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  1. #1
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    What do you guys make of my heart rate?

    I'm an avid and active road cyclist. I'm curious to know what you guys make of my average heart rate (171 bpm) over a (34.60 mile) ride.

    I use a Garmin heart rate monitor, speed/cadence sensor, and a Garmin edge 500 to record my actives.

    Trip distance: 34.60 miles
    Trip time: 1:54:50
    Average speed: 18.1mph
    Elevation gain: 610ft
    Average Cadence: 93rpm
    Average heart rate: 171bpm
    Average temperature: 65 degrees fahrenheit

    In 28 years old, 145lbs, and 6 feet tall.

    This particular ride was NOT interval training, just a regular quick paced ride.

    This is an example of just one of my rides. In my opinion I'm just as comfortable riding with a heart rate of 175 bpm as I am sitting in front of my computer with a resting heart rate of 55bpm.

    My breathing when my heart rate is at/around 175 is best described as steady/slower and medium/deep.
    I'm NOT huffing and puffing and out of breath.




    Why I am ably to hold a VERY high heart rate for very long periods and have controlled breathing?

    I can't find any information online in reguards to training in heart rate zone 4 & 5 for extended periods of time (ie. hours at a time).
    Last edited by AllDayCycling; 01-04-15 at 09:51 PM. Reason: added information

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    I'm 15+ years older then you and 175 is working for me... but not too the point of slowing me down... 180 something I can feel, but at your age 175 should be no biggie if you are in good shape.

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    What do I make of it?

    171 is better than 0.

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    Senior Member Wesley36's Avatar
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    What counts as a high heart rate for one person is not necessarily a high heart rate for another. It is not an objective metric in the way you seem to think.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDayCycling View Post
    <snip>Why I am ably to hold a VERY high heart rate for very long periods and have controlled breathing?

    I can't find any information online in reguards to training in heart rate zone 4 & 5 for extended periods of time (ie. hours at a time).
    #1 : Because that's how it works.
    #2 : Because people, including you, don't/can't by definition.

    You need to do a lactate threshold test (see sticky at the top of this forum) and base your zones off that. You are probably accustomed to riding somewhere in zone 3, the dead zone.

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    Max HR is different for everyone. To know if you are in Zone 1,2,3,4,5 you need to know your true max HR which you don't specify. So you probably aren't in Zone 4. You need to do what Carbonfiberboy said.

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    Thank you everyone for your replies.

    After I posted this question, I got to thinking... Obviously my Garmin uses a mathematical formula to calculate and display my heart rate. It has "predetermined" what my heart rate zones should/could be based on age, weight, height, etc...

    If I were to follow the 220 minus your age to get my estimated max heart rate, I'd have a estimated max heart rate of 182, (220-28 years old). I am well aware that the 220 minus your age formula is just a ballpark number, and not a hard and fast rule.

    On this particular ride (the one I described above), I had a max heart rate of 195 bpm. I've had rides in the past where my max heart rate (no mater how hard I pushed) wouldnt go above low 180's.

    I agree with 'carbonfiberboy', I'm staring to think that I am "actually" riding in a high zone 3. Since I don't know what my max heart rate is. (At some point in the not too far future ill look into having lactic, VO2 max, etc tests).


    Just to wrap up this post... In 4 weeks I'm buying a stages power meter. I just upgraded my road bikes group set to the NEW Shimano 105 5800 series. (I have to wait 4 weeks because Stages is releasing the Shamino 105-5800 power meter in February). I'm curious to know what kind of power on producing at this heart rate (175), vs when I sprint and my heart rate only goes up by 10-15 bpm and I'm out of breath (huffing and puffing), and of course I'm looking forward to training with the power meter (watts).

    EDIT: I just found/read the "2x20 Anaerobic threshold test" sticky. I have a trainer... I'll give it a go in the next day or two.
    Last edited by AllDayCycling; 01-05-15 at 10:37 AM. Reason: adding information

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    If you haven't figured it out yet, "220 - age" for max HR - and anything based off that - is useless. It's literally the same as stating average height.

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    Not only are generic Max HR formulas wrong for a lot of people, but even your true Max HR cannot be used to directly calculate your threshold HR (LTHR). Not only will LTHR be different for different people with the same Max HR, but it can change for a given person as well depending on fitness. So you really need to do the threshold test if you want to put in faith in to training by HR zones.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ol geezer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by achoo View Post
    If you haven't figured it out yet, "220 - age" for max HR - and anything based off that - is useless. It's literally the same as stating average height.
    Totally agree. I'm 63 so my "theoretical" MHR should be 157. I regularly hit the high 170s and low 180s. I'm not sure it's even valid as a ballpark guesstimate. Everyone is different - there is no "one size fits all" formula.

