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Max Heart Rate Question

Old 08-05-18, 05:56 AM
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Max Heart Rate Question

Okay I get that your max heart rate is the limit your heart can beat and it goes down with age? Is it, when reached, the moment when you simply cannot go on? The reason I ask is I'm 66 years old and for some reason I don't remember (hey I'm 66 years old) my Garmin has my max heart rate at 172. This weekend I did a group ride that included a 3.1 mile climb with some grades at 13-14%. It was not a cake walk but I made the climb in 31 minutes, did not have to stop, and now my garmin tells me my heart hit 177BPM, a new high. So is my max heart rate more than this? Does this figure expand with training? Does it mean anything? Thanks for the experts weighing in on this.
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Old 08-05-18, 07:12 AM
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Itís pretty meaningless.

Lactate Threshold is the value that matters.

If you were to do a sustained, maximal, one-hour effort your average heart rate during that effort is your LTHR. Basically highest rate you can sustain for an hour.

Max HR is genetic. You might not have reached yours.

You can actually train your LTHR.
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Old 08-05-18, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Ald1 View Post
Okay I get that your max heart rate is the limit your heart can beat and it goes down with age? Is it, when reached, the moment when you simply cannot go on? The reason I ask is I'm 66 years old and for some reason I don't remember (hey I'm 66 years old) my Garmin has my max heart rate at 172. This weekend I did a group ride that included a 3.1 mile climb with some grades at 13-14%. It was not a cake walk but I made the climb in 31 minutes, did not have to stop, and now my garmin tells me my heart hit 177BPM, a new high. So is my max heart rate more than this? Does this figure expand with training? Does it mean anything? Thanks for the experts weighing in on this.
Your max is likely higher than 177. You wouldn't normally reach a maximum on a sustained 30 min climb. I usually hit my max after climbing hard for 3 min or so and then sprinting all out. It means nothing, however. If anything, it probably goes down with training. Teenagers tend to have higher heart rates. Their HR tends to go down as their power and endurance increases through their 20s and 30s.

Much better to train to increase your power, it will get you up the hill faster. HR can be increased by dehydration but it won't make you faster.
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Old 08-05-18, 07:31 PM
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agree with both of the above.

But if you want to know your max hr, do a hard climb with a friend that would you rather die than let beat you. When he/she launches an all out attack when you already thought you were at your limit, and starts to drop you, you'll know your true max hr chasing.
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Old 08-05-18, 08:56 PM
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Max HR is a calculated number based on age, etc. It is theoretical. I'm 69, with a "mildly" wonky heart valve. My cardio doctor recommends 140 as a general max, controlled by beta blocker. I have my Garmin set with a 150 max HR alert, but I haven't heard from it lately. Once in awhile, I've seen 150 or even a few higher, but it comes back down when I back off. Prior to the meds, I would see 155-165 and it would stay there long after I backed off. I try to keep below the 140 limit, by pacing myself on hills, or when the red mist takes over. My cardio Dr. says HR average on a ride is more important than max HR. My typical rides are 110 avg, 140 max. I'm a fairly competitive ex-racer who hated getting passed, but there comes a time...
I still enjoy long pulls at the front, but surviving to ride another day means knowing your limits. I did a 46 mile ride today in the Santa Barbara hills, 88į, with 2500' climbing, with a few 8-10% ramps. I hit 145 max HR, and averaged just over 13 mph over 3.5 hours.
If you are not having issues, use the calculated HR max as a rough guideline.
If in doubt, the Dr. is a better resource than Bikeforums, or anywhere else online.
Stay healthy, my friend.

Last edited by Slightspeed; 08-05-18 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 08-05-18, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Ald1 View Post
Okay I get that your max heart rate is the limit your heart can beat and it goes down with age? Is it, when reached, the moment when you simply cannot go on? The reason I ask is I'm 66 years old and for some reason I don't remember (hey I'm 66 years old) my Garmin has my max heart rate at 172. This weekend I did a group ride that included a 3.1 mile climb with some grades at 13-14%. It was not a cake walk but I made the climb in 31 minutes, did not have to stop, and now my garmin tells me my heart hit 177BPM, a new high. So is my max heart rate more than this? Does this figure expand with training? Does it mean anything? Thanks for the experts weighing in on this.
When you say your Garmin has your max heart rate at 172, what do you mean? Did the Garmin, or its software, Garmin Connect, estimate your max HR using the 220-age method? If so, that's just a guess. Many people will have higher max HR, and many will have lower. Getting your heart rate to it's max requires a huge effort. Google ""how to get max heart rate on a bike" and you will see several methods.
Are you wearing a heart rate monitor strap around your chest, or is your Garmin measuring it off the wrist? You should know that the most accurate method is with the chest strap, and for some people, the wrist method is way off.

