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Heart Rate Monitor- A Necessity?

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Heart Rate Monitor- A Necessity?

Old 05-25-06, 02:53 PM
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kirkcubs
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Heart Rate Monitor- A Necessity?

Background- Iíve been seriously riding for a little under a year (and love it!) about 4-5 times a week, 25-35 miles per good ride at about 15-18mph av.
Performance has what seems to be quite a deal on a heart rate monitor CLICK HERE and I was wondering if it was worth my while. Yes I want to improve but the main ingredient to that is just plain olí getting out there and riding- at my level would this be worth it? Or is it something that Iíll need after two or three more years of experience?
Thanks!
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Old 05-25-06, 02:57 PM
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A HRM is absolutely a necessity if you are doing heartrate-based training. Your question is really whether that is a necessity, and the answer is "it depends". A heartrate-based training program can be very beneficial, particularly if you are training for a specific event. But it is not necessarily going to be any better (or worse) than just getting out there and doing *something* if your goal is just to ride, with no particular training goal in mind.
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Old 05-25-06, 03:03 PM
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Great tool, but not necessary. As 'nother says, if you use one, you need to train with it to get any benefit. Determine your reasting and max HR, your current LT, and work to improve your LT and resting. An HRM can be a great way to tell you when your intervals aren't hard enough or when it's time to limp home.

One of the best ways to advance fitness is to consistenly do sprints and intervals once/week.
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Old 05-25-06, 03:06 PM
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So what if I want to enter a race (and do decently well) within the next year or so? Shoud I integrate this into my program? Oh, and is this a good deal on a HRM?
Thanks again.
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Old 05-25-06, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by kirkcubs
So what if I want to enter a race (and do decently well) within the next year or so? Shoud I integrate this into my program? Oh, and is this a good deal on a HRM?
Thanks again.
yes, and yes. Take the money you save on the cheap HRM, and buy a book by Joel Friel or Chris Carmichael.
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Old 05-25-06, 03:12 PM
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I used to ride without an HRM when I started doing centuries. I went completely by feel. When the workload began to feel "very hard", I backed off a few notches and then that was the level I rode at for the event. Most of my training was just doing group rides and trying to keep up with the faster people. After that I took a few years off (2) and then started serious training again last spring. I got an HRM so I could be more efficient with my training by knowing what zone I was in, how much time I was spending there, etc. For directed training an HRM is very useful particularly when you are trying to fit your workouts into an already very busy schedule.

These days I complement the HRM with a powertap so I can look at the actual work I did in Watts and compare with with my bodies' response (HR). These are expensive so I wouldn't both with one until you've done serious training/racing and know you want to stick with it. The HRM however would be a good idea.
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Old 05-25-06, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by kirkcubs
So what if I want to enter a race (and do decently well) within the next year or so? Shoud I integrate this into my program? Oh, and is this a good deal on a HRM?
Thanks again.
Yes, and maybe (a "good deal" may turn out to be not-so-good if it's of poor quality -- I would stick with Polar, personally -- they are the leader in quality HRMs).

There's a book you might want to check out called "the Heart Rate Zone Training Book for Indoor and Outdoor Cyclists" by Sally Edwards and Sally Reed. Numerous other programs, etc. available, search around a little bit.
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Old 05-25-06, 03:23 PM
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I got a HRM really cheap a few weeks ago. $10 for a $45 HRM. I have done several centuries, and do fairly agressive group rides. I am using the basic 220-age for max HR. I got it just to see how hard I was pushing myself. What I have found is that I go above max pretty frequently during fast group rides and when on the trainer. What are the general guidelines on exceeding max HR? Am I going to drop dead?
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Old 05-25-06, 03:26 PM
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Nothing is ever truly a necessity, but I have found that having an HRM this season really helped me develop smarter training habits, and by controlling the intensity of my rides and focusing on rhythm and HR rather than speed, I find myself riding faster longer than without my HRM.

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Old 05-25-06, 03:27 PM
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YES!

Kirk.....Your description of where you are at sounds a lot like me.

I started using a HRM this season per the guy who coaches me. Best thing I have ever done.

Figure out your max HR, then structure your workout rides based on % of max HR, combined with cadence.

I used to worry about ave. speed, not any more. It's all about two numbers: Cadence and keep those beeps off on the HR monitor, meaning you are not too high or too low. It works!
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Old 05-25-06, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Avalanche325
What are the general guidelines on exceeding max HR? Am I going to drop dead?
First, if you're "exceeding max HR," then whatever your HR is becomes your Max HR. A HR measured in the field trumps the 220-age number. For instance, my 220-age max is 191, but I've hit 195 on the road.

Second, spending too much time at max HR isn't necessarily dangerous, but it does lead to overtraining and early bonking/exhaustion. Personally, I only approach max HR during races or my 1-2 training sessions A MONTH when I'm doing max-intensity intervals. Otherwise I avoid it.

If you find yourself jumping up to max HR regularly, it probably means that you need to improve your aerobic fitness to prevent so many efforts from sending you above anaerobic threshold. I always plug www.polarcyclingcoach.com for some good HR-based programs for improving overall fitness or prepping for an event. It's free and you don't need to own a Polar HRM.

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Old 05-25-06, 03:44 PM
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I have done several centuries, and do fairly agressive group rides. I am using the basic 220-age for max HR.
Really need to stop using this worthless formula. What DrPete said.
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Old 05-25-06, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by DrPete
First, if you're "exceeding max HR," then whatever your HR is becomes your Max HR. A HR measured in the field trumps the 220-age number. For instance, my 220-age max is 191, but I've hit 195 on the road.

