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Max HR too low?

Old 05-25-17, 06:25 PM
  #1  
SylvainG
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Max HR too low?

Not sure where to post this.

So, I'm 54 and if I use the 220-age formula (166 MaxHR), Zone 5 starts at 149. I had my Max HR tested through an extenuation test (not through ECG) and my MaxHR was bumped to 183. If you look at my morning commute below, out of my 42 minutes commute, I'm 23 minutes in Z5. Is this even possible? Shouldn't it be too exhausting to stay in Z5 for that long? HR was calculated with a strap and not the OHM. The readings are correct, I took my pulse manually two differents time while stopped at a red light and was within +-5 heart beats both times (accounting for accuracy error while taking pulse rate for just 10 seconds and multiply by 6).

PS. This morning was my fastest commute btw.

Edit: Data taken with a Garmin VivoActive HR.


Last edited by SylvainG; 05-25-17 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 05-25-17, 07:06 PM
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I'm more of a "dog with it's head out the car window" kind of commuter. I smell the smells, see the sights and bark and wag at other riders. If I get to work on time I'm happy, and if I'm smiling when I get home it puts the wife in good mood, too. ...I'm sorry, what was the question?
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Old 05-25-17, 09:58 PM
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Did you just start commuting? Maybe as your fitness improves, you'll spend more time in the lower zones and max out only occasionally.
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Old 05-25-17, 10:13 PM
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That's 23 minutes within 20 BPM of max? You should be able to peg it at your max for about that long. That's a 5 km running race for many folks - I know when I ran 5k & 8k races with a hrm I would hit max HR in ~3 min and hold it there to finish. Interestingly, I find it hard to reach max, or even close, on a bike.
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Old 05-25-17, 10:21 PM
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Max Headroom?
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Old 05-25-17, 11:26 PM
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I would not consider myself "extremely" fit, but I have spent 45 minutes in Z5 during a 3:45 ride.

That same ride I could probably do again with far less time in Z4 or Z5 if I tried.

I have to really try to get into Z5 on my typical 30 mile training ride these days.

Z4 and Z5 are going to get you results, so just stick with it and use it as a reference guide and not an absolute you need to hit.
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Old 05-26-17, 06:02 AM
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The 220-age max heart rate was shown to be wrong for individuals long ago. You need to set your zones by testing yourself, like going on a LTHR test ride.
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Old 05-26-17, 06:10 AM
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Zones should be set as a percentage of lactic threshold, not max.

Setting zones as a percent of max is not an accurate way to train.


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Old 05-26-17, 06:33 AM
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What I've read about the subject is, that formula doesn't hold. I recall reading a link where the person (and others he checked with, all in shape) had the same max HR for a couple of decades, or with minimal drop over time.

Not sure what your goals are, but if they aren't to win races, I'd just bike more. Track HR for fun. But not read too much into it.
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Old 05-26-17, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by green123 View Post
Did you just start commuting? Maybe as your fitness improves, you'll spend more time in the lower zones and max out only occasionally.
+1 to that from my own experience.

I started commuting on bike last week and I treat it as my workout as well. And I use Fitbit to track my heart rate. According to fit bit, on my first day of commute (May 16) I spent 37 minutes in peak zone. 6 commute days later, it has come down to 5 minutes, without any change in total time taken. My commute is 17 miles each way, so it takes me just a shade over an hour.
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Old 05-26-17, 08:11 AM
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OP needs to test lactic threshold (LTHR) and forget about max.

Zones should be set as a percentage of lactic threshold with frequent retesting and recalculation of zones as fitness improves during the season.
Zone 1 Less than 81% of LTHR
Zone 2 81% to 89% of LTHR
Zone 3 90% to 93% of LTHR
Zone 4 94% to 99% of LTHR
Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR
Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR
Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR
Using LTHR is the correct way to do heart rate training for cycling.


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Old 05-26-17, 08:21 AM
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If you aren't feeling exhausted, nauseous, light headed, or anything like that...I wouldn't worry about it! 220 - age is a very rough estimate like others have been saying. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or other conditions that could be affected by too high of a HR (especially if you're taking beta blockers), it'd probably be good to consult a physician to be safe. Assuming you have a typical cadence, cycling involves quick movements that stimulate a faster HR. But it's not like you are lifting heavy weights for 42 minutes without a break, so it doesn't fatigue your body in the same way.
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Old 05-26-17, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by green123 View Post
Did you just start commuting? Maybe as your fitness improves, you'll spend more time in the lower zones and max out only occasionally.
I started last August. Stopped last December and started again last April when snow had melted from the bike paths. Last August, I would be out of breath in the 150s and my knees would have a burning sensation. It's not like that anymore. Averaging 150 now is an easy stroll

Originally Posted by PTzach View Post
If you aren't feeling exhausted, nauseous, light headed, or anything like that...I wouldn't worry about it! 220 - age is a very rough estimate like others have been saying. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or other conditions that could be affected by too high of a HR (especially if you're taking beta blockers), it'd probably be good to consult a physician to be safe. Assuming you have a typical cadence, cycling involves quick movements that stimulate a faster HR. But it's not like you are lifting heavy weights for 42 minutes without a break, so it doesn't fatigue your body in the same way.
At above 165, I'm breathing harder but no where near exhaustion. My resting blood pressure is around 115/75 so perfectly normal and runs around 140-160 when exercising. My cadence is averaging 85 so nothing drastic.