What your Garmin may be doing is recording the highest your heart rate has been in your rides over a given time period. The highest it's been isn't going to be your "max heart rate" unless you've done some really all out efforts, like those you'll find in that google search.

Max heart rate does decline with age, it's not trainable in any way. As the poster above said, you want to be training your FTP power, your power at threshold. Garmin watches will also make an attempt to estimate your heartrate threshold as well. You can do it yourself too. Just google "ftp tests."

Last edited by Wattsup; 08-05-18 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 08-05-18, 09:23 PM
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The easiest way to find your max HR: Strava Live Segments. I had never seen my HR break 180bpm. Then one day I was trying to get a KOM back, and wham, 185bpm.

Took about a minute for the I-feel-like-I'm-gonna-puke sensation to go away.

So what I'm saying is, any HR you can hold for more than about 30 seconds is not your max HR. In June, I managed to hold my max HR on a segment for about 15 seconds.
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Old 08-05-18, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
The easiest way to find your max HR: Strava Live Segments. I had never seen my HR break 180bpm. Then one day I was trying to get a KOM back, and wham, 185bpm.

Took about a minute for the I-feel-like-I'm-gonna-puke sensation to go away.

So what I'm saying is, any HR you can hold for more than about 30 seconds is not your max HR. In June, I managed to hold my max HR on a segment for about 15 seconds.
if you use have a power meter and use TrainerRoad, their Ramp test will usually get you to your max HR. It'll estimate your FTP too.

To the OP, keep in mind that max heart rate is sport specific. Most people will hit higher heart rates when running all out simply because there is greater muscle recruitment. Your swimming max heart rate will be lowest. As an example, my max biking HR is 159, and my running MHR is 166. Also, max heart rate comparisons between individuals have no use. A friend of mine has a super high max heart rate, a good bit higher than mine, and yet he's 10 yrs older than I am. Thing is, he's a tiny guy. and likely has a little bird heart that revs high!

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Old 08-05-18, 09:48 PM
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Some misinformation in this thread.

Max heart rate is not calculated. It isn't determined by competing with a friend up a hill. Stava live segments won't tell it to you and puking isn't an indicator. Max heart rate is tested. Testing max heart rate begins with being fully recovered. If you are not fully recovered from recent rides then you are not testing your max heart rate. Performing the test is easy and how to do it can be googled.

Max heart rate is not sports specific. Max heart rate is the highest your heart can go, period. It doesn't matter if you are doing jumping jacks or sprinting for a stage win at the Giro. Your max is your max.

The most important post in this thread is number two by @aLpclr0331. Once max is determined you can pretty much forget it because it has no use in terms of training. Lactic threshold is what matters. Lactice threshold is also testable and highly trainable.


-Tim-
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Old 08-05-18, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Some misinformation in this thread.

Max heart rate is not calculated. It isn't determined by competing with a friend up a hill. Stava live segments won't tell it to you and puking isn't an indicator. Max heart rate is tested. Testing max heart rate begins with being fully recovered. If you are not fully recovered from recent rides then you are not testing your max heart rate. Performing the test is easy and how to do it can be googled.

Max heart rate is not sports specific. Max heart rate is the highest your heart can go, period. It doesn't matter if you are doing jumping jacks or sprinting for a stage win at the Giro. Your max is your max.

The most important post in this thread is number two by @aLpclr0331. Once max is determined you can pretty much forget it because it has no use in terms of training. Lactic threshold is what matters. Lactice threshold is also testable and highly trainable.


-Tim-
I'm guessing you're not a runner. Max heart rate IS sport specific, just as VO2max, another measured number, is sport specific (think cycling VO2max tests vs treadmill.) Both numbers depend on how much muscle is recruited, and running recruits more muscle than cycling, which recruits more muscle than swimming. Agree with you that MHR has virtually no training value though. Same goes for VO2 max. Once you know it, there's not much you can do with it, except maybe brag.

