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  1. #1
    1,520,000 nikos's Avatar
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    Alright, need help understanding my HRM range!

    I just got my Polar A5 heart rate monitor and Im having some difficulty setting the low and high range. I put in all the info, body weight 170, height 5'10 and age 31. It calculated that my range is 123 - 160. Well when I ride, I find myself going over 160 without any real difficulty. I right everyday so Im thinking that my cardio is in fine shape, so what needs to be adjusted if anything. I feel as though to keep in the range its at now, I need to really scale back, especially on climbs - which takes me right up to 170/180? Whats the deal?

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    Nikos,

    The upper and lower limits that the watch has set are just a guide line that in your case will corrispond to a 65% to 85% of maximum effort. This is worked out from your maximum heart rate which the polar watches work out as 220-your age. IE the watch believes your max HR is 189 although in reality it us usally a bit higher.

    Unless you cycle on a completelly flat area most peaple will find it impossible to keep within that range but dont worry about it, it's just a guide to stop you over doing it. As long as you can keep in that range on the flats and dont spend all your time doing hill training you will be doing a pretty good aerobic workout.

  3. #3
    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    the fact that you are cardio-fit will allow you to elevate the ranges because your max heart rate can be higher (safely) than other non-trained people. your 65%-75% range is a few beats higher. I'd not go by the 'computer' default ranges for your given age, etc. not every 31 yr old has a max of 210-31. a trained person can be as high as 5-10 beats higher (max) then you can take a % of that.

    HRM's are of little use on hills anyway...it is more for flats and to see how quickly you can recover from climbs.

    you are probably closer to 128-165 range.

    i personally don't like HRM's. I know when i am going too hard. i asked my friend once, and he said that he needed it to remind him to slow down. i don't need to be hooked up to a computer to tell me that. i tried a computer and felt like a motor for my bike. didn't enjoy it (but you really didn't want my opinion so i apologize)

    maybe you can wear your HRM while an inferior team like NIU is rolling up 500+ yds on your team at home...and needs a late, ??? call by the officials on a 3rd and 10 and trailing with a couple of minutes left to win to see what your max heart rate is. NIU vs. Wisky last weekend.
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  4. #4
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    well, i agree with most of what's already been said...

    the "programmed" stuff in the watch is just using the averages which is probably 220-age for max and then just percentages like 60% and 85% or so...

    to really use a HRM effectively, there are 2 things you need to know: max HR and Lactate Threshold or Anaerobic Threshold --actually the LT is what's REALLY important

    for max HR, i think supposedly 80% of the population is with 5 beats of 220.age (226-age for women). if yours is drastically different you probably know it b/c you either never see a value wihtin 20 beats of it (lower actual max HR) or you pass it.

    There are a bunch of simple tests estimate/determine your max HR: basically just do a warm-up and then go flat out sprinting for 30 seconds to 2 minutes (best uphill) and then record the max value and then maybe add a little. maybe repeat a few different days, b/c since this is your THEORETICAL max, if your body isn't all-together (i.e. dehydrated, burned out from the day before, stressed, etc) then you will get a lower value.

    The LT is harder and the best way is to do a labratory test. That being said, you can "guess" yours pretty well. i read a bunch of books and guessed mine as 165 about 2 years ago and then had a Lab test this spring and it was 164, so i think the estimates CAN be very good.

    that being said, i can't write/describe all the stuff to get a really good measure -- you should find a book or something -- but basically the LT can be guessed pretty well by doing a mid-length activity at near-peak-sustainable level -- i.e. your LT is about the HR that you can maintain for a 30-60 minute time-trial. you won't be able to exceed the LT for the entire duration (most people can only exceed for 5-10 minutes, while trained athletes can 20-40 minutes and maybe exceptional pros more -- 30 minutes over is a HARD day for me and i usually have 25 over a a typical my weekly "tough" training day)

    once you know the LT, and the max, there are formulas to train different things, like base aerobic, LT training, etc.

    personally, i will be 32 next week, my max is 195 (according to formula should be 188) and my LT is 164 (pretty high, but i'm a sprinter). when climbing long steep hills (10-30%) if i'm pushing i'll see sustained 170-180, for short hills or sprints i often see mid 180s and 190+ ONLY if i'm really pushing (and know i have a chance to recover afterwards). most of my ride time is in the 150-160 range where i can ride all day long (assuming i eat and drink).

    i set my upper range equal to my LT and i record the training time OVER LT and it is a very helpful stat -- for me less than 5 min means little recovery required, while 25 or more means 2-3 days of recovery...

