical reasons (some of us Afib types)
    3-Focusing on overall performance-training aide
    Okay-maybe there is a 4th-some folks just have to have all the latest and greatest electronic gadgets....
    Geez........I think I can check off "all the above"!!!!
    #1 thru #3 for me, and #2 is a reason I wear it on every ride where I might be goin at a strong clip.
    I'm not really a gadget geek, so #4 doesn't apply.
    I 1st started using them back in the early '90s (late 80's maybe?) when they were about the size of an Apple Newton. Took quite a bit of real estate on the bars back then, especially when you consider many of us were ridin 40s back then. Still, they opened a whole new understanding of 'effort' and 'conservation of energy' that you just couldn;t see any other way. About the same time that 'AT' beceame a buzzword and Conconi (SP?) figured out his AT 'kink'...
    Personally I prefer the standalone type versus the Bike computer combo. But I may just try a combo unit, starting tomorrow, since Perf Bike sent me a $20 off coupie on any $50 purchase of accesories or rags. Seems a good deal...
    I'll go with the simple - budget stuff . Same same as with my head; since my head is only a $50 head, I figure my Heart is really only a $75 heart - Tops!

  17. #17
    Peddlin' Around Detroit Motorad's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone. While my estimated riding style would never warrant the need of an HRM, for training purposes ... I must admit that like Red Baron ... I'm a data-junkie. May get one for that reason alone.

    What are the negative points about an HRM? The last time I had an electrocardiogram, I had a bunch of wires strapped to my chest, which was an adventure in pain when removing the wires (and gratuitous amounts of chest hair). Unless there is a reeeeeally long wire from your chest to the HRM, how is the information relayed from heart to monitor ... as far as taping sensors on your chest? How many sensors needed, and how they are secured to your body, I guess is what I'm asking.

    And if HRMs use radio transmissions from rider's chest to rider's HRM, what would prevent my HRM from picking up transmissions from another rider's heart-sensor?

    And for argument, if HRMs work by receiving radio transmissions from sensors (around the heart) that send the radio waves ... are there any contraindications of using these remote HRM sensors if you use a pace-maker or other medical-mechanical device for control of your heart/blood pressure?

  18. #18
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    What are the negative points about an HRM?

    None?

    How many sensors needed, and how they are secured to your body, I guess is what I'm asking.

    Only one strap that is fixed round the chest and is basically a thick elastic. No taping on of sensors at all or wires to the Monitor.


    And if HRMs use radio transmissions from rider's chest to rider's HRM, what would prevent my HRM from picking up transmissions from another rider's heart-sensor?

    Unless you ride Tandem or very close to another seneder Unit- then cross- transmission is very rare.


    And for argument, if HRMs work by receiving radio transmissions from sensors (around the heart) that send the radio waves ... are there any contraindications of using these remote HRM sensors if you use a pace-maker or other medical-mechanical device for control of your heart/blood pressure?

    Could be so contact your cardiologist about this one
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    My goal is long distance biking at moderate speed. I used HRM to get to a sustainable speed of 17 MPH. That done, my limitations are legs and nutrition issues and NOT HR. My HR stays below 125. I push my limits on occasions and feel my HR going up. For instance: I used a recumbent trainer recently. The monitor said 1000 Calories/hr. My HR was below 140, nowhere near my maximum but my knees did not like that strain and I had to back off.
    What I am trying to say: The HRM is not where it is for many fit bikers. We have other issues.

  20. #20
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam
    I have to do a warm up on all rides. I cannot get on the bike and go out and get to 140 immediately. I get myself to 120 and slowdown, When breathing comfortable- I then go to 130, then slow down and recover. Then go to 140 and recover and finally to 150 and slow down again. Once I have hit that 150 and recovered- I know that my warm up has been successful and I will be able to do my ride without letting myself down on the ride
    I tried this on sunday. It works really well and was certainly the best start to a ride I've had in yonks Thanks.

    Richard
    I had a good bike ... so I FIXED it

  21. #21
    Third World Layabout crtreedude's Avatar
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    Interesting stuff on the HRMs. I don't use one, haven't even been tempted to buy one which is surprising since I am a ubergeek. But, my bike is clean of most gadgets - I do have a cyclometer - but it is the cheapest I could find, really basic model.

    I don't really check my heart rate. I do know resting I am around 45 BPM but I don't really worry about it as I am cycling since I find my weak link tends to be the heat - i.e. when I start heating up too much, it is time to back down. Maybe if I road in a different climate, I would do differently. Also, our roads tend to be pretty bad - so often I could go faster but I don't want to be jarred that much. Going up hill can burn out my legs before I feel my heart is working too hard. I have really strong legs, but thankfully, I seem to have stronger heart and lungs.

    So, because my goal is transportation and site-seeing, I really don't worry about a HRM. I have lost a lot of weight and gotten a lot stronger just by riding - perhaps also IT is that I tend to push myself up hills. I love hills - but I don't particularly enjoy throwing up! So, it seems to be pretty self regulating.

  22. #22
    Senior Member rodrigaj's Avatar
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    helps with periodization of effort. If you don't know what that is read "Heart Zones Cycling" by Sally Edwards.

  23. #23
    OnTheRoad or AtTheBeach stonecrd's Avatar
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    In addition to helping in training the HRM will also tell you when you need to slow down or are getting in trouble. I know that when I go over 92% MHR, I only have a few minutes before trouble starts. I can keep 85%-90% for an hour. If I find that I am riding on a long ride at a lower pace say 17mph and I am >85% MHR I know that I am starting to get into trouble with hydration. I really only pay attention to two things during my ride %MHR and cadence. If I keep these things in my sweet spot then I will have a good ride.
    The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard and the shallow end is much too large

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  24. #24
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    An early warning device? - if you look down, and your working HRM reads "0" you know you are in deep s***.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  25. #25
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by europa
    I tried this on sunday. It works really well and was certainly the best start to a ride I've had in yonks Thanks.

    Richard
    Just in case any of you did not read the original that Richard is writing about- This is about doing a controlled warm up using the HRM to gauge yourself. It does work and when I was younger- I did, Or thought I could- just go out and blast it and have full strength. When I started Long distance running- My Club instructor put me onto this form of warming up and that was when I started beating him. He never passed on any more tips though.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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