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No longer reaching HRmax

Old 06-03-20, 12:12 PM
  #1  
drewguy
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No longer reaching HRmax

The last couple of months riding (usually 3-4x/week, total of ~7-10 hours, probably a bit more frequent than usual) I haven't seen my HR get within 10 bpm of my max, and often not even within 15bpm. This is even on efforts (hills) that I've done before and I'd get close to HRmax. My speeds haven't dropped - still getting some PRs on strava and usually close anyway (within wind and naturally variability differences), both on flats and hills. I don't feel weak and my basic performance hasn't taken a hit so far as I can tell.

Thoughts? I get the possibility my fitness has improved (that's the goal!), but shouldn't I still be able to max out my fitness?

Background - late 40s, serious rec rider, HRmax set based on numerous observations.
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Old 06-03-20, 12:54 PM
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Bizarre!

Edit.... When I came in here earlier, there was no post from you. Just the title. A glitch of the forum software I guess.

Anyhow................

Have you simply gone out after warming up and then going full bore for till you can't anymore? Relying on the peaks you see on your rides is a poor way to determine max HR.

I don't reach my max HR of a few years ago either. Max HR doesn't really tell you how fit you are so put any thought of that out of your mind. The more fit I get, the less HR it takes me to do better times for efforts I used to be slower at and had a higher HR doing them.

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Old 06-03-20, 04:38 PM
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You're simply not going hard enough. Do a group ride and race up a hill. Or find a route with a fierce dog at the bottom of a hill.

You need proper motivating because your fitness is better and it's harder to hit max efforts. It's not that you can't, it's that you don't.

When I'm out of shape it doesn't take much to hit max hr. When I'm in shape I don't hit it unless it's a hotter day with a super-max effort at the end of a race. At that point motivation is pretty high.
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Old 06-03-20, 05:43 PM
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I used to get my maxHR every year on a 3000' local climb. I'd ride it zone 3 until I was ~55' from the top, then I\d take it up close to LTHR and hold that for 45', then I'd kick it up to anaerobic (panting hard) for 10' and then sprint into the parking lot, about 200 yards. No.1, I didn't die, no. 2, I'd see my maxHR, both good things. That's the only time all year I'd see that HR. I don't ride it that hard anymore.

All that BS said, never go by your maxHR, it's meaningless other than a check to see if you can kill yourself riding or not. Do a lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR) test and set your zones by that. That works pretty well as long as you understand the variations you'll see in HR.
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Old 06-04-20, 08:30 AM
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Max HR is a one and done almost kind of thing.

Warmup, solid VO2 2 to 3min effort.........then literally sprint for the line last 30sec of the effort. Pull over to curb/side of road.........vomit, catch breath.

Max HR is NOT what your HR shows while just doing an "everyday" VO2 effort.
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Old 06-04-20, 03:05 PM
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Try running.
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Old 06-04-20, 10:51 PM
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To get to a high heart rate, I need something to amp me up.

Motor work at the track can do it - fixed gear, no brakes, high cadence. As I remember, this was 8 laps alternating 2 on the motor and two leading the motor. It was the final two leading the motor that generates the max HR. I think these were 18 second laps on the 250 meter track or 31-32 mph. The goal was not to generate a max HR but knock out fast lap times

I probably hit 185 during this drill at age 70. If we would have gone faster, my HR would be the same but I would have to produce more power.

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Old 06-05-20, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Try running.
A seasoned cyclist will have more engine available in the heart and lungs than running legs and injure themselves before they likely achieve anything.

My running threshold HR is about 5bpm slower than my cycling one. Not enough run hours to have the legs built up to use the engine.
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Old 06-11-20, 12:41 PM
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I'm having exactly the same symptoms. I always reached an HR around 170 - 175 on most of my rides, and now it seems that 165 is like a wall. Really difficult to go higher than that even with my legs burning and going out of breath. I'm not slower than before, but I don't understand why this is happening.
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Old 06-11-20, 12:57 PM
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It's still not max HR that you attain that indicates how well you perform. It's more likely you are either riding too much for your level of fitness or perhaps you just aren't riding enough to even have a good level of cardio vascular fitness. So it can go either way.

