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Heart Rate Ranges Changing

Old 10-24-20, 05:27 PM
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Heart Rate Ranges Changing

Something strange has happened to my entire Heart Rate range, all the zones. EVERYTHING has moved 5 or more beats lower, just since July - RHR, LT, and maybe MaxHR.

Let me preface this by saying I'm 62, almost 63 years old. For years, I've been riding between 900 and 1500 miles a year, and weighing between 220 and 235 - lower toward the end of summer. My RHR has been between 48 and 52, with lactate threshold somewhere around 163-165 - the point where I need to really almost pant, and I could push my HR above 175 with a bit of work. As recently as a year or so I could hit 180bpm if I really, really pushed at the end of a climb. That's how it was as recently as July.

Since June, I've lost 20 lbs, now down to 207, largely due to riding more and ruthlessly cataloging calories. I'm logging about 100 miles a week, I'm over 2100 miles for 2020 with a couple months more riding to go, and every ride I get a handful of PRs on Strava segments I've ridden as many as 300 times, including ones as long as 7 miles. I feel faster, stronger, more endurance, and way more ability to turn up the power* even when pushing hard. (I don't have a power meter, so this is all based on speed and heart rate on the same segments I've ridden up to 300 time on Strava).

Just in the last couple months, my RHR has dropped to the 41-43 bpm range, and my LT seems to be somewhere around 159, and I can get my HR over 165 only with extreme effort. BUT, it's not like I'm running out of gas at a lower HR. No, just the opposite - I'm putting out a lot MORE power at a much LOWER HR.

This has made a hash of all my HR zones, of course, but what is going on? If it were just the lower RHR and more power at the same HR, that wouldn't bother me, but my LT dropping from 164 down to 159 just seems odd. I don't assume it's anything to get worried about since I'm feeling great and going significantly faster and farther than I had been. Still, has anyone else experienced anything like this?
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Old 10-24-20, 06:22 PM
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You're normal. This is what happens, both due to training and aging, but in your case it's mostly training. Due to your increased training load, your aerobic system has become more efficient and your ejection fraction larger. Thus your HR is lower and your power is up, both. You're seeing what everyone wants to see. Try 5000 miles/year. That's only about 100 miles/week, what you're doing now, but year 'round. You'll see even greater gains. I find a reasonable max training load for me, where there's not a lot gain to be had from more hours, to be ~10 hours/week.

Like everyone on here told me, it's time to get a power meter. You can ebay a used hub, just be sure that it has the right number of holes and that it's an ANT+ wireless unit. Riders are moving away from hubs and to pedal or crank based systems, so hubs and complete wheels are available.

The PM gets rid of that uncertainly as physiological changes will keep happening. Until then, set up new zones off your new lactate threshold. No big deal.
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Old 10-24-20, 06:47 PM
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This is the first time that my LT ever moved, though, including the year I did 3500 miles, riding 120-160 miles a week. It stayed the same for decades, just became easier or harder to maintain as my fitness waxed and waned. Also, never had an RHR lower than 46, so imagine my surprise when I recorded a 41!
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Old 10-25-20, 11:36 AM
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Are you experiencing less performance for the same activity or segment of that activity? Remember that as your cardio vascular system gets better, you won't need as much HR to get you up a hill as you did when you started out measuring this stuff.

If you aren't actually going out and doing a lactate threshold test for 20 minutes or whatever higher, then I'd be leery of what the LTHR calculated from data points of activities where we aren't trying to go all out.
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Old 10-26-20, 11:50 AM
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I would expect the max HR to come down as you age. Not as you gain aerobic fitness. Gains in aerobic fitness realized by an increase in overall volume would explain resting and "zone" HR's to be "lower".

I put lower in quotes as once you realize aerobic gains, you can do the teeth gritting work to raise the actual physical power up utilizing that hard worked-for aerobic gain.

