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  1. #1
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    Heart Rate Info???

    I have been riding for a couple of months, I bought one of those high tech gauges for speed and distance, I was also wanting to check my heartrate and pedal rate? Got all but my rpm's, it didn't have that on it. Here is question, I need some info in regard to my heart rate? What is good? normal? where should my goals be? As of right now, I rode 30 miles the other day (new personal best) mostly flat, average 14mph, heartrate between 125 and 135 most of time, my maximum heartrate was 163 a couple of weeks ago until I busted a hill standing up last week and jumped it to 183. My heartrate at present time just sitting here is around 65. How can I use this information to become a better cycler and get in better shape. Oh by the way I have lost 45lbs since April 13th, I am stoked. Any help? Thanks

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    Although it's geared towards runners rather than cyclists, there's a good primer here: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/hrm1.htm
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    These are questions you may want to ask an exercise-oriented doc (not all are) rather than a bunch of people on a Web site. From here, without knowing your age, history or anything about you, it sounds fine--you've taken some steps to shape up and they seem to be paying off. Nothing you've mentioned sounds any obvious alarms, and your numbers look within the healthy range. Still, since you're over 50 and I'm not a cardiologist, you can safely ignore me.

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    Nobody can tell you what your heartrate should be. You can use the monitor to track your heartrate and learn about what to expect, then you can use it to train by staying in certain "zones".
    The usefulness of heartrate monitors for training has come into question lately with many cyclists switching to power meters, but it might work for you.
    I've actually never tried one.

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    age related and health problems

    HI,
    I wouldn't want to cause anyone to hurt themself, many times i push the max heart rate for my age 59 y/o . for me my computer reccomends 161 max after about 3-4 hard and fast intervals my recovery seems to take longer so its easy to bonk when your mashing..
    Most people who are sedendtary and don't exercise every day will need to be very careful of not exceeding max heart rate.
    As we train and work on endurance and physical conditioning, its hard to say what is max heart rate.
    For the record when you are pushing or mashing to the point of anerboic exercise, you are really going to need a longer recovery.
    when you train mostly in your green zone you will recover much quicker.
    For me I try and mash hard one or two days a week and mostly stay in the green zone for me ,if your not huffing and puffing your in your green zone. when my heart rate drops below 130..
    most of the better heart rate monitors have chest straps many of the other's require finger contact while measuring.
    doug

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    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    I do nearly all my training by using heart rate zones and time spent in the various zones. There is a lot of good information on the internet regarding how to establish your zones and what the effect the zones have on your training plan. Your are relatively new to cycling so take it slowly and develop an understanding of the zones and your body.

    A couple things to be careful about as you get into zone training. First of all most people do not fit the 220 - your age to determine your maximum heart rate. You will need to establish what your maximum heart rate is or at least get a good estimate of your maximum heart rate. If your maximum HR is off by 4 or 5 beats per minute your zones will be off and the training effect will not be what your planned workout is. Another thing to be sure of is who's heart rate zones you will be using to establish your training plan. Joe Friel's HR zones are different than Dr. Kavornon's whereas the values for the zones overlap.

    Good luck with your cycling.
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    More info, and questions

    I am 48 years old, but I definately relate to 50+ forum, I am 6'4" 236lbs, I was 281 on April 13th, I got tired of being fat and tired, and quit eating sugars, etc. and excercised 6 days a week, running and lifting.
    It is nothing for me to work out at the 125 - 135 range, as a matter of fact, I was singing on my bike the other day while at that rate. If I climb any reasonable hill, my rate will shoot up to 150 to 165, and yes I am huffing and quads are usually screaming. I have a filling I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, I have been involved in athletics all my life and well aware of workout pain.

    One more note, I had heart cath last fall, and dr. said my heart looked fine, no issues.

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    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big john View Post
    Nobody can tell you what your heartrate should be. You can use the monitor to track your heartrate and learn about what to expect, then you can use it to train by staying in certain "zones".
    The usefulness of heartrate monitors for training has come into question lately with many cyclists switching to power meters, but it might work for you.
    I've actually never tried one.
    Fact is they did and do work very well in the context of a good methodology. Just that power meters, at an investment of 10 times at least that of a decent HRM, work better.

    There are some really knowledgable people over in the Training and Nutrition Forum, in addition to the ones you'll find here.

    Books: "Cycling Past 50" by Joe Friel, just a sampling of the genre, and really a very good one in itself.

