Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Training & Nutrition
Reload this Page >

Confused by HR Zones

Notices
Training & Nutrition Learn how to develop a training schedule that's good for you. What should you eat and drink on your ride? Learn everything you need to know about training and nutrition here.

Confused by HR Zones

Old 02-25-24, 02:06 PM
  #1  
New but Nice
Thread Starter
 
jemaleddin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 47

Bikes: Specialized Sirrus 3.0, 1981 Fuji S12-S Mixte

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
Confused by HR Zones

TL;DR: I've gotten in pretty good shape but my HR zones don't match my RPE - is there a way to figure out better zone numbers without buying power meters?

Two years ago my wife got a folding e-bike to make her train commute more pleasant (and stop paying for parking), and after 6 months of jealously watching her ride, I ordered a Swytch kit for my old bike which arrived last spring. I hadn't been a regular cyclist in about 30 years, and had gotten very sedentary. A couple months of using that got me to a level of fitness where I took off the motor/battery and had me in full "newly enthusiastic cyclist" mode. I started wearing a hat, grew a mustache, switched to clipless pedals, had opinions about other people's aesthetic preferences that didn't affect me at all - the whole ball of wax. A month later I needed a more capable bike and got a Specialized Sirrus 3 and have ridden over 2,000 miles since September. As a person turning 50 soon, I have lowered my blood pressure, lost a bunch of fat and put on some muscle. Not bad for a guy turning 50 this summer.

So of course I started thinking about doing a century ride.

Because I have a stupid brain, my thoughts were, "I did a spur-of-the-moment 63-mile ride for fun and without much trouble, so a century should be easy!" followed by, "if it's so easy you should be able to get a good time." And thus I started training in earnest.

I've done all the sorts of training rides: lots of Zone 2, endurance rides, HIIT, long intervals, Tabatas, low-cadence, hill work, indoor trainer stuff, polarized, periodized, etc. I track all my rides with my Apple Watch and iPhone which automatically assigns things to my HR zones (and works as a pretty good bike computer). It started out doing the 220-age for my max HR, but eventually bumped it up from 171 to 174. So my zone 5, according to Apple, is 161+ and my max HR is 174. My understanding of all that means that I shouldn't be able to work above 161 for very long, and over 174 only pretty briefly. Right?

But when I went for a ride on the NCR trail a few weeks ago, I did 2 hours in Zone 2, then turned around and went hard for 1.5 hours, all of it in Zone 5, almost all of it over 174. So, my zones are clearly not where Apple thinks they are. Especially considering that I hopped off the bike and wondered if I had time to turn around and do it all again.

I'm not really interested in competitive racing, just fitness and seeing what I can do on long rides, but if I want to get quality training sesssions, I need to know when I'm working in which zones. I don't have the cash at the moment for power meter pedals, but short of that I'm not really sure how to know what my zones are, apart from RPE.

Any guidance? Tips? Cheap solutions? Am I just wrong about everything?
jemaleddin is offline  
Old 02-25-24, 02:20 PM
  #2  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2023
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 525
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 340 Post(s)
Liked 250 Times in 161 Posts
If you are not a racer and your only goal is to ride 100 miles, you can skip all the zone stuff. For real - it seems like you are making things way more complex than they need to be. Just ride. A lot. Have fun. The zone training is to develop your sprinting capacity.

Edit: I am also turning 50 this year. I ride 38 miles a day commuting. I call myself a "glass cranker" - I don't ever stand up or try to exert huge amounts of power. I also don't have any electronics on the bike or any particular training plan. My results have been similar to yours - I get fitter, slimmer, and stronger anyway.

Last edited by ScottCommutes; 02-25-24 at 02:24 PM.
ScottCommutes is offline  
Likes For ScottCommutes:
Old 02-25-24, 02:51 PM
  #3  
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 19,512

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 115 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3876 Post(s)
Liked 1,924 Times in 1,373 Posts
No, you're right about everything. Good work! Except I disagree, 50 is not old. I'm 78 and I'm not old either. Screw that. I did my best riding when I was over 60. For sure, 220-age is BS. It's an average and there are very few people who are "average." Hence BS.

