## How do you calculate real max HR?

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Comedian
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Location: Brisbane

### How do you calculate real max HR?

Normally I think this figure probably doesn’t matter too much. However with all the very cool analysis tools out these days such as Cycling Analytics, Training Peaks etc. Having an accurate max is may actually be pretty important for the accuracy of the charts.

So, my question is… according to my experience any given athlete may have a number of different maximum heart rates. All of which might be relevant at different times and all calculated differently.

1. Nominal HR – 220 – age.
2. Functional Max HR is the point at which you are known to “blow up”.. or cease to function as a bike rider.
3. Regularly Observed Max HR – is just that.. .the regularly observed max that is commonly observed on hard rides.
4. Spike Max HR - the max that you might see as a spike in a race, and might only be seen a couple of times a year.

I’ll give examples of two athletes I’m pretty familiar with. Note that the thresholds have been determined using FTP tests and are believed to be pretty accurate.

Athlete A: Male, 44, 4 yeas cycling. Threshold 158.
1. Nominal max – 220 minus age… 176.
2. Functional max 172.
3. Regularly Observed 172
4. Spike HR 190.

Athlete B: Female, 19, 1 year cycling. Threshold 168.
1. Nominal Max 201
2. Functional max 180.
3. Regularly observed 180.
4. Spike HR 190.

Any thoughts on this? My feeling is that the Max HR should be either the functional or regularly observed max? For the two people here, two and three are the same, or close to the same. Maybe even threshold plus 10. By all means post up yours!

lobstermash
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### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

Just to throw a spanner in the works, the 'magic number' that is max heart rate is static.

Alex Simmons/RST
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### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

You should define the protocol for establishing a max HR response. It helps to remove erroneous data. Age based formula are not intended for individual use.

End of the day, there's a fair bit of slop in HR training levels such that being spot on isn't all that important. You can either hit your intended training levels or you can't. If not, or they are clearly too easy based on how such efforts are described, then adjust the levels accordingly.

CKinnard
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### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

My view is HRmax regression equations suffer from the same issues BMI does. They are best fits for whole populations, and any 'sample' of one indiviual could be 3 std deviations away. Anyway, you might pick up something here.
http://www.brianmac.co.uk/maxhr.htm
Note that HRmax for cycling is lower than some other activities. So the results from a treadmill stress ecg won't automatically transfer.

My view is it makes sense to use a HRmax specific to your intended usage. If your max is for training/racing, set it within the constraints of these. If that doesn't include 4+hr rides that include 15+% climbs, then exclude these.

Some conditions to discover your HRmax
- maximum effort on climbs from 5 to 20 minutes duration
- flat course intervals of 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes after at least a 30 minute hearty warm up.
- closed track like Nundah, warm up for 20mins, then starting at whatever is a moderate intensity, every 2 laps increase effort by 5 watts or speed by 3kph....until unable to continue.

Some points to keep in mind:
- HRmax can take several minutes to reach, but also drifts up during longer rides (partly due to reduced blood volume +/- need for heat removal).
- Some things influencing HRmax : cadence, fluid balance, time of day, ambient temperature, core body temp, caffeine, autonomic tone, fatigue, overtraining, total life stress load, menstrual cycle, bodyfat %

chriscole
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### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

The formulas and equations are all vaguely accurate at a population level but not particularly useful when applied to individuals. If you really want to know, just exert yourself maximally and measure it.

casual_cyclist
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### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

I have years of garmin data, so it's pretty easy to do mine:

Male, 43, 5 years cycling.
1. Nominal max – 220 minus age… 177.
2. Functional max not sure. I seem to get to 187 a lot.
3. Regularly Observed 187.
4. Spike HR 190.

I've never really pushed hard enough to see if my max HR will go over 190. It could be higher than that. I know that I had a hard run training session the other day and I maxed out on 181, 182 and 183 respectively for three consecutive splits. This wasn't sprinting, so pretty hard intervals. I start sprint training in a week so we'll see if I can go over 190 I guess
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kb
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### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

42 here. Running for me seems to be around 195bpm and cycling 187. Apparently it's not unusual for different exercise to have different MHRs.