To all, thanks for your input. I'm not training or anything (not at my age anyway), just trying to get fit after many years of sedentary. I was just curious if it was "normal" to be in Z5 for that long. Many sites I read mentioned you couldn't be in that zone for long because of lactic acid build up. Hence why the question if my max HR was too low.
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Old 05-26-17, 11:27 AM
  #14  
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By coincidence I estimate my max HR at 183 also (I am 57) and I do spend extended periods with my HR at 165 which for me is the edge of aerobic, a little over. So I don't think it impossible nor that the numbers necessarily wrong.

The problem is, I think, that using the maximum heart rate is not the most effective way to set hr zones. It's not even logical, to expect that your aerobic threshold is some percentage of max HR. Better I think to find our aerobic threshold or lactic threshold heart rate, and all the zones are some percentage of that.

edited: as in the zones TimothyH listed!

Last edited by wphamilton; 05-26-17 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 05-26-17, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by supton View Post
What I've read about the subject is, that formula doesn't hold. I recall reading a link where the person (and others he checked with, all in shape) had the same max HR for a couple of decades, or with minimal drop over time.

Not sure what your goals are, but if they aren't to win races, I'd just bike more. Track HR for fun. But not read too much into it.
My observation as well. I just turned 50. MaxHR observed in the last year is 189, which is slightly down from when I started racing in my late 30s. I'd usually see 190's and occasionally cracked 200.

But what has stayed very consistent is LTHR: 171, down a couple beats in the last couple of seasons. That's probably the better number to train from if I used HR. (I have a PM so I train with power primarily; track HR mostly for pwr:hr ratio.)
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Old 05-26-17, 02:17 PM
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So, what's up with Strava? I was interested in this thread and went to see what zones I spend time in, just to find out Strava seems to have a 14-zone system.
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Old 05-26-17, 02:24 PM
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every time i look at my bike my HR jumps to 130 and above, my average HR is about 154 and i have seen it hit as high as 192 when i am getting into it. but on most rides i'll top out at 180-185. but i'm also lazy and out of shape.
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Old 05-26-17, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
So, what's up with Strava? I was interested in this thread and went to see what zones I spend time in, just to find out Strava seems to have a 14-zone system.
Why stop at 14? Why not 24? Why not 100 zones?
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Old 05-26-17, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by morfeeis View Post
every time i look at my bike my HR jumps to 130 and above, my average HR is about 154 and i have seen it hit as high as 192 when i am getting into it. but on most rides i'll top out at 180-185. but i'm also lazy and out of shape.
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Old 05-26-17, 04:21 PM
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Max heart rate is tested, not observed through normal riding. The first step is to make sure you are completely recovered - no bike for two to three days.

Lactic threshold is highly trainable. If LTHR stays the same through the season then something is wrong with how the athlete is training.

LTHR is like HRmax, the only way to know for sure is to test.

The tests are very simple.


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Old 05-26-17, 05:04 PM
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Had a ECG past few years

Have you had a electrocardiograph the last few years?
Could be tachycardia....
What is your height?
Weight?
Resting heart rate?
I know too much, because I have had electrical problems with my heart. The first of three times I had radio cathetar ablation, I came out with tachycardia(fast heart rate).

Last edited by gabkr; 05-26-17 at 05:08 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 05-26-17, 05:52 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
So, what's up with Strava? I was interested in this thread and went to see what zones I spend time in, just to find out Strava seems to have a 14-zone system.
Originally Posted by caloso View Post
Why stop at 14? Why not 24? Why not 100 zones?
If you go into the extended Strava statistics through the Stravistix plug-in, beyond the 14 HR zones, there are 40 speed zones, 50 power zones, 44 cadence zones, 41 grade zones, 45 elevation zones, and 49 ascent zones.

I think my favorite part about that is they didn't even make an effort to standardize any of the scales. Yeah, the good old, tried and true 41-zone scale.
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Old 05-26-17, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by gabkr View Post
Have you had a electrocardiograph the last few years?
Could be tachycardia....
What is your height?
Weight?
Resting heart rate?
I know too much, because I have had electrical problems with my heart. The first of three times I had radio cathetar ablation, I came out with tachycardia(fast heart rate).
No ECG
Doubt it's tachycardia, when HR is above 165, I'm not feeling light headed, no shortness of breath (can take deep breath to recover) and no chest pain.
5'9"
150 lb
57 BPM
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Old 05-27-17, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by SylvainG View Post
No ECG
Doubt it's tachycardia, when HR is above 165, I'm not feeling light headed, no shortness of breath (can take deep breath to recover) and no chest pain.
5'9"
150 lb
57 BPM
No,would not be tachycardia,too low resting heart rate.
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Old 05-28-17, 09:43 AM
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These numbers don't imply a medical condition - I've seen the same for 5 years, 25000+ miles, at OP's age range.
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