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Thread: Max heart rate?

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    Junior Member dthoman's Avatar
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    Max heart rate?

    I have a couple of questions about max heart rate. I’ve always heard that you should never let your heart rate go above 220- age. For me that’s 168. However, I’m reading ‘long distance cycling’ by Burke and Pavelka and it says I need to determine my actual max heart rate for proper training. The book suggests that if I cannot have it done at a hospital or sports clinic that I should wear a heart monitor, find a good hill and peddle as hard as I can until “Just as you slump into a quivering heap, the number you see through the black spots is your max HR.” This sounds kind of crazy to me, but being your average ‘want to do better cyclist’, I tried to determine my max HR on a trainer. I warmed up for 20 minutes then peddled at a high resistence and watched my HR rise. After about 3 or 4 minutes my HR was 180 and still climbing. I decided that was enough (chickened out) and slowed down. Although I never did see spots I was starting to get a little light headed. So I guess my questions are, should I try to determine my max HR, is it really that important and how important is the lactate threshold? I’m a recreational/fitness rider. My usual rides are between 20 and 30 miles with an occasional 50 miler.

    Dan

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    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    the 222 less your age has always been a good guide line for me. Untill the bypass at 52, I could reach my max of 170 on most rides, and even push over it for the final sprint or top of the hill. Since the bypass, and 5 years on, I treat my max as 165. If I reach this, then it will not be for long, and I will be shattered very quickly. Will occasionally get to 172 to prove to the youngsters that I can do it, but that is time to slow down very fast and recuperate.
    I always ride and train on a heart monitor, and this has the facility to record average HR for a ride, and maximum HR. At this time of year,when I am not fully fit, My average for a 15 minute workout at the gym is generraly around 145. This will be once I am warmed up and not from cold, and I generraly try to keep it above 150 once I have reached this level.
    Last week I was going nicely on the cross trainer, HR at 155, Sweat rolling off me, legs just beginning to ache, breathing quite hard, and very pleased with myself. Then I looked at the girl on the machine next to me. She was going at 4mph faster than me, 2 levels above me, heart rate was 160, and she looked as though she was just beginning to perspire gently. What it is to be 30 years younger and Fit.

    Remember though that Some of us have been riding for quite a few years, have still retained a good amount of fitness and are used to hard exercise. All of us are different so if you are just beginning, set yourself a progressive heart rate target, and do not expect to reach the HR levels that an experienced rider will get up to.

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    Please have a physician take you through some tests to determine lactic threshold. I am 41 so according to the formula mine should be at 187, it actually is 202. If I trained at 187 I would limit my improvement, more importantly if mine was actually 160 and trained at 187 I would over train. Spend the few bucks to find out the real one.

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    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Good advice on getting the assistance of a physician. Using the 220 rule my max heart rate would be 168 using that guide. I've actually done a test and my max is 194..........go figure.

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    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    The 220-Age formula is not considered particularly accurrate. (A lot of gyms and equipment makers like it because it gives a conservative - low - result for most people, so you won't die on their equipment.) It assumes your max heart rate declines lineraly with age (not necessarily true) and does not take your fitness into account. There are several improved versions of the formula - search this forum or do a google search - that adjust for your gender, weight, resting heart rate, and broad level of fitness. Sally Edwards http://www.heartzone.com/index_ns.shtml has published several methods for estimating your max HR and a revised formula that for me, at least, seems consistent with my experience: 210 minus 1/2 your age minus 5% of your body weight + 4 (if male). The formulas may get you into the ballpark, but your own measured data is best.

    Friel argues that basing your training on your Lactose Threshold HR (LTHR) is more effective than max heart rate (power is even more effective but this thread's subject is heart rate). See his "Cyclist's Training Bible" for details.

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    Although my cardiologist said I was in terrific shape after a stress test, he suggested a sustained max HR not over 170, adding that, "Maybe you can run an old car in good shape at 100 MPH, but it isn't going to keep running at that rate as long as a new car." At 67 I heed that.
    As already indicated, 220-age is a rough rule of thumb. I plan on having a bike lab test done (probably in Sacramento, CA which is highly regarded, for $300), just because I am curious and would like their training suggestions for most time-effective training for me.
    My basic ride is about 2 hours with 3200 feet of climbing. If I'm feeling OK I average 150-153 BPM, high by Friel's formulae but feels fine, but I would like to get experts' opinion. Gorgeous out today in the East Bay Hills in Berkeley where we live - clear and 65.5 degrees - I'm outta here!

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    Junior Member dthoman's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info. I think I'll get a HRM and see what happens in the real world (vs the trainer) I have a doctors' appt in March and will talk to him about having a stress test.

