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Old 09-05-09, 08:56 AM   #1
Metric Man
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More HR Questions.

I keep good records of my rides with average and max HR attained for each ride and I'm having a difficult time keeping my average up. For most of the year I would average 149-152 for a 20 mile ride with a peak of around 168, but lately it's becoming difficult to keep my average above the 139-141 area. I can still manage the max range no problem, and my average speed is actually going up to almost 16 mph (albeit only .5 mph or so) but I can't get the average HR up...am I just in better condition? I just bought Friel's Cycling Past 50 book and I'm about 2 chapters in so I hope to find more info in there. Any thoughts?
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Old 09-05-09, 09:25 AM   #2
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The short answer is you're pushing way too hard and too long at a HR of 149-152. That's at 90% of your max. Do a google search on HR training. 150 puts you right at the zone 4 and 5 threshold. That's interval workout effort. For example, one of my workouts which is roughly 20 miles in duration is riding around 115 for 15 minutes and then pushing it up to 135-140 (zone 4 for me based on 166 max HR) for 15 minutes. I alternate back and forth with 15 minutes hard and 15 minutes recovery. But that's ahard workout so the enxt day I ride slow and east to recover keeping my HR around 100.

What you need to do is develop a more structured workout where you go hard to get stronger and faster but mixed up with recovery time.
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Old 09-05-09, 10:25 AM   #3
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FYI.
I bike for exercise and not to race others. My exercise is 50 miles of biking per day. Sitting down and doing 17 MPH with wind neutral and flat gives me HR100 to 120.
Sprinting, standing up and do above 20 MPH gets the HR up over 130. Short distance racing some guy for fun with speeds to 27 MPH gets me above 130 to 160 and that is where I stop.
I am 67, 6'1, 195#.
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Old 09-05-09, 11:58 AM   #4
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Sounds like you're doing a lot of the same kind of riding. Your body adapts to this and just tends to settle in at the same HR. You need to take active steps to push your body out of its comfort zone.

Try doing intervals one day a week. Warning - they hurt and you're going to hate doing them.
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Old 09-05-09, 12:01 PM   #5
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OK, I took the advice of StanSeven and Googled HR training and found some interesting articles. While on one hand it doesn't "feel" like I'm getting a workout at the slower HR I guess I'll give it a try for a few weeks and see what I can do. One of the problems I have is (like many of us) a limited amount of time to ride, and wanting to get the maximum amount of benefit from it. So in my mind, the harder I go the more I get out of it. 80% of my max HR (168) should be around 135 bpm based on the 220 - your age calculator. Although I have and do reach the 171 mark on occasions so technically I suppose that 171 is my max HR? Still, in the 135-137 range is a good mark to shoot for.
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Old 09-05-09, 12:17 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
The short answer is you're pushing way too hard and too long at a HR of 149-152. That's at 90% of your max. Do a google search on HR training. 150 puts you right at the zone 4 and 5 threshold. That's interval workout effort. For example, one of my workouts which is roughly 20 miles in duration is riding around 115 for 15 minutes and then pushing it up to 135-140 (zone 4 for me based on 166 max HR) for 15 minutes. I alternate back and forth with 15 minutes hard and 15 minutes recovery. But that's ahard workout so the enxt day I ride slow and east to recover keeping my HR around 100.

What you need to do is develop a more structured workout where you go hard to get stronger and faster but mixed up with recovery time.
There are just too many variables when working with HR. Calculated max HR is seldom accurate. My 220-age = max HR would be 169. LOL. I can get to 190+. If I didn't ride at 170 I wouldn't make it up the climbs I do, sometimes for an hour at a time. Everyone is different and trying to use a formula to predict a max value doesn't work.

To the OP, it sounds like you have gained some fitness. If you continue to do the same type of rides the body, as mentioned above, will settle into the effort and will not improve. So you need to mix it up. Many factors can affect HR though. You could be getting a cold, it could be cooler on the rides now, you might be better rested, or you might be overtrained. That's why some riders use power as it takes those factors out. Most of us don't need that level of complexity though. Learn to use RPE (relative perceived exertion) and add that to your journal. That way you can reference your HR to how you felt.

Most of all though, add some hills, do some sprints, push a bigger gear or spin a higher cadence. As long as you have your physician's clearance to ride as you want, don't be afraid to dial it up once a week. That's how you make gains.
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Old 09-05-09, 05:45 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Metric Man View Post
80% of my max HR (168) should be around 135 bpm based on the 220 - your age calculator. Although I have and do reach the 171 mark on occasions so technically I suppose that 171 is my max HR? Still, in the 135-137 range is a good mark to shoot for.
Basing your training around the 220-age "formula" is worthless. If you're going to use MHR to determine zones, you need to know what your true MHR is-- either thru direct or indirect (e.g. see the 2x20 thread in the Training & Nutrition forum) testing. Any formula is based on averages. Even if it accurately describes the average for the general population, it can be way off for any particular individual. For example, I'm 57 and my MHR is ~200. MHR doesn't say anything about fitness or talent. It is simply an individual characteristic you need to know if you're going to do HR training.

