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    Senior Member 5kdad's Avatar
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    Max heart rate for 54 y/o?

    Been reading about training in various heart rate zones, so I need to determine my maximum heart rate. At age 54, according to the "220 - your age", my max rate should be 166.
    Been riding with a heart rate monitor. Today, I rode some hilly terrain. On one of the steepest hills, I noticed my heart rate hit 176.
    In determining the training zones, what max number should I use?
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
    Been reading about training in various heart rate zones, so I need to determine my maximum heart rate. At age 54, according to the "220 - your age", my max rate should be 166.
    Been riding with a heart rate monitor. Today, I rode some hilly terrain. On one of the steepest hills, I noticed my heart rate hit 176.
    In determining the training zones, what max number should I use?
    The 220-age formula was developed for large populations and was never intended to apply to a single individual. I would question the knowledge and advice from any source that recommends it. That said, assuming you're in good health, you should perform a max heart rate test to determine your true max or better yet, perform a lactate threshold heart rate test and use a plan built around that. There are numerous protocols for each described on the web.

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    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I'm also 54 ,the highest I've recorded is 157 so I still use 166 to base my zones. My resting heartrate is 47 so maybe I'm just slow, just like my riding style. If you've seen 176 then I'd use 176.

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    Quote Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
    ...you should perform a max heart rate test to determine your true max or better yet, perform a lactate threshold heart rate test and use a plan built around that...
    Where do you get all that?

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dploy View Post
    Where do you get all that?
    Look at the sticky at the top of this forum, it tells you all you need to know about how to determine your anaerobic threshold.

    OP, MHR varies dramatically between individuals, the age-related formula is next to worthless, you'll find numerous threads in here on the subject. But if you weren't in real distress when you saw 176, (I mean at-your-limit, want-to-throw-up distress) you can safely assume yours is higher than that. FWIW the highest I have seen mine recently is 182 (I'm 56 years old) so as far as the Garmin is concerned I set my max at 185. It won't be accurate, but it won't be more than 3% or 4% out, either.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    I'm about to turn 56. The basic formula says my MHR should be 164. Other formulas push that up a couple of beats. I've hit 177 on rides, without being at the point of throwing up, so I setup my zones using a max of 185. Then, just this week, I had a metabolic test done to nail down my Lactate Threshold, which turned out to be 161 (300 watts). My Aerobic Threshold is 151 (270 watts). Knowing your Lactate Threshold makes the MHR pretty much irrelevant, since what you are doing with the HR zones has everything to do with their relation to your threshold, not to your max. To have computer zone readings make sense above 90%, I calculated a max based on my lactate threshold being 90% of max, a commonly used factor. But other than how it controls the settings on your particular computer, the max heart rate really means nothing. It's all about your lactate threshold. The test also provided my V02 Max, which is 44.5 (mL/kg/min) @ 172bpm. Better than I thought it would be.

    Either perform the self-test, which has a learning curve, or spend some bucks (mine cost $150) and get a metabolic test. My self test (a different one than is in this forum) had me thinking my LT was 167, when it was 161. So I've been pushing my heart rate up into higher zones than I thought I was.

    One further point. How you set your zones depends on whose workouts you will be following. When Joe Friel says "Zone 2" it means a range that is different than most zone calculators will provide. Training Peaks has functionality to set your zones based on a variety of methods, including Joe's. The underlying zone descriptions (and the science) is the same, it's just that the dividing points and what the zones are called is different. The test results calculated zones for me that were different than the Friel method, so I just used the LT from the test and calculated my Friel zones, since I am using his book to develop my training plan. Most computers will let you enter specific zone ranges - My Garmin does it using Garmin Connect. You set the zones there and download them to your computer.
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    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    AztalRider: Do you go by the docttine of staying out of zone 3? General fitness sites stress spending much of your time in this zone where bike programs avoid it.

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    OnTheRoad or AtTheBeach stonecrd's Avatar
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    If your healthy the best way to find out is hammer a hill and when you start to see spots your probably getting close to your max. I'm 53 mine is 200bpm
    The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard and the shallow end is much too large

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    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Yes I do. If I'm doing base in Zone 2, and I start edging into zone 3 in a situation where I can't or don't want to back off, I push into Zone 4. That 2 to 3 transition happens to be one of the places where Friel's zones don't match the zones provided with my metabolic test, which were based on the Australia Institute of Sport. Friel caps zone 2 at 143 for me, while the Aussies cap it at 146. I've been letting myself use the higher ceiling.

