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2 Questions for you training gurus.(20 posts)

2 Questions for you training gurus.Len J
Oct 5, 2001 6:28 AM
At the risk of diclosing my utter ignorance about how to effectivly train using heartrates................

Maybe its a midlife crisis thing, but I have decided to really try to take a step up in my cycling. To that end, I recently bought Friel's & Carmichael's training books & have bben trying to construct a training plan beginning in January. As I read & reread these books I am confused by the following, and would like any clarity you could provide:

1.) Training relative to AT. I tried to capture my max heart rate by using the hill method. The highest I've ever seen (in Alaska) was 192 bpm. I know that you can't ride above AT for any length of time. It also seems like the books talk about AT around 90% of max Heartrate. Last night I did 30 miles over flats with little wind (for a change), averaged 21 MPH and my average Heartrate was 180 in this effort. (the sustained range was 177 to 183) That means that I sustained riding at 93.8% of max heartrate for almost 86 minutes. (with large efforts at over 95%) This shouldn't be possible (based on what I have read) What am I misunderstanding?

2.) When I read about base miles and how they contribute to strength building both C & F talk about long rides at 80 to 90 rpm while staying below 60% of max HR. I am a spinner, my sweet spot is around 103 rpm, I can stay there for hours. I don't understand how riding at 85rpm maintaining a 60% of max heart rte can make me stronger. To keep my heartrate at 115 bpm, I would have to ride at about 13mph.
Again, what am I missing? Should I be modifing this advice because I'm a spinner? Help.

I realize that for some of you these are pretty inane questions, I would appreciate your help to this middle aged heartrate training newbie. Thanks

I am sure you know to take any advice with a grain of salt.MB1
Oct 5, 2001 7:15 AM
Start with any program you like and modify it to suit you.

After using a heartrate monitor for a few years I came to the conclusion that only good use for it was to keep me from going too hard on easy days. Which then allowed me to have more energy for hard days. So don't be afraid to go slower for a while. (One problem us older riders don't usually have is motivation-we often tend to go way too hard).

Now days I just try to keep up with Miss M. It always amuses me to get passed by so many people during the week knowing that they wouldn't stand a chance of keeping up with Miss M on the weekend. Every dog has its day.
To Len, Undisputed Master of the Wind!Jon
Oct 5, 2001 8:11 AM
I'm pretty familiar with both Carmichael and Friel's systems. I used Carmichael's programs from
Bicycling for two years and this last year trained with Friel's. With respect to lactate threshold
heart rate as a percentage of your maximum, I would suggest that you don't have a totally accurate
estimate of your max. heart rate. For most trained cyclists, LTHR falls somewhere between 85 and
90% of maximum. On your thirty mile ride you, assuming you're pretty fit, were probably 3 to 5 beats
below LT or possibly right at LT if you're extremely race fit. Following both Carmichael and Friel's
advice, you need to go out and do about a 3 to 5 mi. TT and calculate your LTH'R from that.
Friel gives some formulas applicable to various distances.

With respect to strength building and long rides, I think you've misunderstood something here.
Carmichael designates under 65% MHR as recovery zone, whereas Friel has it at about 70-72%MHR, but
expresses his zones as % of LTHR. The strength building workouts which you're thinking of during
base period could be tempo workouts. These workouts are usually done at the upper end of one's
aerobic zones, usually around 80% max. hr. With Friel, I think he specifies a pedalling cadence
of around 90 rpm or so, whereas Carmichael likes really big gear work at 65 to 70 rpm for
periods of 20 min. to an hour and twenty minutes, depending on one's fitness level and training
volumes. Endurance base work is usually done at intensity levels between 70% MHR and 80% MHR
at pedalling cadences between 90 and 100 rpm or higher if you're a spinner.

I hope this info. helps. If you have further questions, e-mail me at
Helps alot, Thanks, but............Len J
Oct 5, 2001 8:52 AM
I think you crystallized my real question.

I suspected that the problem was my max Heartrate in question #1. Thanks for confirming.