I dunno......imagine one task is building the house up.........the other is fitting it out or putting the furniture in it. Only so much of one of those makes sense without also doing a proper amount of the other.
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Old 10-26-20, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Just in the last couple months, my RHR has dropped to the 41-43 bpm range, and my LT seems to be somewhere around 159, and I can get my HR over 165 only with extreme effort. BUT, it's not like I'm running out of gas at a lower HR. No, just the opposite - I'm putting out a lot MORE power at a much LOWER HR.
Sounds like you're getting fitter and stronger, capable of greater output without as much challenge to the body. Sounds like a good thing.

After all, even though you're 63yrs of age, you're putting in more than 60% greater mileage, and you're working harder at it. It wouldn't be a surprise to see some of the changes you've been having. Lower resting HR, lower max HR at a given level of effort (even higher effort), faster times, greater power and strength, improved recovery ability, etc.

Lucky you!


Given your age, definitely bring up these things at your next appointment with your general doctor. We do generally slow down as we age, in terms of our cardiovascular systems. But I don't imagine it's much to worry about. Some of it's probably age-related slowing; though the training you've been doing probably explains the rest of the "positive" gains.

Time to re-do those mileage/heartrate charts and expectations. I bet everyone wishes for such a problem.
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Old 10-26-20, 12:31 PM
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Okay, so just to be clear, I've been riding varying amounts, at varying levels of intensity and fitness for about 25 years, and for a lot of that time I was using an HRM. I have been fitter than this, and lighter than this, but the whole time, RHR and LT stayed in their same respective ranges - yes, it wasn't an official LT, but rather the "can't talk" point, where you switch from deep regular breathing to rapid breathing. Since I've used that criterion for decades, it makes sense to continue using it for LT. I have experienced big fitness gains before, and what happened was some lowering of RHR, more speed at the same HR, and the ability to sustain effort at higher HRs for longer

So, I know about changes in HR that come with fitness. What I'm saying is this is qualitatively different. I'm not complaining, because I'm going faster than I have in years, which I ascribe to losing 20 lbs, putting in more time on the bike, and pushing harder while I'm on it. It's just a strange thing I haven't experienced in all the time I've been riding. Honestly it feels as if it would be a lot harder to reach, say 174bpm than it was even just 4 months ago, but I'm going faster at 164 than I was at 174. The other thing about this shift in HR zones is that it leaves me going almost entirely by perceived exertion.
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Old 10-26-20, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
Sounds like you're getting fitter and stronger, capable of greater output without as much challenge to the body. Sounds like a good thing.

After all, even though you're 63yrs of age, you're putting in more than 60% greater mileage, and you're working harder at it. It wouldn't be a surprise to see some of the changes you've been having. Lower resting HR, lower max HR at a given level of effort (even higher effort), faster times, greater power and strength, improved recovery ability, etc.

Lucky you!


Given your age, definitely bring up these things at your next appointment with your general doctor. We do generally slow down as we age, in terms of our cardiovascular systems. But I don't imagine it's much to worry about. Some of it's probably age-related slowing; though the training you've been doing probably explains the rest of the "positive" gains.

Time to re-do those mileage/heartrate charts and expectations. I bet everyone wishes for such a problem.
I don't recommend going about it the way I did - by becoming fat and lazy and having to overcome it!
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Old 10-28-20, 08:12 AM
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If you take medication, has any of them been changed or has there been any dosage modifications? BP meds will do this.
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Old 10-31-20, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
If you take medication, has any of them been changed or has there been any dosage modifications? BP meds will do this.
Nope. I am on BP meds, but they haven't changed in a couple years. And I'm religious about taking them, missing no more than 1 day a month or so. (I use a pill organizer to make sure)

Yesterday's ride provided me some a chance to look at real data. According to Strava, I've ridden this exact 19.8 mile route 6 times in the last 12 months. I put together the matched rides, and made a table of average and maximum HR and speed


