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  1. #1
    Senior Member Old School's Avatar
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    Heart Rate Monitor (HRM)

    I use a heart rate monitor frequently when I ride to keep an eye on my cardiac fitness. I just replaced my aging Polar HRM with a newer model on sale at Performance that has more features. Particularly nice is that you can replace the batteries in both the wrist unit and chest strap. Anyone else find value using a HRM when they ride?
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW! WHAT A RIDE!"

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    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    I would like to; but, - I have been unable to find any consensus on how to determine what it should be...... - where do you begin?

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    Don't wait for me troutnut's Avatar
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    No, because i'm too scared to find out what's past the red line.

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    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    The best thing to use an HRM for is for sprints. I use mine to make sure I'm going hard enough, and to get enough rest between sprints. I think heart rate zones are a bit of a gimmick and not too useful.

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    Senior Member RedC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    I would like to; but, - I have been unable to find any consensus on how to determine what it should be...... - where do you begin?
    I'm with you, I've got one but I'm not sure what to do with it. Mine seems to be reading low, compared to what I expected.
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    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    I started using an HRM regularly back in June and it made a difference. I first had to find my training zones. I then focused on heart rate rather than speed and I found my averages improved faster than in past seasons I also found that my long rides were better because I paced myself better throughout the ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old School View Post
    I use a heart rate monitor frequently when I ride to keep an eye on my cardiac fitness. I just replaced my aging Polar HRM with a newer model on sale at Performance that has more features. Particularly nice is that you can replace the batteries in both the wrist unit and chest strap. Anyone else find value using a HRM when they ride?
    about 1 1/2 yrs ago I broke down and bought a bike computer (never had one before) with all the bells and whistles including a HRM.

    I always use it now. The most valuable thing I use it for, to my surprise, is to keep in the low heart rate zones for building base and endurance, and for recovery. It's always easy to get exuberant and push out of those zones, so I use it to kind of throttle down.

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    I use a heart rate monitor for fun. It is kinda like a tachometer on your car. Not really necessary but fun to monitor. I use it to keep my intensity levels appropriate for the training I am doing. Sometimes, I get over exhuberant on long rides and the hrm helps me to maintain pace. Other times, when I want to do a recovery or if I want to interval train, the HRM keeps me honest. Mostly, I use it for fun and to track my conditioning overtime. I definitely don't think it is a gimmick. Most top cyclists and endurance athletes train with them.

  9. #9
    tsl
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    I bought a cyclometer with HRM back in March. I used it to train for my trip out to the Rockies this summer.

    I credit training with it with my being able to go from 400 feet (where I live) to 14,130 feet (top of Mt. Evans) like I'd lived in the mountains all my life. Even the locals were impressed.

    At home, it helped me find the upper limit of my aerobic capability, then helped me push it higher, since I knew exactly where to train and could hold it right there for an extended period.

    It also helped me tremendously on recovery rides, which, like backinthesaddle (above), I wasn't riding nearly so easy as I thought.

    Between the two, it's transformed my riding ability in just a few months.

    And like others, I use it to be sure I stay below the redline. I do this to improve my health, not to blow it up.
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  10. #10
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    I would like to; but, - I have been unable to find any consensus on how to determine what it should be... - where do you begin?
    I googled on "heart rate zones" and worked from there. It's important to use zones developed for cycling. Most sites I found are for runners, and as it turns out, their zones are completely different than ours.

    First you have to determine your Maximum Heart Rate. Everything else is derived from that. There are several formulas you can use, all of which come out a little different, and all of which make perfectly good starting points. Your own experience will help you fine-tune it as you go along.

    The one that came closest for me was at http://www.machinehead-software.co.u..._abcc_bcf.html I like that the downloadable version takes weight and gender into account, in addition to age.

    You use your Maximum Heart Rate to calculate your zones. Those are explained there too. I also fine-tuned my zones based on my own experience, and how I felt and performed at different heart rates. But the generic ones were pretty close.

    From there, determine what your training goals are, choose appropriate zones to meet those goals, and monitor your zones as you ride.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


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  11. #11
    Happy Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old School View Post
    I use a heart rate monitor frequently when I ride to keep an eye on my cardiac fitness. I just replaced my aging Polar HRM with a newer model on sale at Performance that has more features. Particularly nice is that you can replace the batteries in both the wrist unit and chest strap. Anyone else find value using a HRM when they ride?
    I guess it all depends on why you ride. I gave one HRM away and took the Garmin off my bikes because I decided the reason I rode is because I loved it--I don't give a damn about the time, pace, hours, distance, calories.....................I just like to ride and my love of riding seems to take care of all the health reasons a person would ride. If I can't ride outside, I have a stationary recumbent.