A heart rate monitor is a good thing, no question. The thing that's wrong with yours is that it has unnecessary tech which is causing you problems. Ignore everything except that one number, HR. The best way to establish your zones is from your breathing, Oxygen consumption is at the root of all zone talk. When you start a ride and gradually warm up, you start out breathing shallow and slow. That gradually (we hope) changes to deep and slow. At some relatively obvious point, you'll have to noticeably increase breathing rate, having already pretty much peaked your breathing volume. That point is the upper limit of Z2. If you stay just below that rate increase point for a while, you'll see your top of Z2 HR. Remember that.

Next, accelerate to the point where you can no longer maintain just deep breathing and you start rapid panting - there's nothing you can do about that. It's not oxygen debt, it's your body trying to get ride of CO2. Your body will never run out of oxygen, no matter how hard you push. Go back and forth a few times between deep and fast and rapid panting. You'll see that happens at some certain HR. Remember that too. That's your lactate threshold and the beginning of Z5. There are charts which show Z4 going over that point, but I disagree with that.

The TrainingPeaks software has several ways to create zone charts as does other software. Mess around with them, if you can, to get a chart which matches your morning resting HR and those two zone separation points. You'll probably have to also add some arbitrary max HR number to get this to work out. I don't like to try to hit max HR because there's that danger of passing out or seeing God. Don't want to do that. That said, if you chase fast enough riders up enough hills, you'll see it sooner or later.

A power meter won't help with zones either, same problem. My experience is that my power meter zones don't always match my HR zones. That depends on my current state, combining training and exhaustion. When in doubt, I go by HR on long rides, but I do training sessions mostly by power because HR takes so long to come up. I have riding buddies who've blown up on long rides because they only watched power. A very good thing about using both power and HR is that can tell you if your nutritional intake is adequate for what you're doing. HR drops while holding power, eat. HR is high compared to power, you're dehydrated. I used just HR for training for many years, worked fine. One learns that when doing intervals, your zone will be the HR you see at the end of the interval, holding the same speed all the way.
__________________
Results matter
Carbonfiberboy is offline  
Likes For Carbonfiberboy:
Old 02-25-24, 03:08 PM
  #4  
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 19,512

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 115 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3876 Post(s)
Liked 1,924 Times in 1,373 Posts
Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
If you are not a racer and your only goal is to ride 100 miles, you can skip all the zone stuff. For real - it seems like you are making things way more complex than they need to be. Just ride. A lot. Have fun. The zone training is to develop your sprinting capacity.

Edit: I am also turning 50 this year. I ride 38 miles a day commuting. I call myself a "glass cranker" - I don't ever stand up or try to exert huge amounts of power. I also don't have any electronics on the bike or any particular training plan. My results have been similar to yours - I get fitter, slimmer, and stronger anyway.
That zone stuff is also to develop one's aerobic system. Z5 work will for sure increase one's power in Z2. Just depends on what one is trying to do. Seeking one's limits is interesting even if one is not racing. Although as it is said, if one sailboat can see another going in the same direction, the race is on. Cycling is not that different. In any case, what you're doing works great. 38 X 5 = 190, and that times 50 is 9500 miles/year, way up in the racing or randonnuering volume range, getting close to pro level. The trick is to get that fast doing ~4000 miles/year, which I've done while riding relatively fast 400ks, doubles, events, etc.

My experience is that one can ride a century comfortably if one has been doing several 100 mile weeks in a row in the summer, and has included a hard hill ride once a week in that mileage.
__________________
Results matter
Carbonfiberboy is offline  
Likes For Carbonfiberboy:
Old 02-25-24, 06:09 PM
  #5  
climber has-been
 
terrymorse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Posts: 7,063

Bikes: Scott Addict R1, Felt Z1

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3392 Post(s)
Liked 3,506 Times in 1,768 Posts
Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
If you are not a racer and your only goal is to ride 100 miles, you can skip all the zone stuff. For real - it seems like you are making things way more complex than they need to be. Just ride. A lot. Have fun. The zone training is to develop your sprinting capacity.
Knowing your zones is useful to the non-racer, also. Staying within a zone can help you pace a ride, so you can get to the finish.
__________________
Ride, Rest, Repeat. ROUVY: terrymorse


terrymorse is offline  
Likes For terrymorse:
Old 02-26-24, 11:28 AM
  #6  
I'm good to go!
 
Iride01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 14,904

Bikes: Tarmac Disc Comp Di2 - 2020

Mentioned: 51 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6149 Post(s)
Liked 4,772 Times in 3,292 Posts
RPE = rate of perceived effort?