Compare the 2 rides in October 19 with the equivalent two rides in October 20 is pretty stark. Well over 1 mph faster average speed, and average HR 15-20 bpm LOWER. Plus, in the November ride, I hit 180bpm at least twice - I was really pushing since I knew it was the last postwork ride of the year. Same thing for the ride yesterday - last post-work outdoor ride before timechange, so I pushed really hard, and I was a LOT faster. But my HR maxed out at 166. And comparing my best 2020 effort with my best 2019 effort, my average HR is 21 bpm LOWER

I probably weighed the same (~225) last year as I did in July. I have lost 20 lbs since July - 207 now (calorie counting and riding), and increased riding from maybe 45miles/week up to 90-110 (depending). So, the increase in speed doesn't surprise me THAT much. But combined with the DECREASE in HR I'm a little mystified. Still, I feel great, sleep well, eat well, etc. so I'm not thinking there's something nefarious going on.

Again, not complaining, just really curious. I'm a scientist, so unexplained observations always intrigue me.
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Old 10-31-20, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
If you take medication, has any of them been changed or has there been any dosage modifications? BP meds will do this.
Also, I'm on Lisinopril and HCTZ, not beta blockers.
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Old 10-31-20, 02:02 PM
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Since you were over 1 mph faster on the recent rides with less average HR. I'd put more to the idea your cardio vascular system is in much better shape and your heart pumping a larger volume of blood each beat.

If your average speed for the same HR was declining, then you might worry, but it's probably not because of your max HR declining. If it is, you'll probably be 15 or 20 years older than your are now.
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Old 10-31-20, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Since you were over 1 mph faster on the recent rides with less average HR. I'd put more to the idea your cardio vascular system is in much better shape and your heart pumping a larger volume of blood each beat.

If your average speed for the same HR was declining, then you might worry, but it's probably not because of your max HR declining. If it is, you'll probably be 15 or 20 years older than your are now.
So, like when I'm 80.
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Old 10-31-20, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
So, like when I'm 80.
That's what I'm hoping for me!

Don't think I don't take your post seriously though. I kind of think it's humorously bizarre that just after I was wondering the same about my max HR and other HR values possibly starting to show signs of not being what they once were that you and various others post essentially the same thing.

It's a given that max HR drops for the various age groups as one gets older. So at some point that HR will get low enough that it will impact your speed and performance. And since it is a given, I don't care to worry about it or dwell on it because it's one of those things that is what it is.

I hope by continuing to do cardio type exercise that I can stave that off for a time as I don't know any study that says for a particular individual doing regular exercise that it decreases steadily at a prescribed rate.

So eighty will be just about right. That'll make me happy if I go that long.
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Old 10-31-20, 05:18 PM
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My biggest concern now is keeping these gains and losses - fitness gain, weight loss - as we go through a couple months of the Food Holidays and ever-shorter daylight hours!
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Old 10-31-20, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Nope. I am on BP meds, but they haven't changed in a couple years. And I'm religious about taking them, missing no more than 1 day a month or so. (I use a pill organizer to make sure)

Yesterday's ride provided me some a chance to look at real data. According to Strava, I've ridden this exact 19.8 mile route 6 times in the last 12 months. I put together the matched rides, and made a table of average and maximum HR and speed


Compare the 2 rides in October 19 with the equivalent two rides in October 20 is pretty stark. Well over 1 mph faster average speed, and average HR 15-20 bpm LOWER. Plus, in the November ride, I hit 180bpm at least twice - I was really pushing since I knew it was the last postwork ride of the year. Same thing for the ride yesterday - last post-work outdoor ride before timechange, so I pushed really hard, and I was a LOT faster. But my HR maxed out at 166. And comparing my best 2020 effort with my best 2019 effort, my average HR is 21 bpm LOWER

I probably weighed the same (~225) last year as I did in July. I have lost 20 lbs since July - 207 now (calorie counting and riding), and increased riding from maybe 45miles/week up to 90-110 (depending). So, the increase in speed doesn't surprise me THAT much. But combined with the DECREASE in HR I'm a little mystified. Still, I feel great, sleep well, eat well, etc. so I'm not thinking there's something nefarious going on.

