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Heart Rate for Different Activities

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Heart Rate for Different Activities

Old 09-25-17, 07:42 AM
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Equinox
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Heart Rate for Different Activities

I've noticed that heart rate seems different for different activities. The first time I noticed it was when I was cross country skiing. My heart rate was quite a bit higher than when I was on my bike.
My wife is a runner primarily, but she doesn't usually wear a HRM. She has used one on our tandem and indoor training on Zwift.
So to boil it down, She's 62 and at an elite level of fitness. For her 5K yesterday, her average was 177bpm with a max of 186bpm.
She did a 18mile race on Zwift. Her average was 136bpm with a max of 165bpm and she told me she thought she was going to have a heart attack.
Why does this organ respond differently to different activities, ostensibly?
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Old 09-25-17, 10:30 AM
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Seattle Forrest
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Youíre not the only person to notice this. Garminís multi-sport computers (watches) are set up to have different maximum heart rates for running vs cycling.

When I run, my HR shoots up very high (160+ bpm), and stays there. Swimming tends to be in the 140-160 bpm range. Cycling and cross country skiing are all over the place, depending what Iím doing and how fast Iím trying to go.

I think a big part of it is that running just doesnít let up, you never get a break. You can slow down a little bit, but you canít stop. On a bike, you can coast, which is to say you can stop working and keep moving forward.

Running is essentially jumping from one foot to the other every step. They should be very small jumps, but both feet are off the ground for much of the time youíre running. Thatís a great deal of work. Your leg muscles have to exert a lot of power to run. For me, running at my typical pace requires more watts than I can sustain for an hour. On the other hand, almost every ride I do averages less than my FTP. Running is just harder, itís more work. As such, the muscles have greater oxygen demands, and that requires the heart to beat faster to supply oxygenated blood.
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Old 09-25-17, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Youíre not the only person to notice this. Garminís multi-sport computers (watches) are set up to have different maximum heart rates for running vs cycling.

When I run, my HR shoots up very high (160+ bpm), and stays there. Swimming tends to be in the 140-160 bpm range. Cycling and cross country skiing are all over the place, depending what Iím doing and how fast Iím trying to go.

I think a big part of it is that running just doesnít let up, you never get a break. You can slow down a little bit, but you canít stop. On a bike, you can coast, which is to say you can stop working and keep moving forward.

Running is essentially jumping from one foot to the other every step. They should be very small jumps, but both feet are off the ground for much of the time youíre running. Thatís a great deal of work. Your leg muscles have to exert a lot of power to run. For me, running at my typical pace requires more watts than I can sustain for an hour. On the other hand, almost every ride I do averages less than my FTP. Running is just harder, itís more work. As such, the muscles have greater oxygen demands, and that requires the heart to beat faster to supply oxygenated blood.
pretty much this. More muscles are activated thus more oxygen demand. FTP will be different between the two but max HR should be the same.
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Old 09-25-17, 07:31 PM
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Also, the concept really bothered me for a while. Your max heart rate should be the maximum your heart can beat at. It's a property of you, not of the sport you're doing, there should only be one value.

But that's not what it's about. The maximum heart rate that's attainable for any given exercise is just a thing for setting your zones. It's not like a scientific description of your body.
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Old 09-26-17, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Also, the concept really bothered me for a while. Your max heart rate should be the maximum your heart can beat at. It's a property of you, not of the sport you're doing, there should only be one value.

But that's not what it's about. The maximum heart rate that's attainable for any given exercise is just a thing for setting your zones. It's not like a scientific description of your body.
Agreed it is an organ with a defined limit. If I can get it up to 180 on skis, why does it only go up to 165 on the bike? The organ is capable of more and I could use that extra margin.
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Old 09-26-17, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
Agreed it is an organ with a defined limit. If I can get it up to 180 on skis, why does it only go up to 165 on the bike? The organ is capable of more and I could use that extra margin.
Your neuromuscular recruitment is lagging behind, or it is mental. You should be able to get to within 5bpm of your maximum HR. If you are talking lactate threshold then it is simply due to more muscles being involved requiring more blood volume while each individual muscle is not yet at its threshold aerobic capacity.
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Old 09-26-17, 12:43 PM
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Totally just a theoretical, but maybe its because her VO2 max is lower than the threshold of the body's ability to deliver nutrients to muscles? That is to say, since there are less muscle groups in cycling, the blood is delivering mostly just to those groups the max O2 that the legs can use and max nutrients, but the sum of the two is lower (than running for example).

When running, since there are more muscle groups, the O2 max is still the same, but more nutrients for muscles means more work for the heart.

If she felt one was significantly more than the other, its probably a lung/muscle burn question rather than heart.

Most endurance athletes notice a huge spike in heart rate when eating after exercise because the body is really pushing to replenish muscles.

Anyhow, just a thought.
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Old 09-26-17, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
Agreed it is an organ with a defined limit. If I can get it up to 180 on skis, why does it only go up to 165 on the bike? The organ is capable of more and I could use that extra margin.
Cross country skiing is a full body workout. That's (probably) why Nordic skiers consistently have the best VO2max ever measured among humans.

My car has the same top speed - whatever it is - on the freeway and on a gravel road. I just won't push as much on a bad road, so the engine doesn't run as hot. The same basic thing is happening in your body. On the bike, your oxygen requirements are lower.
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Old 09-26-17, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
If I can get it up to 180 on skis, why does it only go up to 165 on the bike?

Exercising in cold freezing weather will raise your heart rate because your body has to work a lot harder to keep warm and to keep blood circulating...An intense mountain biking during winter in very cold temps will raise your heart rate as much as XC skiing. I've spend many years bike commuting during winter and my heart has to work a lot harder during freezing cold, then when it's warm.
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