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  1. #1
    Retired dabbler hobkirk's Avatar
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    Heart Rates for 50+ <AND> Small difference between max & avg MPH?

    Here I go again! I post here because I suspect this is age related.

    Heart Rate - I've never paid attention to HR much over the years, even when I was a marathon runner (under 3 hours). I stopped running (knees) about ten years ago and put on weight. I'm coming up on 65 so I'm more cautious. I bought a HRM computer (Garmin 705). I have been surprised at how low my HR is and I'm curious if it's somewhat typical for people our age (prompted somewhat by "jppe" report in my last thread that he TT's at 175 with a max of 193 at age 57).
    • Maximum HR I've observed has been 152 (on a long hill) - I tend to ride pretty hard
    • It doesn't get near that high in the gym or spinning class
    • My average HR on my 2 sets of 2x3 flat-out intervals (don't laugh - everyone had to start somewhere) bumped up on each interval: 136, 139, 140, and 143 (max climbed from 145 to 151).
    • My average HR on 30-60 mile rides ranges from 120-130
    • The average on my fastest ride (18 mile club "Fitness Ride", 60 ft climbing per mile, 17.1 MPH) was 138 (max 151) - I was working pretty hard.

    Is this low? Is it likely to increase? Is it totally irrelevant?

    Why is there so little difference between my typical average speed on a ride and my speed on an interval? Is it because I'm a novice? I did my intervals on a pretty flat course, but nothing is really flat (83' gain, 97' drop going out). I do the first interval in one direction, do 3 minutes of easy pedaling, and then do 3 minutes the opposite way. I crank hard (the cadence of 95-98 was higher than I expected) and am very, very eager for the final minute to end. In other words, I think I'm doing it pretty correctly.
    • Out = 21.4 average
    • Back = 18.6 (slightly more ascent, slightly more tired)
    • 20.0 mph average out & back
    • The second set was 21.3 out, 19.8 back, average 20.5
    • So that's a little over 20 mph going flat out, redlining my HR
    • My average speed on the fitness ride (zero drafting) was 17.1 (I've done several 47-68 mile rides a little under 16 mph average)

    I expected a 1 mile flat-out interval to be a lot more than 3 mph faster than a 18 mile ride!

    I think the answer is: "You have only been riding 2 1/2 months and concentrating entirely on long rides, not speed training. What do you expect? More distance rides will only raise your top speed slightly, you need to do a lot of speed training, like intervals." Right?
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  2. #2
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    My guess is that your real maximum heart rate is much higher than 152bpm.

    BUT...

    You really should get a stress test and ask your doctor before making any assumptions. Bike forums is a great place, but I would not try to get medical advice here or on any other forum.

    Michael

  3. #3
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hobkirk View Post
    Is this low? Is it likely to increase? Is it totally irrelevant?
    It is irrelevant, except to measure your own progress and effort in training. Comparing to someone else doesn't tell you anything. Did you measure HR when you were a runner? It would be expected that your running HR would be higher than biking, but it would still be an interesting comparison.

    Quote Originally Posted by hobkirk View Post
    [B]
    I expected a 1 mile flat-out interval to be a lot more than 3 mph faster than a 18 mile ride!

    I think the answer is: "You have only been riding 2 1/2 months and concentrating entirely on long rides, not speed training. What do you expect? More distance rides will only raise your top speed slightly, you need to do a lot of speed training, like intervals." Right?
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  4. #4
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    What were your max speeds like? Could it be that you didn't hold your maximum pace for very long?

  5. #5
    Retired dabbler hobkirk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    What were your max speeds like? Could it be that you didn't hold your maximum pace for very long?
    I was cranking the whole 3 minutes - I don't think I faded much toward the end. But, thanks to the wonders of technology, I can find the the top speed on the four efforts ranged from 23.6 to 25.8 mph.

    Barrettscv - I'm not asking medical advice. My reported HR isn't cause for alarm, if anything it's the opposite. I'm asking for practical feedback from people with a similar mania (cycling) that are in a similar age group. My blood pressure and general health get checked monthly.

