Heart rate and training

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Heart rate and training

Postby Arlberg » Mon Oct 22, 2012 12:47 pm

I am 44, so using the (rather unreliable) equation of Maximum Heart rate = 220 - age, my max heart rate should come in at about 176 bpm.

However no matter how hard I push myself, I seem unable to exceed 172 bpm. By not reaching my supposed max heart rate, does that mean I am actually skimping on training and I should try and push even harder and longer to get it up that last 4 bpm?

Incidentally, when I first started training the absolute highest I could push my heart rate to was 181, that was back in 2005 when I was 37. Then my max heart rate would have supposedly been 183. (220 -37 = 183)

Fitness generally seems to be measured from the resting heart rate, the lower the better. (my resting heart rate is 38 bpm). But what about the maximum heart rate? Does having a higher maximum heart rate also indicate a higher level of fitness? And does being able to exercise for extended periods at, or even above the supposed maximum heart rate indicate a higher level of fitness again? For example if I could exercise for extended periods at a heart rate of say, 180 bpm instead of the current 172 bpm, (and with a supposed max heart rate 0f 176 bpm) would that indicate anything?

Do Tour de France riders regularly exceed their supposed maximum heart rates? An imaginary rider aged say 25 at the peak of fitness and pushing his limits climbing the Alpe de Huez, is he able to consistently exceed his theoretical maximum heart rate of 195bpm? (220 - 25 = 195).

Again, I realise the formula 220 - age is only a very general approximation.
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by BNA » Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:11 pm

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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:11 pm

Arlberg wrote:I am 44, so using the (rather unreliable) equation of Maximum Heart rate = 220 - age, my max heart rate should come in at about 176 bpm.

However no matter how hard I push myself, I seem unable to exceed 172 bpm. By not reaching my supposed max heart rate, does that mean I am actually skimping on training and I should try and push even harder and longer to get it up that last 4 bpm?

Age based HR formula are not applicable to individuals. What they don't tell you is they have a standard deviation of about 15bpm.

Arlberg wrote:Fitness generally seems to be measured from the resting heart rate, the lower the better. (my resting heart rate is 38 bpm). But what about the maximum heart rate? Does having a higher maximum heart rate also indicate a higher level of fitness?

HR (resting, max or any other HR) is not a measure of fitness. It's just a measure of how frequently your heart is beating.

What matters is how much power you can sustain, and even better is how much power you can sustain per kg of body weight.
The nature of fitness depends on the time frame over which you can sustain that power.

Arlberg wrote:And does being able to exercise for extended periods at, or even above the supposed maximum heart rate indicate a higher level of fitness again? For example if I could exercise for extended periods at a heart rate of say, 180 bpm instead of the current 172 bpm, (and with a supposed max heart rate 0f 176 bpm) would that indicate anything?

No.

Arlberg wrote:Do Tour de France riders regularly exceed their supposed maximum heart rates? An imaginary rider aged say 25 at the peak of fitness and pushing his limits climbing the Alpe de Huez, is he able to consistently exceed his theoretical maximum heart rate of 195bpm? (220 - 25 = 195).

Refer the standard deviation in the formula I mentioned above.

Arlberg wrote:Again, I realise the formula 220 - age is only a very general approximation.

Correct. But don't confuse HR as a measure of fitness.

What HR can be used for is an indicator of relative intensity of sub-maximal relatively steady state effort.
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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby sogood » Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:38 pm

Everything Alex has said. It's also worth remembering that HR is just the frequency the heart pumps. What's central to exercise is the oxygen delivery to the muscles, so one needs to further consider the haemoglobin level (why EPO and blood dope works), stroke volume of the heart (total volume of blood that gets pumped for fixed period of time), blood oxygen association relationship, lung's gas exchange characteristics amongst other basic parameters. It just so happens that HR is one parameter that can be measured easily and unobtrusively. It alone is no magic to one's ability to perform at any point in time.
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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby you cannot be sirrus » Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:02 pm

I can't offer the level of advice of Alex, my theoretical age based HR should be 169. Yesterday in a 1h 20m race my average was 170, max 188, clearly these age based figures should be taken lightly. I'll hit 190 sprinting on a hill.
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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby Arlberg » Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:43 pm

Some great responses guys, thanks for the help.

Alex, is it possible to over exert to a dangerous level (and cause a heart attack for example) by pushing yourself too hard in a normal healthy person, or is it like trying to drown yourself simply by holding your breath underwater-ie physically impossible?
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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby Comedian » Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:50 pm

For what it's worth... I've exceeded my max by 15bpm a few times, and regularly 10.