IMO, they'll never match your HR zones. At least mine haven't. HR zones are very useful to let you know how long you can expect to hold your current level of effort. Perceived effort is subject to flight of fantasy and other things going on.

Some of the days my perceived effort is the lowest or when I'm trying to do a low effort ride, I wind up breaking a few segment records and/or overall course time. Though I haven't really compared it to my HR zones, I probably had a lot of zone 4 and 5 time for that ride that I thought was low effort.
Iride01 is offline  
Likes For Iride01:
Old 02-26-24, 12:26 PM
  #7  
New but Nice
Thread Starter
 
jemaleddin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 47

Bikes: Specialized Sirrus 3.0, 1981 Fuji S12-S Mixte

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
As a new user I only get a handful of posts a day, so I'm going to try to respond to as much as I can at once:

First of all: thanks so much for all the responses - I really do appreciate your input, one and all!

I get that I'm not a sprinter and not looking to be one, but I have limited time and want to spend it as productively as possible. In the last few years I've seen my older, more sedentary friends and family members decline and become frustrated with their lack of fitness and the fact that they've become a burden to their family. I want to stave that off as much as I can, and being strong and fit has so many benefits beyond the purely physical.

It's true that 49 and a half isn't OLD, but it sure isn't being 25! I know I can feel the difference.

It's fun that one person said don't worry about power, worry about perceived effort (breathing, etc.) and somebody else said that perceived effort is no good, worry about heart rates, so we've covered all the bases. The thing is that the various zone training models aren't really about breathing or heart rates - those are trailing indicators of how much work you're doing, and work performed (in watts) is the best way to indicate lactate threshold levels which are a pointer to when you are doing mostly aerobic or anaerobic exercise. It's all just different methods of getting to an answer that you can't really measure directly. And polarized training calls for doing as much aerobic exercise as possible (Zone 2) with big bursts of anaerobic exercise 2 or 3 times a week (Zone 5).

It's probably the case that my original question has the real answer: just save up for power meters so I can get my FTP and use that to guide my training. But I'd still like to hear more opinions about what you all are doing to get in shape and stay that way.

Thanks all!
jemaleddin is offline  
Old 02-26-24, 01:19 PM
  #8  
Full Member
 
Ric Stern's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Sunny, Hurstpeirpoint
Posts: 216

Bikes: Handsling AIROevo and CEXevo

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 23 Post(s)
Liked 53 Times in 25 Posts
First off congrats on getting on the bike, building fitness, and improving your health. Nice work.

220 - age has a reasonable sized error to it. Robert Chung will correct, but off the top of my head the standard error of the mean is +/-15 b/min. As an example, i'm 55 next month and my actual max is 190 b/min (if i feel motivated to go that hard).

Anyway, training zones, however they're written or whatever method is used to calculate them are really a way to enable someone (e.g. coach, sport scientist, author, etc) to describe how hard to go in an objective way (rather than, ride moderately hard for 2 hrs, which can cause all sorts of issue)... Polarized is one way to train, there are other models, such as pyramidal or threshold, etc. all models are useful, but some are more useful at specific times. it just depends.

Do you need a power meter to train? I think it tends to make things more effective and is an objective way to measure exactly what you've done (e.g. i rode for 1 hr at 200 W), whereas speed (velocity) is affected by environmental and topographical conditions, HR is affected by multiple factors (e.g., caffeine, traffic anxiety, cadence, temperature, etc) and perceived effort is also affected by external and internal factors. However, it's not necessary that you do need one. You can create a training plan (or buy one, or get a coach - we do both of these) and just use HR or RPE. I even ride my gravel bike with nothing but speed on my bike computer (albeit i am waiting for my power meter for my gravel bike to be delivered).

You've obviously tried a variety of training ideas. that's really good. I'd add in some strength work as well as this will also have health and cycling related performance benefits.

In terms of what i'm doing to stay in shape...i ride about 15 hrs/week, i do 2 to 3 strength training sessions per week. I have a plan. I also look carefully at my energy intake and expenditure (and plan my macronutrients accordingly). I train hard. I still race (season number 41 incoming), my fitness is the same as my mid 20's (actually it's marginally higher), my weight is the same. I do my best to stave off illness and health conditions.
Ric Stern is offline  
Likes For Ric Stern:
Old 02-26-24, 03:24 PM
  #9  
Perceptual Dullard
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,409
Mentioned: 36 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 914 Post(s)
Liked 1,128 Times in 486 Posts
The 220-age formula was proposed by Fox and Haskell, and there's an interesting (and funny) story from the NYTimes from 2001 that goes into its history.
https://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/24/h...hallenged.html

That said, all age-based estimates of Max HR have huge standard errors, especially for the young and very old, and for the fit and the very unfit.