As for high HR, I was taking Adderall for a year or so and it increased my HR by ten or more BPM, both for the peaks I hit during extreme exertion and for what I was doing at lesser efforts. What I noted and one the the reasons I quit taking it was that my heart didn't feel like it was pumping a full volume of blood and none of my performance data was as good as previous years before I started taking it.

After I quit and got it out of my system, my heart felt like it was again pumping a full stroke and volume of blood and my numbers for efforts were much better with lower HR beats.

So stop thinking how high your HR can go means anything. How much blood your heart can pump means more than how fast your heart can beat. We just don't have a good way of measuring volume of blood pumped.
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Old 06-11-20, 01:32 PM
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I'm not trying to use HR max as some measure of fitness. I know it's genetic. And in terms of fitness I'm cycling more than I did last year. The question I had is figuring out why when I was at maximum exertion last year, I'd hit peak HR that's about 10-15 higher than when I hit maximum exertion now. And I could ask the same question regardless of whether that peak HR was truly my max, although based on lengthy observation plus seeing it at what I consider my max HR for both running and cycling, I consider it to be pretty good number.
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Old 06-11-20, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by drewguy View Post
I'm not trying to use HR max as some measure of fitness. I know it's genetic. And in terms of fitness I'm cycling more than I did last year. The question I had is figuring out why when I was at maximum exertion last year, I'd hit peak HR that's about 10-15 higher than when I hit maximum exertion now. And I could ask the same question regardless of whether that peak HR was truly my max, although based on lengthy observation plus seeing it at what I consider my max HR for both running and cycling, I consider it to be pretty good number.
It's a terminology thing. When you say maxHR, it seems you don't really mean that, you seem to mean the highest HR you might see on a regular basis, not the one when you see Moses just before everything almost goes black.

HR is much more difficult to use than power as a cycling metric. Not that it's a bad thing, but it's more complicated in that it contains a lot more information than does power. It can vary at the same power by quite a bit, from hour to hour, day to day, month to month, and year to year. One way to get a handle on this is to go by breathing, watching what your HR is doing at various breathing levels, and getting information from that.

OK, so why does HR vary, which might be the subject of your post? HR drops as blood volume increases and vice versa. Blood volume rises with training, and fairly quickly, in weeks (I think). Ventricle wall thickness increases with training, which increases stroke volume, which decreases HR at the same effort. The athlete also usually notices this in a decrease in morning resting HR. This happens over a period of years. During a ride, HR will vary with hydration and blood sugar. Dehydration increases it, low blood sugar drops it.

A good way to understand HR variation at the same effort is to track oxygen consumption, which does not vary to the same extent with effort (power). One tracks oxygen use by monitoring breathing rate and depth. Look up VT1 and VT2 - I don't want to do all that typing. IOW notice HR, but go more by breathing to estimate current output.

So you can't use HR as a measure of fitness. Use VAM for that, or sustainable speed in still air. HR doesn't contain that information. You can always take the shortcut and buy a PM. One thing which riders new to training notice right off is how high their HR gets the first season and how quickly it comes up. If they keep training that changes fairly drastically. When I start a run, it takes over a mile before my HR comes up to cruising level. Before that, I go by breathing, and after that it's useful to note variations on climbs and descents, not as absolute numbers, but compared to my cruising HR at my desired breathing rate. Cycling is similar, except that I takes me more like an hour to really warm up.
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Old 06-12-20, 01:38 PM
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Simply put, as your cardio vascular health improves, you won't have to have as fast a heartbeat to do the same or even more work. Your heart pumps more volume so it doesn't have to beat near as fast.

Are you truly doing a max effort long enough to get your heart rate up. Did you wait too long in the ride before making that max effort and simply didn't have the energy to get there.

Simply seeing spikes on yours rides really doesn't tell you what your max HR is. And basing anything one them without knowing a lot of other data both historic and current is better left to a cardiologist.
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Old 06-12-20, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
A seasoned cyclist will have more engine available in the heart and lungs than running legs and injure themselves before they likely achieve anything.

My running threshold HR is about 5bpm slower than my cycling one. Not enough run hours to have the legs built up to use the engine.
LOL, I can ride 100 miles @ 90F with an average HR in the 140-150 range (80-85% theoretical max for my age) but I couldn't run 2 miles if I had to in any temperature at any HR. I might actually complete 2 miles but won't be doing anything for a few days after that including walking.