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    FWIW, I am an on again/off again endurance kind of guy. Historically have been more of a runner vs. cyclist (vs. couch potato - many years of that, BTW).

    I am now 65 years old. Some data.

    When I did serious marathon racing (age early/mid 30's) my resting HR was in the 48 range and my 'running max' HR was maybe 195. No HR Monitors back then - so sketchy data.

    I did a couple years of 'semi-serious cycling in the late 90's. My resting HR was in the low 50's and my max HR on a bike (it was clearly lower than it would have been running - just don't know the running number with any confidence) was maybe 180.

    Am now back on my bike (last 2 years - previous 10 years were mostly couch potato years) and my highest observed (on a bike) HR is 171 and my resting HR is 59.

    FWIW.

    dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by ol geezer View Post
    Totally agree. I'm 63 so my "theoretical" MHR should be 157. I regularly hit the high 170s and low 180s. I'm not sure it's even valid as a ballpark guesstimate. Everyone is different - there is no "one size fits all" formula.
    +1

    Lots of misconceptions out there. Another one is resting heart rate. "The lower the resting heart rate, the more fit you are". There are obese couch potatoes with resting heart rates as low as pro athletes. If your resting heart rate is getting LOWER, you're getting FITTER; but it doesn't work on a slide scale of "You're fit if your heart rate is below X".

    A parishioner of mine just had quadruple bypass surgery. He's in his late 50's, an avid runner, runs a 7 minute mile. Runs (or ran, right now; as he goes through physical therapy. Doc hasn't released him to run and then it'll be a slow buildup back.) 5 or 6 miles a day. Fit, eats well. But had some serious blockages. The heart is a funny, fickle thing. Although his working out certainly paid off. I went to visit him after the surgery and they wanted to walk him around, and so we made a lap around the hospital. He kept complaining about how slow they were going, and was frustrated when they wanted to stop. The nurses couldn't believe he wasn't panting. "You just had open heart surgery!" they kept saying. Actually, surgery was on a Thursday, and he was home the following Monday. Will have physical therapy for a couple of weeks. He's gotten a lot of comments from docs about his quick healing being a result of his healthy lifestyle. But it sure didn't prevent him needing major surgery!

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    In some circles, this being one of them, heart rate as a stand alone metric is given way too much attention. As has been pointed out the heart is a complex organ. An evaluation of it is a complex thing. Even 12 Lead EKG readings are subject to a fairly subjective interpretation. If you are really concerned spring for the cash and get a clinical evaluation. However, that will only be a snapshot of that instant in time not to discuss the all too common false positives for a problem.

    The fact that so many people pay so much attention to a metric that by itself is nearly meaningless is a testimony to marketing success and a great snake oil sales network.

    Learn to listen to your body. By effort of breathing, muscle fatigue, ability to think and other signs your body will tell you how you are doing.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
    In some circles, this being one of them, heart rate as a stand alone metric is given way too much attention. As has been pointed out the heart is a complex organ. An evaluation of it is a complex thing. Even 12 Lead EKG readings are subject to a fairly subjective interpretation. If you are really concerned spring for the cash and get a clinical evaluation. However, that will only be a snapshot of that instant in time not to discuss the all too common false positives for a problem.

    The fact that so many people pay so much attention to a metric that by itself is nearly meaningless is a testimony to marketing success and a great snake oil sales network.

    Learn to listen to your body. By effort of breathing, muscle fatigue, ability to think and other signs your body will tell you how you are doing.
    I would agree with you, when it comes to determining a baseline or even a fitness level. Two people can't compare heart rates and determine whose more fit (You'll probably need an old fashioned race or endurance trial for that). BUT; there are big advantages to a HRM when it comes to measuring your own improvement. It's certainly not the only way, of course. But you can get a pretty good ballpark about your training zones, and become more focused on your training. Additionally, you can see over time how your heart has changed. Even though there is no metric for "x resting heart rate means you are fit", but we do know that if it's going down you're becoming more fit (though eventually it will get as low as it ever will). The ability to hold various heart rate zones for longer is also indicative of improving performance. All of these things add up. You don't NEED a HRM. But, they can be great tools for measuring ones fitness over time. Especially in the winter months in some climates where training might involve a treadmill or indoor trainer; and it becomes a little harder to evaluate ones performance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RomansFiveEight View Post
    I would agree with you, when it comes to determining a baseline or even a fitness level. Two people can't compare heart rates and determine whose more fit (You'll probably need an old fashioned race or endurance trial for that). BUT; there are big advantages to a HRM when it comes to measuring your own improvement. It's certainly not the only way, of course. But you can get a pretty good ballpark about your training zones, and become more focused on your training. Additionally, you can see over time how your heart has changed. Even though there is no metric for "x resting heart rate means you are fit", but we do know that if it's going down you're becoming more fit (though eventually it will get as low as it ever will). The ability to hold various heart rate zones for longer is also indicative of improving performance. All of these things add up. You don't NEED a HRM. But, they can be great tools for measuring ones fitness over time. Especially in the winter months in some climates where training might involve a treadmill or indoor trainer; and it becomes a little harder to evaluate ones performance.
    There is a cause and effect problem with your comments. They assume the only reason for changing heart rate is a change in fitness level. Unfortunately that just isn't the case. There are other chemical and neurological reasons for changes in heart rate that are not sourced in fitness.