    Chainrider - I wish I remembered what my rates were, but, like I stated originally, I didn't pay much attention to HR. I was a running machine, and I focused on refining my ability to go fast for a long time. FWIW, my running speed wasn't very fast (sub 6:00 miles were hard) but my best average pace in a full marathon was just under 6:30. Lots of slow twitch fibers!
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  6. #6
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Well, required power goes as the cube of speed all things being equal so a 2 mph increase in speed at 20 mph (just to use round numbers) is a 30% increase in power output. I also ran marathons in the day and while we didn't use HRM I'm sure I could sustain 160 bpm during my race pace which was about 6:00 flat through 20 mph, after that I was just hanging on for dear life. When I started riding two years ago after 20 somewhat sedentary years I thought my head would explode at 140. Now I can maintain 140 easily when climbing on the tandem and if it's not hot 150 bpm for quite a while. Your usable HR will clearly increase, but the absolute numbers appear to be of very little value. On longer rides effort management and thermal management seem to be very important. On our last organized ride we were climbing a longish 10% stretch and my HR was doing just fine at 150+ until I started to get hot at which point a stopped, removed my base layer and restarted (without stoker who had walked ahead).

    You are doing incredibly well for your/our age. Don't sweat the small stuff.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
    You are doing incredibly well for your/our age. Don't sweat the small stuff.
    Two points: 1)don't confuse HR and its relationship to speed. Too many factors to nail down specifics on MPH. I think you should revisit your resting heart rate and calculate your heart rate reserve ala Karvonen formula. That may put it in a different light (see Phil Davies Sport fitness advisor on the web). For the Hell of it, I checked the Canadian National TT times for the 60+ category. Only 8 guys showed up for it, mainly from B.C. and Alberta, and their speeds ranged from 23.37 mph to 19.2 mph over 14 miles (if I did my conversions right) with a real ugly 7% grade dip, out and back. The 50+ were in the 27 to 23 mph range. I know that my HR went from 85bpms to 72bpms after just 2 and a half months on the bike. And that's 6 months after open heart surgery to repair to faulty valves. The fact that you were a runner for a lot of years probably helped develop a good 02 utilization. The HR for anaerobic conditioning is where you may need to focus to improve speeds. Get a really good trainer for that and ignore the rest of us opinionated old farts.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by hobkirk View Post
    I was cranking the whole 3 minutes - I don't think I faded much toward the end. But, thanks to the wonders of technology, I can find the the top speed on the four efforts ranged from 23.6 to 25.8 mph.

    Barrettscv - I'm not asking medical advice. My reported HR isn't cause for alarm, if anything it's the opposite. I'm asking for practical feedback from people with a similar mania (cycling) that are in a similar age group. My blood pressure and general health get checked monthly.

    Chainrider - I wish I remembered what my rates were, but, like I stated originally, I didn't pay much attention to HR. I was a running machine, and I focused on refining my ability to go fast for a long time. FWIW, my running speed wasn't very fast (sub 6:00 miles were hard) but my best average pace in a full marathon was just under 6:30. Lots of slow twitch fibers!
    Remember HR both Resting and Max can be different for different people. My max HR is supposed to be 165, And a the first year I was riding it was close. By year 2 I could hit 171HR in a sprint and the three sprints would be, 32mph for two minutes, 30mph for 2 minutes and 28mph for two minutes. I hate hills but I have to do them so as long as I can keep my HR at 165 or less I can climb all day. That doesn't work for some people like a frind of mine that never seems to get over 160BPM. This year I can hit a HR of 180 without throwing up but I have decided to get a stress test to see where red line should be. My new max sprint is 32 solo 34 in pairs. But it has to be early in a 40 mile ride or I am considerably slower.

    I agree with chainrider. It only matters for your training efforts and to yourself.

    By the way what age group are we talking about?

    I never could run and so I never even tried. If I run something big has to be chasing me.
    Last edited by Robert Foster; 08-16-10 at 09:49 PM.

