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Old 06-18-09, 11:56 AM   #1
HDK
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Breathing rate vs Heart rate

Hello everyone, I have a question regarding targeted training. When climbing a certain hill on my local ride, my heart rate used to hit 190. My max heart rate is 195 (47 yo). Now, I can climb the hill with my heart rate only hitting 180, but my breathing is still very heavy and labored. Do I need to target VO2 max intervals to try to mitigate this, or is it natural and the heart rate always responds to training better than the lungs?

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Old 06-18-09, 08:02 PM   #2
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but my breathing is still very heavy and labored.
That's an interesting subject. Whether perceived respiration, or more succinctly respiration stress relates in a linear fashion to heart rate.

I wonder if respiration coefficient is tracked during VO2 max efforts.
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Old 06-19-09, 07:39 AM   #3
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Not sure, but I would have thought that with the decrease in heart rate, I would have seen more of a decrease in respiration.
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Old 06-19-09, 11:06 AM   #4
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Not sure, but I would have thought that with the decrease in heart rate, I would have seen more of a decrease in respiration.
It seems that with your training, your heart developed adaptations to become more efficient, meaning for every stroke more blood is being pumped through your body so that you can achieve the same amount of power up that hill with less beats per minute.

It means you're gaining fitness.
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Old 06-19-09, 11:09 AM   #5
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I would assume you have maximum heart rate along with a maximum breathing rate. As you gain fitness your heart rate will decrease but you will still need to breathe at maximum intensity. They are probably linearly related by % of max heart rate/breathing rate. ex. 80% max heart rate = ~80% max breathing rate.
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Old 06-20-09, 05:51 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies, guess I still need to train harder.
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Old 06-20-09, 07:40 PM   #7
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My guess: It's about moving O2 to your muscles. You train your heart and muscles and you're moving more per pump. But that O2 still needs to get into your lungs.
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Old 06-23-09, 08:55 AM   #8
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I find it is all in the recovery.

Don't be frightend if you pant. Improvement, apart from your heart rate, is the time you need to recover to be able to speak again. It gets quicker. And there lies the lung improvement, imho. Panting is part and parcel of cycling.
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Old 06-23-09, 01:21 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by HDK View Post
Hello everyone, I have a question regarding targeted training. When climbing a certain hill on my local ride, my heart rate used to hit 190. My max heart rate is 195 (47 yo). Now, I can climb the hill with my heart rate only hitting 180, but my breathing is still very heavy and labored. Do I need to target VO2 max intervals to try to mitigate this, or is it natural and the heart rate always responds to training better than the lungs?

Thanks HDK
Heartbeats are easily countable and dropping from 190 to 180 is a 5%. How do you know that your breathing has not decreased a 5%. You mention is still heavy and labored but I guess that "heavy and labored minus 5%" is still heavy and labored. For what you say, it is just your perception. Probably the only way to know if you have improved your breathing is measuring it with some machine.
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Old 06-23-09, 03:47 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by HDK View Post
Hello everyone, I have a question regarding targeted training. When climbing a certain hill on my local ride, my heart rate used to hit 190. My max heart rate is 195 (47 yo). Now, I can climb the hill with my heart rate only hitting 180, but my breathing is still very heavy and labored. Do I need to target VO2 max intervals to try to mitigate this, or is it natural and the heart rate always responds to training better than the lungs?
Thanks HDK
Heart rate is directly tied to oxygen in the blood. oxygen in the blood is tied to o2 transfer into the cells and co2 gas transfer in the alveoli.
a lower heart rate indicates you are getting the needed (may be the same) amount of O2 to the muscles (and other tissues, since we don;t keel over and croak every time we exercise/exert) using fewer pumps.
'Heavy and labored' is not bad. Way better than 'panting' (short, fast, shallow breath). When we hit anerobic the body has a natural reaction for short, fast, breath which actually (according to a study I read back in the 80's) decreases the gas exchange at the Alveoli because you're not vacating CO2 from the lungs as well as a deep breath. Key is to work on strong regular breath which is not hyperventilating.
Training which raises your AT all helps to better your aerobic abilities.
VO2 max is largely a genetic thing, but studies indicate that one can raise current VO2 slightly with things which aid respiration and gas exchange.
Heart and lungs respond equally, in their fashion, to O2 needs. Problem is that anything which negatively affects gas exchange will cause the heart to adjust (rate increase) as it tries to meet the body needs for O2.
Focusing on good breathing techniques for deep breathing will have an immediate effect on heart rate, this is well doc'd.
You can try it yourself, keep a STEADY singificantly hard effort on the 'flat', don;t vary the speed, go into a shallow, fast, panting for a significant period of time and watch the heartrate climb. Then, keeping, the same speed, go back to a deeper, steady breathing and watch the heartrate drop. This takes a bit because the system needs to 'recover' and blood chemistry will take a period of time before it goes 'positive'. An example is sprinting, or short extreme efforts. Often the HR doesn;t hit the max until just AFTER the effort is completed. That's the heart rate still working to bring chemistry back in line, even though the effort is over.

EDIT - I don know, but 180 is still a very high rate and very likely above your AT. Maybe not. But if over AT, then heavy labored breathing is expected.
At 60 I don;t get to hit 180 much these days, no matter how hard I go...
when I get near 180ish I go A-Fib, so the HRM reading is mostly confirmation of A-Fib and not much use, except to tell me to BACK-OFF and get back down.
Do you know roughly where your AT is? This would be THE important longterm number to know and track as you keep up your training effort.

