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  1. #1
    Senior Member Brew1's Avatar
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    Max Heart Rate, am I goning to blow?

    Looking for some advice on what my target zone should be when riding.
    little background, I'm 52, 5-11 and weigh about 178. I've not been riding the past 12 years or so due to a bad hip. I had hip replacement late last year and now I'm getting back on my bike again. Now my heart rate when riding regularly has always been on the high side so maybe I'm okay.
    Yesterday was the first day I've been out on my road bike and I had my HRM on, my average rate was 150bpm and I maxed out at 190 going up a fairly short but very steep hill coming back into our neighborhood. During most of the ride I really wasn't starving for air or did I feel out of breath.
    Now if you go by the method of 220-age (52) my max should be 168 and my high end training zone should be around 135 but if I would train at that rate I may as well get off and walk.
    Am I endangering myself and should I slow back into it or do I just have a naturally high heart rate? I think in the past I remember maxing out in the hi 180's.

    Any advice would be appreciated...

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    220-age is all but worthless; your max can be 20-30 beats off from it. If you're out of shape, get checked out by your doc before getting back into vigorous exercise.

    I'm 55, and my max is 192 on the bike (it'll be different for biking/running/swimming). 220-55 = 165.
    192 has been my max since 2004. I expect it will be for quite some time to come...

    Google "talk test"- it's a way to get a pretty good estimate of your max without going to the max.
    Last edited by Dellphinus; 05-14-11 at 05:20 AM.
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    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Just ride to the point where you are unable to talk. (out of breath)
    Then,
    Back off a tad so that you can speak.
    I rode that way for two weeks and became very strong on the bike.
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    Honestly, I've never read of anyone here on BFN 50+ who has "blown up" from over-exertion. Perhaps that's because they really "blew up?"

    Forget 220-age.

    Listen to your body, and follow its instructions.

    Enjoy, and welcome.
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    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Brew fwiw, you have to find your own maximum heart rate. Just like 10 wheels said. Go as hard as you can, where you cant go any farther without falling over. Do this at different times, not right after each other and take your average that should be your max. I'm a few months from 71 and my max is 170.I read somewhere that the writer said to add 5 to your max, but I forget why. Once you get your max, you can set your zones up so you can get a good work out, but not over do it. If you do a search of the forums, you can get so much information, you'll be reading all day.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Brew1's Avatar
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    Your right there is a plethora of heart rate threads on here that I should have checked first...

    I did have a stress test before my operation late last year and everything looked fine.

    I'll see what happens over the next several weeks after I ease back into it. But it is disappointing that I used to be able to average over 20mph and yesterday I could only muster 15.5 mph average I have a long way to go...but it was good to be back on the saddle with no pain in my hip

  7. #7
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    The standard advice is that you should check with your physician before embarking on a program of strenuous exercise. If your stress test was good, then you should be OK. Assuming you have no condition for which strenuous exercise is contraindicated, you are not going to "injure" yourself by revving your heart rate up "too high". I've asked several doctors about this and they agree that you do not injure a healthy heart by overexertion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brew1 View Post
    Your right there is a plethora of heart rate threads on here that I should have checked first...

    I did have a stress test before my operation late last year and everything looked fine.

    I'll see what happens over the next several weeks after I ease back into it. But it is disappointing that I used to be able to average over 20mph and yesterday I could only muster 15.5 mph average I have a long way to go...but it was good to be back on the saddle with no pain in my hip
    Welcome to the "GOLDEN YEARS".

  9. #9
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    As other people have said, max heart rates do not follow the 120-AGE equation. I had a friend who was 48 and I think I once pushed him up to 210. I know another guy who at 54 had a hard time getting to 160. Both guys were in reasonably good shape. There is all sorts of individual variation.

    I would give you a few caveats. You should get checked out by a physician. If you have any real doubts of your cardiovascular system, a stress EKG would not hurt either. Another thing, over the years, I have seen a bunch of accidents caused and/or suffered by cyclists who are exercising close to maximum levels. I know a couple who have actually passed out whilst red lining on the bike. Passing out whilst riding does not strike me as a really safe thing to do.