    It is true that eventually a person's heart rate will eventually get as low as it will go, Zero.

    Heart rate is a useful tool at the margin for certain specific people in specific situations. For the rest of us there are more direct and reliable metrics. Among them are time to ride a specific course as tracked over time, Work of Breathing, Fatigue, and so on.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
    There is a cause and effect problem with your comments. They assume the only reason for changing heart rate is a change in fitness level. Unfortunately that just isn't the case. There are other chemical and neurological reasons for changes in heart rate that are not sourced in fitness.

    It is true that eventually a person's heart rate will eventually get as low as it will go, Zero.

    Heart rate is a useful tool at the margin for certain specific people in specific situations. For the rest of us there are more direct and reliable metrics. Among them are time to ride a specific course as tracked over time, Work of Breathing, Fatigue, and so on.
    Yes, you're right. But as I said in my comment; we're talking about trends over time, and ballpark. Not ultra-specific number. For me; I can see my ability to hold a certain heart rate for longer. And coupled with distance and speed metrics, I can see that for the same heart rate average over time, I'm going faster. That means I'm becoming more efficient (which, for me, is as important as becoming stronger and faster).

    It works for me. It's not the end-all, be-all; but it's also not useless. There ARE a lot of studies out there that have concluded that heart rate zone training can be really, really effective. Including interval training (though, of course, HIIT can be done quite well without a HRM).

    So the point of my comments is simply to not discount the effectiveness of a HRM in training. It's certainly not the only metric and for some not even the most important. But it is useful, and when you've calculated your zones well it's uncanny how well it works. You're right, that nobody knows your body better than you so you should listen to your bodies cues. But HRM interval training has been really, really effective for me and a host of others in improving ourselves at a measurably faster rate than before we started using HRM's.

  17. #17
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    A HRM was my next purchase after buying my first road bike in 30 years, at 50. It was certainly the best money I ever spent on bike gear. I've been training with heart rate for almost 20 years and it works great. I had a great HR delimited training ride on my rollers this evening: Some zone 2, some warmups, and some 3' intervals. I'm 69.

    The 2 X 20 will tell the OP exactly what he wants to know. Or close enough to get within a couple beats of where he'll want to train his various systems. Once he gets his PM, he can watch his HR vary against his watts, which will give him even more information.

  18. #18
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RomansFiveEight View Post
    +1

    Lots of misconceptions out there. Another one is resting heart rate. "The lower the resting heart rate, the more fit you are". There are obese couch potatoes with resting heart rates as low as pro athletes. If your resting heart rate is getting LOWER, you're getting FITTER; but it doesn't work on a slide scale of "You're fit if your heart rate is below X".

    A parishioner of mine just had quadruple bypass surgery. He's in his late 50's, an avid runner, runs a 7 minute mile. Runs (or ran, right now; as he goes through physical therapy. Doc hasn't released him to run and then it'll be a slow buildup back.) 5 or 6 miles a day. Fit, eats well. But had some serious blockages. The heart is a funny, fickle thing. Although his working out certainly paid off. I went to visit him after the surgery and they wanted to walk him around, and so we made a lap around the hospital. He kept complaining about how slow they were going, and was frustrated when they wanted to stop. The nurses couldn't believe he wasn't panting. "You just had open heart surgery!" they kept saying. Actually, surgery was on a Thursday, and he was home the following Monday. Will have physical therapy for a couple of weeks. He's gotten a lot of comments from docs about his quick healing being a result of his healthy lifestyle. But it sure didn't prevent him needing major surgery!
    For what it's worth:
    An interesting analysis of what causes HR to decrease with aging sheds a bit of light on this...
    Decreased maximal heart rate with aging is related to reduced ?-adrenergic responsiveness but is largely explained by a reduction in intrinsic heart rate

    To summarize some of its main/relevant points:
    1) Intrinsic heart rate (the rate the heart will beat without any stimulation from sources outside of the heart's own SA node) decreases with age. This is not reflected in resting heart rate because increased norepinephrine (adrenaline) in older adults increases their resting heart rate.
    Translation: the heart's own electrical system, the one that causes the heart to beat even after it has been removed from the body, produces a slower rate of impulses with aging.