I've been using power meters almost as long as Ric, and I used HR sensors before that -- and I recently started using a HR sensor again, after a 20 year hiatus. I think that sensors have the potential to help if you're inclined to to make the effort to figure out what they're telling you (as Mosteller said, "the data may speak for themselves but their voices are often soft and sly"). If they succeed in motivating you, that's a good thing; if they don't, they're just a burden and a potential source of confusion. I'm pretty sure that power data helped me but I try never to forget that not everyone is like me.

In the end, the fitness dials we control have knobs for volume, intensity, and frequency. All will work to improve your fitness; some will work marginally faster than others, but all will work.

Best of luck. Every day on a bike is a good day.
RChung is offline  
Old 02-26-24, 05:57 PM
  #10  
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 19,512

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 115 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3876 Post(s)
Liked 1,924 Times in 1,373 Posts
The great thing about power is that you can do intervals at a specific load right from the first pedal stroke. With HR, you won't really know your zone until the effort's over and it's harder to hold it steady. For everything other than intervals, I prefer HR. So I use both, but I've only been training for 28 years and didn't get a PM in 2019. The PM didn't make a difference in my results but did make some things more convenient, especially indoor rides. Outdoors, trying to ride by power is, uh, interesting, as slight undulations in the road will sent the numbers all over the place as you hold speed steady. HR is much slower to react, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

Yep, staving it off. I had my cataracts done recently and not being able to go to the gym or sweat while the eyes healed for a few weeks . ..gave me sciatica. Who knew? Fixed it now. Went to the gym today for the first time in a month, went well, considering. Yesterday an 80 y.o friend of mine stepped out of her car and wrenched her knee so bad she's going to have to see a doctor. No, she never exercises..
__________________
Results matter
Carbonfiberboy is offline  
Likes For Carbonfiberboy:
Old 02-26-24, 06:02 PM
  #11  
Senior Member
 
work4bike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Atlantic Beach Florida
Posts: 1,935
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3764 Post(s)
Liked 1,032 Times in 781 Posts
Yeah, that is a good article, two of my favorite quotes from the article: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/24/h...#39;'%20Dr.

On an airplane traveling to the meeting, Dr. Haskell pulled out his data and showed them to Dr. Fox. ''We drew a line through the points and I said, 'Gee, if you extrapolate that out it looks like at age 20, the heart rate maximum is 200 and at age 40 it's 180 and at age 60 it's 160,'' Dr. Haskell said.

At that point, Dr. Fox suggested a formula: maximum heart rate equals 220 minus age.

But, exercise physiologists said, these data, like virtually all exercise data, had limitations. They relied on volunteers who most likely were not representative of the general population. ''It's whoever came in the door,'' Dr. Kirkendall said.



*********AND************




Heart rate is an indicator of heart disease, said Dr. Michael Lauer, a cardiologist and the director of clinical research in cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. But, he added, it is not the maximum that matters: it is how quickly the heart rate falls when exercise is stopped.

An average healthy person's heart rate drops about 20 beats in a minute and the rates of athletes ''nose dive by 50 beats in a minute,'' Dr. Lauer said.

In three recent studies, Dr. Lauer and his colleagues found that people whose rates fell less than 12 beats within a minute after they stopped exercising vigorously had a fourfold increased risk of dying in the next six years compared with those whose heart rates dropped by 13 or more beats.
work4bike is offline  
Likes For work4bike:
Old 02-26-24, 06:16 PM
  #12  
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 19,512

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 115 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3876 Post(s)
Liked 1,924 Times in 1,373 Posts
Originally Posted by work4bike
Yeah, that is a good article, two of my favorite quotes from the article: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/24/h...#39;'%20Dr.
If one wants to keep track of one's rate of HR drop, there's a very good method which works well for indoor cycling. It's the LSCT warmup: https://www.highnorth.co.uk/articles...l-cycling-test

It also gives one some idea of recovery status. I use it for all my indoor rides over Z1. I turn off Auto Pause on my Garmn for the LSCT period so it'll keep recording when I stop.
__________________
Results matter
Carbonfiberboy is offline  
Likes For Carbonfiberboy:
Old 02-26-24, 07:53 PM
  #13  
New but Nice
Thread Starter
 
jemaleddin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 47

Bikes: Specialized Sirrus 3.0, 1981 Fuji S12-S Mixte

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
I think I get two more posts today - still not sure what the rules are for newbie accounts, but...

