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  1. #1
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    Determining Max Heart Rate

    I have recently bought a new heart rate monitor and found I need max heart rate as the key to using it. I have used the equations that were suggested to determine my maximum heart rate but haven't been able to reach the number on any rides. 178 was calculated value and 168 is the max I have seen. How do you get your max rate? As you train can you expect to see your heart rate change as you get in better shape? So far I have raised it to its highest level while drafting a faster rider and spinning as fast as I could go for several miles. I always seem to hit the same rate for a few minites before I have to drop my effort so do I consider that my max rate?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob99
    I have recently bought a new heart rate monitor and found I need max heart rate as the key to using it. I have used the equations that were suggested to determine my maximum heart rate but haven't been able to reach the number on any rides. 178 was calculated value and 168 is the max I have seen. How do you get your max rate? As you train can you expect to see your heart rate change as you get in better shape? So far I have raised it to its highest level while drafting a faster rider and spinning as fast as I could go for several miles. I always seem to hit the same rate for a few minites before I have to drop my effort so do I consider that my max rate?
    Well, as you seem to realize, the 220-age is only a very crude approximation and it is easy to be 20-30 beats off of that estimate.

    The way I have done it is warm up and then gradually increase the intensity until my heart rate maxes out. It me to have a competitor to increase my motivation.

    Your maximum heart rate should be relatively constant over time (that is fitness does not have a big effect, or it never did for me) but it will not be the same for different kinds of exercise. I hear that people who run and cycle can hit higher numbers running.

    Another thing is that you will find that how you feel at certain heart rates makes a difference and I use these sensations as training guides. For example, I am working fairly hard at 165 but I have no discomfort and I can sustain this pace for over an hour (never tried to go longer, always seemed to be enough). It is sort of like a "fast cruise". Above 170, things start to hurt. Maybe that is my anaerobic threshold and it works out at about 85% of my max.

  3. #3
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    Find a performance lab or a university with a kinesiology or exercise physiology department.

    Get tested. You will never know what your true max heart rate is unless you are in a medically supervised setting with professionals that can administer the test on you and measure your level of exertion.

    Koffee

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    Senior Member nhorscro's Avatar
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    It's difficult to hit your true max while drafting. The way I hit my max is on a fast group ride with a sprint finish. When I feel like I can't increase the pace anymore I sprint. For the last 4-5 years the max number is see is 197-201. I was tested and had a max of 197 so at least for me I believe this method works for me. Testing does have other benefits but if you just want your max HR that's a lot of money to spend.

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    It's difficult to achieve MAX HR without being in a competitive environment for me. I believed mine was high 180's for years. A few years later I rode the track and regulary saw mid 190's before my vision blurred and I was unable to read my HRM ..

    You *might* find that your Anerobic Threshold is a more useful number. It's easier to determine but it does fluctuate with your fitness. I believe the Friel book has a formula to estimate AT based on Average HR during a short <10 mile time trial.

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    Try the Heart Rate Calculator section of this site, and you can get a little better idea than the 220 - your age formula.

    http://www.heartzone.com/index.shtml
    "...perhaps the world needs a little more Canada" - Jean Chretian, 2003.

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    For the second time at the start of a race my heart rate hit nearly 220. When training I can barely get it up to 177, my supposed max. The first time it happened it thought my HRM was acting up, but now it has happened twice. Does anybody know what gives?

    Gary
    Gary

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    Senior Member keithnordstrom's Avatar
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    sounds like a problem with your hrm lol. you may have been riding near power lines when you got the 220 ...

    don't bother with formulas for determining max hr; and i would recommend you ignore it anyway. your anaerobic threshold is much more important, especially when you are just starting out.

    my girlfriend did her first race this june, a short hill climb of 4.5 miles. she was rocking out until she discovered that her hr had been a sustained 188 for the whole race! since she thought her max was only a little bit higher than that, she basically freaked out and backed it down, despite the fact she felt she could have gone harder at many points. so having a misconception about your max hr can be detrimental to beginners.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-Hoch
    For the second time at the start of a race my heart rate hit nearly 220. When training I can barely get it up to 177, my supposed max. The first time it happened it thought my HRM was acting up, but now it has happened twice. Does anybody know what gives?

    Gary
    The phenomenon is called "anticipatory heart rate". It's experienced a lot at racing events- you get to the start and your heart rate is THIS MUCH HIGHER than normal. Then your heart rate is overly elevated during the race. You always have to take this into account. One of Sally Edwards' books explains this a little more- can't remember which one, but I'd guess it was her book called ""The Heart Rate Monitor".

    For those of you that say you had your max hr tested, who did your test? Where did you get it tested? From the way some folks were talking, I would think whoever tested them were not professionals. When I had my test done at the beginning of the summer, the guys came and slapped one of those oxygen tubes on my mouth and took a pin and put it over my nose so I could only breathe out of my mouth. Then they put a heart rate monitor on me and also had me on an ergometer. My friend had his done and paid the extra to have his ear pricked every minute so they could more accurately determine the concentrate of lactate in his blood. When I had my test, it took about an hour, then they took an additional 30 minutes to go through the results with me. They had me hooked to a computer the entire time. Then when they thought I was near max, they had me do an all out effort, and when they asked if that was as hard as I could go, I said yes, and they me push a little harder- they didn't let up until my eyes were bulging and I was gasping for like another minute. It was painful. So if you didn't go through that, I would say you weren't professionally tested. At the very least, professionals should know better than to test you and not push you to your highest limits. There's no reason for a discrepency of what people are describing here. The dudes that tested me came in from Toronto and were in town for a week at a fitness convention doing tests, so I paid to have mine.

