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heart monitor

Old 04-27-21, 08:56 AM
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heart monitor

I don't have any particular goals in cycling though I would like to lower my blood pressure. It has become consistently elevated (yellow zone) but not high (red zone). My doctor has led me to be concerned about this, and my health history has been excellent in all other standard measures. Last year I rode about 1,500 miles which was less than previous years, because I have fewer places to go in Pandemic. In fact, nearly all of my miles now are recreational whereas before Pandemic, most of them were commuting.

I'm 60 years old and 170 pounds, about my ideal weight. My diet is good, and my resting pulse is about 57.

Now I have a chest strap monitor and don't know how to use it. I can record my heart rate as I ride but don't know how to interpret the numbers. What are some questions I should ask myself to set some goals for myself? I know I don't do enough intervals, as I don't enjoy them. I do, however, enjoy climbing hills, and there are plenty of hills where I am, so I effectively have some built-in intervals, but I suspect I'd do well to attack hills even harder than I do.

Here is yesterday's ride with heart rate data.

Thanks, folks.
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Old 04-27-21, 10:16 AM
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You can use it to for example for pacing yourself up a long climb or to train at a particular intensity.
For this you need to know your heart rate zones. One test is to go as hard as possible at a constant effort for 30 min and then take the average of the last 20 min.

A few examples of what you can then do:
The HR from the test will be your max heart rate that you can sustain for a longer period of time, say 40 min to 1 hr.
If you take 80% of that, you will be able to go at that pace for multiple hours.

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Old 04-27-21, 10:28 AM
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I find a lot of good 'reference material' on the trainingpeaks dot com slash blog site.
Heart rate zones - lotta reference info out there on that. particularly interesting are the different ways to set your own (clue: at our age, the 220-age isn't effective).
I like the HR zones for lookback on what was/wasn't a tempo ride versus an endurance builder versus a recovery ride -- and when I should probably be doing the 'other one'
I do see when my HR is a tad high and it does indeed mean I'm getting a bug.
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Old 04-27-21, 10:36 AM
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I've used a HR monitor since I got my Edge 500 back circa 2009 - 2010.

I started to get all caught up in the overthinking it stuff and tedium of analyzing the tiniest thing. Thankfully that passed quickly. Just set your zones. Note which zones you can stay in and ride all day. Note how quick you tire and can't maintain a pace in the zones you can't maintain all day. Then you can estimate how much time you might last when you put in extra effort to climb or sprint. That's about it.

Though setting your zones to LTHR/FTHR is the better way to set them IMO. https://www.trainingpeaks.com/learn/...setting-zones/ Having your zones set to some standard allows us to discuss them and compare efforts more meaningfully.

You mentioned something that makes me wonder if your doctor was concerned about you going hard. Or was he just saying you don't need to run your HR constantly at your maximum HR.

Normally running your heart at max HR isn't an issue. You won't do it long, you'll just have to stop and huff and puff for a while... long before whatever goal or finish line you wanted to reach.

So if the doctor wasn't clear whether there is an actual problem that prevents you from getting near max HR for a moment or two, then find out.

I don't focus on HR much while riding anymore. I'll glance at it, but only to compare what it says to my perceived effort. Generally I just go by perceived effort during the ride and look at my HR closer after the ride. Sometimes I'll make an effort to try a higher perceived effort for certain segments of future rides and see if that tires me out too much.

Worst thing you can do IMO, is train yourself to only ride a particular HR. Then you never get better.
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Old 04-27-21, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I don't have any particular goals in cycling though I would like to lower my blood pressure. It has become consistently elevated (yellow zone) but not high (red zone). My doctor has led me to be concerned about this, and my health history has been excellent in all other standard measures. Last year I rode about 1,500 miles which was less than previous years, because I have fewer places to go in Pandemic. In fact, nearly all of my miles now are recreational whereas before Pandemic, most of them were commuting.

I'm 60 years old and 170 pounds, about my ideal weight. My diet is good, and my resting pulse is about 57.

