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Max and Avg Heart Rates

Old 04-11-20, 04:52 PM
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Max and Avg Heart Rates

I am a 64 year old male and currently, I only ride about 30-40 miles avg. on weekends. I just started wearing a heart monitor that syncs with my GPS unit and wanted to compare notes with others my age.

Here are some examples of data from recent rides:
  • 14 miles - 945 feet of climbing - max HR: 177, Avg. HR: 155, 8% of time in max HR zone
  • 15.55 miles - 1217 feet of climbing - max HR: 176, Avg. HR: 150, 1% of time in max HR zone
  • 9.2 miles - 653 feet of climbing - max HR: 171, Avg. HR: 159, 19% of time in max HR zone
  • 16.5 miles - 1286 feet of climbing - max HR: 175, Avg. HR: 147, 2% of time in max HR zone
If I use the one calculation I've seen (220-age), I get 156 as a max heart rate, so I am wondering if I am pushing too hard. Based on this "standard" calculation, my average heart rate is right around my max. The max rate occurs during steep climbs and I do not experience any symptoms. I have never had any heart issues in general.

I may have to ask Garmin about this, but they show my max zone 5 rate as being anything >167

I know these things vary from person to person, but I'd be interested in how my numbers compare with those of you that have a similar profile to mine.

Thanks very much!
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Old 04-11-20, 05:03 PM
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... the one calculation I've seen (220-age), I get 156 as a max heart rate, so I am wondering if I am pushing too hard.
Nope, you're not pushing too hard. That calculated number is just a starting point, and not a very good one. Your max is whatever you can get up to, and zones get calculated from there. I suspect 176 isn't your max, either.

Last edited by BlazingPedals; 04-12-20 at 06:58 AM.
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Old 04-11-20, 05:24 PM
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No. The formulas seldom are correct for those that have been reasonably active. I still can hit 180 for a while if I really try hard. I'm 62 yo.

I finally got a cardiologist and ask if running my heart to max or staying at high HR for extended times was okay. He said that as long as I don't I have a heart condition, (and I don't), then I can run my HR as fast and as long as I want or am able too.

Just realize that too much time at the upper HR rates might leave you without the energy to get up that last hill or finish a three or more hour ride.
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Old 04-11-20, 05:25 PM
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As previous poster said, these calculators take average into account. It seemd like you are fitter and therfore have a higher max hr and also likely a lower resting hr that average.
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Old 04-11-20, 05:57 PM
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The commonly used formulas for calculating maximum heart rate for a given age are totally inadequate for ages greater than 50. That formula was developed based of a population in which seniors were under represented. The most accurate such formula I've seen is something like 206 - (age X .65). The other short coming of the mathematical models is they all assume a "normal" resting heart rate 60 - 80), and it ignores those of us with resting HR's < 60 due to training. Finally, whatever number you get from whatever formula you chose, it's a statistic guideline, not a limit.

I do have a heart condition, as in a mammary artery masquerading as my left anterior descending. Long story I won't address here. Point is I still routinely exceed my "predicted" max for sustained periods. My cardiologist has has seen my print outs from Strava and he's fine with what I'm doing.
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Old 04-11-20, 06:27 PM
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I am 58 lifelong distance runner and cyclists. My resting HR can be 38-40. I cannot get my hr above 145 without major all out efforts that are hugely taxing. Getting above 150 i have not seen that in over a year.

I have no idea some cardiologist tell me?
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Old 04-11-20, 06:36 PM
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~62 here, my resting heart rate is in the upper 50s, sleeping in the upper 40s. Riding at 20mph for my flat 12-mile commute (~150' elevation change between home and work, not counting the four highway/railroad overpasses) will get it up to around 130. Max rate in the past year was ~145.

BUT, then again, I have high blood pressure. Go figure - low rate but high pressure. Must be my thick Scandinavian blood - like pumping molasses...
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Old 04-11-20, 07:09 PM
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Whatever you think your max heart rate is, that isn't it. And it doesn't matter anyway, as it's not a trainable number.

At the very least, go out and do a LTHR test. Warm up, ride as hard as you can for ~20 minutes, take the average HR from that and set your zones from that number.
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Old 04-11-20, 09:49 PM
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I think that wherever a persons max hr is, you can’t sustain it for very long. It would seem that whatever hr you can sustain for several minutes tops while breathing hard but measured and then ease off but still train would be 90% or so of max. And if you were truly at your max, you’d just shut down in a minute or so at the most and you’d like have to really take a break.
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Old 04-11-20, 11:35 PM
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The heart rate formula is just a rough guideline. Nothing wrong with using it on that basis.