On that note.. I supplement my exercise with weights and cardio on an elliptical. I can get to any HR I desire on the elliptical and I can get there fast or ramped and and can maintain a rate steady (within reason) or via intervals.

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Old 06-13-20, 02:59 PM
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You're not on any medication right? Like beta blockers.
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Old 06-14-20, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Amt0571 View Post
I'm having exactly the same symptoms. I always reached an HR around 170 - 175 on most of my rides

This isn't a very sound way to build fitness. Hitting near max hr on every ride is a recipe for stagnation and burnout. Some rides easy, some rides hard works a lot better for the long term.
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Old 06-14-20, 06:59 PM
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your system is becoming more efficient?
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Old 06-14-20, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
This isn't a very sound way to build fitness. Hitting near max hr on every ride is a recipe for stagnation and burnout. Some rides easy, some rides hard works a lot better for the long term.
I'm not saying that I keep at max hr for any length of time. I't's more a momentary thing. There are some steep or technical climbs on my mountain bike that I can't control my HR, it either goes up or I have to stop and walk.

In any case, I can go up to 185 and I usually don't go higher than 175, so I don't really reach my max HR on all rides. However, as I said, lately I'm finding it hard to go over 165 which is what "worries" me.
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Old 06-15-20, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Amt0571 View Post
.............. However, as I said, lately I'm finding it hard to go over 165 which is what "worries" me.
Possibly you might be riding too hard too much. Either rest some more or tone down the efforts of your rides for a while. But without knowing a lot of history about you and what you've been doing recently who here can say?

A cardiologist at least could tell you if it is or isn't a physical thing that needs attention. If you are over 50 then it's probably time to pick one. Even if you don't need one right this moment, then they'll at least have some baseline historical information when you do really need one.

Oh..... I highly recommend you shave your chest hair very short if you do see a cardiologist.
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Old 06-15-20, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Possibly you might be riding too hard too much. Either rest some more or tone down the efforts of your rides for a while. But without knowing a lot of history about you and what you've been doing recently who here can say?

A cardiologist at least could tell you if it is or isn't a physical thing that needs attention. If you are over 50 then it's probably time to pick one. Even if you don't need one right this moment, then they'll at least have some baseline historical information when you do really need one.

Oh..... I highly recommend you shave your chest hair very short if you do see a cardiologist.
I'm 35. I'd love to ride more, but unfortunately I'm only riding for 5 hours a week as I have to take care of my 3y/o son while my wife works, and I'm also teleworking.

Before covid forced me to telework I rode between 6 and 9 hours per week and didn't have this issue.

Tomorrow, if weather allows, I'll be riding again and I'll keep an eye on this.
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Old 06-15-20, 01:28 PM
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I don't think it's that strange. I can't hit my max HR either, even following the guidelines you see everywhere. Warm up, gradually increase hr by 5 beats, hit the hill hard, repeat, that whole drill. I see higher heart rates after long efforts, or a 3 or 4 mile aerobic run.

That's not a medical problem or poor conditioning either. My theory, and it's just a theory based on the experiment of me, is that (at over 60 years old) it takes longer for my heart to respond to effort levels, so I redline my aerobic system before the heart catches up, then I'm out of gas before seeing the max HR.

If so the solution might be to ramp up more gradually. I don't have the patience for it since I don't use that number for much anyway, but it's worth a shot.
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Old 06-16-20, 04:58 AM
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Today I had time to ride again. It seems everything is back to normal. I went higher than usual, in fact. I hit 179bpm in a really steep technical climb with loose rocks.
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Old 06-17-20, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Amt0571 View Post
I hit 179bpm in a really steep technical climb with loose rocks.
Max HR for fright is probably different than cycling HR which is different than running HR. <GRIN>
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Old 06-17-20, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Max HR for fright is probably different than cycling HR which is different than running HR. <GRIN>
Fright would have something to do with it if I was descending, not ascending
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Old 06-17-20, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Max HR for fright is probably different than cycling HR which is different than running HR. <GRIN>
An unleashed dog in a bad mood says you're right.
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