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  1. #1
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Maximum heart-rate formula is totally bogus

    With the help of the internet many things that are patently false and based on nothing get repeated and quoted to the point where they are everywhere and all too often taken as true. Case in point: Max heart-rate = 220 minus your age. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercis...ate-calculator for just one example.

    Yesterday I rode up Wilke Street in Austin. It gets progressively steeper and tops out at well over over a 20% grade as calculated by my GPS. I glanced down at my heart monitor and it said 173. According to the formula my max is 157 as I am 63 years old. My real max is probably more than that as I was only motivated by male testosterone-fueled ego to show my personal trainer who was on the ride with me that I could get to the top without stopping. (He got to the top non-stop also, but, unlike me, had to zig-zag to do it. LOL) If I was riding somewhere with a snarling pit bull nipping at my legs my maximum heart rate would probably be a few more points yet.

    I am happy to report that my trainer does NOT have one of those bogus heart-rate charts posted in his gym.

    Probably preaching to the choir here.

    Don in Austin

  2. #2
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Amen brother. That'll preach.

  3. #3
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    First of all- find your own personal max HR.

    Till you do- find a system that will give you an indicator of the region it could be in.

    Pre 99 I used the 220 - age to find my max. At 50 I could get to165 but I could push to 172 but that was get off the bike time before I fell off it. Then I had to have a stress test at 54 and my max was 165. Then at 60 I could still reach 165 with the Get off the bike time at 172. I dare say that if I was at peak fitness I could still reach 172 but not in the current state I am in.

    And I have a mate who is younger and fitter than me- He just disappears off into the distance with his hr at 135. But if he wants to go faster- he doesn't. His fall off the bike time is around 140

    What I find more important is how long I can ride at a %age of my max HR. 80 to 85% and a metric is easy- and that includes the hills where I will go up to about 95%. A 100miler and I will not attack the hills unless I have to. But hit that max HR on a long ride and I have to spend time recovering from the exertion. Spend too long near max HR and I will be cutting the ride short.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    What we think we know today is what those four generations from now will laugh at and say, "How could they have possibly believed that?" (I would offer "stretching" as an example. Should one stretch before or after exercise? Should one use static or ballistic stretching? Should one stretch at all?) Perhaps the formula for max heart rate (MHR) will continue to be refined in such a manner that in the future folks will know their own true MHR. For now, and for many people who are not as invested in physical training as many here, those bogus charts are simply a starting point and probably have some functional value. They at least introduce the concept that there is such a thing as MHR and that one can train purposefully using feedback from one's own body as one element.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    There are more "accurate" formulas, but the formulas only fit to the average. Your individual mileage and HR may vary.
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  6. #6
    Pat
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
    There are more "accurate" formulas, but the formulas only fit to the average. Your individual mileage and HR may vary.
    I agree. They give a good starting point. One way to check max heart rate is to ride with a fast group and see what how high your heart rate goes. After a half dozen rides, you should have a good idea. I have heard that heart rate is also somewhat exercise specific. That is for the same person, running, cycling and rowing could all give different numbers.

  7. #7
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Yes - if I used that forumla I would be about 30 YO. I used the method in Joe Feil's books to determine my max - probably not completely accurate but I redo it at least twice a year and it changes a little. Later in Dec I will have my first stress test - I am anxious to see what they say.

    I think you will need to determine your max using a method that actually measures your ability and not some formula ment to for the average population - we all know you are far from average...

    BTW I looked up Wilkie Rd and it indeed has a short killer hill in it. Usually when folks talk of sustained grades over 8% I am suspicious, most highway departments will only allow that for very short distances. Seems like yours goes for about 0.1 mile. with an honest 20% step in it of maybe 20 to 30 yards. We've got one like that as well here - never climbed it though. Maybe next year when I swap my 30 chain ring for a 26.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
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  8. #8
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclinfool View Post
    Yes - if I used that forumla I would be about 30 YO. I used the method in Joe Feil's books to determine my max - probably not completely accurate but I redo it at least twice a year and it changes a little. Later in Dec I will have my first stress test - I am anxious to see what they say.