GTPilot
Posts: 123
Joined: Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:04 pm

### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

how to calculate real MAX heat rate.
1) have medical crew on stand by.
2) wear tracking heart rate monitor.
3) warm up ( 5min)
4) go absolutely flat out....... at some point the medical crew will need to pick you up off the floor and revive you.
5) review the heart the data to find the peak point before it drops suddenly to zero. that peak is you real max heart rate.

hope this helps.

CKinnard
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:23 am

### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

casual_cyclist wrote:I've never really pushed hard enough to see if my max HR will go over 190. It could be higher than that. I know that I had a hard run training session the other day and I maxed out on 181, 182 and 183 respectively for three consecutive splits. This wasn't sprinting, so pretty hard intervals. I start sprint training in a week so we'll see if I can go over 190 I guess

Here's how to guarantee your hr goes above 190.

rug up in your warmest cycling gear, set your bike up on a trainer in a warmer room, don't drink anything for 6 hours beforehand, do a15 minute warm up, then start at a moderate pace, and increase intensity several kph every 1 or 2 minutes. Keep your cadence above 95.

You will overheat, and your body will try to provide blood to working muscles while shunting some to your skin to cool you down, but you've deliberately reduced blood volume by underhydrating. This will push your HR beyond what you normally achieve. A higher cadence achieves a higher hr than a lower cadence.

casual_cyclist
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### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

CKinnard wrote:Here's how to guarantee your hr goes above 190.

rug up in your warmest cycling gear, set your bike up on a trainer in a warmer room, don't drink anything for 6 hours beforehand, do a15 minute warm up, then start at a moderate pace, and increase intensity several kph every 1 or 2 minutes. Keep your cadence above 95.

You will overheat, and your body will try to provide blood to working muscles while shunting some to your skin to cool you down, but you've deliberately reduced blood volume by underhydrating. This will push your HR beyond what you normally achieve. A higher cadence achieves a higher hr than a lower cadence.

That sounds good but I don't have a trainer
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CKinnard
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Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:23 am

### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

casual_cyclist wrote:
CKinnard wrote:Here's how to guarantee your hr goes above 190.

rug up in your warmest cycling gear, set your bike up on a trainer in a warmer room, don't drink anything for 6 hours beforehand, do a15 minute warm up, then start at a moderate pace, and increase intensity several kph every 1 or 2 minutes. Keep your cadence above 95.

You will overheat, and your body will try to provide blood to working muscles while shunting some to your skin to cool you down, but you've deliberately reduced blood volume by underhydrating. This will push your HR beyond what you normally achieve. A higher cadence achieves a higher hr than a lower cadence.

That sounds good but I don't have a trainer

looks like you are stuck with your sub 190 HRmax then!

casual_cyclist
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### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

CKinnard wrote:
casual_cyclist wrote:
CKinnard wrote:Here's how to guarantee your hr goes above 190...

That sounds good but I don't have a trainer

looks like you are stuck with your sub 190 HRmax then!

Sprinting next week will sort it out. Looking likely to be Saturday at this point. I will post my results.
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casual_cyclist
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### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

I was doing run intervals last night and my HR went up to 186. Considering my max is supposed to be 190 and I wasn't going as hard as I could, my max could be higher than 190. One week to find out. Sprint training starts on the 20th.
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casual_cyclist
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### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

Well, sprinting didn't work

Hard intervals including sprints: max HR 175

Then I did an easy run with a touch of a cold and max HR was 187.

I still haven't cracked the 190 under normal loads, so I think that could be my max.
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durianrider
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### Re: How do you calculate real max HR?

Its 2014. Not 1994 with a Neil Craig polar guide book and a calculator!

TIME TO GET A POWER METER SO YOU CAN REALLY KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING!

You don't have to get a fancy program. Just ride 1-3w/kg if you want to go easy and long, ride 4-7w/kg if you want to feel some or put some sting in your or other peoples legs.

Do some basic math, set your garmin up to 3second average power, with cadence right underneath and you will see numbers like 70-200w when going steady and 250+ when pushing it harder.

Welcome to proper training.

Dont throw out your HR strap though, that will come in handy to show you how inaccurate HR training really is when you try to pace to HR vs Power.
Vegan since 2001.