    I do question the doctrine, at least for rides where doing zone 3 the whole time wouldn't limit duration, like my hour long commutes. So much info - so hard to know what's right.
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    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    Interesting. Seems he is basically saying to just stay under your LT, and all is good? A sweet spot of 70-100% of LT covers Zones 1-4. More fun than hours and hours at Zone 2!
    "If you're riding less than 18 MPH up a 2% grade please tell people Coggan is coaching you."

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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    Interesting. Seems he is basically saying to just stay under your LT, and all is good? A sweet spot of 70-100% of LT covers Zones 1-4. More fun than hours and hours at Zone 2!
    I read it as (for increasing aerobic fitness) ride at the highest intensity that lets you complete the desired volume for the ride, the microcycle, and the mesocycle. Another way to look at is there is a trade off between intensity and volume and as long as you're above some threshold at which there is a training stimulus, it doesn't make much difference if you increase time or increase intensity. Of course specificity should always be factored in but only to a point. Pursuiters still train upwards, sometimes well upwards, of 12k miles/year even though their event is only 4km.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    I'm also 54 ,the highest I've recorded is 157 so I still use 166 to base my zones. My resting heartrate is 47 so maybe I'm just slow, just like my riding style. If you've seen 176 then I'd use 176.
    I agree. The experience you've had is not a test, so you don't know that 176 is your max. But you definitely know that 166 is NOT your max, and that your max is AT LEAST 176.

    When I started back into cycling, my tested max was about 182 at age 54. I think now that I'm fitter (3 yrs later) my max is lower - my hr doesn't fly up as high as it used to in hard efforts. I might test it again to see.

    BTW, I had a cardiac health test ( a type of stress echocardiogram combined with imaging in a large machine, I think it might have been an MRI) done before I started training harder, on my doc's recommendation. I'm glad I did.

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    And - don't agonize over what your max is. If you ran a max test 5 times in 5 months you'd probably get 5 different numbers. Threshold is indeed much more important than max; and once you've done enough training, you get to know where you are vs threshold without even looking...

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    I'm a 54-year-old woman. I have always had a slow HR (low 60s, upper 50s), even when I was overweight and out of shape. After 3.5 years of regular cycling including numerous strenuous long distance rides, I estimate my current resting HR to be in the upper 40s.

    Several weeks ago I saw 184 on my HR monitor at the top of a strenuous hill. Since then, I have done several hard long and/or hilly rides during which I saw no higher than 170-something even on a big long strenuous climb --- so I am seeing the high number come down under the same level of effort.

    With respect to max HR: I have read that our actual MAX HR is a fixed number that doesn't change; what does change is the HR under the same level of exertion as we get fitter (or less fit) over time. So, rather than seeing a lower max HR on the same hill, you might be seeing a lower number with the same effort. So, while I saw 184 several weeks ago, I might see 176 today on that same hill.
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    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Yes, maybe I can just produce more power today at a lower HR.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    Yes, maybe I can just produce more power today at a lower HR.
    Which is of course one of the major goals of training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Which is of course one of the major goals of training.
    And here I thought the goal was to produce more power (or produce the same power for a longer duration).

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
    And here I thought the goal was to produce more power (or produce the same power for a longer duration).
    I think you just said the same thing I said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    I think you just said the same thing I said.
    Really? How do you rate the case where I used to be able to maintain 270 W @ 173 bpm for 35 min. and now I can do 270 W for 60 min but at 176 bpm? By your earlier post, I would be less fit.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
    Really? How do you rate the case where I used to be able to maintain 270 W @ 173 bpm for 35 min. and now I can do 270 W for 60 min but at 176 bpm? By your earlier post, I would be less fit.
    I would say that's quite odd. The point of serious training is to increase watts/kg at LT. One can do that by losing weight or increasing power at the same weight or both. But having this metric at LT adds another tricky variable.

    Suppose one could put out 250 W at an LT of 173. What if one could then train to be able to put out 270 W at that same LT HR? Why, then one could back off the HR by a few beats and greatly increase endurance. This is the most common result of training that I see. People train hard and are then able to climb much more comfortably and with greater endurance at the same pace, or climb faster than before at their previous level of effort.

    The other thing I see very commonly is that when people start serious training, they are amazed at their high HR when climbing. We see these threads continually on here. But after a considerable time training, say a couple of years, their LTHR and max HR frequently come down a bit, even though their LT may be a higher percentage of their maxHR. They climb at a lower HR and much faster than before. This is the exact phenomenon on which Yen is commenting. I have seen this in any number of experienced cyclists, especially those who specialize in LD. I believe a major contributor to this phenomenon is an increase in stroke and blood volume.