For me the big thing is fatigue. If I'm fatigued I can't get my heart to spin. However I think it's just the legs that are dead and they are limiting things not the blood delivery. Does that make sense?
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:34 pm

Arlberg wrote:Some great responses guys, thanks for the help.

Alex, is it possible to over exert to a dangerous level (and cause a heart attack for example) by pushing yourself too hard in a normal healthy person, or is it like trying to drown yourself simply by holding your breath underwater-ie physically impossible?

Well assuming you are healthy, no cardiac illness, relatively young, not sick, not a smoker, no hypertension etc etc, then in general the heart will take whatever you throw at it and it is not dangerous. The body has mechanisms to protect you from dangerous physical over exertion. It's actually very very hard to get your heart rate up to a true maximal level.

but don't take that as advice to go and smash yourself, have a heart attack and sue me ;-)

If in any doubt about your heart health, consult a qualified physician.
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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby Just*managing » Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:48 pm

38bpm seems pretty chilled out. I can't get below 1 beat per second


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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby winstonw » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:03 pm

I suggest you also read up on Overtraining Syndrome, of which a low HRmax, among other things, can be a symptom of.

http://www.ausport.gov.au/sportscoachmag/sports_sciences/overtraining_syndrome
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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby sogood » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:13 pm

Arlberg wrote:Alex, is it possible to over exert to a dangerous level (and cause a heart attack for example) by pushing yourself too hard in a normal healthy person, or is it like trying to drown yourself simply by holding your breath underwater-ie physically impossible?

In medicine, never say never. There have been cases where previously healthy subjects were induced into their first episode of arrhythmia and potentially sudden death through intense exertion. But this is rare and unexpected. Otherwise, you can work your heart as hard as you want and it'll just keep pumping at maximum level. You won't hold that too long as it's quite stressful for you.
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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby poohkies » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:16 pm

this is great to read, i'm 32 and i'm regularly when pushing really hard getting my heart over 200bpm , I only find this after I upload my ride to garmin connect and go through it! At no point am I have pain etc, i'm just peddleing as fast as I can for as long as I can!

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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby Ross » Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:37 am

I had my max HR measured during a VO2 max test (on a wind trainer) a few years ago and have never exceeded my max since while on the bike. I've come to within one BPM, but never actually exceded it. My true max HR is 17 BPM more than the age formula.
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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby poohkies » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:16 am

just got a new ant + computer with speed candence and H/R , i'm hoping i can uses these features to better fitness and constant speed over distance!
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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby WMC1 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:24 am

I am 45 years old and find that if I get my heart rate between 165 and 170 bpm I feel a lack of energy or tiredness? Not sure why that is but once I get below 160 I am back to normal levels. My resting heart rate is 45 bpm.

I do have a kidney deficiency (diagnosed with chronic kidney disease 8 years ago) and my blood is low in iron so I need to keep an eye on that. This may be causing my issue above? I can still ride 170km at an average of 30km/h and an average heart rate of 141 bpm and max of 171 bpm

I do try and push myself but don’t want to cause any harm, if you know what I mean.
Work is something I do in between cycling.

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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby sogood » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:47 am

WMC1 wrote:I am 45 years old and find that if I get my heart rate between 165 and 170 bpm I feel a lack of energy or tiredness? Not sure why that is but once I get below 160 I am back to normal levels. My resting heart rate is 45 bpm.

I do have a kidney deficiency (diagnosed with chronic kidney disease 8 years ago) and my blood is low in iron so I need to keep an eye on that. This may be causing my issue above? I can still ride 170km at an average of 30km/h and an average heart rate of 141 bpm and max of 171 bpm

That's a most respectable pace for 170km! However, anaemia (associated with low iron level/renal disease) will invariably limit your upper boundary.
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Re: Heart rate and training

Postby WMC1 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:10 am

sogood wrote:
WMC1 wrote:I am 45 years old and find that if I get my heart rate between 165 and 170 bpm I feel a lack of energy or tiredness? Not sure why that is but once I get below 160 I am back to normal levels. My resting heart rate is 45 bpm.

I do have a kidney deficiency (diagnosed with chronic kidney disease 8 years ago) and my blood is low in iron so I need to keep an eye on that. This may be causing my issue above? I can still ride 170km at an average of 30km/h and an average heart rate of 141 bpm and max of 171 bpm

That's a most respectable pace for 170km! However, anaemia (associated with low iron level/renal disease) will invariably limit your upper boundary.


Thanks, that was the Ipswich 100 mile with 1600m of accents and descents so it was a tough ride. :(

And that is why I can not keep up with healthier riders up steep grades (10% and above), I just run out of steam earlier but I can maintain a steady effort for a fair while.
Work is something I do in between cycling.

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