    But that being said, if you get involved in any group ride on any weekend, there are some riders who treat it as their RACE. And they have GOT TO WIN. If it was very easy to kill yourself by pushing things too hard, we would have dozens of cyclists die in the state of FL each and every weekend. So you can push yourself awfully hard without any real damage.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Am I endangering myself and should I slow back into it or do I just have a naturally high heart rate? I think in the past I remember maxing out in the hi 180's.
    Yeah that's curious. But guess what, I've had similar results when getting back on the bike after being hit by a car.

    My HR Max topped out at about 180-185 way back in the 1980s. And usually, I've red-lined in the 160s and definitely blew chunks if I did not rest when ever i started hitting high 150s.

    But then last year, on my first real long road ride, and after a good rest stop and a cup of coffee I hit 175 and was hitting some 160s, that usually would have "bonked-me" to a stop after ten minutes. So I take this to mean, when you are practiced at an exercise, and come back to it after a lay off - but are out of shape, you may indeed find new "high Max HRs."

    However, now that i am riding a lot, I can't get anywhere near those numbers, and seldom hit the 160s, just like the last ten years. Most peoples comfort levels are around 220-age levels. But I guess, being rested, and familiar with a particular exercise allows for Max HR readings - especially if you are out of shape to begin with.
    Sorry about my comments - I thought you wanted honest feedback.
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    Senior Member JTGraphics's Avatar
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    Yes that formula is useless and no wheres close to what you should be, I'm 54 and hit 187- 189 on just about every ride and can get up to 192.
    You are fine unless you have a known heart condition if you stop and your heart rate starts to drop right away you are fine if your heart rate stays in the upper range for a long time you may want to get checked out to be sure.
    I say this because a friend till a few years ago who seemed to be in great shape and was very fast found that he had a heart condition he still rides but at a much slower pace and really watches his heart rate he can hit 200 easy, one thing that happens to him is his heart rate will stay up and will not drop very fast to recover, a sign that something may be up.
    It may not be fancy but it gets me were I need to go.
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  12. #12
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    Not only is everybody different but it also depends on the sport. I'm 57 and a max HR of 185 is totally accurate for me when I'm xc-skiing but seems to be on the low side for me when I'm on the bike.

    Just keep riding and you'll see your numbers go down and your recovery time shorten.

  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    contact your doctor, sports physiologist.

    I'm not ashamed to walk hills, now.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Brew1's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the help on the subject, time to get back out there and get back in to shape!!!!

  15. #15
    Old Road Racer Cleave's Avatar
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    Hi,

    Just to add to the plethora of good advice above, please make sure that you check with your doctor and get a stress test before embarking on a strenuous exercise program. This past Sunday, after the Masters 50+ race (20 miles, 26 MPH average) one of the competitors experienced some difficulty breathing. Long story short, he (fortunately) ended up at the hospital where he had a heart attack. This guy has been racing for a number of years. From what I hear, he will be OK, but the lesson of this story is that he was experiencing similar symptoms at the previous week's race and he did not go to the doctor to get check out.

    I am writing this not to scare you or others away from regular and strenuous exercise, just make sure that you go into it knowing your initial limits.
    Thanks.
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    From what I understand you will pass out before your heart stops beating... it's the bodies way of saying you are over doing it. Of course that is a rough way to find out if your cycling at the time.

    I'm 52 and rode 28 miles up and down all ride at aobut 162 bps for most of the ride. I could still speak though while riding up hill it was a little more difficult. Find you talking point and back of a little. I find it helpful with a HM as a way to idintify where I am at, at any given time.

  17. #17
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    Riding at your max heart rate can in fact be dangerous and it is why stress tests are done in a medical office. I finished a race, got off the bike and had a stroke. I peaked about 5 beats under my max heart rate. Luckily the stroke was in a place where the result was not extreme but it could have also resulted in much higher drama. At age 15 there is little danger but as one gets older our blood vessels are naturally less flexible and extreme effort can be an issue. Now I limit my heart rate to high but short of a totally max effort. That was disappointing to be forced to do because I enjoyed pushing myself to a maximal effort.

  18. #18
    Century bound Phil85207's Avatar
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    I just wish I could get my HR over 140. I wish I had your problem.
    Chief Executive In Charge Of Diddly Squat.

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil85207 View Post
    I just wish I could get my HR over 140. I wish I had your problem.
    Your not on any blood pressure meds are you ?