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    hobkirk,

    Don't worry. You are fine. Too many people confuse fitness, training levels, and HR as related. Maximum HR is just that - a measure of your hearts ability to beat at a maximim level. A heart with a large volume beats slower than a smaller heart. I also was a sub 3 hour marathoner and now a cyclist. My max hr is 166 and I'm a few years younger. While people argue the old formula of 220-age isn't valid, the reason it is used is it's true for the majority of people.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  10. #10
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
    While people argue the old formula of 220-age isn't valid, the reason it is used is it's true for the majority of people.
    Fail.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinarider View Post
    Fail.
    Actually that formula came from the study of several thousand people.
    Last edited by StanSeven; 08-16-10 at 10:57 PM.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  12. #12
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    My story may be of some small interest. A year ago I weighed in at 278 and was really tired of the weight. I live up North and we have long Winters and I decided to get back into biking to lose some weight. I never rode competitively but did some touring years ago. I'm 59. When I started out my first rides were less than 5 miles. I was OK at a heart rate of 125 and 133 was my max before going anaerobic and getting out of breath. I knew how sad that was. I rode with my heart monitor all the time and simply kept a bit under the rate that would cause me to start breathing hard and run out of steam. Day by day, week by week those numbers have climbed. When it was too cold I went to a gym and worked out there but indoor riding has always been a struggle and the boredom kills me. I'm lucky to do 30min of aerobic riding inside. Today I came back from 27 miles (still a decent ride for me in terms of a fast out and back). I was steady most of the time around 153. The entire ride was between 146 and 156 with a few minutes at 159 or so. My max HR (as much as I can push it) is now 170, up by almost 17points from a year ago. A month and a half ago I had a very small stroke - almost imperceptible - and I've been advised to not push it to the limit anymore, but solid aerobic paces are fine. The upshot is my belief that continued solid aerobic riding will continue to raise your aerobic threshold as well as your max heart rate. Getting anaerobic now takes a LOT more work on my part and I am riding comfortably two gears harder than a year ago. I'm still a slow dog compared to any 30 or even any 40 something but that's OK. I've lost 60lbs so far and if I can keep it up, may get under 200 this year. Time will tell. No surprises here....exercise and a better diet...what a secret!

  13. #13
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
    Actually that formula came from the study of several thousand people.
    For a good account of the genesis of the "formula" and it's problems, see this link( you may have to register with the NYT to read, but it's free and worth it). Also see this one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinarider View Post
    Also see this one.
    Great article and sums it up, completely. I wouldn't sweat the HR issue too much - you've already convinced me that you're approaching the elite level in the 60+ league. Maintain the endurance potential and enjoy the ride.

  15. #15
    Senior Member seemunkee's Avatar
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    I'm 53 and my resting HR is ~55. When riding at a comfortable pace I'll hit ~145, but easily hit 160+ on steep hills. The max I've seen on my monitor was 178 that was a steep hill early in the season. Have only gone over 170 a few times, usually while doing hill repeats.
    I've been having issues with my BP, I have one kidney so I monitor it closely and have a stress test scheduled for this Thurs. Not sure how, or if, that has any impact on all of this.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hobkirk View Post
    I expected a 1 mile flat-out interval to be a lot more than 3 mph faster than a 18 mile ride!

    I think the answer is: "You have only been riding 2 1/2 months and concentrating entirely on long rides, not speed training. What do you expect? More distance rides will only raise your top speed slightly, you need to do a lot of speed training, like intervals." Right?
    As others have stated, your HR max and zones are unique to you. What is important is how much power your body puts out at the threshold point. Establishing good pedal technique, just like running form, is critical for improvement and as the platform to work off of. Once you establish your HR zones you can divide your workouts into recovery, Z3 endurance building, higher intensity intervals consisting of longer Z4 intervals and shorter Z5 intervals for speed. Over time your speed, average MPH, while riding at the same effort will increase as your muscular endurance in the Z3 develops.