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    220-age is at least 20 beats low for me. I'm 52 and max HR is about 190, about 20 beats higher than the formula, so if I trained using the formula I wouldn't be going hard enough. For other people it can be off in the other direction which would cause them to train too hard. For a discussion of why this formula has little scientific basis, see , “Forget the Maximum Heart Rate Formula”, www.cbass.com/FAQ3.htm#Forget.

    If you don't want to risk the test for your true HR, Coach Joe Friel has a way to determine HR at lactate threshhold in Cycling Past 50, (Human Kinetics, 1998), which is a safer test. That's the number you really need anyway to calibrate your training.

    rich

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    On Your Right ZackJones's Avatar
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    I have found web site to be pretty good at caluclating max HR. My max HR is 180 and it predicted 179 for me.

    Max HR Calculator

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    My predicted HRM was 183. I have taken it up to 193. Using various calculators, this new HRM pushed the low end of my cardiac zone up 7 BPM.

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    You're just a fat kid Moistfly's Avatar
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    I'm actually curious to know what "max heart rate" means. Obviously it's not the maximum speed at which your heart can pump ... is it supposed to be the limit at which you can train safely. The limiat at which you can train effectively?

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    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moistfly
    I'm actually curious to know what "max heart rate" means. Obviously it's not the maximum speed at which your heart can pump ... is it supposed to be the limit at which you can train safely. The limiat at which you can train effectively?
    My understanding is that you had it right the first time - it's your maximum heart rate. By definition, you can't exceed your max heart rate. It doesn't predict performance or mean that someone with a higher max heart rate is more or less fit. You can't really exercise at that rate for much time - it's a milestone that can be used to divide your exertion into measurable zones, because different kinds of things happen in these different zones that you want to effect in a training program.

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    You're just a fat kid Moistfly's Avatar
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    That makes good sense ... Does it mean anything bad if you can get your HR well above the average max HR for someone your age? I mean, I'm 23 so following that generic rule someone my age should max out around 197 but when run I consistently get above 210.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moistfly
    That makes good sense ... Does it mean anything bad if you can get your HR well above the average max HR for someone your age? I mean, I'm 23 so following that generic rule someone my age should max out around 197 but when run I consistently get above 210.
    Doesn't mean anything bad, doesn't mean anything good, really. It's sort of like pedaling -- just because you can pedal at a high cadence doesn't necessarily mean that you're faster or slower than someone who can only pedal at a lower cadence.

    Your max heart rate is just a number that you can use to help judge the intensity of your workout. Really, other than that, I don't know of any meaningful comparisons you can do with it.

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    nbf
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    I p.....d off on my HRM (or myself). I am 34, 192 cm and 92 kiloes. In the morning when I wake up my HR is 40. I started cycling for real training a year ago. I do a PWC 170 test on my Tacx flow trainer (www.tacx.nl) and it gives me a nr. of 4.0 with should be quite good. My Max HR should be somewhere around 186-7, but I have never seen anything above 172 on my monitor, and at this rate I´m really pushing it so that everythings hurts. It seems that everbody else goes above their calculated limit why not me?
    Look behind you - coming up!

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    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Here are several posts on MHR submitted by EESterling, a very knowledgeable certified fitness trainer:

    If something is written down often enough, people will begin to believe it is true.

    We see so often the generic Max Heart Rate calculation formula 220 - age. I hear so many people say things like:
    "I'm 40 and my HR got up to 180, but I felt fine. Should I go see a doctor?"
    "I'm trying to exercise in my target HR but I feel like I'm killing myself."

    I'm hoping to raise people's awareness of just how flawed 220 - age is. It is not useless. It is easy to remember, easy to calculate, and may make a reasonable estimate for much of the population.

    However, it has a standard error of about 10 bpm (depending on your source). Standard error means that ~67% of the population will fall within 10 beats of the formula. 95% of the population will have a range of 40 beats per minute (20 to either side). Another way to think about it is that 1/3 of your clients will fall 10 or more beats per minutes away from the 220 - age formula. 1 in 20 may be 20 beats away from the formula.

    For example, say you have a 40 year old client with resting HR of 70:
    220 - 40 = 180 theoretical maxHR.
    Based on that, say you suggest a targetHR of 80% HRR = 158.
    If your client's actual maxHR is just one standard deviation lower (170), then you've inadvertantly suggested a target of 88% of maxHRR.

    The ACE Personal Trainer Manual just barely mentions this. If you want to read a lot more about it, someone recently pointed out the following excellent article:
    http://www.css.edu/users/tboone2/asep/Robergs2.pdf
    Highly recommended reading if you use target heart rates.


    quote:...takes into consideration the person's resting heart rate.