Our actual resting and maximum heart rates will vary according to physiology, lifelong habits (active vs sedentary), prescription and OTC meds, smoking, drinking, recreational drugs, caffeine, stress, rest vs exhaustion, etc. So many variables we'd need to take all these into account with multiple measurements and logging data over time to get a useful baseline.

I'm 62 now. The last maximum heart rate test I did was last summer (age 61 at the time) when I got a Wahoo Tickr, using their setup guideline which is pretty much the standard for determining our max HR. I repeated it a few times over the weeks. My max HR was consistently 171-173 bpm. My lowest resting HR tended to be around 58-61 bpm. But these are based on a baseline with few or no variables -- meds such as Sudafed for sinus congestion, not too much coffee, no beta or calcium channel blockers, no ACE inhibitors (which I occasionally take to control severe headaches, not for blood pressure), etc.

And I have an auto-immune disorder that screws up my metabolism, although it's settled somewhat after surgery for thyroid cancer and levothyroxine to supplement. A couple of months ago my endocrinologist raised my synthetic thyroid meds a bit, and my resting HR went up a few ticks. That's not unusual.

So while I do train according to my heart rate, I keep in mind all these variables. If I'm aiming for a longer easy effort training ride, no intervals or sprints, my Zone 2 might depend on whether I've taken a Sudafed or Primatene tablet for asthma within the past day. On a proper baseline day, Zone 2 would be around 125-138 bpm. But if meds, coffee, stress, pain from injuries, etc., are factors, my Zone 2 will be closer to 130-145. And my heart rate will peg immediately on the first hill.

So I go by how I feel that day. I do harder efforts -- extended tempo rides or intervals -- only on days where my heart rate is closer to optimal baseline conditions -- not affected by pseudo-ephedrine, ephedrine, caffeine, metoprolol, lisinopril, etc. Otherwise I stick with more relaxed rides and try to put in a few more miles. Or just enjoy that ride and forget about "training."

In January I got a proper bike computer to log more data and avoid draining my cell phone battery. I set the bike computer to alarm when my heart rate exceeds 160 bpm. That's usually a reliable indicator that I'm on the verge of redlining and have only 10-30 seconds remaining at that effort before I gas out. I've tested that several times on the indoor trainer and an isolated sprint zone to be familiar with how my body responds above 160 bpm.

That's important because there are some tricky traffic merge areas in my otherwise quiet rural routes. One, in particular, involves an intersection at the crest of a 5-mile climb, on an access road with little or no traffic, but a highway ramp to my left, often with vehicles speeding up to cut across four lanes to reach a right turn. Safest approach is to take the lane very obviously, stand to sprint to make myself as visible as possible, and go full gas. I'm not particularly fast or strong sprinter, but because I usually approach that intersection this way my times are usually among the fastest on any given day. Most folks hug the fog line and approach that intersection timidly, but they might need to play dodge-car by sending mixed messages. I find an assertive but careful approach works best for me -- take the lane early, Cygolite Hotshot blazing, standing to climb so I'm visible above most car roof lines. But I can hold that effort (I'm guesstimating around 500 Watts) for less than a minute. So if my heart rate monitor alarms when the safety zone of that intersection is still 100-200 yards away, I know I need to back off, slow down and go for a 10-15 mph approach rather than 20-25 mph. Otherwise I'm gonna redline very suddenly and not finish at all. When I time my effort properly I'll consistently hit 161 bpm just as I crest that hill at the intersection.

Back in the autumn 2019, I could occasionally hit 171 on some tough climbs on group rides, usually around the middle of the pack. But it's been months since I hit anything above 163 bpm on any effort. And my resting HR the past couple of months has been 66-70. The last time my resting HR was below 60 was in the middle of the night after just waking up, and I was sick that day, so the 55 bpm and low BP wasn't unusual.

Next time I have a good baseline day, without factors that would skew my heart rate, I'll redo my maximum HR test. I'll bet it's below 170 now.
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Old 04-11-20, 11:48 PM
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If you took thousands of people and plotted their max hr against their ages, you would get a rough correlation along a line with the formula 220-age. That’s all that means. It has absolutely no predictive value for any particular individual’s maximum heart rate.