    in the end, everyone is different, so formulas and all are just a starter. pay attention to the HR and how your body feels and how you recover after certain levels... soon it will be an added tool to tell you to train harder or easier, take a day off for recovery or during a race or long ride to pace yourself (e.g. if i'm in a 3-hr race and my HR during the first 15 minutes is 10 over LT i know i MUST slow down if i want to reach the finish line)
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  5. #5
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    the fact that you are cardio-fit will allow you to elevate the ranges because your max heart rate can be higher (safely) than other non-trained people
    oh, yeah i do disagree with one thing RiphRaph:
    the max heart rate is genetic and not something that is affected very much by training (very little when under 30). as i understand an untrained person has virtually the same max HR they just can't sustain it long or produce much output (i.e. an untrained person my reach max HR trying to climb one flight of stairs whereas a trained person can climb the flight for 10 minutes at a faster pace without going over LT). your max HR is genetically determined and decreases approximately one beat per year with the exception that SOME older trained athletes seem to maintain higher levels...

    and having a high (or low) MAX HR doesn't mean you are or are not fit... how LONG you can train at or above LT, how much power you can produce at this heartrate and how fast you recover, as well as your resting HR --- these are better indicators of your fitness. most pro runners and cyclist have RESTING HRs in the 30-45 range... (mine is about 43 and for "average" people in the 60-90 range although this includes all the overweight out-of-shape people, so i thnk a "healthly" resting HR is under 75 or so) -- oh yeah, and resting means you TRUE resting when you are unstressed, lying down in the morning after waking from a good night's sleep... my "sitting-resting" pusle like sitting at my desk right now is about 56.

    lots of areobic training makes the heart stronger, so your resting HR goes down b/c the relative workload while resting is less. that's on big reason why training and stressing the heart is healthy b/c you spend most of your life NOT CARDIAVASCULARLY STRESSED, so when your heart is strong this "normal" work is easy and causes no strain. plus, the heart is strong enough to handle the peaks from personal stress or exertion. most heart attacks belong to the 45+ yr olds who've doen nothing for 10 years and then go and do something that stresses the heart (or the 70 year old on Viagara who has a heart attack during sex)...
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  6. #6
    xc AND road WoodyUpstate's Avatar
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    Your HRM should be used as a tool to make you faster or more fit. It is not to tell you what zones you should train in. You decide the zones, and the HRM will tell you if you're in the zone.

    What's been said about LT is right on. I might add, though, that LT changes during the cycling season. In the spring my LT is in the 155 range, but has moved up to over 165 currently.

    Finding your LT is, IMO, more important than your max. More and more training programs are basing their zones on % of LT.

    Determining your LT takes some experience with your HRM. Basically, I consider my LT the heart rate that I can sustain, on a flat or climb, for many minutes, let's say 10 minutes. I'm not gasping, but I'm breathing deeply. My legs have a tint of burn, but not a debilitating amount. At this level my body is flushing the lactic acid as fast as it's producing it. That is LT.

    Also, I find that determining LT is easier than determining max. Max is painful and no one likes to go there very often. LT, on the other hand, is withing the comfort zone for nearly everyone.

  7. #7
    Don't Believe the Hype RiPHRaPH's Avatar
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    thank you to nathank for my partial misquote. what i meant to imply was that some people have higher max heart rates than the simple formula. he is right that you are genetically predetermined to have a certain max heart rate (you can't pick your parents)

    you will have higher ranges that you can pedal in for extended periods - vs. a sedentary person who needs to wear a HRM for a stress test.

    riders are often criticized for not going easy enough on easy days and not hard enough on hard days.

    i can guess how fast i am going before i glance at my computer, and now i can guess pretty well where my heart rate is.
    I have enough words to get me into trouble, but not enough to get me out of trouble.

  8. #8
    Pat
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    Well the notion that maximum heart rate is 220-age just is not true. I haven't ridden with a heart rate monitor for a few years. But my max heart rate on a bike was 196 and I was 48 at the time. So I was 24 beats over the max. I have a friend who runs about 35 beats over his supposed max and another friend who is about right on the button.

    If you go out and ride hard, you can eventually figure out your max heart rate and go from there. Just get you max heart rate for each ride (only the ones with sustained intense riding count) and after awhile, you should have a number that you don't exceed. That is prob. close to your max heart rate. Another way to get it is just go out (after a warm up) and very gradually increase the intensity of your riding until you blow up.

    85% of my observed max for me is 170. And 170 is right where things start to hurt. I can sustain 165 comfortably solo for over an hour. So I think one you establish you observed max heart rate, you can figure the rest of the stuff from there.

  9. #9
    have bike will tour catfish's Avatar
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    nikos:
    glad you finially got the A5 from that guy. like the others have already said those zones are based on the math formula which is not very accurate for most of us

    the A-5 by default uses this formula if you read the manual that came along with your monitor you will notice you can over ride this, and input your personel zone numbers based on varrious fitness tests. if you cant figure it out call the 800 number for polar and a tec. will walk you through it
    catfish

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