    After a couple years of training I've discovered my personal max HR to be around 172 and have developed my zones around that number. Keep in mind that your max HR may change over time. At first the muscles used for cycling may quit before you hit your max HR since you are only using specific leg muscles which fail before you really hit MHR even though the body is saying it can't go any more.

    Doing the 3 minute intervals you are doing will make a difference. Once again it takes time to get stronger. In order to ride faster on longer rides one need's to have form, endurance and speed. Doing high intensity intervals will develop speed. FWIW, two years ago when I did 6 x 1mile intervals with 10 min recovery between reps my average speed for the intervals was in the 24 mph range. Two weeks ago when I did 1 mile intervals the times for the 6 intervals ranged from 2:06 to 2:11 which was an average of around 28+ mph. I did a 10 mile, out and back, time trail earlier this summer using my road bike and averaged 24.05 mph.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

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    Quote Originally Posted by hobkirk View Post
    Here I go again! I post here because I suspect this is age related.

    Heart Rate - I've never paid attention to HR much over the years, even when I was a marathon runner (under 3 hours). I stopped running (knees) about ten years ago and put on weight. I'm coming up on 65 so I'm more cautious. I bought a HRM computer (Garmin 705). I have been surprised at how low my HR is and I'm curious if it's somewhat typical for people our age (prompted somewhat by "jppe" report in my last thread that he TT's at 175 with a max of 193 at age 57).
    • Maximum HR I've observed has been 152 (on a long hill) - I tend to ride pretty hard
    • It doesn't get near that high in the gym or spinning class
    • My average HR on my 2 sets of 2x3 flat-out intervals (don't laugh - everyone had to start somewhere) bumped up on each interval: 136, 139, 140, and 143 (max climbed from 145 to 151).
    • My average HR on 30-60 mile rides ranges from 120-130
    • The average on my fastest ride (18 mile club "Fitness Ride", 60 ft climbing per mile, 17.1 MPH) was 138 (max 151) - I was working pretty hard.

    Is this low? Is it likely to increase? Is it totally irrelevant?

    I've been using a HRM for about 8 years. The last two it's been a Garmin Forerunner 305 which downloads nice curves on the pc as your 705. I have lots of stored data.

    I'm 71. I've been measuring a max HR of 174 for those 8 years for cycling. Sprinting, I can get up to 190 and have done so as recently as a few months ago for about 20 seconds. Running max is always higher than cycling max.

    I suspect you have not measured your true cycling max. There are structured ways to do that if you feel it's safe enough. Google to check them out.

    Contrary to bad science/folk lore, max HR does not necessarily decrease with age and is not a measure of fitness.; blood volume/stroke is. Max HR is more genetically determined than anything else. Being sedentary would only lower it a little. However, a sedentary individual would be wise not measurring his max HR.

    On my last mountain bike trail ride in rather steep mountains Cohuttas) in N Georgia , I averaged 121 (not much pedaling on the technical downhills) and hit a max of 147 or 85% of max. I spent about 11 minutes above 80% of measured max. That was a 13 mile ride.

    On one of my longer rides (20.3 mi, Tsali, NC mountains) last month, I spent 0:3:30 above 85% max and 25 minutes between 80 and 85%. Average was 122. Spending time above 80 to 85% depending on one's fitness at the time, will raise your lactate threshold which will lower your resting heart rate for several days afterwards, not to mention it will increase one's insulin sensitivity.

    Some 18 months ago I was measured with HR at rest of 37 in the doctor's office. Unusually low as I had spent a considerable amount of time (over a half hour) above 85% max the day before. While driving, I typically measure in the high 50's the few times I've checked.

    True resting HR (on first awakening) is a better measure of fitness as it's dependent on blood vloume/heart beat. I've not measured mine.