I really appreciate the info about the HR zones, especially the link to that NYT piece - this quote kills me:

''It's so typical of Americans to take an idea and extend it beyond what it was originally intended for.''
Yikes! Too real!

The specificity of good training plans, and the failure of HR zones to meaningfully help you perform a workout is what got me posting this thread, so I really appreciate the comments on that. It's also part of why I like polarized training plans: it's much easier to go for long rides with a lowish heart-rate OR go flat out for 30 second to 4 minute intervals than it is to try to use my HR to be in Zone 3/4 for a particular amount of time.

Small notes:

* The scientific literature, to the best I can see, doesn't seem to show that Sweet Spot training works nearly as well as polarized or pyramidal training? I get the idea that "If I have limited time I should just ride kinda hard" but it seems like science thinks you should build your VO2 Max in Zone 2 and stress your heart in Zone 5?
* I'm definitely considering upping my strength training. At the moment I'm doing a series of general fitness workouts through Apple Fitness+ - lower body strength training with dumbbells, core workouts, some upper both strength to help strengthen my shoulder after a torn rotator cuff last fall - but I think at some point I will either need to get access to a gym or a squat rack. For now I'm just going to keep getting heavier weights.
* Nutrition is also a big part of what I'm doing. My wife only eats meat because our son is practically an obligate carnivore, and I'm starting to follow her lead: no more than one meal with meat a day, and hopefully less. I'm eating more fruits and using them as my during/after ride refueling.
* I'm definitely getting talked into power meters by your comments. My current pedals/shoes are two bolt SPD, so I'm looking at the Garmin Rally XC100 single-sided pedals. Any thoughts on that? Or better alternatives? The Favero equivalents don't seem to be in stock anywhere, and while I don't have a lot invested in the SPD system (one pair of shoes, one pair of pedals), they seem to have more "shoes you can walk around in" options than SPD-SL, etc.

Anyway: thanks all for your suggestions and advice! Finding such a positive forum on the internet is a real delight.
jemaleddin is offline  
Old 02-27-24, 07:27 AM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 11,864
Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1250 Post(s)
Liked 753 Times in 560 Posts
If you want a no muss no fuss answer to zones... It isn't that crazy to just tweak yout MHR in your software until the time in zones matches your perceived effort. Better to figure out your actual mhr, but I started out by doing the tweak method to start with and it turned out to be very close to what I got when I tested. In my case it was certainly way closer than the 220-age or other formulas I have seen.

Edit to add:
The method I mentioned might be useful for someone who may have health issues or not yet be in shape to push hard enough to do a max effort to find their mhr. Also the formula is useful as a starting point to tweak from. Eventually you probably want to verify a real number.

For someone who plugged in a number that the formula provided or was the default of their software based on their age it may be obvious that their preceived effort is way out of synch with the zones reported in the software. It is pretty easy to get to a reasonable range by tweaking the mhr used.

Last edited by staehpj1; 02-27-24 at 08:06 AM.
staehpj1 is offline  
Likes For staehpj1:
Old 02-27-24, 08:38 AM
  #15  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Northern NY...Brownville
Posts: 2,566