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Old 08-05-18, 10:01 PM
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Your Max HR is likely higher than 177 BPM. However, 177 BPM is the only objective number you have to work with so readjust your zones to reflect the new max. Then go out on a day you're feeling great and do a proper Max HR test. Should you hit a new high, readjust your zones again.
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Old 08-05-18, 10:10 PM
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MaxHR is observed, whether through a formal testing protocol or in a race (mine was observed at Nevada City) or trying to beat your buddy up the local hill.

Yours is *at least* 177bpm. Use that for now.
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Old 08-05-18, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius View Post
Your Max HR is likely higher than 177 BPM. However, 177 BPM is the only objective number you have to work with so readjust your zones to reflect the new max. Then go out on a day you're feeling great and do a proper Max HR test. Should you hit a new high, readjust your zones again.
I'm thinking that rather than playing around with MHR, I think the OP would be better off letting the Garmin estimate his threshold heart rate. My Garmin Fenix 3 does it, and so probably does his Garmin. His zones will be more accurate, and it's probably safer for a 66 yr old guy too, rather than getting his heart rate up to its max.
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Old 08-05-18, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Wattsup View Post
I'm guessing you're not a runner. Max heart rate IS sport specific, just as VO2max, another measured number, is sport specific (think cycling VO2max tests vs treadmill.) Both numbers depend on how much muscle is recruited, and running recruits more muscle than cycling, which recruits more muscle than swimming. Agree with you that MHR has virtually no training value though. Same goes for VO2 max. Once you know it, there's not much you can do with it, except maybe brag.
Max is max. The fact that you don't hit it during any given effort is incidental.

I've run one marathon and countless 5k and 10k's. No one has to take my word for it though. The information is out there for anyone to look up.


-Tim-
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Old 08-05-18, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Max is max. The fact that you don't hit it during any given effort is incidental.

I've run one marathon and countless 5k and 10k's. No one has to take my word for it though. The information is out there for anyone to look up.


-Tim-

Good point. Here's the information, "max heart rate running vs max heart rate cycling." When you get bored with that, you can search VO2max for cycling vs VO2max for running,
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Old 08-06-18, 12:10 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Performing the test is easy
Sounds like youíve never hit your max HR.
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Old 08-06-18, 02:25 AM
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I have been told that max HR is sport specific.

In 2002 (age 35) I hit what I assume was my Max HR when I did hill repeats at an all out, ears banging, seeing red, feeling ill effort. Each time I cycled up that particular hill, I hit 194 bpm. So I went with that.

In 2005, I did a running/sprint test as part of a kinesiology class ... and hit 197 bpm. I was told then that it is "normal" to have a slightly higher max HR for running than cycling.

These days, I see 181 bpm when I've done a hard effort ... either a sprint on Zwift or a brisk hill climb in real life. In the past couple years, I've yet to see anything higher than that, so I'm going with that for zones for now. If I happen to see something higher, I'll adjust it then.

Those are the numbers my HRM shows me.
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Old 08-06-18, 03:00 AM
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Thanks for all the responses. I'm with Tim as I understand max heart rate is max heart rate. There is a bit of a misunderstandind as I'm not trying to improve it as I agree it's unchangable and useless in training except as not push too hard or too little. Over reaching does not improve fitness IMHO. Want to know just to set my zones accutatly. I'll google as suggested.
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Old 08-06-18, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Ald1 View Post
Thanks for all the responses. I'm with Tim as I understand max heart rate is max heart rate. There is a bit of a misunderstandind as I'm not trying to improve it as I agree it's unchangable and useless in training except as not push too hard or too little. Over reaching does not improve fitness IMHO. Want to know just to set my zones accutatly. I'll google as suggested.
The thing is, zones are approximate anyway.

There are slightly different approaches to the zones, but I grabbed this one from the Cycling Weekly site as an example.






Assuming your max HR is 172 or 177 ...

According to the chart above, a hard effort it 82-89%.

So your hard effort would be somewhere between ... 141 and 157

172 = 141 bpm - 153 bpm
177 = 145 bpm - 157 bpm

So if you do your hard effort at about 149 bpm, you'll fall somewhere in the middle of both ranges.
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Old 08-06-18, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Some misinformation in this thread.