I was obviously confused with what zone I should be in in these base period workouts. I think the real confusion I am having is with the cadence. Friel at 90rpm, Carmichael at 65 to 70. For a spinner like me to ride at these cadences and keep my heart rate below 80% would require some pretty slow speeds. How does this build strength? Maybe its not supposed to but it seems like they suggest it does. Should a spinner be doing these workouts at a higher cadence?

Thanks again.

Strength BuildingJon
Oct 5, 2001 9:06 AM
To match cadence and heart rate, just pick the appropriate gear. In my opinion, how you choose
to do tempo work depends on your own assessment of your limitations. If strength is an issue, as
it is with me, I prefer Carmichael's tempo workout. You'll find if you get in a big gear and grind
it out at 70 rpm through mildly rolling terrain or straight into a headwind, it'll not only build your aerobic system but build in a lot
of strength and muscular endurance without getting into lactate threshold territory. This, I found, is
really useful training in early Spring. If strength and power are not issues for you, but aerobic
development is, then do your tempos at a higher cadence. Another great strength building workout
is Carmichael's muscle tension intervals. These are done on hills or a trainer with the resistance
cranked right up. You push the biggest gear at the highest tension level that you can at 55 - 60 rpm for 5 to
10 minutes at a time. Being a spinner, you'll just HATE this workout! It's like doing extended
squats on a bike. Your heart rate will rise slowly, but will end up right around your climbing LT,
usually somewhere between 90 and 95% MHR. I like Carmichael's programs for their innovative
workouts, but prefer Friel's zones based on LT and the way he teaches one to structure training
microcycles on an annualized plan.
Oct 5, 2001 9:16 AM
If you use Friel's heart rate zones, your tempo heart rate would be about 8 - 10 beats below lactate
threshold heart rate. This would correspond roughly to high zone 3.
If you want to get better, work on your weaknesses.MB1
Oct 5, 2001 9:24 AM
Mine is chocolate malts. ;-)))
Thanks. Makes sense now! nmLen J
Oct 5, 2001 9:43 AM
Hey! My wife calls me the "Undisputed Master of the Wind!" tooPaulCL
Oct 5, 2001 9:36 AM
Regrettfully, it has nothing to do with what I do ON the bike, but what comes after the bikeride. Damn burritoes...
no guru I, but..dotkaye
Oct 5, 2001 7:54 AM
1. determining max heart rate is non-trivial. I'd guess that your real max rate is significantly higher than 192. Individual variations in max heart rate are enormous - I believe Ned Overend has a HRM of 165 only. Running is usually a better way to determine HRM: find a nice steep hill, run up it a few times, then run as fast as possible, take HRM at the top. This will be close enough for all practical purposes.
2. Not missing anything. The base training speed using heart rate is astonishingly slow at first, both for cycling and running. The US triathletes in San Diego used to laugh at the German triathletes spinning slowly along in the small ring for miles and miles, but stopped laughing at race time.. This makes you stronger because of several things: trains your metabolism to utilise fats more efficiently; also you'll find that your speed at the base HR will increase as you do more of it. There's a good article by Mark Allen (one of the triathlon pantheon) about HRM on xtri,
EXCELLENT article by Mark Allen. Thanks! -nmTig
Oct 5, 2001 9:23 AM
That is a great article by Mark Allen (nm)Jon
Oct 5, 2001 11:54 AM
Thanks. Good article. nmLen J
Oct 5, 2001 9:44 AM
re: 2 Questions for you training gurus.cioccman
Oct 5, 2001 7:57 AM
OK, Len J, I consider myself a fanatic, not a know it all guru. This response will not be concise or well constructted. You are obviously more into a zone training series than I am currently.

In response to your question 1. It is obviously possible for you. It would seem to me that you're in fine shape, as far as your AT goes. It would seem that your pushing you POD or your AT up to great levels delaying lactic buildup. Perhaps you're genetic make up is such that you produce less lactic acid or can flush it better than most? I don't have an answer for this. All I can say is good!! You're doing great.