    2) The lower MaxHR recorded with aging is 75-80% correlated with the lower intrinsic heart rate seen with aging.

    Translation: 75-80% of one's decreased MaxHR is due to reduced electrical signal from the heart itself and, in my opinion, is strictly due to aging and will therefor be unresponsive to exercise training.
    BUT: that leaves the remaining 20-25% that WILL (or may) be responsive to exercise training and may explain part of the differences we see in MaxHR among different athletes...

    However, none of that addresses an additional effect of exercise training: stroke volume which is a function of ventricular size as well as strength determines how much blood is pumped with each contraction regardless of how slow those contractions become. The total blood flow is a combination of those two: contraction rate (aka HR) and stroke volume. And, it is total blood flow (liters/minute) that mostly affects athletic performance.
    Last edited by GeorgeBMac; 01-09-15 at 07:42 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeBMac View Post
    For what it's worth:
    An interesting analysis of what causes HR to decrease with aging sheds a bit of light on this...
    Decreased maximal heart rate with aging is related to reduced ?-adrenergic responsiveness but is largely explained by a reduction in intrinsic heart rate

    To summarize some of its main/relevant points:
    1) Intrinsic heart rate (the rate the heart will beat without any stimulation from sources outside of the heart's own SA node) decreases with age. This is not reflected in resting heart rate because increased norepinephrine (adrenaline) in older adults increases their resting heart rate.
    Translation: the heart's own electrical system, the one that causes the heart to beat even after it has been removed from the body, produces a slower rate of impulses with aging.

    2) The lower MaxHR recorded with aging is 75-80% correlated with the lower intrinsic heart rate seen with aging.

    Translation: 75-80% of one's decreased MaxHR is due to reduced electrical signal from the heart itself and, in my opinion, is strictly due to aging and will therefor be unresponsive to exercise training.
    BUT: that leaves the remaining 20-25% that WILL (or may) be responsive to exercise training and may explain part of the differences we see in MaxHR among different athletes...

    However, none of that addresses an additional effect of exercise training: stroke volume which is a function of ventricular size as well as strength determines how much blood is pumped with each contraction regardless of how slow those contractions become. The total blood flow is a combination of those two: contraction rate (aka HR) and stroke volume. And, it is total blood flow (liters/minute) that mostly affects athletic performance.
    How does an active vs. sedentary lifestyle effect all that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by achoo View Post
    How does an active vs. sedentary lifestyle effect all that?
    According to my doctor, who is a athletic training physician (his speciality) as well as a primary care physician, he regurgitates what I've heard before. It's all about efficiency. To put it simply, the reason we see changes in heart rate is because the heart becomes more efficient, and has to do less work to get the same amount of blood flowing. It's also why we have to keep improving in order to keep burning as many calories (one of the reasons he suggested a HRM for keeping track of calories burned. Anything else is just a wild guess). Because as the heart becomes more efficient, it requires less fuel to keep going. Suddenly a 12 minute mile burns fewer calories than it used to and now we need to move up to a 10 minute mile to continue to get the same benefit as before, etc. (But the effort level for the 10 minute mile should be the same as the 12 minute mile when we first made it to that speed). And so on and so forth until you're Ussain Bolt

    A sedentary lifestyle breeds an inefficient heart that pumps less blood per contraction and thus has to beat more (The reason heart rate typically drops when we become active), though the advantage of beginning to lose weight after being sedentary is that our inefficient heart has to work really hard to do even a moderate (by an athletes standards) amount of work; burning a lot of calories!

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    So, what value does single point, non-clinical heart rate measurement have to the aging and interested athlete? That is what we are talking about in this and most threads.

    From everything I know the answer is: Not much. Not to say such measurement has no value. Accompanied by periodic clinical exams and analysis by a skilled person it can be an adjunct to a training program. But, even then, other factors that are not measured by such a heart rate monitor need to be taken into consideration.

    So, if you have the money, are a technophobe and are aware of its' major limitations it can be fun to use an athletic heart rate monitor.