    Al

  18. #18
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alcanoe View Post
    I'm 71. I've been measuring a max HR of 174 for those 8 years for cycling. Sprinting, I can get up to 190 and have done so as recently as a few months ago for about 20 seconds. Running max is always higher than cycling max.
    Do you mean sprinting as in running or sprinting on your bike? Either way, I'd say 190 or thereabouts is your max, not 174. I think it's a bit of a misstatement to say running max is higher than cycling max, since by definition max is max. For practical purposes, such as structuring training, it is convenient to think of it that way though.
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  19. #19
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    Resting- average and Max heart rate will vary between riders. It doesn't matter what your max is- or what you can get to- as it is your heart and your body.

    I am 63 and can still get a max of 165 but that hurts. So I don't go there often- only if I have to. I find that 135 to 140 is my average for most of the ride. I will go to 150 on slopes and as they normally get tougher or steepen towards the end- I will push to 160 (If I feel like it.)

    But there is no way I can leave home and reach 150. It takes about 5 miles for me to warm up. Resting HR of around 80 as I leave home. I push up to 120 and then rest letting the hr drop to around 100. Then I push up to 130 and rest again. Then I normally have a slope so push to 140 and let the HR drop to 120. Then a hill where I push to get to 150. From there I recover till I am comfortable and then ride at 135 to 140. If I were to push from home to get to 150- I would never get there and I would be slow for the whole ride.

    So don't worry about the heart monitor too much. Use it as an aid to keep yourself within your "Zone" so that you are not riding below it (Very easy to do) and just check after the ride to see if you have improved since last ride.

    Same on speed. I only average around 13 mph on most of my rides. Unless it is a flatter ride where I might get to 16- Or completely flat rides (Less than 100ft of rise over 20 miles) where I have seen 21mph.

    And that 220 - age thing that you either believe in or Don't. You have to start somewhere unless you actually take a stress test under medical supervision. The 220 less age will give a start point for you to find out what your max is. I used it untill I was 52 and it was right. And that was proved by a stress test aswell. StanSeven has said it- but the reason it is used as a starting point for those wanting to get an idea as to whether it is right for them- is that it does work for a great number of people. Some are higher- some are lower but it is a good starting point.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinarider View Post
    Do you mean sprinting as in running or sprinting on your bike? Either way, I'd say 190 or thereabouts is your max, not 174. I think it's a bit of a misstatement to say running max is higher than cycling max, since by definition max is max. For practical purposes, such as structuring training, it is convenient to think of it that way though.
    I mean sprinting as in running. I've verified it on a half-dozen occasions. It's accurate as I use the interval button on my 305 to insure I get a very expanded scale on the graphics allowing me to measure my max duration.


    If I '"sprint" cycling it's 174. That's been verified under numerous conditions probably a dozen times in 8 years. Max HR is sport specific. That's why my HRM allows you to set different max values/zones for cycling and running plus one other sport.

    I tailor my upper zones to 80 to 85 % max, 85 to 90% max and 90 to 100% max. I do that to insure I get up there once in a while. Most of the time, just riding for fun gets me there.

    If I used my running max for cycling, I might as well forget seeing high heart rates relative to max and it would make the HRM useless.

    I believe swimming is even lower than cycling as even more of your mass is supported against the force of gravity.

    The devil is in the details. Google and check it out. More rigorous articles might be found with Google Scholar.

    Al

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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinarider View Post
    Do you mean sprinting as in running or sprinting on your bike? Either way, I'd say 190 or thereabouts is your max, not 174. I think it's a bit of a misstatement to say running max is higher than cycling max, since by definition max is max. For practical purposes, such as structuring training, it is convenient to think of it that way though.
    As alcanoe states, maxhr is sports specific. Do a bit of a google, or look at some reference books.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
    Well, required power goes as the cube of speed all things being equal so a 2 mph increase in speed at 20 mph (just to use round numbers) is a 30% increase in power output. I also ran marathons in the day and while we didn't use HRM I'm sure I could sustain 160 bpm during my race pace which was about 6:00 flat through 20 mph, after that I was just hanging on for dear life. When I started riding two years ago after 20 somewhat sedentary years I thought my head would explode at 140. Now I can maintain 140 easily when climbing on the tandem and if it's not hot 150 bpm for quite a while.
     
