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  1. #1
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    Max heart rate 220?

    Hi, I bought a cycle computer with heart rate monitor yesterday and have just got back from testing it out. I'm a bit confused.
    My resting heart rate is 52, (in bed, watching TV it's 60), which suggests I'm quite fit. I wouldn't say I'm extremely fit, certainly not as fit as I was a few years back.
    I'm 30 years old, so my maximum HR should be 190.
    I strapped on my monitor and made my way to a long fairly gentle incline that I thought should last me 20 minutes. I went there off road, over some fields and through some woodland, I wasn't riding particularly hard but on a couple of occasions I noticed my monitor showing over 210, 220 was the highest I saw. How is this possible? Is it dangerous? I felt fine, I could have been cycling much harder / faster.
    When I got to the road, I started cycling fairly hard, not as fast as I could, but breating hard and fast. I could have kept this up for well over 20 minutes, probably gradually getting a bit slower, but keeping the same level of exertion - heart rate and breathing. My heart rate throughout was steady at around 177. My booklet said that this meant I was burning glycogen, that I could only keep this up for short bursts - obviously wrong - and that spending too much time in this zone could even be dangerous. How dangerous is it? Simply inefficient for training, or bad for my health? I find it hard to beleive this really dangerous, I've only been cycling for about 3 years, but since my early teens I've gone running and trained this hard regularly without mishap.
    After the 20 minutes, I cycled back home at a fairly leisurely pace - not dawdling but at a pace that would allow my to get my breath back, I could have easily held a conversation. My heat rate was 145 - supposedly right at the top of my aerobic range.
    I checked my pulse manually at my wrist after the 20 minutes and after my ride home, and it agreed with the monitor, so I don't think it's malfunctioning.
    What does all this mean? Am I about to drop dead? Or conversely, am I super-fit? Should I just throw the heart monitor away and ignore the training zone advice? Do I train too hard? and what effect will this have / has this had?
    I don't compete in races, I just cycle for fun, but I'd like to think that it was also beneficial to my health and fitness.
    Thanks for any advice,
    Mat

  2. #2
    Focus on the future alison_in_oh's Avatar
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    OK, 220 - age is a very very rough estimate of max heart rate. Think about it, everyone is individual, and it's not like your heart is sitting in there with a calendar waiting for your birthday!

    Monitors are susceptible to interference. A common form of interference is when a flapping jersey creates a little electric charge and sends the monitor signal sky high. If you weren't hurting, you weren't at 220 bpm, I'm fairly sure of this regardless of my above statement about MHR.

    The level of exertion where you are working hard but could keep it up for a while is probably just below your lactate threshold. Keep making these observations and you will learn where YOUR personal LT is.

    Scaled down, it's quite reasonable that 145 is a low-to-mid-aerobic range for you.

    I don't think any of this has to do with whether you're superhumanly fit or whether you're about to keel over. These are just guidelines for you to use to tailor YOUR workout program. I hope this helps.

    (FWIW, I'm 25, I've seen 203 and usually use that as my MHR, I start to slow down with lactate burn around 176 so I use that as my LT, and I consider anything under 140 to be useless for training. I typically work for a HR around 160 for endurance rides, which is quite sustainable (though my body would really rather I hover closer to 145). I typically "pop" at about 188 if I've got my legs, can't even hit 175 if I'm a bit run down, but in a race I'll run close to 190 for long stretches. The key is learning where these ranges are for YOU.)

  3. #3
    Senior Member shimanopower's Avatar
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    "I wasn't riding particularly hard but on a couple of occasions I noticed my monitor showing over 210, 220 was the highest I saw. How is this possible? Is it dangerous? I felt fine, I could have been cycling much harder / faster."

    yeah 220 is impossible if you're not putting out a huge effort

  4. #4
    Dart Board velocity's Avatar
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    What is wild is that everyone likes to use the HRM as a intesity guage but for the most part few really understand what those numbers are saying to them.The problem is that you are looking at a number that you judge your training on instead of a intuitive feeling. Mostly since all people are different like Alison has just stated and you have found out, the formula is really not accurate at all for most individuals.(7 out of 10!) The reading you gave us is a little high but maybe its true! also maybe there is something that isn't right like a low battery. What I would suggest if you intend to use your HRM is
    1) go get a stress test done for your own personal knowledge of what your MHR is.
    2) over time use RPE -and then look at the numbers -then average those numbers out and get a range that will tell you what training zone you are in wheather on your breathing or localized muscular fatigue.
    Ride lots
    Velocity

  5. #5
    Senior Member joeprim's Avatar
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    If you feel chest pain BACK OFF! if not it's just a number. It might mean something if you record the numbers and put them in a chart - it might not, but if you don't try you won't know.

