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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Calculating HR Zones/Percentages

    The way I learned to calculate HR zones/percentages was this:

    1) Find your max HR ... in my case, about 195 bpm

    2) Multiply your max HR by the percentage you are looking for. For example, if I want to ride at 60% of max, I would take 195 bpm and multiply it by 60% to equal 117 bpm.


    But I have heard there is another, somewhat more complicated, method of figuring out HR percentages. Anyone know other methods of calculating HR percentages?

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    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    Yes. It's using the Karvonen method (a.k.a., heart rate reserve) where you must also know your resting heart rate (RHR).

    If you wanted to ride at 60% of heart rate reserve, it would work like this:


    MHR = 195 BPM
    RHR = 50 BPM
    Heart rate reserve (HRR) = MHR - RHR = 195 - 50 = 145
    60% of HRR = (.6 x 145) + RHR = 87 + 50 = 137 BPM

    The reason that some folks use the HRR method is because it more closely reflects percentages of workouts at VO2Max. In other words, 50% HRR will be closer to 50% of VO2Max then simply taking 50% of your MHR.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    The way I learned to calculate HR zones/percentages was this:

    1) Find your max HR ... in my case, about 195 bpm

    2) Multiply your max HR by the percentage you are looking for. For example, if I want to ride at 60% of max, I would take 195 bpm and multiply it by 60% to equal 117 bpm.


    But I have heard there is another, somewhat more complicated, method of figuring out HR percentages. Anyone know other methods of calculating HR percentages?
    I think you get better ranges based on some sort of field test rather than using maximum heart rate.

    I did the carmichael online training last year, and an interesting thing I notice with their field tests was that as I got better, I was able to maintain a higher percentage of my maximum heart rate (from something like 163 up to around 171 for a 9 minute (or so) effort.

    That had the effect of moving the ceiling of my base workouts and the range of my tempo workouts up around 5 BPM. That doesn't sound like a lot, but I could tell that the lower ranges weren't enough when I was fitter.

    The field tests is somewhere in the archives.

    Oh, and the other advantage of the field test is that it's easier to get an average over 10 minutes or so that it is to get a good max heart rate measurement. Though I think it's a lot more painful...
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  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Just a couple comments on that ...

    -- My max hr isn't calculated from that old 220-age thing ... it is an actual reading on an HRM, and not just one reading.

    -- And I can maintain 170-175 bpm for a very long time without any trouble at all. In fact, in the last year or two, it takes me about 100 kms to get it to settle down somewhere in the 145-155 range.


    In fact it was that which prompted this question. According to the method of calculation which I describe in my original post, a heart rate of 170 bpm would mean I maintain 87% of my max HR, which seems very high. However, using the other method, I'm not quite sure what percentage I would be working in.

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    Senior Member slim_77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    According to the method of calculation which I describe in my original post, a heart rate of 170 bpm would mean I maintain 87% of my max HR, which seems very high. However, using the other method, I'm not quite sure what percentage I would be working in.
    I just started using the Karvonen method a month ago. I feel that it more closely matches my ability, so the workout zones seem to reflect a more genuine workout. Also, doing the 2x20 field test rather than the MHR just further enhanced this.

    Like you, using the old formula (% of max HR) I couldn't understand why I could sustain such a high % for so long. I knew I was not in that kind of shape!

    Our numbers are pretty similar, so 170 bpm is right around LT for me (just above 80%), you have probably pushed your LT higher than 169bpm (mine), afterall, I don't do ultramarathons!!!
    gravity: it's not just a good idea, it's the law.

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    Open up Friel's CTB (3d ed), go to page 42. Worked for me.
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    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    Assuming a resting HR of 55 and a MHR of 195, and using Karvonen, 170bpm is 82% and 175 is 86%. You just gotta find your RHR.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Just a couple comments on that ...

    -- My max hr isn't calculated from that old 220-age thing
    You do realise that that would mean you think people thought you were 25?

    Anyway...
    I just put together an Excel sheet and a diagram to illustrate the two methods:


    Since I didn't know your RHR, I included lines for 40, 50 and 60 BPM. The blue line shows the "simple method" that you mentioned in the first post. The MHR is 195, as you stated that as your MHR.

    As you can see, the choice of method makes much more of a difference for the lower HR zones.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    I think the Carmichael "field test" protocol would serve most people's needs. Of course, there's room enough for people to "bungle" even that test.

    I find it interesting that so many people are interested in finding their MHR, but have little or no interest in applying their findings in meaningful training routine scenarios.

    This might be a good time to remind people, that for most of them, their MHR is a "moving target." Very few people ever reach a training status, coupled with the intense focus and will to demonstrate repeatable MHRs in identical testing protocols.