Dan
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Old 09-05-09, 05:57 PM   #8
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read the stuff in Friels book closely, I got it from the library and have been digesting it for the last week or so...He has some good stuff on getting a good HR that you can use...My 220/age is 154 and I can do that easily all day...after reading his stuff I decided MHR otta be closer to 162 or so. I use that and it seems to be ok...(did not find my name in the obits this AM)
Bud
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Old 09-05-09, 06:01 PM   #9
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Basing your training around the 220-age "formula" is worthless. If you're going to use MHR to determine zones, you need to know what your true MHR is-- either thru direct or indirect (e.g. see the 2x20 thread in the Training & Nutrition forum) testing. Any formula is based on averages. Even if it accurately describes the average for the general population, it can be way off for any particular individual. For example, I'm 57 and my MHR is ~200. MHR doesn't say anything about fitness or talent. It is simply an individual characteristic you need to know if you're going to do HR training.

Dan
That's so true about the formula being worthless. I read an article recently where the doctor who came up with it originally says he now regrets it was ever published. He proposed it as TOTAL SPECULATION and made no claims it had any scientific basis whatsoever. However, fitness is an inexact endeavor and people would like it to be exact, so the formula got repeated and published so ubiquitously that everyone (nearly everyone) takes it as meaning something -- which it does not.

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Old 09-06-09, 07:48 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Metric Man View Post
I keep good records of my rides with average and max HR attained for each ride and I'm having a difficult time keeping my average up. For most of the year I would average 149-152 for a 20 mile ride with a peak of around 168, but lately it's becoming difficult to keep my average above the 139-141 area. I can still manage the max range no problem, and my average speed is actually going up to almost 16 mph (albeit only .5 mph or so) but I can't get the average HR up...am I just in better condition? I just bought Friel's Cycling Past 50 book and I'm about 2 chapters in so I hope to find more info in there. Any thoughts?
Read Friel. There are a lot of other 'trainer books" out there that are also good, but he is one of the best, and you'll understand the basics based on that book.

I think you are spending too much time working that hard, and too much can break down your body. Friel will explain periodization, which makes your body stress itself and then grow back newer, stronger stuff, such as BUT NOT LIMITED to muscle tissue. Recovery is a training step, as is riding hard. Typical periodization often involves riding a sequence of three weeks of progressivley harder and longer effort, then a week that has less effort and more rest (recovery). Even the professionals need this, not just us old f*rts.

We might say "I don't race, I'm not in training," but the fact is your body doesn't know you didn't beat it up in a race, it just knows you beat it up. Serious training for racers is not just for racers. It can help us grow our abilities, too.
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Old 09-06-09, 08:07 AM   #11
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Its pretty simple Metric. Your HR is showing that your are getting in better overall cycling shape-thus you're able to sustain the same speeds with a lower HR. Remember that your Heart is a muscle and corresponds to exercise just like your other muscles. Just as info, you will see differences when you've had less sleep and rest than desired (higher HR), when you're dehydrated, overtrained, winter riding versus now, etc. HR is a pretty good indicator that can help guide you on overall conditioning needs.

It sounds as if you have the base mileage to get your HR where you need it on sustained efforts. You might start thinking about mixing in some interval workouts to help with taking that overall level up a notch or two. You can either do some repeats on a hill at max effort or find a group of riders that are a gear or two stronger than you and stay with them as long as you can.
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Old 09-06-09, 08:35 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Metric Man View Post

I keep good records of my rides with average and max HR attained for each ride and I'm having a difficult time keeping my average up. For most of the year I would average 149-152 for a 20 mile ride with a peak of around 168, but lately it's becoming difficult to keep my average above the 139-141 area.


I've done a lot of study on the subject of training for both performance and health over the last 40 years. I've never seen a criteria for average heart rate.

For either health or performance goals, training over lactate threshold offers major benefits. There was a recent thread on this @ http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=579390

Al
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Old 09-06-09, 09:04 AM   #13
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Read Friel. There are a lot of other 'trainer books" out there that are also good, but he is one of the best, and you'll understand the basics based on that book.

I think you are spending too much time working that hard, and too much can break down your body. Friel will explain periodization, which makes your body stress itself and then grow back newer, stronger stuff, such as BUT NOT LIMITED to muscle tissue. Recovery is a training step, as is riding hard. Typical periodization often involves riding a sequence of three weeks of progressivley harder and longer effort, then a week that has less effort and more rest (recovery). Even the professionals need this, not just us old f*rts.

We might say "I don't race, I'm not in training," but the fact is your body doesn't know you didn't beat it up in a race, it just knows you beat it up. Serious training for racers is not just for racers. It can help us grow our abilities, too.
I made it through to about halfway of chapter 5 in Cycling Past 50 and gained much more appreciation for what is actually going on with my body. Today I started a new plan and tried to maintain my HR in the 80% zone for me and what I know. It was a little more difficult than I thought it would be but I feel great. My weekly long ride will consist of more climbing than I do now on my regular route which is not flat by any means.
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Old 09-06-09, 09:06 AM   #14
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Its pretty simple Metric. Your HR is showing that your are getting in better overall cycling shape-thus you're able to sustain the same speeds with a lower HR. Remember that your Heart is a muscle and corresponds to exercise just like your other muscles. Just as info, you will see differences when you've had less sleep and rest than desired (higher HR), when you're dehydrated, overtrained, winter riding versus now, etc. HR is a pretty good indicator that can help guide you on overall conditioning needs.

It sounds as if you have the base mileage to get your HR where you need it on sustained efforts. You might start thinking about mixing in some interval workouts to help with taking that overall level up a notch or two. You can either do some repeats on a hill at max effort or find a group of riders that are a gear or two stronger than you and stay with them as long as you can.
Thanks...that's kinda what I was thinking, now I'm off to the next level of fitness.
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