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How useful is a HRM when you have power?

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How useful is a HRM when you have power?

Old 07-02-15, 03:39 PM
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greenlight149
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How useful is a HRM when you have power?

Is it worth it to have both, is a HRM going to give you more useful data that a power meter can't? Keyword is useful.
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Old 07-02-15, 03:56 PM
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Even if you have a power meter, an HRM is still good to have Even if you primarily use the PM to train with, it's still a good idea to keep track of your heart rate.While the PM tells you how much power the "engine" is producing, the HRM gives you an indication of how the "engine" is performing. For example, when riding in high temperatures, a higher than normal heart rate might indicate that your core temperature is higher than normal. Likewise, if your heart rate is high and does not drop when you ease off the pace or stop, it could indicate a more serious over heating situation.
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Old 07-02-15, 04:00 PM
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I broke two premium HR straps in under 6 months and decided not to replace the second one. At first I missed the HR info but after a few weeks I didn't miss it one bit and just used power.
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Old 07-02-15, 04:04 PM
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I use it as a secondary indicator. I generally expect my tested FTP and LTHR to match up. If I'm at FTP and my HR is much higher, then it might be an indication that I need a day off. Or if it's lower than expected, it might be an indication of good form.
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Old 07-02-15, 05:15 PM
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HR and power should correlate when you are appropriately fit. if you're not, it won't. Golden Cheetah knows all.

I still think it's useful but if I had to pick, I'd pick power.
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Old 07-02-15, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
HR and power should correlate when you are appropriately fit. if you're not, it won't. Golden Cheetah knows all.

I still think it's useful but if I had to pick, I'd pick power.
Totally agree.

Say you do a long ride and ride it intensely, and at the end your heart rate elevation remains proportional to your power output, then you are fit. Your HR starts to drift upward when you have the same power output, you are experiencing cardiac drift, which could be a sign of lack of CV fitness or dehydration or heat stress.

Say you are deep into a long ride and you've been riding pretty hard. You start a 10 mile climb and you notice your power is down and you feel a little weak, but your heart rate is normal for that effort. Good chance that's a nutritional thing, you're getting a little bonky, because if you were fatigued or dehydrated, you'd probably see your heart rate elevate. Try to get some calories into yourself and see if that helps.

Say you ride an FTP test or a time trial and wonder if you could have gone harder. Well was your HR maxed out? If yes, the answer is that you probably could not have gone harder, you put in a good effort.

Power is king but if I forget my HR monitor, I will ride home and get it. I like having both data sets for a given ride, I can understand much better what has happened.

Last edited by Heathpack; 07-02-15 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 07-02-15, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by greenlight149 View Post
Is it worth it to have both, is a HRM going to give you more useful data that a power meter can't? Keyword is useful.
If you like train and measure your efforts and how you're progressing, it's good to have both. Once you've determined your FTP for the PM and the LTHR and max HR for HRM, you can use both for training for setting the zones. PM trumps the HRM for the reasons mentioned above. If I had to choose having one device it would be the PM. But since the cost of a HR strap is very reasonable, it makes it easy to add it into the mix. I agree with Dunbar, if I forget to put on the HR strap, I'm not going back for it. Many say that after riding for several years, they can ride by feel and don't use a PM anymore. If mine crapped out, I'm not sure if I'd replace it.
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Old 07-02-15, 06:50 PM
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i do have both actually, and since getting a power meter i stopped using the HRM.

i did quite a bit of researching prior to purchasing the PM, and the general consensus is that heart rate can be variable depending on a number of factors, including temperature, hydration, caffeine.... many of which has nothing to do with the state of fitness, or fatigue. this leads me to think why would i trust the HRM over the PM to tell me i can push harder?
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Old 07-02-15, 06:56 PM
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Andy Coggan (in)famously sez if you have power then at best heart rate is redundant and at worst it's misleading. That's my experience, too. I haven't worn my HR belt in years.
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Old 07-02-15, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
Andy Coggan (in)famously sez if you have power then at best heart rate is redundant and at worst it's misleading. That's my experience, too. I haven't worn my HR belt in years.
5 years of power data and I have not worn the strap in 3 yrs. At best if will tell you if you have not recovered.
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Old 07-02-15, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
I use it as a secondary indicator. I generally expect my tested FTP and LTHR to match up. If I'm at FTP and my HR is much higher, then it might be an indication that I need a day off. Or if it's lower than expected, it might be an indication of good form.
+1
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Old 07-02-15, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by greenlight149 View Post
i do have both actually, and since getting a power meter i stopped using the HRM.