    Joe

  6. #6
    Senior Member shimanopower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by velocity
    What is wild is that everyone likes to use the HRM as a intesity guage but for the most part few really understand what those numbers are saying to them.The problem is that you are looking at a number that you judge your training on instead of a intuitive feeling. Mostly since all people are different like Alison has just stated and you have found out, the formula is really not accurate at all for most individuals.(7 out of 10!) The reading you gave us is a little high but maybe its true! also maybe there is something that isn't right like a low battery. What I would suggest if you intend to use your HRM is
    1) go get a stress test done for your own personal knowledge of what your MHR is.
    2) over time use RPE -and then look at the numbers -then average those numbers out and get a range that will tell you what training zone you are in wheather on your breathing or localized muscular fatigue.
    Ride lots
    Velocity
    ah good confuse him more by saying that it was possible he had a heart rate of 220 and he barely felt he was making an effort... that's perfect. that intutive feeling comment is real helpful too. I'm sure that's what carmicheal and Dr. Ferrari use to calculate how well Lance's training is good.

  7. #7
    Dart Board velocity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shimanopower
    ah good confuse him more by saying that it was possible he had a heart rate of 220 and he barely felt he was making an effort... that's perfect. that intutive feeling comment is real helpful too. I'm sure that's what carmicheal and Dr. Ferrari use to calculate how well Lance's training is good.
    Nope just saying that there is a problem with HRM's and I wouldn't worry about that number I would worry on how I felt that is what I said. Also Lance doesn't care alot about what those numbers are. If you watched the Cronicals on OLN he stated that . So I figure go train to a number go ahead and see if by the time you hit deflection that number matters any way. and by the way ever had a day when you felt great at 165 and the next felt like your heart was coming out of your chest at that same number??
    velocity

  8. #8
    bzzzz fuzzthebee's Avatar
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    I'd say there was probably some interference when your hrm showed 210-220. The effort that you described when you were at 177 bpm sounds not much less intense than when you saw 220. Power lines and streetcar wires near where I live often add about 100 bpm to my hrm display. Lately, the heat has been adding 10-15 bpm to my heart rate during my intense interval sessions.

  9. #9
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    Everybody's numbers are different. You have to establish your own base. Only then will you be able to use those numbers. Do an Lt or max HR test. The 2X20 at the top of this section is a very good one. BUT! 220 will make most people puke and cry for mommy!

  10. #10
    wfo
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    This dicussion is not for those on medications that would prevent the hear rate from elevating as a result of exercise. Those on beta blockers for instance. There are other meds as well, but just for discussion we'll keep it simple.

    As it relates to a competive or serious athlete, the topic of heart rate is a huge indicator of fitness/health status. Recovery time, nutrition needs, systemic changes as well as reducing the chances of overtraining syndrome constantly looming over the horizen for many of them. This can most definetley be ascertained and planned around HR information.

    Although not crucial for the weekend warrior and casual cyclist/athlete, (but they too can use this to their betterment as well, just not crucial.)

    Specifically, addressing those cyclists/athletes wanting to take their serious training and race day performances to another level, should know correct training heart rate thresholds and resting heart rates and be tuned into them, period. Eventually, you've got to know a little about HR, at some point. If you're not, your probably not taking your training to new heights and improving.

    Chris Carmichael, daily, was monitoring HR's. He was talking about this in his Coloradoo Springs facility in an interview several times throughout the TDF. If those Discovery boys weren't getting this info or for that matter anyone of those pros weren't, they would never survive the 3 weeks or any of the One Day Classics, let alone their ungodly training regimines thorughout the year.

    Bottom-line: The Pros are regulary use HR as an indicator of training intensities and fitness levels/status. Determining where they are as they evolve in early winter and where they need to get to for race preparedness by spring. How much recovery is needed and Frequency, Intensity and Duration. All are all key components to their plan.

    Serious athletes who do rely soley on the "perceived exertion" method as their training and race planning criteria, are blindly going about their training. This is like "stick and rudder navigating" in the dark. After a while it has diminished returns. (Yes, it is true for most casual ahletes and those on heart rate elevating restricting meds "perceived exertion" is a preferred method.)


    Having prepared "all along" for your race or event using a HR monitor and HR as a criterion you will be able to manage far better where you are within your capabilities. Lessening the chance for blowing up by going out to hard or having gone out to easy.


    Determining Max Heart Rate:

    A safe method in determining max heart rate is to establish one's baseline. Either a clinical and supervised setting using a knowledgeable professional is important.

    The Balke standard is a treadmill test is and one such test protocol. Using EKG or ECG monitoring, Vo2 breathalyzer, blood lactate measurement from finger tincture, etc. This test is a progressive test protocol that basically sets an incline either 4% or 6% on a standard treadmill. Then very gradually increases speed in 1 minute intervals, bringing the participant to a point the participant signals they cannot go anymore and test is over.