    In fact if you've been training hard, it's very unusual to see your body requiring a greater blood flow to accomplish the same work that it required before the hard training, especially since one of the first results of hard training is an increase in stroke volume, and one of the first results of a layoff is a decrease in same. So yes, something odd is going on. The increase in endurance could be due to several factors unrelated to HR.

    If you said you were getting 280 W at 176, I would find that unremarkable. My guess is that you may have increased your watts at LT as well as your LTHR, but in the case on which you remark, you were perhaps a little dehydrated or otherwise at a slight disadvantage which lowered your steady-state watts and/or increased your HR somewhat.

    I'd further guess that if you were now to have the opportunity to try a 173 HR for 35 minutes, under that same conditions as before, you would see a higher average wattage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    I would say that's quite odd. The point of serious training is to increase watts/kg at LT. ...
    Right. Nothing there about heart rate.

  23. #23
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
    Right. Nothing there about heart rate.
    Really? Then you use power for LT estimation? I've always assumed that even the pros used LTHR for estimation. If that's what you do, how do you find that for accuracy? IOW, when you climb the 3rd pass, do you still use the same watts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    Really? Then you use power for LT estimation?
    There are two choices to specify LT: power and VO2. Power is much more amenable to field testing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    I've always assumed that even the pros used LTHR for estimation.
    Estimation of what? LTHR may be used as a surrogate for LT or functional threshold but that's all it is, a surrogate.
    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
    If that's what you do, how do you find that for accuracy? IOW, when you climb the 3rd pass, do you still use the same watts?
    I don't follow. How do I find what for accuracy? I use functional threshold power for the purposes it was designed for. In races, I pace by strategic and tactical considerations. Usually, that means keeping up with the pack. On my own I pace by a combination of power and RPE based on the desired training level.

    I have two friends just starting to train with power. I think I'm going to strongly recommend the don't wear a hear rate strap. It just tends to needlessly confound things.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
    There are two choices to specify LT: power and VO2. Power is much more amenable to field testing.

    Estimation of what? LTHR may be used as a surrogate for LT or functional threshold but that's all it is, a surrogate.

    I don't follow. How do I find what for accuracy? I use functional threshold power for the purposes it was designed for. In races, I pace by strategic and tactical considerations. Usually, that means keeping up with the pack. On my own I pace by a combination of power and RPE based on the desired training level.

    I have two friends just starting to train with power. I think I'm going to strongly recommend the don't wear a hear rate strap. It just tends to needlessly confound things.
    My understanding is that there's just one choice to specify LT: "Lactate threshold (L T) is identified as that point at which a 1 mmol/L increase in blood lactate concentration above baseline values is followed by another 1 mmol/L increase." > http://www.coachr.org/lactate_thresh...erformance.htm

    Some authorities say LT occurs at a 4 mmole increase, others at a 2.5 mmole increase. The above quote identifies the lower threshold, which seems like a good idea. In any case it has nothing to do with a particular power or HR, but with lactate accumulation. We can use power or HR to estimate current LT, but it's only an estimation. LT moves around quite a bit during our training year, both in terms of power and HR. LTHR is a surrogate and so is FTP.

    The tremendous advantage of using both power and HR is that it allows one to precisely determine one's momentary physical condition. If your HR at 270W is 180, you know you got a problem, and you might also know the solution. Same with 270W and 170HR. Without the HRM, you're guessing at the problem; in both cases you know something's wrong, but you can't be sure what. It does make things more complicated, because it gives you something extra to understand. Every tool we use requires some thought and experience to use well. RPE isn't nearly as informative, especially in the early stages of things going sideways.

    I'd use both if the PM weren't so expensive. I just can't justify it, so I use cog-and-cadence and RPE vs. HR. Not as good as power vs. HR, but it's close enough to be able to train and ride efficiently.

    I come at this from a slightly different angle than you, that of an LD rider. Sometimes I have a pack to keep up with. Much more frequently I'm pulling a paceline with or without help or riding solo. It's like I'm always off the front by myself or with 3 other guys. I'm much more interested in fighting environmental problems, both exterior and interior, than in FTP. If I take care of my personal environment, my performance will be what I'm able to achieve through training and nothing else. My HRM gives me a decent window into that environment.

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