Or, to put it another way, you could take those same people and plot out a correlation between height and foot length, but when you go to the shoe store would you buy a pair of shoes based on your height? Of course not. You’d measure your foot.
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Old 04-12-20, 04:05 AM
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I use this formula:
  • Subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate.
  • Calculate your resting heart rate by counting how many times your heart beats per minute when you are at rest, such as first thing in the morning. It's usually somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute for the average adult.
  • Calculate your heart rate reserve (HRR) by subtracting your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate.
  • Multiply your HRR by 0.7 (70%). Add your resting heart rate to this number.
  • Multiply your HRR by 0.85 (85%). Add your resting heart rate to this number.
  • These two numbers are your average target heart rate zone for vigorous exercise intensity when using the HRR to calculate your heart rate. Your heart rate during vigorous exercise should generally be between these two numbers.
It’s outlined here:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-l...y/art-20046887

As others have pointed out, there are lots of variables and everyone’s different, so maybe this won’t work for you. The results I get from using this equation, though, seem to correlate pretty well with my own real-world experience.
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Old 04-12-20, 01:59 PM
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Are you wearing a chest strap or wrist HRM? The chest is very accurate, wrist-worn are not and tend to run higher than actual beats, especially in the upper ranges or when running (arm swing messes up the light that is reading the pulse off your skin--chest straps are a direct read off your heart). If a wrist monitor is worn, you are probably not working as hard as appears. So, either you are super fit and working too hard with a chest strap or not really as high as you think with a wrist-worn. The old 220 - age formula puts Max HRs too low for trained athletes. It was designed to allow achievable zones for average people. The 200 - age formula says my max is 161. I am almost 60 and race XC mountain bikes in Cat 2 aka Sport categories. Although I've hit 179 in races, I consider my max to be 177. I wear a chest strap that is sync'd to my Garmin 520 Plus. Here are my typical HRs so you can compare: Training rides--128 to 134 avg, 160 to 162 max; XC Races-- 160-164 avg, 172-177 max (and I'm in that avg for 93-96% of the 1-1.5 hour race!). Riding on own, no one can hit as high as being pushed in a race. I know everyone is different, but are you really riding at race pace every ride?
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Old 04-12-20, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by bikeme View Post
Are you wearing a chest strap or wrist HRM? The chest is very accurate, wrist-worn are not and tend to run higher than actual beats, especially in the upper ranges or when running (arm swing messes up the light that is reading the pulse off your skin--chest straps are a direct read off your heart). If a wrist monitor is worn, you are probably not working as hard as appears. So, either you are super fit and working too hard with a chest strap or not really as high as you think with a wrist-worn. The old 220 - age formula puts Max HRs too low for trained athletes. It was designed to allow achievable zones for average people. The 200 - age formula says my max is 161. I am almost 60 and race XC mountain bikes in Cat 2 aka Sport categories. Although I've hit 179 in races, I consider my max to be 177. I wear a chest strap that is sync'd to my Garmin 520 Plus. Here are my typical HRs so you can compare: Training rides--128 to 134 avg, 160 to 162 max; XC Races-- 160-164 avg, 172-177 max (and I'm in that avg for 93-96% of the 1-1.5 hour race!). Riding on own, no one can hit as high as being pushed in a race. I know everyone is different, but are you really riding at race pace every ride?
I have been wearing a Polar H9 chest strap paired with my Garmin Edge 530. For the majority of my rides, my average HR has been right around 150-155. Max recorded HR has averaged around 175. I try to include hills when creating routes and for the four rides referenced in my original post, I've been averaging about 75 feet of climbing per mile.

Concerning race pace, I only ride on my own and have never raced, but I do try to push myself to build strength, endurance, and speed. One factor in all of this is that I only ride 30-40 miles per week, typically on weekends. It seems like it would be hard to achieve optimal average & max HRs without putting in more miles. Cycling and work around the house are my only forms of exercise, so I realize my personal routine introduces some limiting factors.

Thanks!
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Old 04-12-20, 04:08 PM
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BIKEREX
find your resting heart rate. Put your chest strap on on the morning before coffee and sit down, relax, breath easy and see how low you can make your heart rate. The difference between that resting rate and the rate when you are pushing to the top of your climb as hard as you can for minutes and about to die, is meaningful and called heart rate reserve. Keep track of that resting HR and the time it takes to climb that hill while you keep your HR up there in the 170s. Over the next several months, your resting rate and your times should both come down as you become more fit.