    I really don't think it is important what anyone else thinks about HRMs. If you find value in your HRM--good!! If you need validation because you have one--bad!
    Bike to live, live to eat!!

  12. #12
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    One of the problems I find on rides is that I do not know the edge between whether I am riding hard enough to get the secondary reason reason of why I ride a bike (Main one is that I enjoy it) or just going for a ride.

    That secondary reason is to retain my fitness. If I am not careful- I ride at a level that is just turning the legs and not working greatly to keeping that fitness. For me that means riding at above 130 BPM- but I do find myself slipping well below that mark cos it is comfortable. So If I can ride at 130 and above- Besides the enjoyment of just being out in the rain and the cold and the traffic- I am actually putting all that effort to some use.

    I don't use the monitor on every ride- and Short sightedness and small figures on the Garmin means that I do not let the monitor run my rides but I do make the rides mean something. Then on top of that- It is great to see that when I am climbing the 15% hills and can hardly breath and the legs are about to stop- The heart still has a long way to go before it causes me a problem.
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  13. #13
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    When I bought my HRM last fall the purpose was to make sure I was not loafing when I rode my trainer in the winter. It sort of did that. I used the formulas for max HR and was easily able to blow by that on the trainer so I moved it up. For me - no formula was even close. My max is around 195 - my resting rate is around 55.

    In the spring - after reading a lot here about HRM advocacy and the gift of two of Joe Friels books I got serious about it. I used the technique (not a formula) in the books to find my training zones - the zones Friel advocates. I varified the zones by using the "who I feel/breath" while in the zones.

    I discovered that even though I was not loafing as much on the trainer I was still not working hard enough. This winter the trainer rides should be more productive. I found my heart rate was all over the map on my road rides. Even though I have been riding for years I was very inconsistent and thus a big issue with keeping with a group on long rides and even some source of injuries. The HRM has helped me be more consistant on long rides, not burn out early. On shorter rides where I am going for intensity my average speed has improved considerably even though the peak speeds are about the same.

    Just like others here - IMHO the HRM is a tool to improve fitness, fitness is a key incredient to more fun on the bike. It's not just about loosing weight or going faster - it's about getting the most out of what you enjoy. Cycling is a mix of pleasures, the views, being outside, socialization, the feeling of flying and the personal satisfaction of accomplishment not to mention how the health benefits improve the rest of your life. Some here take one or two of these points to extreme while most of us have found our own mix of moderation. However - if you are restricting yourself to just a nice stroll in the park you are only experiencing one dimension of a multidimensional sport.

    Don't get me wrong - I am not advocating an HRM for everyone, but am saying that it is a tool that will help you get more out of the rides you do for fitness - when I go for a ride with my friend and his wife which is a social ride, the HRM stays at home.
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  14. #14
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    I am returning a Sigma HRM today to Nashbar (locked up during setup). What brands of HRM are you guys using? Interesting thread....

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    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    I googled on "heart rate zones" and worked from there. It's important to use zones developed for cycling. Most sites I found are for runners, and as it turns out, their zones are completely different than ours.

    First you have to determine your Maximum Heart Rate. Everything else is derived from that. There are several formulas you can use, all of which come out a little different, and all of which make perfectly good starting points. Your own experience will help you fine-tune it as you go along.

    The one that came closest for me was at http://www.machinehead-software.co.u..._abcc_bcf.html I like that the downloadable version takes weight and gender into account, in addition to age.

    You use your Maximum Heart Rate to calculate your zones. Those are explained there too. I also fine-tuned my zones based on my own experience, and how I felt and performed at different heart rates. But the generic ones were pretty close.

    From there, determine what your training goals are, choose appropriate zones to meet those goals, and monitor your zones as you ride.


    Thanks for the link, it's just what I've been looking for.
    George

  16. #16
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    I am returning a Sigma HRM today to Nashbar (locked up during setup). What brands of HRM are you guys using? Interesting thread....
    For years used Polar but now have a Garmin 305. But Sigma should be OK. I have even bought NO-Name instore branded HRM's for $25 that worked as Good as the $300 ones. They just did not have as many functions- but they did tell me what I wanted to know- Max HR on a ride and what the HR is now.
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    I started using a HRM about 5/6 years ago mostly to keep myself from over doing it on July/Aug/Sept rides here in N Florida. However, as information became available that maintaining top fitness and countering the effects of age related decay (mental and physical) required spending time in the 80 to 90 % (of max HR) zone, I now use it more for fitness and quit worrying about the heat.

    I'm on my third one. The first died quickly do to quality issues. My second a Polar only measured time in one HR zone and is a pain to use due to intermittent button performance which is not uncommon for Polar. I just replaced it with a Garmin Forerunner 305.

