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  1. #1
    Yen
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    The talking test of level of exertion

    Years ago when I was trying to get in shape on a stationery bike I was checking my heart rate using the traditional pulse method and the charts for my age. Whenever my heart rate climbed into the zone for my age, I felt tired the next day.

    Then I remembered Covert Bailey's book Smart Exercise in which he says that a person whose resting heart rate is above average might not fit within the typical scale and suggested using the talking test instead. Basically that means that you should be able to say a short sentence without gasping but not too easily either.

    So, I thought the opposite might also be true -- that a person (like me) whose resting HR is below average might also be the same.

    So I tried the talking test -- "Hi my name is __________ ____________" <breath> "I live at _______________" <breath> ___________________

    I found that I not only felt good the next day but my fitness improved almost daily, and I began to rely on this method instead of checking my pulse.

    Just wondering if anyone else employs this method and what you think of its reliability. For me, the results were noticeable. I wear a HR monitor now on some of my rides just to see what it reads and I use the talk test now and then and compare the two. The upper 150s seems to be my threshold of exertion right now.
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    Gone DnvrFox's Avatar
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  3. #3
    Roadkill byte_speed's Avatar
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    I have a low heartrate too, and no it doesn't mean I'm a great athlete or anything of the sort. I've used a heart rate monitor for years and have learned where it should be by experience. I often go past the point of not being able to talk, often I am lucky to manage anything other than a gasp.

    But the talking test is probably not bad, at least you know you really starting to tax your system.

  4. #4
    Yen
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    To me, the talking test says either I'm not putting out enough effort, or I'm putting out too much effort. Because I had great gains in the past while using it, I trust it now.

    I'm not suggesting it as a tool for serious training, but for the typical recreational rider I found it to be very trustworthy.
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  5. #5
    My other car is a bike TruF's Avatar
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    Hi Jen,

    I've never used a heart monitor, but always stop and rest if I cannot speak without gasping. I'm getting stronger, but still have to stop on long steep hills to catch my breath. I agree that it seems to be an effective way for the recreational rider to gauge if she/he is pushing enough without pushing too hard.
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  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TruF View Post
    Hi Jen,

    I've never used a heart monitor, but always stop and rest if I cannot speak without gasping. I'm getting stronger, but still have to stop on long steep hills to catch my breath. I agree that it seems to be an effective way for the recreational rider to gauge if she/he is pushing enough without pushing too hard.
    Without trying to put you down- It is not the breathing and talking that will stop you on a hill- It is the mind set.

    I use the talking method if I don't have the monitor on- well not talking but singing to the I Pod. But for me me getting to that stage is not slow down or stop- It is just don't put any more effort in -and stop wasting energy by singing. Soon passes and I can annoy the birds with my singing again.

    And on hills- No matter how laboured the breathing- I do not stop. May not be going very fast- but legs are made for pedalling. If they were made for walking- God would have made mine longer.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  7. #7
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    . . . And on hills- No matter how laboured the breathing- I do not stop. May not be going very fast- but legs are made for pedalling. . ..
    I like and use this approach but would caution that it all depends on available gearing, fitness, and the length/steepness of the hill. There is no shame in resting or walking. Getting to the top under human power is still a victory for the rider.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member deraltekluge's Avatar
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    Several years ago, I was hospitalized with congestive heart failure. I now take a beta blocker, an ACE inhibitor, and a calcium channel blocker for my condition. My resting heart rate is less than 60; walking, it's about 72; climbing stairs or biking on level ground, about 90; riding up gentle hills, about 120 (I do not do steep hills!).

    The cardiologists have told me that if my breathing is such that I can't easily carry on a conversation, I'm exercising too hard.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yen View Post
    Years ago when I was trying to get in shape on a stationery bike I was checking my heart rate using the traditional pulse method and the charts for my age. Whenever my heart rate climbed into the zone for my age, I felt tired the next day.

    Then I remembered Covert Bailey's book Smart Exercise in which he says that a person whose resting heart rate is above average might not fit within the typical scale and suggested using the talking test instead. Basically that means that you should be able to say a short sentence without gasping but not too easily either.

    So, I thought the opposite might also be true -- that a person (like me) whose resting HR is below average might also be the same.

    So I tried the talking test -- "Hi my name is __________ ____________" <breath> "I live at _______________" <breath> ___________________

    I found that I not only felt good the next day but my fitness improved almost daily, and I began to rely on this method instead of checking my pulse.

    Just wondering if anyone else employs this method and what you think of its reliability. For me, the results were noticeable. I wear a HR monitor now on some of my rides just to see what it reads and I use the talk test now and then and compare the two. The upper 150s seems to be my threshold of exertion right now.
    Yen, can you provide some more detail on the method? Do you just talk those phrases when you want to do a self-assessment?

    I can say when I had my lactate threshold test, the tester used the onset of bigtime gasping to indicate the point where my aerobic zone ended.

    Regarding managing cycling stress, I'm more with Stapfam. If I'm at the top of zone 3 climbing a steep hill, I'm a) real uncomfortable, and 2) starting to limit my loading (climb slower, use the easiest gear, intersperse intervals of standing with mashing), but I don't stop. Depending on how long I spend in more stressful zones, it can be as long as 3 days before I feel like I can go out for the same ride again.

    Then again, while Southeast Michigan is not central Illinois (billiard table flat), its not Colorado!

    I do use a heart rate monitor, and as an amateur find it very useful. But you know, engineers, we like to make the simple stuff objective and complicated ...

    Road Fan

  10. #10
    Don't mince words Red Rider's Avatar
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    As a long-time group exercise instructor I coach my participants to use the talk test. It works, but isn't as reliable as a HRM.

    Anecdotal evidence: The Sunday after Thanksgiving last year we climbed Mt. Diablo on our tandem with another tandem team who regularly ride it. We're in excellent physical shape. Yet we rode iin granny, getting in short replies to their running commentary, as they cruised along in their middle chain ring. We barely passed the talk test that day. They had non-stop conversation. My HRM showed high 160s to low 170s. My max is 190. Gasping is an appropriate response.

    I'm glad you've found a way to improve your fitness without causing you undue stress. Keep up the great work!
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  11. #11
    Happy Rider
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    I read several articles suggesting that if we could still carry on a conversation, we were in the fat burning mode--60-70% of max heart rate.......only problem is i ride by myself and i get tired of answering my own stupid questions......so i don't know if i can talk or not.
    Bike to live, live to eat!!

  12. #12
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
    I like and use this approach but would caution that it all depends on available gearing, fitness, and the length/steepness of the hill. There is no shame in resting or walking. Getting to the top under human power is still a victory for the rider.
    It does depend on these factors- but Rarely do I find a hill that is going to defeat me- Compact gearing with a 27t on the rear or if it is going to be that bad- It would be the triple. And on fitness- You have to be fit to tackle them. I do hills- that is all we have in our area- but the rides that get me are the flat ones. Not the breathing so much on these- but the legs from trying to get off the flat bits and onto the hills


    deraltekluge

    Those BB's are going to keep the heart rate low and I was on them for a year. Could not get the HR above 130 and at that I was working too hard. Found thatc if I wanted to do a harder ride than normal- I would take the morning BB the night before- and another straight after the ride. And on the ride still did not let the HR ride too much above 130- but it did cut down the shatterred feeling.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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