    There are rules of thumb about your maximum heart rate, but they are all inaccurate for any but a small sample of the population. If you have already seen 183 on your ticker, you know the max heart rate you can achieve is at least 183 beats per minute. The standard rule is MHR = 220 -age. If you are 55, your max is predicted to be 165 beats per minute. See the problem?

    There are such things as recommended HR zones commonly used in conjunction with a training plan. The zones are computed by determining an anchor point and calculating some percentages from there. Friel's book will clarify it more. Anchor points are usually the MHR or the anaerobic threshold. You only need to determine one of them, and its easier to test for the AT than for the MHR. I'm at about teh limit of my expertise here.

    I had an anaerobic threshold test, and found mine was 162 bpm at 54 years old. I did this after talking to my doctor and having a cardiac imaging done (no problems, yay!). The AT test was stressful, but not as stressful as a MHR test. I calculated training zones using Friel's work, and I'm still using them 18 months later.

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    The standard way we used to check is to take 220 minus your age, then multiply by .65 and .85, that will give you your maximum heart-rate and your 65% to 85% rate, which is your exercise rate. I believe they've modified that formula a little, but that was the standard for years. My wife, who also has a degree in health, advised they raised the number from 220 to 230 or 240, then minus your age, so to start with, I'd go with 220.

    If you buy a HR monitor, like the Polar ones, they automatically do this for you and tell you what percentage you're HR is at while exercising.

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    While it varies from individual to individual as stated before, for me, 52, 5'10" 195 lbs, I don't really start to get the workout feeling unless I'm in the 150bpm range. Most of my rides are about 60 minutes and average 145-150 over the hour with a peak of around 165 on some of the local hills. Keep records and you'll start to see a pattern...then determine what works best for you. Oh, and I drive a truck for a living but I did stay at the Holiday Inn Express a while back so take it for what it's worth...forum info from well meaning people.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HIPCHIP View Post
    The standard way we used to check is to take 220 minus your age, then multiply by .65 and .85, that will give you your maximum heart-rate and your 65% to 85% rate, which is your exercise rate. I believe they've modified that formula a little, but that was the standard for years. My wife, who also has a degree in health, advised they raised the number from 220 to 230 or 240, then minus your age, so to start with, I'd go with 220.
    The fallacy of any formula is that formulas are based on averages. So even if they give an accurate average, by definition they are way off for many people. It's like saying the average male is 5'10", you're a male, so you must be 5'10". For example, I'm 56 (soon to be 57) and my mhr is ~200. Conversely, I know of an elite athlete (made the US olympic marathon trials) who at 28 had a MHR ~160. If I used a formula to determine zones I would not be pushing hard enough; if he did, he'd be pushing way too hard.

    You're better off going by the "talk test" or perceived effort than using a formula.

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  12. #12
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    As AJ states - if you are serious about your cycling and training learning your zones and using them in your routines is the way to go. The more you use it and follow books like Friel's the more you will have the zones dialed in.

    I did it last year and made some amazing leaps in performance. I used it early in the season this year to jump start my season but have since stopped, mostly because although I like to train, I don't want my riding to be all about training. I found the HRM to be very useful when on the trainer where the tendancy is to just put in your time. Although I must admit I only used the trainer a few times last winter - I hate that thing too... I promise to be better next winter
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    Coach - lots of great advice above.

    All I can add is a suggestion - do what I did - I asked my doctor. He told me that everyone is different. He could put me on a stress test and get some measurements but they may, and probably will change. He suggested setting zone rates that I felt good with. Monitor them over time and alter them as you improve.

    As an example - I am 64 - 220lbs - 5'8". When I started riding again back in November of last year, I was around 235 to 240lbs. My max hr is around 145. I feel like I can maintain about 128 - 130 for hours when I am riding. When I hit around 140, I am good for a few minutes before I have to slow down. Most people I know are around 15 to 20 bpm higher than I am, and that includes my wife.

    Everyone is different. Go out and ride and set your zones to what you seem to be comfortable with while not hurting yourself.

    I can see where the new power meters would be great but they are a bit pricey for me. I can balance my cadence and hr with speed and pretty much get the work out I am looking for on that day.

    Good luck and keep riding.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdrianL View Post
    Coach - lots of great advice above.

    All I can add is a suggestion - do what I did - I asked my doctor. He told me that everyone is different. He could put me on a stress test and get some measurements but they may, and probably will change. He suggested setting zone rates that I felt good with. Monitor them over time and alter them as you improve.

    As an example - I am 64 - 220lbs - 5'8". When I started riding again back in November of last year, I was around 235 to 240lbs. My max hr is around 145. I feel like I can maintain about 128 - 130 for hours when I am riding. When I hit around 140, I am good for a few minutes before I have to slow down. Most people I know are around 15 to 20 bpm higher than I am, and that includes my wife.