    I really do think that it would be more efficient to test anaerobic threshold, which changes with fitness, and that would be something worth checking into- since as anaerobic threshold increases, you will be able to sustain higher heart rates for longer periods, which is good for when you want to do your races.

    Koffee

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    Quote Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
    Find a performance lab or a university with a kinesiology or exercise physiology department.

    Get tested. You will never know what your true max heart rate is unless you are in a medically supervised setting with professionals that can administer the test on you and measure your level of exertion.

    Koffee
    Seconded. Max HR is a theoretic max anyway, you should never actually reach it.

    Most universities will need participants in certain studies or labs for their students which involves this testing. Put your hand up to be in the study and they will normally do any additional testing that you want at the same time. Build up a relationship with the lab, they will call you if you they need you for a study and you can get your testing done for free.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koffee Brown
    The phenomenon is called "anticipatory heart rate". It's experienced a lot at racing events- you get to the start and your heart rate is THIS MUCH HIGHER than normal. Then your heart rate is overly elevated during the race. You always have to take this into account. One of Sally Edwards' books explains this a little more- can't remember which one, but I'd guess it was her book called ""The Heart Rate Monitor".

    For those of you that say you had your max hr tested, who did your test? Where did you get it tested? From the way some folks were talking, I would think whoever tested them were not professionals. When I had my test done at the beginning of the summer, the guys came and slapped one of those oxygen tubes on my mouth and took a pin and put it over my nose so I could only breathe out of my mouth. Then they put a heart rate monitor on me and also had me on an ergometer. My friend had his done and paid the extra to have his ear pricked every minute so they could more accurately determine the concentrate of lactate in his blood. When I had my test, it took about an hour, then they took an additional 30 minutes to go through the results with me. They had me hooked to a computer the entire time. Then when they thought I was near max, they had me do an all out effort, and when they asked if that was as hard as I could go, I said yes, and they me push a little harder- they didn't let up until my eyes were bulging and I was gasping for like another minute. It was painful. So if you didn't go through that, I would say you weren't professionally tested. At the very least, professionals should know better than to test you and not push you to your highest limits. There's no reason for a discrepency of what people are describing here. The dudes that tested me came in from Toronto and were in town for a week at a fitness convention doing tests, so I paid to have mine.

    I really do think that it would be more efficient to test anaerobic threshold, which changes with fitness, and that would be something worth checking into- since as anaerobic threshold increases, you will be able to sustain higher heart rates for longer periods, which is good for when you want to do your races.

    Koffee
    how much did all of this cost you? i'm very interested in having it done by a professional.

  12. #12
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    My last test was discounted substantially by my club. I was lucky- I ended up paying $80. Other people weren't so lucky and paid something like $175 for the same tests.

    Koffee

  13. #13
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    the max HR "formula" is just an estimate...
    but it's a good enough estimate for most of the training programs that use it to set zones. or just adjust the value -- if your supposed max is 185 and your HR monitor regularly shows 195, then use 200 or something as your max. ---> note the MAX is that - the HIGHEST value so you should rarely see it. mine is around 193/194 and i only saw a value over 190 once this year (primarily b/c when i am pushing that hard i am sprinting in a race finish or hillsprint and i don't LOOK at the HR monitor and my downloadable log only samples once every 10 seconds or so...)

    Quote Originally Posted by JustSayMo
    You *might* find that your Anerobic Threshold is a more useful number. It's easier to determine but it does fluctuate with your fitness. I believe the Friel book has a formula to estimate AT based on Average HR during a short <10 mile time trial.
    (my opinion - other _may_ vary) good training programs should emphasize the Lactacte Threshold more than the max.

    this you _can_ also estimate, but here a test is not a bad idea (i had one spring 2002 and it cost me $60 discounted from $80 by my club). this is the test where you ride on an egometer and they prick your ear for a blood sample every couple of minutes.

    from reading and my personal observation i had estimated my LT at 165 and the test resulted in 164 (early season) and later in the season it climbed (my estimate was 169)

    search the forum - i and others have posted quite detailed descriptions of how to estimate the Lactate Threshold.
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  14. #14
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    If you get tested, lactate threshold is a very useful indicator of how to train, but unless you have someone pricking your finger or your ear every 15 seconds for 15 minutes while you're doing the test on the ergometer, then it won't help the general population. Then it's much easier to go by anaerobic threshold- perceived exertion is something everyone can do and using it helps to determine what heart rate you start to feel out of breath at. From there, you can train around that number and as the fitness level builds, you will find it much easier to hold your cadence at that heart rate, where before, when you did your initial test, you were not.

    I've typed up the 2X20 anaerobic threshold test, but never a test on lactate threshold. That's a test that definitely needs to be done in a lab setting.

    Koffee

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