Again, not complaining, just really curious. I'm a scientist, so unexplained observations always intrigue me.
High HR diminishing with age- your experience?
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Old 10-31-20, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Hey, that's great! Thanks! I'll go read there. Good to know I'm not crazy, or at least if I am, I'm not alone.
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Old 11-02-20, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Nope. I am on BP meds, but they haven't changed in a couple years. And I'm religious about taking them, missing no more than 1 day a month or so. (I use a pill organizer to make sure)

Yesterday's ride provided me some a chance to look at real data. According to Strava, I've ridden this exact 19.8 mile route 6 times in the last 12 months. I put together the matched rides, and made a table of average and maximum HR and speed


Compare the 2 rides in October 19 with the equivalent two rides in October 20 is pretty stark. Well over 1 mph faster average speed, and average HR 15-20 bpm LOWER. Plus, in the November ride, I hit 180bpm at least twice - I was really pushing since I knew it was the last postwork ride of the year. Same thing for the ride yesterday - last post-work outdoor ride before timechange, so I pushed really hard, and I was a LOT faster. But my HR maxed out at 166. And comparing my best 2020 effort with my best 2019 effort, my average HR is 21 bpm LOWER

I probably weighed the same (~225) last year as I did in July. I have lost 20 lbs since July - 207 now (calorie counting and riding), and increased riding from maybe 45miles/week up to 90-110 (depending). So, the increase in speed doesn't surprise me THAT much. But combined with the DECREASE in HR I'm a little mystified. Still, I feel great, sleep well, eat well, etc. so I'm not thinking there's something nefarious going on.

Again, not complaining, just really curious. I'm a scientist, so unexplained observations always intrigue me.
I think some of it can be attributed to your weight loss and increased fitness. But I do not think you can draw any conclusions just based off HR and speed. There is way too many variables that can impact that data. Hydration, what did you eat and when, How rested you were, Wind, Temp, etc...
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Old 11-02-20, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
I think some of it can be attributed to your weight loss and increased fitness. But I do not think you can draw any conclusions just based off HR and speed. There is way too many variables that can impact that data. Hydration, what did you eat and when, How rested you were, Wind, Temp, etc...
Within the table, yes. But the table is only an example, and I've got 25 years of observations of heart rate, perceived effort, etc. I've also been lighter than this and fitter than this, sometimes at the same time. But the apparent changes in HR zones etc. are new to me. Even this summer, I was hitting HRs in the ranges I'm used to, but now that seems really difficult. BUT, because I'm much faster at the same HR, I'm not complaining!
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Old 11-02-20, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Within the table, yes. But the table is only an example, and I've got 25 years of observations of heart rate, perceived effort, etc. I've also been lighter than this and fitter than this, sometimes at the same time. But the apparent changes in HR zones etc. are new to me. Even this summer, I was hitting HRs in the ranges I'm used to, but now that seems really difficult. BUT, because I'm much faster at the same HR, I'm not complaining!
Sounds like a Power Meter is in your future Then you would know for sure in the effort department.
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Old 11-02-20, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by jadocs View Post
Sounds like a Power Meter is in your future Then you would know for sure in the effort department.
Ha! Not likely. Too many bikes to outfit. I keep all 4 of my bikes ready to ride, based on what I want to ride that day. I keep speed and cadence sensors on each, so all I have to do is move the Garmin, the lights, and the saddle bag and hit the road. 4 power meters is just nuts.
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Old 11-02-20, 12:54 PM
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Here's another example - the climb I did yesterday. It's a little over 3 miles, 8% average grade. For years, I'd do it in somewhere between 25 and 30 minutes, with my heart rate rising quickly up to about 165, with occasional peaks up to as much as 185 on the steepest pitches. This was when I was both fitter and lighter, as well as about 15-20 years younger.