    At this point the heart rate is recorded and becomes your new max HR and your baseline, from which all other parameters can be determined,i.e: heart rate thresholds or % of maximums as is used in training intensity. Every now and again predicated on the exercise prescription the individual will be advised to re-visit this baseline for comparison sake.

    Ones current fitness status, that is a stautus barring no serious medical contraindications whereby the risks of exercise usually out-weigh the benefits.

    Getting regular health checkups goes along way. Find and use health care professionals who are healthy themselves.

    Most of all, when we ride, we feel better. That's the key, just ride.


    Last edited by wfo; 07-27-05 at 09:54 AM.

  11. #11
    Dart Board velocity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wfo
    Serious athletes who do rely soley on the "perceived exertion" method as their training and race planning criteria, are blindly going about their training. This is like "stick and rudder navigating" in the dark. After a while it has diminished returns. (Yes, it is true for most casual ahletes and those on heart rate elevating restricting meds "perceived exertion" is a preferred method.)

    Really do you think that in the middle of the race that a participant will look down at that HRM and go "woops? Over doing it got to back off!"? I am sure that Chris and his team where the ones looking at those numbers and coaching Lance (probably suggesting) from his ear piece. I Know that Nike wanted to design a HRM for Lance and that when they asked him what he wanted in one the whole thing turned out very basic and the bells and whistles where just bling bling.
    What is missing here is that RPE and HR should be used together for training purposes. More commonly used now incorporation of power meter to determine intensity along with some other form like RPE and yes HRM to gauge not only current out put but changes in over all fitness. RPE is great for the here and now but it does no good over time to show gains. Where as HRM can help you see over time that you are working at numbers closer to your MHR or working for longer at those HR numbers that had you stopping for breath or localized muscular fatigue. I further more agree that if you where to use HRM as a intensity gauge that you get a stress test done by a physician and not go Karvonens simply and quite frankly there are too many holes in it.
    Good discussion
    Velocity

  12. #12
    Legs of Steel chrisvu05's Avatar
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    probably just an anomaly....i've been on a stationary bike before that showed my heart ranging between 240 and 270....which is obviously impossible if I was still sitting on the bike and not laying on the floor clutching my chest! prolly just something screwed up with the HRM

  13. #13
    grrrrrowl
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    Why not forget the HRM and just ride as hard as you can? Unless you're a high risk for coronary uh-ohs, what does the HRM do for you that you can't feel? I know numbers are fun but they just add confusion, and the HRM is just another piece of gear to monkey with.

  14. #14
    Senior Member joeprim's Avatar
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    I don't use one, but I can understand why some one might want to keep records. plotting HR over some long period of time might show something.

    Joe

  15. #15
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    Just one comment. cyclingmat said: "My heat rate was 145 - supposedly right at the top of my aerobic range."

    This isn't correct; I think you just made a common arithmetic error. Your aerobic range is generally between 70% and 85% of your maximum heart rate. 0% corresponds to your resting heart rate (NOT zero heart rate). Thus, for you, 70% = 151 bpm, and 85% = 170 bpm. A good workout would probably have you hovering at about 160 bpm.

    - Warren

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    Senior Member Dieter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chroot
    Just one comment. cyclingmat said: "My heat rate was 145 - supposedly right at the top of my aerobic range."

    This isn't correct; I think you just made a common arithmetic error. Your aerobic range is generally between 70% and 85% of your maximum heart rate. 0% corresponds to your resting heart rate (NOT zero heart rate). Thus, for you, 70% = 151 bpm, and 85% = 170 bpm. A good workout would probably have you hovering at about 160 bpm.

    - Warren

    I didn't know that, thanks. My HRM is in the mail so I havn't had a chance to test it yet, but just from checking my puls with a watch it seemed that 70% was a bit low. Now I know why, I was starting the % calculations at 0...

  17. #17
    Senior Member demoncyclist's Avatar
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    If you are going to use an age predicted formula, at least use the Karvonen method to determine your MHR. It at least uses resting heart rate as a parameter. The 220 (226 for women) minus your age formula pre-supposes that your HR can be anywhere from 0 to your max, which we know it can't.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member dagna's Avatar
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    If one just uses straight percent of max to find heart rate ranges, the math is going to work out the same no matter what your resting heart rate is. However, thanks to the above poster for mentioning Karvonen, which I'd never heard of and which DOES take resting heart rate into account. Here's a link to the first calculator I found:

    http://pages.zdnet.com/bodybuilder/id27.html

    It gives the formula as: X% = ((Max HR-Resting HR)*X/100)+Resting HR

    That works out to my AT (85-90%) being 157-163, which jibes with my 'intuition' that 155 gives me a good workout and noticeable training effect, without wiping me out. Using the straight percentage method gives me an upper range limit that hardly lets me break a sweat, but that the Karvonen method ranks as 'easy (60-75%)'.

    Guess nothing is simple anymore.
    Dagna

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