    While one HR zone is adequate, I wanted three zones as I'm interested in 70 to 80% and 90 to 100% as well. With the Polar I've measured my HRmax on 4 occasions in the last 4 years.

    I really wanted a $150 Suunto which records 5 zones and has very good user reviews. Unfortunately, the face scratches very easily which is not good for mountain biking. The Suunto with the scratch resistant face is $250. For $220 I got the Forerunner which records in 5 zones and includes a GPS receiver with the new chip that works well under heavy tree cover.

    It's neat to see your route in GoogleEarth. The software that comes with the Forerunner is OK, but the data is loadable into Cyclistats (from the Garmin software) which I've been using for years to record and compare my rides and HR information.

    I also use it for some light jogging as well

    Al
    Last edited by alcanoe; 09-14-08 at 10:48 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
    I would like to; but, - I have been unable to find any consensus on how to determine what it should be...... - where do you begin?

    Using a HRM requires an estimate of HRmax. While the best value is the measured one, it's a dangerous thing to do unless you've been exercising for some time at higher HRs. Here are snippets of some articles I've saved on HR formula's. My favorite for HRmax is the last one which came with my first HRM. I've never seen it in the literature. It and # 2 agree very well with my measured (four times) value of 173 (age 69). My measured max hasn't changed in about 4 years.

    Formula #1: The first formula involves simply subtracting your age from the number 220 (for men) or from 226 (for women). This method is preferred for beginning runners, those who have been leading a sedentary lifestyle.

    Formula #2: The second formula is very similar, but is preferable for those who are already quite active. For this formula, simply subtract half of your age from the number 205.

    Formula #3: The third formula runs along the same vein as the two preceding it. For men, subtract 80% of your age from the number 214. For women, subtract 70% of your age from the number 209.

    All of these formulas provide approximations that are based on the standard curves representing the "normal" MHR's for any given age, and they get you close to your own MHR, but not close enough. The numbers you will get when you plug in your own age would best be used as a guide, as opposed to an accurate measure.


    Then there's the most interesting one : 210- age/2 -(0.11 x weight + 4). No "+ 4" for women.

    I like this equation as it shows how weight can really kill your physical ability/fun.


    Then there are the zones. For performance, they're based on V02 max research. I'm more interested in the health aspects, so I don't bother with the VO2 max zones. They are covered well enough with the health/fitness based zones for me.

    Al

    Revising the ACSM formula
    These target values of % HR max provide a means of quantifying exercise intensity to optimise training results. If the optimal training intensity is 60 to 80% V02 max then, according to the ACSM, the corresponding optimal training HR is 70 to 85% Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). However, the ACSM made these official recommendations in 1991 [5]. Since then, a study by David Swain and his USA based research team [1] has criticised the mathematical methods used to derive the regression equations in previous research. Using more correct statistical procedures, they re-examined the relationship between % V02 max and % MHR and found that the ACSM formula underestimates HR at the target values of % V02 max.

    Their results led to a regression equation of % MHR=0.64 x % V02 max + 37. This means that 40% V02 max corresponds to 63% MHR, 60% V02 max corresponds to 75% MHR, 80% V02 max corresponds to 88% MHR, and 85% V02 max corresponds to 92% MHR. Therefore, using these results, the optimal training HR range for general aerobic fitness is 75 to 88% MHR, significantly higher than the 70 to 85% MHR from the ACSM. For Joe, with his MHR at 190 bpm, using Swain et al [1], his target HR range is 143-168 bpm, as opposed to the ACSM's recommended range of 133-161 bpm.

    The improved research from Swain et al [1] thus suggests that training heart rates should be pushed up a little to 75 to 88% MHR to bring about optimum results. For elite athletes, Swain et al [1] showed that % MHR for the same % V02 max were slightly higher compared to average. Therefore, for steady-state training, an HR range of 77-89% V02 max would be appropriate for an elite athlete. For advanced interval training, the intensity must be above 85% V02 max or above 92% MHR.

    For example, during a session comprising 6 x 800m runs at 5K pace, the training intensity will be at 90-95% V02 max. This would correspond to a training HR of 95 to 97% MHR. We can see clearly from these examples that knowing accurately what % MHR corresponds to a target % V02 max is very useful for both the average and the elite athlete. By using the formula derived by Swain et al [1], we can calculate a target training heart rate for the particular goal of the individual. So, how precisely is MHR calculated?

    The easiest and best-known method is to use the formula 220 - age. This is the method recommended in the ACSM guidelines. However, the actual derivation for this regression equation has never been published. It is used since it is a simple way to get a good estimate of MHR. In an attempt to be more accurate, numerous cross-sectional studies have been done to investigate the relationship between MHR, age and other factors. A paper by Londeree and Moeschberger [2] from the University of Missouri Columbia collates the data from all these studies in order to bring together the findings.