i did quite a bit of researching prior to purchasing the PM, and the general consensus is that heart rate can be variable depending on a number of factors, including temperature, hydration, caffeine.... many of which has nothing to do with the state of fitness, or fatigue. this leads me to think why would i trust the HRM over the PM to tell me i can push harder?
Because the PM tells you the power you're pushing and the HRM tells you your body's response to the power you're pushing. If your PM tells you that you can't push anymore, but your HR is lower than expected, then your HRM is telling you that you can push harder because your body can take it. I use the PM kind of like coarse tuning and the HRM as fine tuning. I use the two together to get a more complete picture of what is going on. I use this kind of logic more in TTs (for example) than in training, as I trust the PM more during training. I think in some ways the PM can hold you back because you develop a mental block telling you that you can't do certain things when that may or may not be true on a particular day.
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Old 07-02-15, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Silvercivic27 View Post
Because the PM tells you the power you're pushing and the HRM tells you your body's response to the power you're pushing. If your PM tells you that you can't push anymore, but your HR is lower than expected, then your HRM is telling you that you can push harder because your body can take it. I use the PM kind of like coarse tuning and the HRM as fine tuning. I use the two together to get a more complete picture of what is going on. I use this kind of logic more in TTs (for example) than in training, as I trust the PM more during training. I think in some ways the PM can hold you back because you develop a mental block telling you that you can't do certain things when that may or may not be true on a particular day.

what if you take a couple of gels with caffeine, or use a electrolyte mix with caffeine, that will raise the heart rate by a couple beats, you can sustain the same power but the heart rate is higher than usual, so higher heart rate doesnt always mean you are going too hard.
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Old 07-02-15, 08:56 PM
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True. You use it for fine tuning. Use the PM for coarse tuning. You use RPE as well for fine tuning. Also, a couple of beats don't mean squat. I'm mostly looking at HR in zones or in about 10s or 20s, not a couple of beats.
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Old 07-02-15, 09:01 PM
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if the heart rate is off by 20 beats, i'll be able to tell that i cant go hard even without a HRM.
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Old 07-02-15, 09:10 PM
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Ok, sounds like you have made up your mind. Just go out and ride.
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Old 07-02-15, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Silvercivic27 View Post
Ok, sounds like you have made up your mind. Just go out and ride.
Lol, you're right. OP doesn't actually have a question. He/she already thinks HR data is not useful and giving specific examples to illustrate usefulness is not likely to make a difference. TTs, endurance rides, VO2max intervals, FTP tests- HR data is pretty vital to all of these scenarios IMO.
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Old 07-02-15, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by greenlight149 View Post
i do have both actually, and since getting a power meter i stopped using the HRM.

i did quite a bit of researching prior to purchasing the PM, and the general consensus is that heart rate can be variable depending on a number of factors, including temperature, hydration, caffeine.... many of which has nothing to do with the state of fitness, or fatigue. this leads me to think why would i trust the HRM over the PM to tell me i can push harder?
You make Heathpack's point exactly. Yes it's variable depending a number of physiological factors. If you don't care what your body's doing, then a HRM is not much use to you. But if you do care, it will tell you a lot of things about what's going on inside you, and might just give you a clue about why your power is falling off. For instance for a given power level, HR low, I eat. HR high, I drink. If you only go for short rides, probably doesn't matter. You go out for 6-10 hour rides and it matters all right. HR should track power. If it doesn't, something's up. Better find out what.
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Old 07-02-15, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by greenlight149 View Post
what if you take a couple of gels with caffeine, or use a electrolyte mix with caffeine, that will raise the heart rate by a couple beats, you can sustain the same power but the heart rate is higher than usual, so higher heart rate doesnt always mean you are going too hard.
I don't notice a normal amount of caffeine having an effect on HR vs. power. Maybe if you took 500 mg it would. I'd say if it does you're overdoing it, use less stimulant, it's not doing you any good. I suppose a HRM would be good for noticing that.

