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Training with a HR monitor

Old 09-18-08, 11:29 AM
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Wino Ryder
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Training with a HR monitor

Hi all, am considering getting into some structured training on my rides. I'm 52 and have been riding about 2000 miles a year for the past eight years. Almost every time I go out I push myself hard trying to get in better shape, and lose weight, and although I am a lot stronger than I was before, I cant help from thinking that maybe a lot of my miles are relatively wasted because I dont train with a HR monitor.

These days I want to try and get the most good out of my rides instead of being a loose cannon, or otherwise just going out and hammering until I puke like I have been. I still have some more weight to lose, as I'm at about 235 lbs and want to get down below 200.

Does any of you think I could benefit from a HR monitor? If so, are there any books I could buy that would help me fine tune my training better than I have been? My longest rides so far have been around 54 miles, and I usually ride 50-70 miles per week. These days I just go out there and hammer for ten miles or more every day, being a slave to my average speed and just generally competing against myself.

I've had some health issues in the past and had heart by-pass surgery in '97, but my cardiologist has given me the green light in my bike riding. He thinks its great, but he's no sports doctor on the subject.

Thanks for any insight.
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Old 09-18-08, 12:47 PM
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The best way to lose weight is to enjoy what ever form of exercise you are doing. A HRM will give you an idea as to how your body is reacting to what ever you are doing. This would allow you to create a specific training plan and then help you follow said training plan. if you are going for create some sort of plan that is based upon different level's of intensity then a hrm will be very useful.
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Old 09-18-08, 05:37 PM
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HRM's are a neat gadget and can be useful. You could get as much benefit from simply using RPE and riding more - some days hard, some days easy.
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Old 09-18-08, 06:44 PM
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Get one. Period.

Mine has helped me focus on what my body is doing during exercise. RPE works, too, but the HRM backs that up with some actual numbers. It's fun to see how you're doing and gives a chance to actually build a program for yourself. It was the best piece of exercise equipment my wife ever got me!
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Old 09-19-08, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by tntyz View Post
Get one. Period.

Mine has helped me focus on what my body is doing during exercise. RPE works, too, but the HRM backs that up with some actual numbers. It's fun to see how you're doing and gives a chance to actually build a program for yourself. It was the best piece of exercise equipment my wife ever got me!


Thanks, I guess thats what I wanted to hear mainly. I do train hard a lot on my 10-20 mile rides and just thought I could maximize the workouts better with something other than my own perseived exertion. That, and I have a bad habit of over doing it sometimes and not recovering enough.
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Old 09-19-08, 08:38 AM
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Sounds like you need to mix up your routine a bit and the HRM should help with that. From what I've read, fat burning occurs at relatively low HR levels and my personal experience seems to back that up. Though it's really hard to hold back when I'm on a bike.
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Old 09-19-08, 12:20 PM
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You might also want to take a squint at the Edwards and Reed book, Heart Zones Cycling. It gives you great insight into extracting benefit from using an HRM; it makes sense out of the HRM technology. To me the most beneficial part of the book are the strategies suggested for relieving boredom and burn-out.
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Old 09-20-08, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by tntyz View Post
...fat burning occurs at relatively low hr levels...
+1
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Old 09-21-08, 04:36 PM
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i got a hrm for my winter riding indoors on a trainer. i won't have anything to judge if i'm working out hard enough, and i plan on watching movies whilst riding (so i won't be concentrating too hard on my work out). the occasional beeping of the hrm when my pulse drops too low would remind me i'm on the bike, and to pick up the pace.

if you plan on doing any "training" during the winter, go get a hrm. i just got a simple Polar FS1 for something like 55$.
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Old 09-21-08, 06:11 PM
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After having used my HRM for a season, it's become apparent to me that I was pushing myself too hard on ALL my rides, especially those exceeding 40 miles.

Since then, I've used an alarm to tell me when I'm getting into Zone 4. When it sings, I'll purposely ease up a little bit. I tell you what ... the last time I rode 40 miles, when I finished, I ended up with my typical average speed, but I felt like I had an easy ride. I wasn't dying when I got back home. I think it's helped me pace myself. I finished much stronger, and I feel I could ride much longer if I chose to do so. And this is what you want if you're trying to burn fat.

I hope that you'll get one, and try it out. Good luck!
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Old 09-21-08, 06:22 PM
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I've had some health issues in the past and had heart by-pass surgery in '97, but my cardiologist has given me the green light in my bike riding. He thinks its great, but he's no sports doctor on the subject.
Maybe these comments will "get through to you."

If you decide to play with a HR monitor, understand this one, single, but most important fact. To learn to "hammer" at ever increasing intensities, you need to "spend time" exercising at very reduced effort levels.

If you get a HR monitor, you'll be tempted to "push" for a Max HR - but I advise you to use it to force yourself to ride 3 hours at 70% MHR fro every one hour you plan to ride at "hammer-all-out pace."

No doubt, you'll never take that advice......
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Old 09-21-08, 10:10 PM
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Most people spend too much time going "kindof hard", and not enough time going easy or really hard. The biggest benefit of a heart rate monitor is getting yourself to slow down - this is important both for improving and for the fat loss that you want.

Carmichael's ultimate ride or Friel's book are pretty good at this. Note that you need to do a field test to set your heart rate zones - using max hr is pretty useless.
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Old 09-23-08, 11:21 PM
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Why use a HRM in the first place.
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Old 09-24-08, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by pista View Post
Why use a HRM in the first place.
I started using a HRM for the first time last week. I'm a casual cyclist who does 30-40 mile rides three or four times a week and occasional 60-70 mile rides at around 15 MPH on a touring bike. With the HRM I had immediate feedback on how hard I was pushing myself. My first two rides (where I turned off the display for average speed and turned on the display for HR) were 1/4 to 1/2 MPH faster over a two-hour and a three-hour ride, plus I felt a LOT better I was finished. I had a much easier time in understanding exactly how hard I was pushing myself, and I could hold back rather than burn myself out too early.

Right now I'm just putting on base miles and building up my endurance. Once I start focusing myself on more specific goals on each ride, the knowledge of exactly where my max HR is, and how my level of exertion compares to my current HR is going to pay off big.
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Old 09-24-08, 06:41 PM
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I'm 48 and have been "hammering" on every ride for years and years now. I started using an HRM maybe two or three years ago and it has helped immensely. It's true that RPE works in most cases, but not when your sick or recovering from a long ride or just having a bad day. I find that RPE doesn't always align with what the HRM shows.

I'd suggest you get one, check out the books mentioned and use it for a year or two. Eventually it's like a computer with cadence - you need them to learn and get some reference points and then after a little while you just know intuitively.
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