I'll be 62 next month and lately, I've been monitoring my HR during rides and trying to find my training zones. 7 years ago, I could do a cyclocross race and with an average HR of 167 for 30-35 minutes and I used that as my LT. Now, I am very very uncomfortable doing 3, 10 minute climbing repeats at 160bpm. We'll see what happens over the next few months. The last few years, while doing plenty of miles and climbing, I haven't done much high intensity training. (I do have a Porcine Aortic Valve that was years old in January and maybe that also has something to do with it.)

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Old 04-12-20, 04:19 PM
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I’m 67. The max HR I recorded under controlled conditions on a trainer was 194. But that was a few years ago. My average HR over 60-100 mile rides was typically 140 bpm. During 10 mile time trials where there was a really hard effort for 20+ minutes my HR would be around 170-180. When I established my personal best time it averaged about 180 bpm. My brother’s and my HR tend to be a good bit higher than most, at least when comparing with other riders we’d be riding with.

My HR has been a little lower the last couple of years. I haven’t been doing as many intervals nor riding in faster groups. I may have also lost a little power after a hip replacement so I don’t seem to be able to run it up as high as I used to be able to do.

Based on your numbers I’d say your HR runs a good bit higher than normal. I’ve also seen where a number of factors can affect HR. Rest, stress, dehydration, temperatures you’re riding in and physical conditioning are all factors for me.
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Old 04-12-20, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by BIKEREX View Post
I have been wearing a Polar H9 chest strap paired with my Garmin Edge 530. For the majority of my rides, my average HR has been right around 150-155. Max recorded HR has averaged around 175. I try to include hills when creating routes and for the four rides referenced in my original post, I've been averaging about 75 feet of climbing per mile.

Concerning race pace, I only ride on my own and have never raced, but I do try to push myself to build strength, endurance, and speed. One factor in all of this is that I only ride 30-40 miles per week, typically on weekends. It seems like it would be hard to achieve optimal average & max HRs without putting in more miles. Cycling and work around the house are my only forms of exercise, so I realize my personal routine introduces some limiting factors.

Thanks!
Thanks for clarifying about the chest strap. You're in awesome shape and have been blessed with a great cardio system!! It is recommended for guys over 50 to increase their High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) especially if they are time crunched--you're already doing that. What you're doing is similar to my race training except that I add in a longer 2-3 hour Zone 2/Endurance Level ride (at 90+ rpm) between hard days. This not only increases one's endurance, it builds capillaries and mitochondria. And being a lower intensity, allows your body to recover. Folks think, "How could this be doing me any good? It feels too easy" but you'll see huge gains in endurance. You want to make sure you're getting rest days/easy days between your hard ones. I also hike or just walk the neighborhood on my easy days--it's a great alternative to an easy ride and uses different muscle groups. Hope this helps, keep it up!
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Old 04-12-20, 07:04 PM
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My max cycling is HR 168 at 74 years old. Zone five > 160. As I've aged my muscles have not kept pace with HR in terms of performance. I seldom push my HR to the zone levels adjusted for my younger age of the past. Your stats are fine as long as you feel good and recover normally. When you compare people of similar age and fitness there is a great variation in max HR, especially for older folks.

I am now in riding on a mixture of climbs and the flat like to see my HR zones at the end of the ride as the combination of zones 3,4, and 5 combined to exceed the total of zones 1 and 2.

On climbs, in moderate weather, I like to hold depending upon the grade along parts of Cat 3 Mandivilee 75-95 percent of max HR. I sometimes hit my max at the end but almost always at least 160. (The last half-mile really kicks up incrementally the last half mile.)
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Old 04-13-20, 12:17 PM
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As others have said, the 220-age formula is purely an estimation, and many people vary widely from that number. When I was racing in my early-30s, my HR would max at 207 after a finishing sprint in a race, and could climb for extended periods at 190-192. Back to riding after 15 years off the bike (currently 51yo), my max is 180.
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Old 04-13-20, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by BengalCat View Post
My max cycling is HR 168 at 74 years old. Zone five > 160. As I've aged my muscles have not kept pace with HR in terms of performance. I seldom push my HR to the zone levels adjusted for my younger age of the past. Your stats are fine as long as you feel good and recover normally. When you compare people of similar age and fitness there is a great variation in max HR, especially for older folks.