Personally, find that 2 beats makes quite a difference over a very long climb.
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Old 07-02-15, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
Lol, you're right. OP doesn't actually have a question. He/she already thinks HR data is not useful and giving specific examples to illustrate usefulness is not likely to make a difference. TTs, endurance rides, VO2max intervals, FTP tests- HR data is pretty vital to all of these scenarios IMO.
Didn't mean to come off like that. But I do want to learn about people's arguments for using a hrm because of what I read and learned from talking to other people seem to indicate that there's good reason to not use one, and good reasons to use one. I do see it's value when doing long rides and in hot weather, or a combination of both.
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Old 07-02-15, 11:54 PM
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I don't use power, but I find that HR is pretty useful for figuring out when something is wrong. When you're pushing yourself for extended periods of time, your ability to self assess drops dramatically. A couple times, I've seen my HR start plummeting. The first time this happened, I didn't realize I was in trouble and wound up passing out.
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Old 07-03-15, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by greenlight149 View Post
Didn't mean to come off like that. But I do want to learn about people's arguments for using a hrm because of what I read and learned from talking to other people seem to indicate that there's good reason to not use one, and good reasons to use one. I do see it's value when doing long rides and in hot weather, or a combination of both.
Absolutely the value is huge for long rides an hot weather, as I've described above. I'm mostly an endurance person and eventually will probably start to do more long endurance races. In preparing for these types of races, I am really pushing my body as hard as I dare for sometimes 10-13 hours at a time. HR data is invaluable for me, it really helps me assess hydration, nutrition, heat stress. But I don't only use the HRM on long, tough rides, I use it all the time, because the more HR numbers I see, the more I understand them. A great example is that I sent last week's data file to my coach, it was from a 209 mile ride that I rode at a pace which was 1mph faster than my previous effort. One of coach's assessments of the ride is: "12 hours in to the ride, you were still putting out great power with very little cardiac drift, tells us we are doing it right.". By which he meant our training plan, we're working on the right stuff. You know that by looking at power and HR.

I could give dozens of examples on shorter rides where something is going wrong and I'm able to figure it out. I did a race that ended with a 30 mile climb. The day was forecast to be hot. My ride strategy was to go out really hard early in the day when it was cooler and try to get past the first 7 miles of that final climb, which were at low altitude and therefore potentially hot, as early in the day as possible. In that first 50 miles, there was an off-road section and a steep long climb and I didn't eat enough in those sections because it was logistically difficult to. Then I get to the 30 mile climb and my power's down and HR normal. I'm able to figure out that the problem is calories and start eating more. I never really caught up but at least I knew what to do. And it was a lesson for next time. Something I could not figure out without the HRM.

I rode a 40 min FTP test and I'd never done one that long. I sent the data file to my coach with the comment that I didn't feel like I was going to puke at the end, maybe I didn't go hard enough. His response was "Nope, good test, based on your HR, you could not have gone harder."

I had a bad coach before I had this good one. I crashed my bike and took a pretty significant impact to my chest. I rode the next day, just an easy recovery ride, the type where HR isn't usually a metric of vital importance. I felt like crap on the ride, it was a huge struggle. Sent the coach my data file without really looking at it, it was just a recovery ride after all, and my comments about feeling crappy. Posted the ride to Strava where one of my friends commented, hey what's with the super-high HR? Yikes, saw my doctor because of the chest impact and had the heart checked out, I had something called a Blunt Cardiac Injury (which is no big deal). But I had suspected this coach was not really looking at my data and this file confirmed my suspicion, the coach never commented on it and I fired him and hired the new guy.

So the reason I would always go home for the HRM if I forgot it is that I get tons of info out of it. I prioritize any data type that is valuable to me and make sure I get a sense of how that data behaves in all scenarios. So I keep an eye on my HR data during even a short coffee shop ride with friends when probably the HR data will tell me nothing much, but I'm getting a feel for the numbers. My current coach is fabulous and we talk about HR relative to power frequently, so it's not just me thinking it's important.

Im not trying to convince you to wear your HRM, it's just hard for me to understand why anyone would argue its unimportant.
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Old 07-03-15, 09:08 AM
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I'm with Silvercivic27 and Heathpack on this; I can't imagine not having HR data alongside power data, nor can I imagine what a training regimen would look like or be doing without HR feedback to monitor physical response and adaptation.
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Old 07-03-15, 09:14 AM
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I feel naked without mine, even on commutes, where it's useful to keep from sweating.

As others point out, during rides with higher exertion and a PM, it will help you know if you can squeeze another few watts out, particularly for efforts above FTP.
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Old 07-03-15, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
I can't imagine not having HR data alongside power data, nor can I imagine what a training regimen would look like or be doing without HR feedback to monitor physical response and adaptation.
It's pretty simple, really. Once you learn to "read" your power and RPE (and you always have RPE with or without a power meter or a HRM) you train like always. Training is actually not a very demanding use of either a PM or a HRM so if that's all you're doing you can pretty easily get along without either.
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