    But I have heard there is another, somewhat more complicated, method of figuring out HR percentages. Anyone know other methods of calculating HR percentages?
    Why, stress so much attention to MHR, or HR%, if you routinely ride and train with absolutely no discipline?



    And I can maintain 170-175 bpm for a very long time without any trouble at all. In fact, in the last year or two, it takes me about 100 kms to get it to settle down somewhere in the 145-155 range.
    Wow, what does this statement tell about this person's potential to use HR training feedback to their advantage?


    I think all the attention given to the concept of "zone training" has diverted attention away from other more useful ways of interpreting HR data. Certainly, for those athletes who participate in highly structured training routines using Carmichael's zone training techniques, finding a working MHR is important.

    For most of the rest of us, HR at lactate threshold and HR at aerobic threshold are the only two numbers of importance. It's the use of training techniques, that raise these two numbers that is of the most benefit.

    Like MHR, Aerobic T and LT are moving targets, based on rest and fueling to some extent. But moving these numbers 1 or two beats, usually represent real progress. Extending the length of time spent at each of these thresholds produces benefits as well.

    I genuinely have no idea what my Max HR is. But I have a very good idea of what my "red line" HR[LT] is and where my cross over from "cruise" zone to " HR[AT] "work zone" starts.

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    Videre non videri
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    For most of the rest of us, HR at lactate threshold and HR at aerobic threshold are the only two numbers of importance. It's the use of training techniques, that raise these two numbers that is of the most benefit.

    . . .

    I genuinely have no idea what my Max HR is. But I have a very good idea of what my "red line" HR[LT] is and where my cross over from "cruise" zone to " HR[AT] "work zone" starts.
    The problem is that some people might not have access to a test lab to find their thresholds, or can't afford it even if they do have access to one.

    Therefore, these methods are quick, simple and free, and will provide a decent starting point without having to resort to better methods.

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    Zinophile tibikefor2's Avatar
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    Richard and CD both have good points.

    If you pay attention to your breathing and your perceived effort will make up for not having a lab around. HR is great if you feel the exact same everyday and the environment does not change.

    As Richard states, " genuinely have no idea what my Max HR is. But I have a very good idea of what my "red line" HR[LT] is and where my cross over from "cruise" zone to " HR[AT] "work zone" starts."

    These two points can also be determined by how you are breathing eg gulping for air etc.
    Tibikefor2

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    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    Knowing what your LT is as a percentage of MHR can be beneficial when deciding what you can improve upon. If your LT is at 95% then, well, figure out something else to do other than LT intervals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    I think the Carmichael "field test" protocol would serve most people's needs. Of course, there's room enough for people to "bungle" even that test.

    I find it interesting that so many people are interested in finding their MHR, but have little or no interest in applying their findings in meaningful training routine scenarios.

    I think all the attention given to the concept of "zone training" has diverted attention away from other more useful ways of interpreting HR data. Certainly, for those athletes who participate in highly structured training routines using Carmichael's zone training techniques, finding a working MHR is important.
    I agree with nearly all of what you say, though I do want to point out that carmichael doesn't depend on the MHR - it's all based on the field test.
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    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    ericgu says:
    though I do want to point out that carmichael doesn't depend on the MHR
    Ouch! I sit down with my "Richard Cranium" between my legs. (insert upside-down smiley face here)

    Ericqu is correct, Carmichael himself, sees little use for MHR, and does in fact promote the idea of "sustainable usable HR" during the field test.


    What I want to know, is what Ms. Machka thinks she's doing starting a 200k+ ride like this:
    And I can maintain 170-175 bpm for a very long time without any trouble at all. In fact, in the last year or two, it takes me about 100 kms to get it to settle down somewhere in the 145-155 range.
    This is the kind of remark you expect from a first or second year rider, not someone who puts up a website and gives advice about PBP.

    Anyone want to offer guesses, about what M should learn from HR readings?

  15. #15
    Zinophile tibikefor2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    What I want to know, is what Ms. Machka thinks she's doing starting a 200k+ ride like this:
    Quote:And I can maintain 170-175 bpm for a very long time without any trouble at all. In fact, in the last year or two, it takes me about 100 kms to get it to settle down somewhere in the 145-155 range.
    She is actually a hummingbird and her heart is all a flutter over the start of a ride
    Tibikefor2

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    So ... what's the problem with starting a ride like that? That's what my heart does at the beginning of most of my rides. It's not like I'm riding fast, and it's not like I can just tell it to slow down.

    Maybe I am part hummingbird!

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    Zinophile tibikefor2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    So ... what's the problem with starting a ride like that? That's what my heart does at the beginning of most of my rides. It's not like I'm riding fast, and it's not like I can just tell it to slow down.