I am now in riding on a mixture of climbs and the flat like to see my HR zones at the end of the ride as the combination of zones 3,4, and 5 combined to exceed the total of zones 1 and 2.

On climbs, in moderate weather, I like to hold depending upon the grade along parts of Cat 3 Mandivilee 75-95 percent of max HR. I sometimes hit my max at the end but almost always at least 160. (The last half-mile really kicks up incrementally the last half mile.)
Thanks - "feeling good and recovering normally" are two good barometers, as I like to listen to what my body is telling me both during and after a ride. Fortunately, I am good on both points, so the goal will be to get more miles in each week and continue improving fitness.
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Old 04-13-20, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by bikeme View Post
Thanks for clarifying about the chest strap. You're in awesome shape and have been blessed with a great cardio system!! It is recommended for guys over 50 to increase their High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) especially if they are time crunched--you're already doing that. What you're doing is similar to my race training except that I add in a longer 2-3 hour Zone 2/Endurance Level ride (at 90+ rpm) between hard days. This not only increases one's endurance, it builds capillaries and mitochondria. And being a lower intensity, allows your body to recover. Folks think, "How could this be doing me any good? It feels too easy" but you'll see huge gains in endurance. You want to make sure you're getting rest days/easy days between your hard ones. I also hike or just walk the neighborhood on my easy days--it's a great alternative to an easy ride and uses different muscle groups. Hope this helps, keep it up!
Very helpful...thanks! Your response and others I've received have been informative, motivational, and very much appreciated.
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Old 04-13-20, 02:25 PM
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It may have been mentioned already, but another factor I like to keep in mind in addition to average and max heart rate is the recovery rate as in how fast your heart rate decreases once you stop. I did the simple test this guy describes and was pleased to find that at 62 in addition to an average BPM of 145ish and a peak of 165ish out on the trails on a regular basis, I am averaging around a 45-50BPM decrease in the first minute after stopping exertion.

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Old 04-13-20, 03:09 PM
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Very interesting. Should be easy to try out using the HR readout on my GPS unit.
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Old 04-13-20, 03:26 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Joe F View Post
It may have been mentioned already, but another factor I like to keep in mind in addition to average and max heart rate is the recovery rate as in how fast your heart rate decreases once you stop. I did the simple test this guy describes and was pleased to find that at 62 in addition to an average BPM of 145ish and a peak of 165ish out on the trails on a regular basis, I am averaging around a 45-50BPM decrease in the first minute after stopping exertion.

https://youtu.be/rSiS9qkJUU0
Thats fantastic! I read about this and tried it, mine dropped like 30 bpm in a minute which is good but not great.

I really started taking excercise seriously about 2.5 years ago after a decade of very little. And until I got a bike in August, my cardio has been limited to 30 minutes about 3 times a week because I hated “gym cardio”. But now, with the bike, 45 minutes or even an hour are fun so hoping I can get more fit in the years to come.

I don’t use a hr monitor now. I’d rather not overall but maybe will reconsider if I get the urge to really see the numbers more consistently.
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Old 04-13-20, 04:54 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by deacon mark View Post
I am 58 lifelong distance runner and cyclists. My resting HR can be 38-40. I cannot get my hr above 145 without major all out efforts that are hugely taxing. Getting above 150 i have not seen that in over a year.
+1.

I'm a consistent cyclist for 35years, always with hills or mountains in the mix.
At age 69, my HR right outa bed is 42-44 bpm. Daytime, resting HR ~48-50.
150 bpm is a MAX effort. And I have a max hill to climb the last 2K to my house, with one ramp (probably 20% for 50 yards) that whips me at the end of a long ride on vintage gearing.

Tidal volume, O2 uptake rate, respiration rate, muscular efficiency, etc influence heart rate. Throw in genetics and a lifetime of lifestyle and you can see max HR is a wide ranging number.




edit: my comments below previously discussed.
Maybe someone else said it in this thread, maybe not.
I have often read that for an average everyday generally healthy adult - in regards to cardio-vascular intensive exercise - fitness is more a matter of how quickly one can return to their 'normal range', rather than their measured maximum - after full exertion (which is preceded by steady and/or extended build-up). 'Recovery time' is a term oft used, but ill defined.

Last edited by Wildwood; 04-13-20 at 05:09 PM.
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