Max heart rate is not calculated. It isn't determined by competing with a friend up a hill. Stava live segments won't tell it to you and puking isn't an indicator. Max heart rate is tested. Testing max heart rate begins with being fully recovered. If you are not fully recovered from recent rides then you are not testing your max heart rate. Performing the test is easy and how to do it can be googled.

Max heart rate is not sports specific. Max heart rate is the highest your heart can go, period. It doesn't matter if you are doing jumping jacks or sprinting for a stage win at the Giro. Your max is your max.

The most important post in this thread is number two by @aLpclr0331. Once max is determined you can pretty much forget it because it has no use in terms of training. Lactic threshold is what matters. Lactice threshold is also testable and highly trainable.


-Tim-
And the only way to test it is to do a maximal effort. And a lab test is going to almost always give you a lower number than you'll see from a highly motivated effort in the real world. So a hard effort of a moderately short hill, with a highly motivated sprint at the top will typically peg just about what you're capable of.

I've had exercise physiology testing done several times, with full on blood gas set up. My lab tested max HR is always below what I've observed in real world settings, such as the above scenario, or a final sprint in a crit.

So, a situation where you going as hard as you think you can, and then have to go harder, such as a sprint at the end of a race, or just racing your buddy to the top of a short hill (too long and you're to gassed to hit a maximal effort) will very accurately reveal your max hr; in my experience moreso than lab testing.
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Old 08-06-18, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Ald1 View Post
Thanks for all the responses. I'm with Tim as I understand max heart rate is max heart rate. There is a bit of a misunderstandind as I'm not trying to improve it as I agree it's unchangable and useless in training except as not push too hard or too little. Over reaching does not improve fitness IMHO. Want to know just to set my zones accutatly. I'll google as suggested.
But you're missing APLC's post. Max HR really doesn't matter and is a poor way to set your training zones.

If you want to train by HR, you're much better off, setting off your lactate threshold heart rate (also referred to as functional threshold heart rate).

So google that, test your LTHR (which is easily done in the field ) and set your zones off of that.
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Old 08-06-18, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
But you're missing APLC's post. Max HR really doesn't matter and is a poor way to set your training zones.

If you want to train by HR, you're much better off, setting off your lactate threshold heart rate (also referred to as functional threshold heart rate).

So google that, test your LTHR (which is easily done in the field ) and set your zones off of that.
This! Add that testing Max HR can be dangerous for an older guy.

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Old 08-06-18, 07:23 AM
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It may be nit-picking, but I think that our maximum heart rate CAN increase when we gain in fitness, up to the point of the genetic maximum. Maximum "achievable" heart rate that is, which is what you'd see in a hard race or charging up a hill. From personal experience, there have been times when I would run out of gas on that hill, before even starting that final maximum effort. In better condition, more effort is possible ... up to a point.

I don't even know my own MHR beyond what I've happened to see on the monitor, so that's not "expert opinion". Just what I've seen personally.
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Old 08-06-18, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I have been told that max HR is sport specific.

In 2002 (age 35) I hit what I assume was my Max HR when I did hill repeats at an all out, ears banging, seeing red, feeling ill effort. Each time I cycled up that particular hill, I hit 194 bpm. So I went with that.

In 2005, I did a running/sprint test as part of a kinesiology class ... and hit 197 bpm. I was told then that it is "normal" to have a slightly higher max HR for running than cycling.

These days, I see 181 bpm when I've done a hard effort ... either a sprint on Zwift or a brisk hill climb in real life. In the past couple years, I've yet to see anything higher than that, so I'm going with that for zones for now. If I happen to see something higher, I'll adjust it then.

Those are the numbers my HRM shows me.
You are correct, for the vast majority people, max heart rate is indeed sport specific, and if you're using max heart rate to set zones, then you need to use your max heart rate *for that sport.* You can deduce from the previous statement that an individual's zones are indeed sport specific as well! As i and others have said however, there are better ways to set cycling zones....by using threshold heart rate. And of course, using threshold power with a power meter is better yet. Heart rate can be a fickle thing, changing from day to day like the weather..
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Old 08-06-18, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Wattsup View Post
This! Add that testing Max HR can be dangerous for an older guy.
Or girl ... it hurts.
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