    Maybe I am part hummingbird!
    Machka:

    Most people start out a long distance ride in the 120-130 bpm range. Some people have a higher heart rate and that is why I say they have a hummingbird heart. Usually my heart rate for long distance rides is between 120-140. When I raced criteriums, my heart rate would normally be in the 150 range and extreme efforts, like when I would lead out my team's sprinter for a half a kilometer, my heart rate would peak at around 200.

    I beleive what Richard was saying is that your heart rate is on the high side for an endurance event. I believe that most literatures states you would be using only glycogen for fuel and not burning fat. Your body probably does not adhere to being the average person. I gues you could say that you are special
    Tibikefor2

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibikefor2
    Machka:

    Most people start out a long distance ride in the 120-130 bpm range. Some people have a higher heart rate and that is why I say they have a hummingbird heart. Usually my heart rate for long distance rides is between 120-140. When I raced criteriums, my heart rate would normally be in the 150 range and extreme efforts, like when I would lead out my team's sprinter for a half a kilometer, my heart rate would peak at around 200.

    I beleive what Richard was saying is that your heart rate is on the high side for an endurance event. I believe that most literatures states you would be using only glycogen for fuel and not burning fat. Your body probably does not adhere to being the average person. I gues you could say that you are special
    Well, I do have two damaged valves in my heart, so I suppose it is possible that has a bearing on my heart rate. My sitting (not resting) HR tends to be in the high 70s if I'm really relaxed, but can shoot up to 90 or 100 if I tense up at all. A small hill (like a highway overpass) will put my HR over 180.

    The good thing is that once I'm warmed up/calmed down on a ride (usually well into a ride), when my HR does climb over 180, it'll drop back down to the normal 140-ish (or less in some cases) in less than a minute. If I stop, it'll be back down under 100 in about 2 minutes.

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    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Well, I do have two damaged valves in my heart, so I suppose it is possible that has a bearing on my heart rate.
    Typically, valvular disease has little to do with heart rate.

    However, you are indeed a special case. Since you have begun using a bronchial dilator - no telling what's going with HR relative to overall metabolic expenditures.

    While many experienced cyclists may argue that they"always" go out "hard" and then "backoff" just before their gas tanks go down too far, someone like Machka, who has no designs on "leading a pack" could never be served well by starting a ride at a relatively high, unsustainable HR average.

    As I have commented in other threads, heart-rate feedback, by itself is of little value. But I can advise anyone who is willing to listen, that when riding over 100 miles - you NEVER want your highest HR average to occur in the first hour of the ride.

  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Believe me, I'm not TRYING to maintain a high heart rate early in the ride!! I try to get it down ... I ride slowly ... sometimes I will even stop by the side of the road for a little while.

    The high HR at the beginning of a ride doesn't happen with every ride ... usually just the ones where there are other people. Perhaps it is a nerves thing.

    And it could also have something to do with my inhaler. One of my inhalers (not the one I usually use) warns of palpatations and irregular heart beats.

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    Where's the pack? race newbie's Avatar
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    Machka...Sounds like your max HR night be higher if you can maintain the 170+ for a long time. The Karvonen method is ok, buy I had my VO2 tested and it was about 5-10% off, same goes for Friels field test which I also did. The Karvonen method is closest to accuracy when you are around age 40, tends to be more off the older or younger you are.

    I too have asthma and use albuterol 1/2 hour prior to riding to prevent an attack. It raises my HR for a short while but not significantly and usually not by the time I ride. You heart damage may impact your results significantly, is there anywhere in your area you can go for V02 testing?
    "The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must all pay for success." -Vince Lombardi

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    bac
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    In fact it was that which prompted this question. According to the method of calculation which I describe in my original post, a heart rate of 170 bpm would mean I maintain 87% of my max HR, which seems very high.
    How long can you maintain this HR? A trained athlete can maintain about 92% of max for over an hour. 87% of max is not that high depending on the duration. However, this ALL hinges on a correct MHR since all numbers are derived from that number.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    How long can you maintain this HR? A trained athlete can maintain about 92% of max for over an hour. 87% of max is not that high depending on the duration. However, this ALL hinges on a correct MHR since all numbers are derived from that number.
    You've gone back to "square one." And that's not really the answer.

    Everyone gets excited at the start of a ride, but if I read Ms comments correctly, she's holding a relatively high HR for several hours and then dropping down to the 140s. Hey folks - that ain't right!

    If M says she's cruising for long periods at 140-150s, the obvious question is: Why not start at the 150s, and "ramp it up" to 160s after several hours? After all, it would amount to the same expenditure.

    NO more, RC's burned-out on this thread.....

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