    I think you will need to determine your max using a method that actually measures your ability and not some formula ment to for the average population - we all know you are far from average...

    BTW I looked up Wilkie Rd and it indeed has a short killer hill in it. Usually when folks talk of sustained grades over 8% I am suspicious, most highway departments will only allow that for very short distances. Seems like yours goes for about 0.1 mile. with an honest 20% step in it of maybe 20 to 30 yards. We've got one like that as well here - never climbed it though. Maybe next year when I swap my 30 chain ring for a 26.
    Yep...its not too bad most of the way. As you go up you keep dropping to a lower and lower gear and losing speed. About the time you run out of speed and lower gears you face the 20%+ grade. Its just a stone's throw to the top but its still a b***h! Where did you look at Wilke Street that shows grades? I measured it with my GPS. The roadies around here ride Jester Blvd. It's more like a quarter mile at an average of over 13% as I recall. I have scoped it out but haven't ridden it yet.

    Don in Austin

  9. #9
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Both my wife and I have found that max heart rate needs these components to occur - fresh legs and heart, very high motivation, adrenaline, and high cadence. We log our highest heart rates at the start of races where there is an easy to moderate climb and everyone is killing it. Steep hills alone do not do seem to produce max heart rates.

  10. #10
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don in Austin View Post
    Yep...its not too bad most of the way. As you go up you keep dropping to a lower and lower gear and losing speed. About the time you run out of speed and lower gears you face the 20%+ grade. Its just a stone's throw to the top but its still a b***h! Where did you look at Wilke Street that shows grades? I measured it with my GPS. The roadies around here ride Jester Blvd. It's more like a quarter mile at an average of over 13% as I recall. I have scoped it out but haven't ridden it yet.

    Don in Austin

    I will use the elevation profiles on mapmyride.com or bikeroutetoaster(my favorite but wasn't working tonight). If you zero in on a section you can get as close as 0.01 mile resolution.

    I use it to check out the true grade of my hill climbs.

    Try looking at Touareuna Rd, Scotia NY - this bad boy is so steep they don't plow it in the winter because they can't keep the plow from sliding off it. The 20% section approaches 0.2 miles and overall climbs 450' of elevation in it's 1.6 mile length. As I mentioned before - I can't claim it on my list of accomplished climbs, or even attempted - my road bike is just not geared for it, I might be able to accomplish it on my mtb though.
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  11. #11
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    Google it up, and you will find at least 8 or 9 MHR formulas......I did, and the most conservative(lowest), for me was the220 minus age,it was 154 and the highest was 162...There is also a medical test to see what it is as well..Might also try a search in the Training forum
    Bud

  12. #12
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    At the risk of seeming argumentative: 1. I think the 220-age formula was widely used before the internet. I swear I remember learning it in an exercise physiology class back in the 1970s, and 2. any formula you use will only be an approximation, will not fit someone who is not "average", and will thus be vulnerable to being declared "bogus".

    AND... thanks to the internet it is pretty easy to find out that there are other formulas that may yield more accurate results.

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  13. #13
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    Both my wife and I have found that max heart rate needs these components to occur - fresh legs and heart, very high motivation, adrenaline, and high cadence. We log our highest heart rates at the start of races where there is an easy to moderate climb and everyone is killing it. Steep hills alone do not do seem to produce max heart rates.
    So then the popular formula is even more bogus! I was not fresh, and my cadence was almost at stall-out at the top of that steep hill yet I was 16 beats over my alleged maximum.

    Don in Austin

  14. #14
    Don from Austin Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    At the risk of seeming argumentative: 1. I think the 220-age formula was widely used before the internet. I swear I remember learning it in an exercise physiology class back in the 1970s, and 2. any formula you use will only be an approximation, will not fit someone who is not "average", and will thus be vulnerable to being declared "bogus".