    To clarify, most target heart range recommendations rely either on % of MaxHR, or % of Heart Rate Reserve (which incorporates resting heart rate and MaxHR). Either one relies on a reasonably accurate assessment of MaxHR.


    Heart Rate Reserve & lactate threshold

    Frisbee wrote: I take 220-age-RHR x 65% + RHR = THR

    That's the basic Karvonen (heart rate reserve) method with an estimated MaxHR. That is the same formula I used in my calcuation above, but I didn't write out all the steps of the math. I'll restate the example using 65% and show more math:

    Example: say you have a 40 year old client with resting HR of 70:

    220 - 40 = 180 theoretical maxHR.

    Carrying out your formula for a 65% target:

    (180 - 70)*.65 + 70 = 72 + 70 = 142 suggested target heart rate.

    Now, let's say your client's actual max heart rate is one standard deviation lower (170). That would mean the calculations should have looked like this:

    (170 - 70)*.65 + 70 = 72 + 70 = 135 ACTUAL 65% of HRR.

    The recommendation of 142 would really be recommendation for 72% of HRR.

    It is unlikely that your client's perceived exertion would match your expectations. She is working a lot harder than you would expect.

    Resting heart rate provides a correction, but it is not enough to counter the fallibility of 220 - age.

    Frisbee wrote: what about lactic acid threshold testing?

    If you mean in a lab with blood draws, it provides excellent information about pace. However, lactate threshold is, fortunately, quickly trained. Because it is changing, your client should in theory have this checked regularly. I don't imagine I will ever have clients willing to subject themselves to regular laboratory lactate threshold testing, let alone afford it. (The same test would, however, probably get me a good working MaxHR.)

    If you mean using normal models to estimate lactate threshold, I find them difficult to apply. The only common non-lab, yet well accepted test I'm aware of is the "point of deflection" method. In my limited experience, it is hard to zero in on that point of deflection. It is an interesting test to give to a client who is interested and ready to train hard. But I make sure they are aware that it is a fallible test. Furthermore, I wouldn't give it to someone who was not in very good condition.

    The VO2Max tests in the ACE trainer manual (and similar tests from other sources), I've found to be quite fallible. I do use some of them because they aren't terrible. Also, there are enough to choose from that you can give one which is appropriate to the client. (E.g., few clients would be unable to handle the Rockport 1 mile walk test.)

    But the bottom line is that you must tune into your clients' percieved exertion so that you can recognize when your tests and formulas are off.

    Books by Sally Edwards

    Sally Edwards' books are readily available through any good book retailer like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

    You can also find them available here:
    http://www.heartmonitors.com
    It is a Heart Rate Monitor retailer. I mention this up because they have several useful articles on their site written by Sally Edwards.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 02-24-05 at 07:14 AM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

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    nbf
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    I accept all the points, extremely valid and sensible. I think the problem is if you get a max HR reading less than the 220-age, you will always have the nagging feeling is that it or was I just not working hard enough (despite chest pain and black spots before your eyes.
    Look behind you - coming up!

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    The deal with Karvonens is it is flawed due to the things that are factored into it (i.e... RHR and like we have discussed here MHR). Formula’s set a norm that can contradict the number as to intensity being given. Use of HR as a means to which you can judge intensity can also be disclaimed as you get closer to your anaerobic threshold and a place called deflection point (see #2) where the HR does not continue linearly with the intensity put forth. Take these two different scenarios where HR does not match intensity or venous return.

    1) a scary movie where the monster comes out and gives you a scare your HR goes way up but you have not done anything more then inject a bunch of endorphins into your system to mimic a flight or fight response.

    2) When you work to that edge and your breathing is uncomfortable and you decide to give it all you've got. You look down and there is the number on the HRM and you go and just blow up and you look down and only raised you HR maybe 4 or 5 beats.

    HRM is great for measurement of gains at sub anaerobic work BUT over time and not in the moment. It is telling you what your HR is but it can't nail down a persons training zones that had too little water to drink, not enough sleep, ate poorly, drank too much coffee and was told that they where number one on the freeway home or just worked too hard the day before. What it can do is tell you over time that I have a range when I perceive to be feeling what sort of Zone I am in and to tell you that those higher numbers I am seeing are more comfortable.
    Velocity

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    bac
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    Please everyone listen up. The 220 - your age formula will only work out of coincidence! It’s a bogus formula – do not use it.

    This public service announcement is brought to you by the heart rate myth busters.

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