    On a humorous note: I was riding in a group. All the people in the group were much younger and much faster than me. But, on this evening they were humoring me and we were riding in a pack. In the conversation we discovered that all of us had the identical heart rate. Or, at least, that is what our monitors said. Most of us are analytically trained so it didn't take long to start looking for the reason. To cut to the chase; it turned out that the transmitter on my strap was overriding everyone else's. Guess my monitor violated HIPPA on that one.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

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    A single point? Not much. Similarly, someone could say "I rode for 100 miles. Does that make me good?" How long did it take? How did you feel afterwards? Most importantly, how does that compare to where you were a month ago, six months ago, etc.

    It's all about trends over time. Like it or not; accurately calculated (not Internet chart guessed) heart rate zones are a clinically demonstrated exceptionally effective way to improve performance over time. But, as you and others have pointed out; it MUST be accurately calculated; not guessed. I can't tell you what your zones are. Someone could crunch numbers and give you a ballpark; but there are much better ways than charts to determine your heart rate zones.

    Seeing yourself improve over time, whether heart rate, speed, distance, etc.; is infinitely more important than what you are able to do once or where you are now.

    And hawk, that sounds like a good sales pitch for one of the new Bluetooth 4.0 HRM's! (Unfortunately, many of even the high dollar bike computers, despite being BT 4.0 capable, only use Bluetooth to connect to your phone. They aren't compatible with BT 4.0 sensors)

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    My language was sloppy. Instead of single point. So many things can influence heart rate a single lead number is nearly useless by itself. That there is a change over time really doesn't mean much.

    Roger on the incompatibility. That is why I've settled on ANT+ stuff. It is also compatible with my smartphone, although I don't use my smartphone for nav or the toy factor.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
    So, what value does single point, non-clinical heart rate measurement have to the aging and interested athlete? That is what we are talking about in this and most threads.

    From everything I know the answer is: Not much. Not to say such measurement has no value. Accompanied by periodic clinical exams and analysis by a skilled person it can be an adjunct to a training program. But, even then, other factors that are not measured by such a heart rate monitor need to be taken into consideration.

    So, if you have the money, are a technophobe and are aware of its' major limitations it can be fun to use an athletic heart rate monitor.

    On a humorous note: I was riding in a group. All the people in the group were much younger and much faster than me. But, on this evening they were humoring me and we were riding in a pack. In the conversation we discovered that all of us had the identical heart rate. Or, at least, that is what our monitors said. Most of us are analytically trained so it didn't take long to start looking for the reason. To cut to the chase; it turned out that the transmitter on my strap was overriding everyone else's. Guess my monitor violated HIPPA on that one.
    That HR monitor story seems EXTREMELY unlikely. So unlikely, in fact, that even if you answered every question I could think of about how you determined your finding, I'd still not believe it.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
    So, what value does single point, non-clinical heart rate measurement have to the aging and interested athlete? That is what we are talking about in this and most threads.

    From everything I know the answer is: Not much. Not to say such measurement has no value. Accompanied by periodic clinical exams and analysis by a skilled person it can be an adjunct to a training program. But, even then, other factors that are not measured by such a heart rate monitor need to be taken into consideration.

    So, if you have the money, are a technophobe and are aware of its' major limitations it can be fun to use an athletic heart rate monitor.

    On a humorous note: I was riding in a group. All the people in the group were much younger and much faster than me. But, on this evening they were humoring me and we were riding in a pack. In the conversation we discovered that all of us had the identical heart rate. Or, at least, that is what our monitors said. Most of us are analytically trained so it didn't take long to start looking for the reason. To cut to the chase; it turned out that the transmitter on my strap was overriding everyone else's. Guess my monitor violated HIPPA on that one.
    Modern HRM transmitters are coded and locked to their receivers. That's been the case for well over a decade. Older HRM transmitters only had a range of about 6'. I've never seen crosstalk between HRMs on a group ride and I've been on well over 1000 of them. Never. I'm calling it . . .

    Besides that, you're just wrong. HRMs are as accurate at displaying and recording HR as an EKG. One does hear reports of static from jersey flap, a failed transmitter strap, or failure to use EKG gel to get a good connection to the skin. But that's happens so seldom it's almost impossible to document. To me, maybe once a year, maybe less.

    I've been using HRMs as a training tool for over 15 years. They are accurate and invaluable. Many people prefer them to power. That said, HRMs display physical stress. There are reasons for physical stress other than as a result of physical activity. However, knowing one's level of physical stress is always a good idea.

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