Now I have a chest strap monitor and don't know how to use it. I can record my heart rate as I ride but don't know how to interpret the numbers. What are some questions I should ask myself to set some goals for myself? I know I don't do enough intervals, as I don't enjoy them. I do, however, enjoy climbing hills, and there are plenty of hills where I am, so I effectively have some built-in intervals, but I suspect I'd do well to attack hills even harder than I do.

Here is yesterday's ride with heart rate data.

Thanks, folks.
There is a lot of reference material online to read. But here's what I've found.

First, I need to know my max heart rate. The old 220-Age formula is only an estimate. You can't do much to change your actual max heart rate, but you can change how capable you are of reaching it, and how long you can stay near it. For me, my max should be 220-53=167. This is not accurate for me. Last year at my peak fitness (late summer) I could reach 182, give or take a little depending on how rested I was. And I could hold over 170 for quite some time. But everyone's different, and for some, that formula is pretty accurate.

The best way for me to find my max heart rate turns out to be on a stair climber, not on a bike. On a bike there's too much else going on. On a stair climber I can really focus on just pushing myself up to the max. You need to know your max and min to determine your heart rate zones.

If your max is 180, and your minimum is 57, then you calculate your heart rate reserve by subtracting 57 from 180: 180-57=123.

For aerobic exercise you want to target 70% to 85% calculated this way: .7 x HRR + Min, to .85 x HRR + Min.

So if your max is 180, min is 57, and HRR is 123, you can find your aerobic range by calculating .7x123+57=143 at the low end of the aerobic range, to 161 at the high end of the aerobic range.

If you're targeting fat loss, you want to spend more time toward the lower end of the range, because that's where you're producing power output that best keeps pace with your body's ability to burn fat reserves. If you push higher, your body must produce more power, and to do that it burns a higher ratio of carb reserves, less of fat reserves. But you, yourself, aren't looking to lose fat. You're just looking to get healthier.

For you, you would probably want to spend more of your time in the middle or upper middle of this aerobic zone. And then you'll want to spend some time in the anaerobic zone above the aerobic zone. So start spending bursts of a few minutes above 161 beats per minute. Over time you may spend longer bursts in the 161+ range before falling back into the aerobic range.

An elite athlete (which everyone here aspires to be, right?) will be more concerned with finer-precision zones. But most of us can make a lot of headway by heading out on a ride that brings us up to the aerobic zone, and then gives us opportunities to reach a few minutes at a time into the anaerobic zone to push ourselves before falling back to the aerobic zone. Staying in that aerobic or higher zone for 20-30 minutes (minimum) per day is an excellent way to improve fitness. And as we get more fit, and more comfortable in the saddle, we start pushing that to longer periods of time.

I'm not elite by any means. In fact, I'm just a slow but healthy rider. My typical rides are about 45-75 minutes on weekdays, and 120-240 minutes on weekends. During these rides I strive to stay above the lower range of the aerobic threshold. And because I live in hilly terrain, I'm assured of spending plenty of time above the high end of the aerobic zone too. This seems to work for me.

Finally, be prepared to be disappointed with respect to blood pressure. No matter how much I ride, I'm still in the moderate range. Eventually the doctor's going to tell me I'm in the high range, and I'll just have to start taking meds for it -- that is, if it's in my genes to be that way. My ex-wife was worse; no matter how much aerobic activity she participated in, she had to take blood pressure medication to stay in the healthy range.

Last edited by daoswald; 04-28-21 at 08:13 AM.
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Old 04-27-21, 12:33 PM
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@daoswald, that’s just what I’m looking for. Thank you very much.
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Old 04-27-21, 12:47 PM
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And thank you to everyone. Very helpful, and there is a lot for me to learn.

I don’t think my doctor is worried about my heart health. I had a stress test and an echocardiogram, and they came out well. I’ve been riding a fair bit all of my life, and I always climb stairs two at a time. The whole blood pressure issue came up because I wanted to go back on medication for ADD, and most of those medications are stimulants. She (my doctor) said it’s too much of a risk since my blood pressure has recently become elevated. Both of my parents had high blood pressure.

