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Question on meaning of HRM results(8 posts)

Question on meaning of HRM resultsMcAndrus
Dec 14, 2001 12:53 PM
I bought my first HRM in October, although I've been cycling since the dawn of time. Using the rule-of-thumb guestimates like hill climbs and time trials I estimated my maximum heart rate at 185 bpm.

Living in South Carolina, we can ride pretty much all year so I have been using the HRM and watching the changes since October.

My calculated lactate threshold is 155-168 and my anaerobic range is 169-185. In October and November I had to really push to get into the anaerobic range - hard charges up mile long hills. In the last two weeks the results have changed.

My winter regimen is an aerobic base ride and an interval ride on weekends. The length of the base ride depends on who I'm riding with. The intervals ride is always around 40 miles. Two or three evenings a week I do one hour hard rides around my hilly neighborhood where the streets are well lit and I personally look like a Christmas tree on wheels.

Last Saturday I went on a base miles ride with a mostly Cat 3 pack. Good guys and they don't seem to mind the rube tagging along. In fact I ride with them pretty much all year so I know how to judge my fitness against theirs.

On this ride I noticed my heart rate climbing into the 170s with almost no perceived effort. We are riding along comfortably up hill, chatting and such and when I look down at the HRM I'm up in the 170s!

I took the afternoon off of work today - have to use up my vacation - and went for a 40 mile intervals ride. On the same route in October and November I was pushing hard to get the heart rate above 165 and rarely would it go above 175.

Today the dang heart was just thumping like a drum in a brass band. I had it above 180 several times and once at 185. My perceived effort was no different than any other day on this exact same route yet my heart rate is at least 10 bpm faster than a couple of months ago.

So, now after that long winded explanation, here's my question.

Is this change in HRM vs effort a sign of improving condition or of diminishing condition?
You're not dead, yet, but....rollo tommassi
Dec 14, 2001 2:42 PM
It is a sign of a lack of rest. I wouldn't say that your condition is diminished, only that your body is not sufficiently recovered to achieve previous levels of effort.

Your description of effort in Oct/Nov. is very telling: your performance level has peaked and slid downwards for two months! Not being able to raise your HR is also a sign of tiredness.....

It may also be an indication of illness (cold or flu) - a useful check of this is your resting HR. Again, a resting HR above or even below your norm is a sure sign of overwork.

Taking a week off this time of year won't kill you, and neither will guilt about not riding - a temptation in warmer climes. Relax! Eat a big meal! Put your feet up! Watch Tour tapes!!

You can still ride, but try to stick to the flatlands, and small chainring only! Preferably a 39 inner ring.

And I don't believe for a minute that you're a "Rube"!!
You're not dead, yet, but....McAndrus
Dec 14, 2001 5:28 PM
Thank you for your kindness. I know I'm not a rube: I meant it as a joke. Perhaps I should use emoticons more :-). I appreciate your opinion and thanks for taking the time.
re: Question on meaning of HRM resultsBruno S
Dec 14, 2001 3:50 PM
If the HRM is working correctly (no reason why it shouldn't) it will always be a better indicator of the amount of work you are doing than your perception. While riding with others your perception of effort changes. At least it does for me. I will always work harder when in a group ride than by myself. During a group ride my HR goes above 170+ often. It takes much more effort and concentration to do this by myself.

When you are well rested and recovered it is easier to achive a high HR. When you are tired because of consecutive hard rides it will be more difficult and painful. This could explain with you went up to 185 and felt ok with it. Did you improve? Check your times and speeds.
A couple of things . . .Kerry Irons
Dec 14, 2001 5:21 PM
You state that your LT (about the same as AT) is 155-168. LT is usually expressed as a single number, or at least a very tight range, but not a 13 beat range. One way to find (not calculate) your LT/AT is to take your pulse during a 20-30 minute time trial pace ride. IOW, after a good warmup, take it up to a pace that you can just manage for more than 20 minutes. This will be your LT/AT, recognizing that your pulse will be higher in warm weather than in cool weather.

Overtraining or illness is the typical explanation for either very high or very low pulse rates at a given perceived effort. These are cases where HR is NOT a measure of the work you are doing.
On the LT thing.McAndrus
Dec 14, 2001 5:39 PM
I was working from memory on the number. I actual have it written down at work but I believe I'm close.

What I've discovered after reading two or three authorative sources on HRM training is that no one seems to agree completely with everyone else and that one person's aerobic base range is someone else's lactate threshold range. You say po-ta-to and I say po-tah-to. (Showing my age, sorry. That's a line from a Fred Astaire song for those who don't get the reference.)

I conclude from these mixed signals that HRM training is an art that is based on a science. That's okay. What I do for a living is also an art based on a science, computer programming. So I appreciate the range of opinions.

By the time I have all this training stuff figured out, I'll be to old to ride but I'll be the smartest guy in the old folks home :-).

Thanks for your opinion.
Let's call the calling off offchar
Dec 14, 2001 7:34 PM
See you at the home of the happy cyclist. Calculating AT for the 2 wheel propulsion although they may be side by side instead of front and rear.

I purchased a HR this fall, the least expensive model, ok, let's give it a whirl. But - I can't figure out why everyone is so interested in trying to get a higher HR number. Wouldn't it be better to, say, climb that hill at xxx beats and it took 10.0 minutes and then 1 month later at the same xxx beats it took 9.30 minutes. Still figuring this stuff out. I guess where I'm going with this is: 6 months ago i maxxed at 180, now i can only get to 140 on the same climb [with the same time/speed].
Ah, another Fred & Ginger fanMcAndrus
Dec 15, 2001 5:59 AM
Actually, I'm not interested in increasing the beats-per-minute I'm just trying to interepret what I see and determine what it means for my training.

You see, I share a bit of your confusion. I can take a ride at a perceived effort and get a low HRM result and take the same ride later at the same perceived effort and get a high HRM result. Yesterday's ride is a good example.

There's a particular hill I use to gauge my form. I crested it yesterday having matched my personal best. My heart rate was 184. On the same hill with pretty much the same effort and speed, I have had readings as low as 172.

So was yesterday's ride a good sign or a bad sign for my form? From what I'm learning I think it's a good sign. I think it means I'm more rested than a couple of months ago. Which is where I want to be a this time of year.

But what does that mean for training? Am I now able to ride harder, faster, stronger? Or do I taper off and let my body rest even more?

If I understand the folks here and the literature correctly then my body is going into some kind of winter maintenance mode and you are overtraining and need to rest more. And I don't mean no riding, I mean easy riding.

If my interepretation is incorrect, I'd appreciate if someone would straighten me out.

By the way - I don't know which Fred scene is my favorite, when he and Ginger skate off the rink and into the bushes or his classic dance on the ceiling.