Last edited by cyclezen; 06-23-09 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 06-24-09, 12:47 PM   #11
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simply put, breathing is not linear with hr. in the middle portion of a vo2 vs hr curve, the plot is about linear. Once you start accumulating lactic acid, however, you will hit a respiratory threshold, where your breathing rises exponentially with effort. This ventilatory threshold roughly corresponds to lactate threshold in most people. Your respiration is tied to acidification of the blood by CO2 (which forms carbonic acid in aqueous solution). When you blow off CO2, you are helping buffer the effects of lactate production on blood pH.

SO...up to a certian point (about LT) your HR and breathing will be approximately coupled, but they are decoupled after that point, with ventilation rising much more quickly. You are bringing in more oxygen as well, but your respiration is far more sensitive to blood pH than to oxygen content.
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Old 06-29-09, 04:35 AM   #12
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Sorry for the late reply, I have been traveling. The correlation of a 5% decrease in heart rate be easily recognized and a 5% decrease in breathing rate not noticed make sense. 180 is right at my lactic threshold, not sure if that is the same as AT. I am trying to concentrate on my breathing to be deep and steady, and it does seem to help. Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to reply.
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Old 06-29-09, 06:20 PM   #13
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AT, lactate threshold, OBLA....all different terms for the same thing. there are aslo about 20 others that were formerly used. I like OBLA ("onset of blood lactate accumulation") because it says exactly what is happening.
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Old 06-29-09, 09:50 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by HDK View Post
Hello everyone, I have a question regarding targeted training. When climbing a certain hill on my local ride, my heart rate used to hit 190. My max heart rate is 195 (47 yo). Now, I can climb the hill with my heart rate only hitting 180, but my breathing is still very heavy and labored. Do I need to target VO2 max intervals to try to mitigate this, or is it natural and the heart rate always responds to training better than the lungs?

Thanks HDK
The funny thing I've noticed about that is that my heart rate while on the bike doesn't correlate well with my breathing most of the time. When I was training with the heart rate monitor, there were many times where I was holding my HR at 170 (max around 189) and feel barely anaerobic, as well as times where I had (relatively) super low HR (140-150), but feel completely wasted.
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Old 07-01-09, 04:53 AM   #15
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simply put, breathing is not linear with hr. in the middle portion of a vo2 vs hr curve, the plot is about linear. Once you start accumulating lactic acid, however, you will hit a respiratory threshold, where your breathing rises exponentially with effort. This ventilatory threshold roughly corresponds to lactate threshold in most people. Your respiration is tied to acidification of the blood by CO2 (which forms carbonic acid in aqueous solution). When you blow off CO2, you are helping buffer the effects of lactate production on blood pH.

SO...up to a certian point (about LT) your HR and breathing will be approximately coupled, but they are decoupled after that point, with ventilation rising much more quickly. You are bringing in more oxygen as well, but your respiration is far more sensitive to blood pH than to oxygen content.

This could not have been explained better.
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Old 07-02-09, 12:43 PM   #16
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Just a couple of thoughts. Hope you don't mind me making some comments on breathing even though I don't use instruments to measure anything. I do pay close attention however.

I do the same routines over long periods of time such as 2+ years and I've noticed that there are a few things that affect my breathing:

- level of exertion (you might be doing the same hill but on any given day you might feel stronger and go at it a bit more eagerly, well, you will need more oxygen to support the additional effort)
- amount of rest the night before
- degree of muscle fatigue
- have I been smoking in the past 3 days
- illness such as a cold, or a touch of bronchitis
- atmospheric conditions and air quality. when the climate has a low pressure zone over you, the lower barometric pressure will force less oxygen into your bloodstream through osmosis. with high pressure you even feel more peppy. poor air quality and even humidity can hold a lower quality mixture of gasses, and so less oxygen, requiring deeper or more rapid breathing

So, do heart rate monitors also track your respiratory rate? If so, I can't imagine they can also measure volume, or analyze air quality.

With my training, if I've had enough to eat, drink, and rested, then the only other thing I can do to improve performance is breath deeper and a bit more frequently. When I'm sick, I have to breath harder to do my usual routine.
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Old 07-06-09, 07:28 AM   #17
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Thanks again for all the great replies. I have been trying to pay more attention to my breathing, primarily to stop "panting", and do more controlled deep breathing on the hills. The exponential rate increase at LT seems to be what I am experiencing. I read an article on climbing where the author states that a dull pain in the muscle is acceptable, and does not necessarily mean you are heading toward muscular failure. I think I have been shifting to an easier gear whenever I felt the dull ache, which shifted the load to my respiratory system and away from the leg muscles. It seems, that I have to get used to the dull ache of muscle fatigue, and stop trying so hard to avoid the sensation.
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Old 07-06-09, 07:35 AM   #18
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That's a good point and you/we do have to find a balance, a comfort zone if you will. You know, you can shift into a lower gear and not kill yourself by spinning like a madman. On some hills I get in my low gear and just put my head down and work the hill. I go slower and I know it will take longer. That's just the way it is. I'm no Olympic athlete.
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