    AND... thanks to the internet it is pretty easy to find out that there are other formulas that may yield more accurate results.
    I know the formula has been around a long time. The internet just makes it even easier for everybody to plagiarize or quote everybody else and spread dubious information. What I have read (on the internet ) leads me to believe that there is such a range of maximum hear-rate that formulas are pretty much useless. Anyway, I know mine is AT LEAST 173 and likely more.

    Don in Austin

  15. #15
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don in Austin View Post
    So then the popular formula is even more bogus! I was not fresh, and my cadence was almost at stall-out at the top of that steep hill yet I was 16 beats over my alleged maximum.

    Don in Austin
    The important metric in heart rate training is your lactate threshold. This is the maximum heart rate that you can hold for a long time - one hour. From that HR, you set your training zones.

  16. #16
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
    The important metric in heart rate training is your lactate threshold. This is the maximum heart rate that you can hold for a long time - one hour. From that HR, you set your training zones.
    Wow! One hour? I had somehow not heard that and I've read a lot of these posts. Interesting....

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  17. #17
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    I'd worked out my max with formulas. Then I hit the hills and found they weren't right. I thought I'd found my max. Then I did an uphill three-mile time trial and discovered I'd spent most of time at 101% of what I though was my max. Formulas: meh.
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    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    Wow! One hour? I had somehow not heard that and I've read a lot of these posts. Interesting....
    You can go to a lab and see what heart rate lactate starts appearing in your blood. For the sake of argument, let's say that is 160 bpm for 50+. What is useful is how long you can go at that heart rate without slowing down i.e. building up lactate in the blood. Generally, one should be able to go 1 hour. After one hour or some period of tim e, general fatigue sets in and power begins to drop and one starts slowing down. When I did the Diablo hill climb, I wanted to be below LT HR or FTP power. I knew I could not hold threshold power / heart rate for over an hour.

    Edit: The key point is that it is possible to increase power at lactate threshold heart rate.

  19. #19
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    I've been trying to keep 85% of my maximum heart rate not my lactic acid level. I'm 69 and I do some sprints and short climbs and I get around 160 or so and I just went by that. 85% of 160 gave me around 128. When I'm riding I try to keep my heart rate at 125 or 130. When it's really hot out, like it is a lot down here that will go up to 130 to 140. My ride is usually 2 hours, but I can keep the same pace for 3 hours. Maybe I should kick it up some, but I don't want to beat, when I get done riding. Lazy I guess.
    When I posted the formula a few times that was just to get in the ball park. Like this one.
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  20. #20
    The Professor akohekohe's Avatar
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    A lot of this is psychological. I was riding on my commute the other day and this really nice looking triathlete type passed me so I figured I would hang with her for a while just for fun. Managed to keep up with her for 20 minutes until our paths diverged and I didn't really feel over-taxed either. When I uploaded the data from the ride my heart was between 170 and 175 for that 20 minutes which really surprised me since the 220 - age gives me a max of 165. I'm not one of these people who ride for the exercise or train or anything like that so I don't think I could do that again on purpose but the testosterone auto pilot seems to do the trick. Now if I only has these women pass me often enough I would get my interval training and could start racing! ...

  21. #21
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    The maximum heart rate is when the physician injects some kind of cardiac drug that progressively speeds up your heart until you reach cardiac arrest and die.

    Boy George: "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?"

  22. #22
    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I guess I have been a participant in BFN 50+ too long. One MORE Max HR thread??

  23. #23
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    I guess I have been a participant in BFN 50+ too long. One MORE Max HR thread??
    Yep
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    I guess I have been a participant in BFN 50+ too long. One MORE Max HR thread??
    Agreed. To find your true max don't they have to hook you up to a bunch of wires in a lab with a bunch of sensors and computers ......... forget it.

  25. #25
    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    http://www.bikeforums.net/search.php?searchid=9887

    93 threads in 50+ forum referencing maximum heart rate!! And, admittedly, I started or commented on several.

    By the way, advanced search is now working great for me.

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