Bikes: Specialized Aethos, Specialized Diverge Comp E5

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 237 Post(s)
Liked 450 Times in 262 Posts
First it's important to be aware that there are no 'standards' when it comes to heart rate zones and data tracking methodologies.
All the tracking apps, etc. use a slightly different formula and the old 220-age formula is the worst of them all. How do I come by this opinion? Well my age is 68 and using the 220-age formula tells me my max heart rate is 152bpm. My current max heart rate is 184bpm which I hit last Thursday in a Zwift race. Last year it was 182 which I hit doing a real world race. So I pay no attention to that formula and use the current max bpm I can achieve.
I use the Training Peaks '5 Zone' system but there are many others. I find this one the least complicated to use. And I pay for it so there is that...
Here are my 'zones' using this system. Zone 1/123-133, Z2/134-146, Z3/147-159, Z4/160-170, Z5/171-182...I've not updated it at this time to reflect my latest max bpm.
Zones are useful to maintain and monitor your 'training', whether it is for a century, weekly club ride...we all know it becomes a race...and/or event/race/whatever.
Perhaps it is most useful during 'recovery' or 'lower' heart rate rides. We all have a tendency to ride 'hard' and it is often difficult to ride 'easy' when you should be in order to allow your body to build and progress after a hard/harder ride.
It also indicates when you perhaps need more rest or aren't feeling great and should ease off in order to recover full health. I'll relate a brief incident which happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I had a race at 6:30pm and forgot to eat early so at 5pm I had a bowl of soup and crackers and a dinner roll. I felt very full but figured it would be digested before the race. I was wrong. When I got on the bike to start warming up at 5:45pm I was still full. My usual first 15 minutes on the bike warming up I ride below 100bpm just to get my legs turning and my body to warm. Riding at my usual pace my bpm was 120, much higher than it should have been. And it never dropped back to 'normal'. My race went well by my stomach was still too full and bothered me throughout the race. My heart rate was also around 15bpm higher than it should have been for the effort I was undertaking.
I screwed up but it did teach me another lesson about the usefulness of monitoring ones heart rate and being aware of changes both good and not so good.
If I had not eaten and my heart rate was this elevated I'd know there was something 'wrong' going on in my body...perhaps over training, lack of sleep, coming down with something, etc. and I might adjust my ride to reflect my bodies needs or maybe take a day off and just rest.

It's also useful for targeting heart rate to achieve increases/improvements in your fitness...tempo, threshold, VO2 max, etc. can call for different heart rates to maximize the benefit of said training.
But there are many who prefer using 'power' zones over heart rate zones. This is mainly because power zones are considered more 'precise' measurements...meaning they are 'at the moment' indicators of the effort where your heart rate takes more time to get to that specified reading and then takes more time to recover or 'come down' from that period of high exertion...though the more fit you are the less time it takes...but not as fast and perhaps not as immediately more accurate compared to a power meter.

While I also use a power meter I generally prefer to target my training events to my heart rate. Likely this is because I'm old and cranky but really it's because I've been using a heart rate monitor since the late '80's when Polar introduced their model and I was an early adopter and have used one since. I use the power meter zones and data to contrast and compare. It is a very useful tool to track improvements as well.
Perhaps think of it this way: Heart rate monitor tracks aerobic and anaerobic fitness while a power meter tracks strength and power...as you improve in both areas you can go harder and for longer periods...the wimmens will love that lol...
This is all simplistic reasonings and just off the top of my old and amateur head and experiences so take it all with a grain of salt if you desire.
Kai Winters is offline  
Likes For Kai Winters:
Old 02-27-24, 08:58 AM
  #16  
I'm good to go!
 
Iride01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 14,904

Bikes: Tarmac Disc Comp Di2 - 2020

Mentioned: 51 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6149 Post(s)
Liked 4,772 Times in 3,292 Posts
Originally Posted by jemaleddin
It's fun that one person said don't worry about power, worry about perceived effort (breathing, etc.) and somebody else said that perceived effort is no good, worry about heart rates, so we've covered all the bases.
Just to be sure you didn't get that impression from me...
I only said they won't agree all the time. And to me that was one of things that bothered you in your initial post. I use perceived effort and assess it after my rides. Every year I have to get back into shape as I slack off and do virtually none for 2 months of the winter here. Yeah, it gets cold here. Maybe not cold to you but it is to me. Perceived effort coupled with really good times on a ride tell me I've made it to a certain level of ability or not. And then I can be more confident about tackling harder rides or riding faster for longer.

[
It's probably the case that my original question has the real answer: just save up for power meters so I can get my FTP and use that to guide my training. But I'd still like to hear more opinions about what you all are doing to get in shape and stay that way.
Stay in shape for cycling or stay in shape in general?

Cycling is a great way to get your cardiovascular system in shape and keep your legs strong. Not much good for other things that you'll find start going bad on you in another 15 years from your current age. So develop some good workout habits to keep all your body strong and limber. At your age your work and other interests might keep the rest of your body in good shape. However when you retire or life slows down for you, then you might find you aren't getting the workout your upper body and arms need.