Second, spending too much time at max HR isn't necessarily dangerous, but it does lead to overtraining and early bonking/exhaustion. Personally, I only approach max HR during races or my 1-2 training sessions A MONTH when I'm doing max-intensity intervals. Otherwise I avoid it.

If you find yourself jumping up to max HR regularly, it probably means that you need to improve your aerobic fitness to prevent so many efforts from sending you above anaerobic threshold. I always plug www.polarcyclingcoach.com for some good HR-based programs for improving overall fitness or prepping for an event. It's free and you don't need to own a Polar HRM.

DrPete
Right, by definition you cannot exceed your max HR. Also by definition if you are regularly hitting maxHR and you are not grimacing in agony, that is not your true max HR. The book I mentioned above details several techniques to determine your max HR on your own (none of them involves subtracting your age from another number ).
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Old 05-25-06, 03:53 PM
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A necessity is a strong word. Possibly a necessity should you be seriously training for some serious riding. Sometimes, it tells you the obvious. Once climbing a mountain after a lousy lunch, could see why my head felt like it was going to explode. My heart rate was 90%.
The nice thing that makes one warm of fuzzy. Do the same difficult climb a couple of times. When that heart rate is 25% less the third time around. You see your actual progress.
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Old 05-25-06, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Avalanche325
I got a HRM really cheap a few weeks ago. $10 for a $45 HRM. I have done several centuries, and do fairly agressive group rides. I am using the basic 220-age for max HR. I got it just to see how hard I was pushing myself. What I have found is that I go above max pretty frequently during fast group rides and when on the trainer. What are the general guidelines on exceeding max HR? Am I going to drop dead?
We're all going to drop dead.

For base aerobic capacity, you can't be working out too hard. Different systems decide on that heart rate (Carmichael uses 85% of the average HR on two 3 mile TTs, for example), but the goal is to spend the bulk of your time below that range. And you can be well under that range - my endurance ride HR under carmichael is 80-142. I tend to spend most of my endurance ride time at about 120 BPM. I do do harder efforts, usually in intervals, but not the suffer-fest that is the typical group ride.

The idea is to do specific work targetted towards specific energy systems.

My advice? Get one of the books that talk about this approach (Ultimate ride is one), do whatever test they prescribe, and then figure out your ranges. At that point, you can decide what approach you want to follow.

My personal feeling is that I agree with the philosophy that the idea is to provide enough stress to force the adaptation that you want (but not too much), and then allow recovery time for the body to improve.
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Old 05-25-06, 05:25 PM
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Alejandro Valverde doesn't use one.
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Old 05-25-06, 08:04 PM
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If you're riding for fun, there is no need.
If you're riding as training to race or for specific fitness goals, go buy a decent HRM.

I'm new to racing and training this year (a few years goofing off on the bike) and I wear one on every ride. Sometimes I use it for specific training intervals, other times I ignore it. It is useful when you use it to judge your ride. Useless when you don't pay attention.
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Old 05-25-06, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by DXchulo
Alejandro Valverde doesn't use one.
Why would any pros when they can get SRM equipped bikes.
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Old 05-25-06, 11:28 PM
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If you want to use a HRM to improve racing, there are models that allow you to record an entire workout (or race) and analyze the information later, sometimes even on a graph if you can get a hold of an interface. My trainer did that so I could see where I was blowing up or slacking off on rides and races.
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Old 05-26-06, 04:44 AM
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HRMs are useful if:

1. you "train" vs. "ride"

2. you are familiar with heart-rate training principles and you train according to same

3. you have a specific training plan

4. you collect, log, and periodically analyze the data provided by your HRM, and adjust your training plan accordingly.

Otherwise, it's just another toy. Remember, HRMs are a relatively recent technology. Superbly trained elite athletes in many disciplines, including cycling, have set world records, many of which still stand, without the use of HRMs.

So, to answer your question in a word: "No".

Bob
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Old 05-26-06, 05:29 AM
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I use my HRM to pace myself on long rides. It helps to keep me from pushing too hard at the beginning.
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Old 06-01-06, 10:05 AM
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Thanks for the replies to my question. I'll have to do some reading and figure out my true max and then do my calculations from there.
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Old 06-01-06, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Avalanche325
Thanks for the replies to my question. I'll have to do some reading and figure out my true max and then do my calculations from there.

Actually better off figuring out your HR at lactate threshold (alternatively expressed as HR at functiional threshold). Then base your training zones off of that.
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Old 06-01-06, 11:40 AM
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i rarely use one anymore. after a while i just got a feeling of how hard i was riding. every once in a while i'll do a personal time trial with the HRM to see if my LT level has changed at all.

i actually increased it from 165bpm last summer to 170bpm now.
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Old 06-01-06, 11:48 AM
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monitor

Hey,
Good advice here and varied. I think the more you know what you are trying to accomplish the clearer you can be on whether a monitor would be helpful to you. If you are going to seriously race than a monitor is likely to be very helpfull. It can be used just as a standard bike computer to provide additional motivation and feedback on training. It can also be a royal pain in the ass and tell you what you already know. If you are honest with yourself you kindof know how hard you push on a given ride. Some people are naturally aggressive and push hard without outside incentive. The rest of us need something to keep us motivated. I use hills. I will not get off the bike and keep going no matter what until I summit. Sometimes I use ave speed over a set course. I had a heart rate monitor in the past and it simply told me at what rate I couldn't stay on the bike(180) and at what rate I felt like I was going to puke, but could keep going(170). And how long it took to feeling human(120). If you are stapped for cash you can get 90% of the info you need by counting your pulse. Usually don't need to feel for the pulse when you are hammering. Chest should thump hard enough that you can count without actually feeling pulse. Good luck whatever your decision. Frogge.
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