    What they show is that MHR varies mostly with age, but the relationship is not a linear one. Thus the 220 - age formula is slightly inaccurate. For adults under 30, it will overestimate MHR and for adults over 45 it will underestimate MRH. This is especially true for well-trained over-45s whose MHR does not reduce as much as with sedentary individuals of the same age. Londeree and Moeschberger [2] suggest an alternative formula of 206.3 - (0.711 x age). Similarly, Miller et al [3] from Indiana University propose the formula 217 - (0.85 x age) as a suitable MHR calculation. In my experience, it is the Miller formula, which gives appropriate estimates when calculating MHR from age alone.
    Last edited by alcanoe; 09-14-08 at 10:44 AM.

  19. #19
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    I am returning a Sigma HRM today to Nashbar (locked up during setup). What brands of HRM are you guys using? Interesting thread....
    I bought a timex as the battery in the strap sensor is replacable.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    These equations are all approximations, and for some are all wrong. My max is at least 180 based on what we saw at my LT test, and I'm 55, 180#, and male. But they are all good for getting started.

    Measuring max HR is of course more accurate, but is it really needed? Joe Friel has one setting up zones based on measured value of lactate threshold. Knowing this, why would I ever use a max HR equation?

  21. #21
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    These equations are all approximations, and for some are all wrong. My max is at least 180 based on what we saw at my LT test, and I'm 55, 180#, and male. But they are all good for getting started.

    Measuring max HR is of course more accurate, but is it really needed? Joe Friel has one setting up zones based on measured value of lactate threshold. Knowing this, why would I ever use a max HR equation?
    +1 - thats what I use, and you can zero in on it after a few rides if you follow his method.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    Measuring max HR is of course more accurate, but is it really needed? Joe Friel has one setting up zones based on measured value of lactate threshold. Knowing this, why would I ever use a max HR equation?
    It's easy to measure HRmax. It only takes a short ride. While lactate threshold might be useful for competition, the health aspects are all based on zones based on HRmax.

    Then too, you never really know much about lactate threshold unless you measure you blood lactate levels. This is standard procedure for L Armstrong and other pro racers. Of course they do that measurement with a power meter readings (it fits in the BB) as you apparently need both. Measuring HRmax is far easier even with out the power meter.

    But, none of this stuff is "really needed". It just depends on one's personal goals.

    Al

  23. #23
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    I ride and lift with my HRM every ride and workout.

    Don't leave home with out it.

    You can get all the training manuls on line.
    Burr,
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    I googled on "heart rate zones" and worked from there. It's important to use zones developed for cycling. Most sites I found are for runners, and as it turns out, their zones are completely different than ours.

    First you have to determine your Maximum Heart Rate. Everything else is derived from that. There are several formulas you can use, all of which come out a little different, and all of which make perfectly good starting points. Your own experience will help you fine-tune it as you go along.

    The one that came closest for me was at http://www.machinehead-software.co.u..._abcc_bcf.html I like that the downloadable version takes weight and gender into account, in addition to age.

    You use your Maximum Heart Rate to calculate your zones. Those are explained there too. I also fine-tuned my zones based on my own experience, and how I felt and performed at different heart rates. But the generic ones were pretty close.

    From there, determine what your training goals are, choose appropriate zones to meet those goals, and monitor your zones as you ride.
    Interesting site. I tried that and got a maximum HR of 168. The 220-age thing gives me 162. My observed MHR is 186.

    Yesterday in a group ride I found myself running in the mid to upper 170s just to keep up in gusting headwinds. I finally had to back off and dial it back. The HR monitor is invaluable to me to let me know how well (or poorly) I'm able to perform on a day-to-day basis.

    I find that I tend to use a HR monitor (as part of my Edge 305 package) to track what I do rather than to train with it (which is what I should do). In due time....

    I had a Polar F11 HRM which I used prior to the Edge. I ran them in parallel for a short while and found the Garmin to be equally accurate... or at least the two devices matched each other.

    BTW, I liked the F11 because it has user replaceable batteries on both the watch and the HR strap. But I prefer the Edge because I can d/l the data to my PC for analysis... or just to see what I've been doing.

  25. #25
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    I don't do anything with zones. I use the HRM to pace myself. I can ride for hours at 135-145, at least 10 minutes at a time at 150, and a minute or two at 160. I estimate my max is about 175. I "think" I've seen 168-170, but it's hard to concentrate at that level of effort!

    I did notice that I can hold 160 for a longer time this summer, due to the extra miles I've ridden this year.

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