To #2. Staying below 60% is recovery riding, or basebuilding riding. You need to do this to let the muscles build up the spent glycogen from your 93% max, 86 minute ride. You simply need to recover. This is not a strength building day. This is also a fat burning day because you'll be primarily in aerobic mode, burning primarily fat, because that's all you've got left after your 90% plus day. You can't go out and do 90% rides daily without consuming 5000+ calories. Even then, you won't be burning fat. Use a 60% day for a pleasure ride, make it a 4 hour ride, not 1 1/2. Recover, rest. Get down to 85/90 rpm. Can you take a flat ride and spin at 100 and still keep your heart rate down? That's when you know you've reached the next level of cardio fitness.

Good luck, you're in fine shape.
re: 2 Questions for you training gurus.grzy
Oct 5, 2001 9:48 AM
Good questions. Most of the books out these days fall a bit short on really giving you the insight and info that you can actually use. Look at the Lactate Pulse Rate Training Book or whatever it's called (I tried a quick searc on amazon, but bombed - sorry) - it's very informative. Polar has a decent book out on Percision Cycling which is OK, but it's a little short on meat.

1. It all depends on what your true ultimate HR is. Using the formula of 220 - age is very rough. According to this method I should have an ultimate of 180 bpm, but I can sustain 175 all day. I've seen 204 in a race - then bonked. Obviously it's just a rough index and there is a significant part of the population that runs 12 to 24 bpm above or below the average. It is very much based on the individaul. the best way is to get a stress test administerd by a professional. The cheap way is to go to the gym and set the tread mill on something like a 6 min./mile pace and throw in the random hills - then run your buns off until you blow up - I saw 206. You should feel like you're going to die and your workout will be over at that point. Of course this is very dangerous especially if you have any risk factors or some underlying condition. Ultimately if you're working hard and right at your sustainable limit then this is around 85%. Take this number and divide by 0.85 and you'll have a better idea of what your max is. - of course this is pretty rough and you're "fudging" by backing into the number.

2. the next key is realizing that it is very tough to go full out every day. What you want to do is alternate between easy and hard days. Catching your resting HR before you even get up in the morning is a good guide to see if you're over training. If your resting HR is elevated from normal then you need to back off. One of the toughest things is to go slow for a work out. You feel like you should be hammering everyday, but this will fatigue and drag you down. Think about doing some interval training. Find a reasonable hill and storm up it at AT for about 2 min. then turn around and descend. Let your HR come down to some target like 120 bpm then storm back up the hill. Work up to doing something like 12 to 18 sets of intervals. Then take a nice slow ride back home - you should be cooked. When you go slow, go for a longer ride - go with a mixed group so you don't get bored or crank up the effort. A recovery ride should be that - just an easy ride that turns the legs over and flushes toxins. Also, going long/slow allows you to burn fat, which is a different mechanism from going hard and burning up glycogen.

Just remember, runners have a term for it - LSD. Long Slow Distance. You need to alternate between high and low intensity and long and short duration. Probably one of the htings to do is to wear your HRM for a while, but don't get too obsessed about the numbers. You need to learn what different effort levels feel like over time.
Thanks for all the thoughtful replies! (nm)Len J
Oct 5, 2001 10:58 AM
re: 2 Questions for you training gurus.Lazy
Oct 5, 2001 11:04 AM
Seems to me you're a prime candidate for getting tested to find out exactly what your LTHR is. Several of my teammates have done it and said it is totally worth it. You should be able to get it done for less than $100.

One of these days I'll get off my [insert screen name here] butt and do it myself. Good luck.
Where would I get this done? nmLen J
Oct 5, 2001 11:41 AM
re: Where would I get this done?Jon
Oct 5, 2001 12:07 PM
At any human performance lab. Check with the phys. ed. dept. of the nearest university to you, or
with any USCF certified coaches in your area. If you do get tested, have them draw blood periodically
to determine lactate threshold rather than look for a "deflection"point on the heart rate graph. This
latter method, called a Conconi test, is notoriously inaccurate. The standard definition of lactate
threshold is that exercise intensity which corresponds with a blood lactate level of 4mmol/l. When
blood lactate reaches that level then lactic acid begins to accumulate much more rapidly than
the body can remove it.
I'm on the Eastern Shore of MD...Len J
Oct 6, 2001 7:17 PM
the only performance labs here are studying perdue poultry.

Thanks, seriously, I'll look around.