PM's help and give better information. But in the end, it's still how much do you ride your bike and how hard you do or don't go during certain segments of that ride.

Last edited by Iride01; 02-27-24 at 09:11 AM.
Iride01 is offline  
Likes For Iride01:
Old 02-27-24, 09:02 AM
  #17  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2023
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 525
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 340 Post(s)
Liked 250 Times in 161 Posts
Random thought -

It didn't snow much last winter where I am (NJ), and this year it finally did. When it came to shoveling snow, I did better because I had two entire years of leg training and cardiovascular training via riding the bike.

Unfortunately, the rest of my muscles were not so well trained.

I guess the takeaway, especially if you aren't a racer, is to put some thought into training the rest of your body. Biking is great, but by itself it can't possibly get you to full body fitness.
ScottCommutes is offline  
Likes For ScottCommutes:
Old 02-27-24, 03:40 PM
  #18  
New but Nice
Thread Starter
 
jemaleddin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 47

Bikes: Specialized Sirrus 3.0, 1981 Fuji S12-S Mixte

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
Originally Posted by Iride01
Just to be sure you didn't get that impression from me....
Oh, wow - I think I need to apologize to you and everyone else in the thread! I can see now how that seems like I'm being super negative, but I meant to convey something like, "I feel like I'm getting expert advice from lots of people and much of it disagrees, and it feels like that's really reinforcing to me that this is a confusing issue and since all we have are secondary indicators, this is all very confusing and probably always will be," but I definitely did not say that, and what I did say was flippant. Very sorry about that!

Stay in shape for cycling or stay in shape in general?

Originally Posted by Iride01
Cycling is a great way to get your cardiovascular system in shape and keep your legs strong. Not much good for other things that you'll find start going bad on you in another 15 years from your current age. So develop some good workout habits to keep all your body strong and limber. At your age your work and other interests might keep the rest of your body in good shape. However when you retire or life slows down for you, then you might find you aren't getting the workout your upper body and arms need.
Yeah, I am doing other workouts for strength and especially core. I'm also joining my wife in doing yoga because my relative inflexibility (thanks scoliosis) makes it harder to get into aero positions, etc.

Originally Posted by Iride01
PM's help and give better information. But in the end, it's still how much do you ride your bike and how hard you do or don't go during certain segments of that ride.
I think the obsessive part of me will probably never have enough information, but I think PMs are as close as I can get.

Thanks!
jemaleddin is offline  
Old 02-27-24, 03:42 PM
  #19  
New but Nice
Thread Starter
 
jemaleddin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 47

Bikes: Specialized Sirrus 3.0, 1981 Fuji S12-S Mixte

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
I guess the takeaway, especially if you aren't a racer, is to put some thought into training the rest of your body. Biking is great, but by itself it can't possibly get you to full body fitness.
I'm a pretty good shoveler (thanks, growing up in Upper Michigan!), but the PT I did to recover from a rotator cuff tear in the fall taught me that my 30 years of relatively sedentary living have left me with VERY disappointing shoulders, so I'm definitely putting some time into upper body workouts! Good call!
jemaleddin is offline  
Old 02-27-24, 03:51 PM
  #20  
New but Nice
Thread Starter
 
jemaleddin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 47

Bikes: Specialized Sirrus 3.0, 1981 Fuji S12-S Mixte

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
Originally Posted by staehpj1
If you want a no muss no fuss answer to zones... It isn't that crazy to just tweak yout MHR in your software until the time in zones matches your perceived effort.
Yeah, my setup allows me to define my MHR and zones, I'm just not sure what to set them to, and not confident in my ability to gauge my own RPE. I think doing it manually will leave me feeling even less sure about what's going on? But thanks for the tip!
jemaleddin is offline  
Old 02-27-24, 04:35 PM
  #21  
Senior Member
 
work4bike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Atlantic Beach Florida
Posts: 1,935
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3764 Post(s)
Liked 1,032 Times in 781 Posts
Originally Posted by jemaleddin
I'm a pretty good shoveler (thanks, growing up in Upper Michigan!), but the PT I did to recover from a rotator cuff tear in the fall taught me that my 30 years of relatively sedentary living have left me with VERY disappointing shoulders, so I'm definitely putting some time into upper body workouts! Good call!
This may sound like just another YT channel, but this guy is onto something WRT developing and/or recovering connective tissues. I wish I knew this, much earlier in life, i.e. build connective tissue before concentrating on building muscle. He specializes in recovering from knee problems, since that's what his problem was as a young guy wanting to play basketball. However, he's teamed up with others to concentrate on all parts of the body/musculoskeletal system concentrating on building connective tissues.


