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Old 02-15-12, 06:49 PM   #1
dstrong 
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Dialing in my HRM for Max HR...

I've read that the standard Max HR calculation (220 - age) becomes less accurate for folks over 50. When I used an HRM 6 years ago I found that calculation still to be too low and manually set my max to 187 based on observed readings over time. Ultimately that unit died and I've gone several years w/o any sort of HRM.

I just picked up a new HRM so I could take a stab at doing some HR training again but I'm not sure if I've got dialed in yet. Here are the calculations that have been applied so far:
  • 220 - age (53): 167
  • Polar built-in based on b-day: 168
  • Something I found online (214 - (.8*age): 177

I suspect that even 177 was too low as most of my jogs and bike rides average in the 85% range, with a lot of time (30 to 40%) in the 90+% range.

Last week I ran some intervals during my jog and when I got home I found my HRM had registered 178. So I figured I could bump my max up to 178.

Late this afternoon I took a 22 mile ride on a route I ride regularly. Well...I ended up on the outbound leg riding with some guy who was faster than me. That, of course, didn't stop me from trying to keep up. At one point he started to drope the hamer so I jumped on his wheel and hung on for dear life. He finally droped me but I was able to catch back up and have one more big effort on his wheel before I turned around to head home. I worked pretty hard on the way home but I was watching my HRM and never saw it go above about 96%.

Well...I just took a look at my monitor and it shows that I hit a max hr of 197. I know with my old HRM I once saw a spike of 220 and wrote it off to a bad reading. 197 is still pretty far off so I'm inclined to write it off as an anomaly but I still suspect my max may still be somewhere north of the 178 I've currently got set.

I know everyone's different but what's your experience trying to dial-in a max HR (without going to a professional to get it tested)?

And just so ya know...I had a stress test 2 years ago...I'm adopted so have no family history and just wanted to set a baseline. I got a very clean bill of health (they kept asking "so why are you here?")
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Old 02-15-12, 07:38 PM   #2
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The generic algorithm for determining maximum HR should not be relied upon.

In lieu of having a properly supervised exercise stress test, try the following. Just be careful and aware of the inherent risks of stressing your heart et al.

Find online a RPE (rate of perceive exertion) scale of 10 - see below, and use that in conjunction with your HRM. If you don't trust your HRM then first manually take your own pulse to verify.

After a suitable warm up find a longish hill, gear up and go at it. The goal is reach the point where where you cannot continue any further without dumping a lot of gears or stopping altogether. You don't want to push yourself to the level of collapse so don't over do it.
Code:
Level 	Feeling
1-2	Extremely easy. You can easily carry on a conversation.
3	Very easy. You can converse with almost no effort.
4	Moderately easy. You can converse with a little bit of effort.
5	Starting to get challenging. Conversation requires more effort.
6-7	Difficult. Conversation requires a lot of effort.
8	Very difficult. Conversation requires maximum effort.
9-10	Full-out effort. No conversation is possible.
At that point you will have a heart rate that is close enough to use as your maximum. Consider that most of effective exercising takes place between RPE 4-7.

Keep in mind the risk associated with stressing your heart like this, so if anything your RPE should override any readout on your HRM.

Good luck
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Old 02-15-12, 08:01 PM   #3
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I've read that the standard Max HR calculation (220 - age) becomes less accurate for folks over 50.
It's useless for training purposes for people of any age.

Don't use HRmax for training. Use LTHR. Zones based off of HRmax are really based from LTHR, and they use an assumption to get the LTHR from HRmax. So there's two assumptions involved- that your LTHR relates to your HRmax in the same way that the studies they're using do, and that the zones based on LTHR that are based on other studies match your physiology. If you start from LTHR there's only one assumption involved.


If you want to know HRmax anyhow, then keep recording and do some hard 3-5 min intervals with a sprint at the end.
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Old 02-16-12, 09:05 AM   #4
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... If you want to know HRmax anyhow, then keep recording and do some hard 3-5 min intervals with a sprint at the end.
Yes. It's very tough to get to you max heart rate. I have to do hard intervals followed by an all out max effort to get to mine. Racing other club riders up sharp grades will get me there too. I'm pushing 60 and my max HR is 182.
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Old 02-16-12, 09:48 AM   #5
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To the OP: First of all, congratulations on your good health. It takes work, but the quality of life is so much better.

To determine my maximum heart rate, I just went over the past years ride logs as recorded on my Garmin 500, and just picked the maximum number I found, disallowing the obvious spikes. It's probably a bit low, but gives me a starting guideline.

- - -

In general ... is it "dangerous" to be at one's maximum heart rate for longer than just a few moments?



p.s. I printed up a small "chart" that I have pasted to the top tube of my bikes. It shows the five zones and the minimum and maximum heart rate for each zone. It help to remind me of the level of effort I need to put out, (or hold back), to stay in a specific zone.

Zone 1: Moderate Activity (Maintenance / Warm-up)
Zone 2: Weight Control (Fitness / Fat burn)
Zone 3: Aerobic (Cardio Training / Endurance)
Zone 4: Anaerobic (Hardcore Training)
Zone 5: VO2 Max (Maximum Effort)


(not mine - got those zones out of a book on cycling)
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Old 02-16-12, 11:51 AM   #6
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[QUOTE=volosong;13858919]

In general ... is it "dangerous" to be at one's maximum heart rate for longer than just a few moments?

It's generally impossible to maintain maximum hear rate for more than a minute or two. If you can, you're not at maximum -- yet.
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Old 02-16-12, 01:06 PM   #7
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I have no idea what my max HR is. I only use an HRM to make sure that I don't go over my Power Zone when I ride. I set up my Sigma PC15 HRM when I got it and it did the calculations for me and set up the three training zones. According to the HRM, my Power Zone is a rate between 139 and 174, but I don't think 174 is my max heart rate. On almost all of my rides, I stay within the Power Zone the majority of the time with my average heart rate falling between 130 and 140 bpm and the highest heart rate being between 155 to 165 bpm. I have only gone over 174 twice since I have been keeping track (1/1/11). I'm 65 and I guess those figures are OK because my doctor is very happy with my stress test results.
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Old 02-16-12, 01:48 PM   #8
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When I can see my heart beating from the outside, it's time to back off a tiny bit. No need for gizmos.
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Old 02-16-12, 01:59 PM   #9
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I quit using my HRM as every spring when I started up that first set of hills after the winter layoff it would start crying. It was really embarrassing.
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Old 02-16-12, 02:15 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by volosong View Post

In general ... is it "dangerous" to be at one's maximum heart rate for longer than just a few moments?
It's generally impossible to maintain maximum hear rate for more than a minute or two. If you can, you're not at maximum -- yet.
Thanks. I'm just learning about this heart rate stuff and how it relates to riding/training. Didn't want to hit some magical number and then just fall over dead.

I think I need to redo my zone charts. It looks like the 165 max I figured from previous rides is a bit low.
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Old 02-16-12, 02:28 PM   #11
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Didn't want to hit some magical number and then just fall over dead.
If that's how it worked humans would not have lasted long enough to have developed the heart rate monitor.
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Old 02-16-12, 04:26 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the responses guys. I've been reading more about LTHR and I'm considering doing a running test today after work. I'm not convinced I'm up for it...it sounds painful...basically run hard for 30 minutes but at a pace I can keep up for all 30 minutes.

What I find interesting is the difference between the LTHR zones and the MaxHR zones. LTHR seems to focus on chopping the higher zones into small bits.

I'll see what happens when I try to find my LTHR and report back.
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