    Everyone is different. Go out and ride and set your zones to what you seem to be comfortable with while not hurting yourself.

    I can see where the new power meters would be great but they are a bit pricey for me. I can balance my cadence and hr with speed and pretty much get the work out I am looking for on that day.

    Good luck and keep riding.
    There's a good rule about starting out, which is that riding is better than not riding. Another is that more riding is better than less riding. If you're going to just ride, then just ride and don't even worry about heart rate. You can't physically go beyond your MHR, and if you are riding too slow you'll know that, too.

    But if you are going to go beyond that, it doesn't make sense to just guess at the numbers. There are methodologies based on TESTING your lactate or anaerobic threshold, that eliminate concern about depending on questionable statistical formulas. I can't see the point (other than $$ spent) of not setting zones according to such a method, compared to guessing. There are also some methods for self-testing that let you approximate your actual threshold to a useful degree.

    If your doctor is saying "Stay in a range of heart rate where you are comfortable," I'm all for that. But if the doctor is saying there is nothing to sports science, I am very amazed and surprised. The formulas might not be reliable, but I think the tests are sound and usable.

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    My max heart rate using the 220-age, was 161 last year, this year 160. I don't think I have ever gotten above 154 running or biking, and then not for long periods. I would be just a bit concerned about a rate in the 180s if I were you unless you are in excellent condition.
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    Hello Coachrains I did a terrible ledge/road climb this morning and extended my breathing to all most a gasp/I push to the limit and always have //that isnt my problem.;Its nearly the opposite of yours When I rest at night heart rate 50beats a minute sometimes a little slower sometimes my heart seems to skip a beat makes my hair stand on end.Kenneth

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    heart rates

    Look all this depends on your age. Normal formula for the maximum is 220 minus your age, since your heart slows down one beat a year. This formula does not work in about 25% of cases, but if you are way, when you went up to 183, be careful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerchris View Post
    Look all this depends on your age. Normal formula for the maximum is 220 minus your age, since your heart slows down one beat a year. This formula does not work in about 25% of cases, but if you are way, when you went up to 183, be careful.
    I'd say the formula is valid for 25% and invalid for 75%. IOW useless and potentially dangerously misleading.

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    Read some more information on the web and get some books on the subject. To any of that I would add the following simple advice. If you get your heart rate up so you are working reasonably hard at a steady heart rate for 15 min or so, gradually increase that heart rate by about 5 beats and hold that steady for another 15 min or so. At some point you'll get to the point where you will be forced to breathe too hard to hold that heart rate. Back off 5 beats and you will be at about the max you can handle aerobically. The tipping point where you move from being able to keep the heart rate up continually vs being unable to keep enough oxygen going to your lungs will be (roughly) your anaerobic threshold. Long rides at about 75-85% of that should seem pretty easy but will maximize your health/aerobic conditioning. You should be able to do that for hours. Occasional spurts at 90-100% of your threshold will also help build your anaerobic conditioning, but for most non-competitive cyclists wanting to get into better health, the key is long times at more reasonable rates of aerobic conditioning.

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    I'm 53 and my real Max HR is 192 bpm not formula.
    My weekly weekend rides average 3hrs or slightly less and 38-44 miles my HR averages around 157 bpm and I just about always see 184 - 188 bpm on every ride at some point. Climbing is any where from 2400 to 3900 on these rides also, not just flat rides.
    Last edited by JTGraphics; 10-30-09 at 10:34 AM.
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    Heart rate monitors are OK. I use them for indoor work on a spinning bike. The heart rate gives me an idea of the intensity of my work out. I have not used a heart rate monitor on the road in years. I think that I would rather gawk at the scenery and go hard when road conditions permit.

    After some time, you will probably get an idea of what your "zones" are. I think the intensity of a work out and the heart rate varies pretty widely with most people. You can get books I suppose. But it really is not that hard. Most of the books repeat the same stuff with minor variants anyway.

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    I have a heart monitor but stats from other people are useless for you to compare with. Every one is different but once you know a few facts about yourself- you can make use of them.

    I treat my max as 165. Still get to it IF I want to push myself but don't do it often. One of the reasons I ride a bike is to retain the fitness that I once had. Although I ride for pleasure- I also like to get a work out when riding. Too often I find myself taking it easy on a ride so that is where the HR comes in handy. I like to ride at around 135 to 140 and up slopes and I will see 150 with the final steep bit up to 160. There is not much different in feel from 130 or just below but this puts me below my working level. Quick check on the monitor and I will be working.