Here's a video on some shoulder exercises.






work4bike is offline  
Likes For work4bike:
Old 02-27-24, 04:38 PM
  #22  
New but Nice
Thread Starter
 
jemaleddin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 47

Bikes: Specialized Sirrus 3.0, 1981 Fuji S12-S Mixte

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
I've been reading up on people who use both PMs and HR monitors - one to guide their training on the bike, one to look back at the results and see what was going on with their cardiovascular fitness - HR drift, spikes, etc.

Thanks!
jemaleddin is offline  
Old 02-27-24, 05:04 PM
  #23  
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 19,512

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 115 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3876 Post(s)
Liked 1,924 Times in 1,373 Posts
Originally Posted by jemaleddin
I think I get two more posts today - still not sure what the rules are for newbie accounts, but...

I really appreciate the info about the HR zones, especially the link to that NYT piece - this quote kills me:



Yikes! Too real!

The specificity of good training plans, and the failure of HR zones to meaningfully help you perform a workout is what got me posting this thread, so I really appreciate the comments on that. It's also part of why I like polarized training plans: it's much easier to go for long rides with a lowish heart-rate OR go flat out for 30 second to 4 minute intervals than it is to try to use my HR to be in Zone 3/4 for a particular amount of time.<snip>
Very true. My practice is to either go moderate or go like stink on a hilly ride and see what I can do. Then I look at my zones afterward to see what I did. After a while, one gets a feel for how much effort at the various levels is possible before one simply can't do any more. Afterward, back at the computer, we can upload and see how much damage we did. That's really where it's nice to have one's zone definitions about right. I do most of my formal intervals indoors. When I only had HR, I got good at knowing what all the different levels felt like. After a few minutes, HR would tell me if I got it about right. I've found HR and breathing to be very reliable indicators of effort.

That brings up the question of what to do about HR drift during long intervals. I'm agnostic on that subject. On the one hand, holding a steady effort by power seems like a good idea, but OTOH do we really want to go through various stages of lactate build-up during an interval? AFAIK, blood lactate levels over time are related to HR, not to power.
__________________
Results matter
Carbonfiberboy is offline  
Old 02-27-24, 05:25 PM
  #24  
New but Nice
Thread Starter
 
jemaleddin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 47

Bikes: Specialized Sirrus 3.0, 1981 Fuji S12-S Mixte

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
Oh sweet - will check that out and see about incorporating it into my ever-growing list of physical therapy exercises.

Speaking of which: I keep having to warn younger people that when you injure yourself:

20s: Heals in a week
30s: Requires 3 months PT
40s and up: Requires 6 months PT which ends with "okay, you see mostly better just do these 6 exercises for the rest of your life." 🙃
jemaleddin is offline  
Old 02-27-24, 05:40 PM
  #25  
New but Nice
Thread Starter
 
jemaleddin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2024
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 47

Bikes: Specialized Sirrus 3.0, 1981 Fuji S12-S Mixte

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
That brings up the question of what to do about HR drift during long intervals. I'm agnostic on that subject. On the one hand, holding a steady effort by power seems like a good idea, but OTOH do we really want to go through various stages of lactate build-up during an interval? AFAIK, blood lactate levels over time are related to HR, not to power.
I do not know what to do about that either. I did a metric century today on the NCR trail (a rail-trail that goes 40 miles form the Baltimore suburbs to York, PA, mostly packed crushed stone and dirt) today and for the first 2 hours I tried to keep myself in zone 2, but when it was time to turn around I was behind schedule (stupid eating, slowing me down) and just rode "fast" without looking at my HR very much, which means that I ended up doing it mostly in zones 4 and 5. But HR drift meant that I had to keep slowing down at the end of 2 hours to stay in zone without creeping up, and I'm not sure how to deal with that either!

(And of course the question of, "Are theze zones even right?")

Edited to add: is there a way to attach images without them being... ginormous? SORRY!
Attached Images
File Type: jpeg
IMG_1807.jpeg (358.2 KB, 35 views)

Last edited by jemaleddin; 02-27-24 at 05:45 PM. Reason: Adding a question about images
jemaleddin is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.