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    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    58.5 and my bike max seems to be about 190 but it does depend on the activity. Purposeful riding, it's in the 150-60s all day long. For a few months I rode with a HRM just to see what was happening, that's enlightening. If you want to see a scary heart rate, monitor yourself during hour 5 or 6 on a hot day when you are get dehydrated, yikes!

  21. #21
    Century bound Phil85207's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frisky99 View Post
    Your not on any blood pressure meds are you ?
    I am on no meds at all except for thyroid meds. Aspirin when I get a head ache.
    Chief Executive In Charge Of Diddly Squat.

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
    58.5 and my bike max seems to be about 190 but it does depend on the activity. Purposeful riding, it's in the 150-60s all day long. For a few months I rode with a HRM just to see what was happening, that's enlightening. If you want to see a scary heart rate, monitor yourself during hour 5 or 6 on a hot day when you are get dehydrated, yikes!
    Heat is a killer on performance. Yesterday was our first real hot day at 85deg and plenty humid as Michigan gets. I felt pretty good going into mile 16 then my heart rate wouldnt settle down, and pulse was up around 175-180 on a fairly flat, slightly uphill grade. I had already consumed a litre of water and finally called it a day at mile 21. I'll get better at it as the temps steadily run in the 80's but this first one is tough. And I hardly felt like I rode yesterday. Sheesh.
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  23. #23
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    I did a solo century in the 100s, it topped at 116 F around 2pm. Stupid, yes. Educational, yes. Yeah, it's fascinating to watch your heart rate "kite" if that's the correct technical term. It felt dangerous around hour 5 so I found a nice shade tree and took a 40 min. rest/nap, and let water assimiliation catch up. When it's that hot, it doesn't seem to matter how much you drink if you're riding, you never catch up hydrate-wise. I don't think I'd do it again, but I think the body is alot more resilient that we give it credit - but it wants to be listened to..and its' issues addressed.

    I hit 192 spinning last night, close to maxed-out.
    Last edited by FrenchFit; 05-13-11 at 08:33 PM.

  24. #24
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    I must be the ONLY person in the entire BF community who can say this but 220-age formula is fairly accurate for me. It is only a starting point for estimating MaxHR in large populations anyway and IMO too many people think because they are different (always "better" here at BF of course) that the formula must be "junk".
    Last edited by billydonn; 05-14-11 at 07:20 AM.

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  25. #25
    Dan J chinarider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billydonn View Post
    I must be the ONLY person in the entire BF community who can say this but 220-age formula is fairly accurate for me. It is only a starting point for estimating MaxHR in large populations anyway and IMO too many people think because they are different (always "better" here at BF of course) that the formula must be "junk".
    I know we've been through this conversation before, but I'll give it another go. I guess it depends what you mean by "junk". If it's recognized that, at best, it represents only an average, I wouldn't say it's junk (altho there is reason to suspect it's accuracy even as an average-- more on that below). I would say it's useless for any particular individual. If 220-age works for you, it is purely by coincidence. After all you can pick a formula virtually at random for x-age = MHR, where x is between 275 and 150 and it will be accurate for someone. It's like saying the average male wears a 42 regular suit, I wear a 42 regular, so that must be what everyone should wear. Even if 220-age is an accurate average, the range is so wide that it's no help to an individual.

    And, as I said, there is reason to suspect it's accuracy as an average. The original data that led to the formula was not based on a representative sample of the general population. It was literally whoever walked in the door. including smokers and people with heart disease. Further, because it included people who weren't used to exercising, it is theorized that many prematurely stopped without truly reaching their MHR (see generally http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/24/he...ed.html?src=pm). I think it is for this reason that 220-age more often leads to a too low result than a too high one.

    The formulas derived from better data generally yield higher results, especially for the masters population (http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Myth-O...-Age&id=678707). However, the scatter is so wide that no formula is useful to predict a particular individual's MHR. " Exercise physiologist Dr. Fritz Hagerman, who has studied world-class rowers for three decades, has said that the idea of a formula to predict an individual's maximum heart rate is ludicrous: he has seen Olympic rowers in their 20's with maximum heart rates of 220, and others on the same team and with the same ability, with maximum rates of just 160 [id.]."

    BTW, while my MHR is above the average( ~195-200, 58 yo), I in no way believe that this is "better." I have talked to many with lower MHRs who can kick my butt.
    Last edited by chinarider; 05-14-11 at 01:57 PM.
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