Yesterday, I did it in 27:45, so about middle of that range. Average HR was 149, and max was 160. So, speed in the same range, but the HR ranges are just completely different.

EDIT: It FELT the same as it used to when I was doing it in the 160-180 range, right down to how it feels going around the 20% switchback.

Last edited by genejockey; 11-02-20 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 11-02-20, 03:02 PM
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Have you ever done a ride to determine your lactate threshold in the past? If so, do another using the same method and see what you come up with. If not, then do one so you can get a baseline to use to judge future things.

I like how Joe Friel talks about setting HR Zones. Notice that LTHR in the way he sets them doesn't care what your max HR is.
https://joefrielsblog.com/a-quick-gu...-setting-zone/
https://joefrielsblog.com/the-30-min...s-easy-really/
https://joefrielsblog.com/common-but...raining-terms/

LTHR isn't max HR though some claim it predicts what your max HR will be. It simply another of many ways to establish HR zones. LTHR pretty much the HR that when you exceed it, your muscles put out more lactate than your body can clear. Exceed it continuously and eventually you just get stove up and bonk. Stay below that and you can ride for ever. Well not quite, but your body will eliminate the lactate quicker than your muscles can produce it so your muscles won't quit you when you need them most.

Still all the data you put up just suggests to me that your cardio vascular system is better than it was when you started as evidenced by better times and speed with less average HR. You simply just don't get near what your max HR might be as often.

If you want to find your max HR, then you need to pick a place to really go as hard as you possibly can for a very short time. This can be either a flat or a climb. I'd prefer a climb. But don't confuse this with determining LTHR as LTHR is the fastest steady HR you can manitain for a period. 20 minutes in J. Friel's method. Your max HR is simply how high can you get your HR. If you feel like puking afterward you might have gotten there.

Last edited by Iride01; 11-02-20 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 11-02-20, 05:46 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Have you ever done a ride to determine your lactate threshold in the past? If so, do another using the same method and see what you come up with. If not, then do one so you can get a baseline to use to judge future things.

I like how Joe Friel talks about setting HR Zones. Notice that LTHR in the way he sets them doesn't care what your max HR is.
https://joefrielsblog.com/a-quick-gu...-setting-zone/
https://joefrielsblog.com/the-30-min...s-easy-really/
https://joefrielsblog.com/common-but...raining-terms/

LTHR isn't max HR though some claim it predicts what your max HR will be. It simply another of many ways to establish HR zones. LTHR pretty much the HR that when you exceed it, your muscles put out more lactate than your body can clear. Exceed it continuously and eventually you just get stove up and bonk. Stay below that and you can ride for ever. Well not quite, but your body will eliminate the lactate quicker than your muscles can produce it so your muscles won't quit you when you need them most.

Still all the data you put up just suggests to me that your cardio vascular system is better than it was when you started as evidenced by better times and speed with less average HR. You simply just don't get near what your max HR might be as often.

If you want to find your max HR, then you need to pick a place to really go as hard as you possibly can for a very short time. This can be either a flat or a climb. I'd prefer a climb. But don't confuse this with determining LTHR as LTHR is the fastest steady HR you can manitain for a period. 20 minutes in J. Friel's method. Your max HR is simply how high can you get your HR. If you feel like puking afterward you might have gotten there.
I've hit MaxHR twice, about 20 and 18 years ago. Accelerating group ride in the last half mile, going uphill, so my HR was already way past LTHR, and I sprinted off the front, accelerating uphill, and then suddenly it was like I hit a wall, and there was nothing left. Not only nothing to keep accelerating, but I had to dial WAY back and the pack blew by me like I was standing still. 193.
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Old 11-02-20, 05:53 PM
  #25  
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Well I'm confused now what the question is. I thought most of your concerns.... kinda, sorta.... revolved around the fact you weren't seeing as high of spikes in HR on rides as you used to see.
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