    It will also tell me if I have done a warm up correctly aswell. If I feel that I am way up on the scale- breathing hard and the legs tired- but the HR shows low for how I feel- I have either not done the warm up right- or I have lost a bit too much fitness over the last few weeks. Either way it is slow down and enjoy the scenery for a few miles.
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    Quote Originally Posted by coachrains View Post
    I have been riding for a couple of months, I bought one of those high tech gauges for speed and distance, I was also wanting to check my heartrate and pedal rate? Got all but my rpm's, it didn't have that on it. Here is question, I need some info in regard to my heart rate? What is good? normal? where should my goals be? As of right now, I rode 30 miles the other day (new personal best) mostly flat, average 14mph, heartrate between 125 and 135 most of time, my maximum heartrate was 163 a couple of weeks ago until I busted a hill standing up last week and jumped it to 183. My heartrate at present time just sitting here is around 65. How can I use this information to become a better cycler and get in better shape. Oh by the way I have lost 45lbs since April 13th, I am stoked. Any help? Thanks

    A'Jet gave some good advice about zones but I want to talk about channeling and cadence. When you are a new rider, an effort causes your heart rate to increase and your "cardio system" floods everything with more blood flow. As you ride more, you cardio system learns to channel blood flow to only those systems necessary for power production. You need less beats for the same power. As you increase mitochondria and capillary density in the power producing areas and your heart stroke volume increases, you need less beats for the same power production. When I restarted cycling in May 2006, my heart rate would go high very easily without much effort, now a 130 heart rate is more difficult to achieve and 165 is a very hard effort.

    Cadence is important. A higher cadence is generally better than a lower one. And everyone has their opinions. The one immutable fact is that if you are able to spin a higher cadence such as 100 rpm, you are always able to decide to spin more slowly and use more torque. On the other hand, if you want to spin fast, without training, this will not be possible to do and sustain. High cadence needs neuromuscular training.

    Higher cadence works the cardio system more but in general is easier on the skeletal muscular system and once achieved, may offer more stamina / endurance with less fatigue.

    Without a cadence sensor / meter on the bike, it is very tough to learn higher cadence pedaling technique. Good luck.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Lenton58's Avatar
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    Two weeks ago I had my heart tested fully by a specialist — wired up on machines, ultra sound, X-ray, treadmill, halter-monitor for 24 hours (it was pouring so no bikes for that time). Maybe I was an idiot, but it did not occur to me to ask him about what my maximum sustained heart rate should be. DUH Well, I have no wired computation stuff on the bike anyway.

    The doc knows I do sports cycling for exercise and transport. In fact I was in my summer tights during my last apointment. His basic response to my test was, 'You can do anything you want'. Now this is how I take the prognosis — based on the fact that I have no plaquing or any sign of heart disease:

    I'm 61 years old. I should know that when my heart is blasting away for too long, I should cool it. That may the ignorant approach, but I reckon that is as much concern as I'm gonna put on it. I ride by myself 100% of the time, so I ride my own pace. When some guy/girl comes up from behind and blasts by me on some carbon spaceship ... clicking up a sprocket on the way ... I'm tempted to push harder and suck in behind the wheel in front. But, when I'm getting to the stress-level that says — this is not fun, it's vanity — I back off and watch them vanish into the distance.

    The same thing happened to me when I was in my twenties too. It actually caused me to sell the best road-racer I may ever own. I was so ... er ... disheartened. My heart would be thrashing its way through my chest and some guy in a Campy hat would be going up cogs on a climb when I was going down. Now I say ... so what, it's my ride! I was never a great rider anyway; I do it for fun, for the endorfins and my health. And I love bikes. And, I ain't getting wired up. There will be some local rides coming up next spring. If the crowd drops me ... fine. I'll do some huffing and puffing for limited periods, but I'm not going to die doing it. Maybe I'm just being ignorant, but I think that — assuming we have healthy hearts — we (as mature people) can feel when it's time to back off. Just my 2 cents worth.

    For those people who are using science to train up for actual racing events or to meet specific performance targets — forget what I said! And see a cardiologist.
    Last edited by Lenton58; 11-02-09 at 07:52 AM.

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    Like the last poster I had a fully wired up test. I am 70 and I suspected that the formula 220 minus your age gave a too low MHR. The doctor said carry on as you are. So when I am blasting on a hill and see more than 155, I slow down to keep reasonable. like that I stay alive.
    Keep peddling

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