I plan to go back to the cardiology out of caution because I didn’t fully understand what he said at my last exam, but I gather my heart is in very good health. My regular doctor didn’t warn me to stay out of my heart’s maximum range. She did tell me to get the BP meter, but she didn’t tell me to get the heart monitor. I got it because I’m curious about power output but am too frugal to get a power meter. But now that yooze folks have given me this extra information, I have stuff to measure and study. And I know I will overthink it for a while, and then I’ll get over it.
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Old 04-27-21, 01:53 PM
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Glancing at that ride log, your heart rate seems appropriate for your age and effort (grade, speed, etc.).

I record HR and HRV data most days -- cycling, walking, jogging -- but mostly pay attention to trends rather than worrying much about zones on any single workout.

I seldom find that my heart rate, blood pressure, HRV data, etc., correspond reliably with how I feel on any given day. Looking at the data and personal notes on how I felt at the time, it's mostly a coincidence when my best performances cycling and running correspond with heart rate/HRV data. My data today claims it's a 9/10 day, nearly perfect for a workout. I'm still in my PJs in the afternoon thinking about a nap rather than cycling or jogging. Other days when my HRV app says I should rest, I feel energized and go for a run.

The only reliable indicator is for whether I've drunk too much caffeine or taken a Sudafed for sinus congestion. Those definitely crank up my heart rate and provoke a lot of palpitations. But it still doesn't correspond with anything in particular when I'm riding/running.
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Old 04-27-21, 03:06 PM
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For my long rides, I try to stay in Zone 2 as much as possible, as a way to pace myself so I don't blow up. I don't monitor a bike computer constantly, but I do have my average heart rate for the last 15 minutes read out to me at 15-minute intervals.

I also spend a lot of time on the erg. During intervals, I watch my heart rate to see how long I'm redlining (and I'll back off if it seems too long), and during easy steady-state sessions, I keep an eye on my heart rate relative to my power output: I know that I should be at about 120 bpm when I'm at 65% FTP, so if I'm significantly above that, something is going on, and I ask myself whether it's fatigue, heat, or something else.
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Old 04-27-21, 05:51 PM
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I'd ride around awhile and record your HR. Do some intervals, see what happens to your HR. Do some moderate intensity, see what happens to your HR. Do a longer interval, like 20-30 minutes, and see what happens to your HR.
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Old 05-01-21, 04:24 PM
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Here's link to a previous post on the subject: Road cycling with a heart rate monitor
You can set your zones off your LTHR, using the common percentage formulas on the web. The top of zone 2 is usually a little above VT1.
The only useful advice on BP I could give would be to try to ride lots, 80%-90% below VT1 and then a really hard hilly ride once a week. Don't know if that'll help or not, but my resting HR (when I'm rested!) is 46 and my BP is usually about 115/68. "Ride lots" means try for 5000 miles/year. Contrary to the opinion of may purists, trainer or roller miles count. Because of the PNW winters, I put on one or two thousand miles a year on my resistance rollers. They are the cure for trainer boredom, especially if you do useful work on them. Warning: never watch TV, etc. on rollers. Rock music is good.
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Old 07-17-21, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes View Post
I find a lot of good 'reference material' on the trainingpeaks dot com slash blog site.
Heart rate zones - lotta reference info out there on that. particularly interesting are the different ways to set your own (clue: at our age, the 220-age isn't effective).
I like the HR zones for lookback on what was/wasn't a tempo ride versus an endurance builder versus a recovery ride -- and when I should probably be doing the 'other one'
I do see when my HR is a tad high and it does indeed mean I'm getting a bug.
2nd clue: nearly any age, 220-age isn’t effective for training. I tried it in my 40’s and it’s max was about 20 beats lower than the maxes on my little old Polar. And no, these were not the dreaded power line errors.

noglider There are loads of paper and digital items you can read about “How to Crush Next Years Spring Classics in 12 Easy and Pleasant Days of Torture,” but I think a few of the best and most accessible are the old Bicycling Magazine book on Training for Cyclists, Marla Strebs book on training for a century, the first edition of Friel’s Cycling Past 50, and of course our own CarbonFiberBoy.
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