     
    Whether power required goes up with speed or not, one’s HR may or may not. The pro endurance riders train above lactate threshold as it allows them to generate more power at lower HR’s/VO2max.

    I’ve experience it myself. If I’ve spend like 30 minutes above 85% of measured HRmax on say Tuesday, my ride on Thursday or Friday will be in the lower 70’s and my average speed will be around 5% or more higher on the same 19 mile trail circuit. I’ve done it numerous times. Another few days and the effect is gone and I’m slower and the HR is up.

    Fitness is a transient condition and requires constant effort especially as one gets older.

    The way Armstrong determined he would be ready for that year’s Tour was to do a standard climb full-out with a power meter and a HRM. At the top, the good doctor would draw blood and test for lactate concentration. When his power vs lactate hit the magic numbers, he knew he was ready. He trained not to peak until he was well into the tour.

    Al



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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    And that 220 - age thing that you either believe in or Don't. You have to start somewhere unless you actually take a stress test under medical supervision. The 220 less age will give a start point for you to find out what your max is. I used it untill I was 52 and it was right. And that was proved by a stress test aswell. StanSeven has said it- but the reason it is used as a starting point for those wanting to get an idea as to whether it is right for them- is that it does work for a great number of people. Some are higher- some are lower but it is a good starting point.
    If it was right for you, that was by sheer chance. It's like saying the average male is 5'9', you're a male so you must be 5'9". If you are 5'9" the statement will be correct for you, but that doesn't prove the thesis. The problem with using it as a starting point is that it could just as easily be too high as too low.

    This is from the NYT article referenced above:
    "In addition, Dr. Wilmore, the exercise physiologist, said it was clear from the scattered data points that maximum heart rates could vary widely from the formula. "If it says 150, it could be 180 and it could be 120," Dr. Wilmore said."

    "Dr. Lauer pays no attention to the standard formula when he gives treadmill tests. More than 40 percent of patients, he said, can get their heart rates to more than 100 percent of their predicted maximum. "That tells you that that wasn't their maximum heart rate," Dr. Lauer said.

    The danger, he said, is that when doctors use that formula to decide when to end a treadmill test, they can inadvertently mislead themselves and their patients. Some patients may be stopping too soon and others may seem to have a heart problem because they never can get to what is supposed to be their maximum rate.

    "Some people are being pushed and others are not," Dr. Lauer said. "In my view, that is unacceptable.""

    I agree.

    This is from the Journal of Exercise Physiology study:

    "CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
    Based on this review of research and application of HRmax prediction, the following recommendations can be
    made;
    1. Currently, there is no acceptable method to estimate HRmax.
    2. If HRmax needs to be estimated, then population specific formulae should be used. However, the most
    accurate general equation is that of Inbar (17) (Table 3); HRmax=205.8-0.685(age). Nevertheless, the error
    (Sxy=6.4 b/min) is still unacceptably large.
    3. An acceptable prediction error for HRmax for application to estimation of VO2max is <±3 b/min. Thus, for
    a person with a HRmax of 200 b/min, error equals ±1.5%. If this precision is not possible, then there is no
    justification for using methods of VO2max estimation that rely on HRmax prediction formulae."

    As far as finding a good place to start without doing a stress test, one can test max on their own. If you're not comfortable doing that, there are submaximal self tests to determine threshold. And for training purposes, it's probably more useful to know THR than MHR.
    Last edited by chinarider; 08-18-10 at 12:19 AM. Reason: added last paragraph.
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    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    As alcanoe states, maxhr is sports specific. Do a bit of a google, or look at some reference books.
    If you read my whole post, you'd see I said that for training purposes it makes sense to treat it as if MHR is sport specific. I'm not trying to argue semantics, but when I think of MHR I'm referring to the highest attainable HR, which, by definition, is at least the highest possible to achieve.
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    Quote Originally Posted by alcanoe View Post
    Max HR is sport specific.
    I'm not really disagreeing with anything you're saying. See the preceeding post.
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