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Cadence, gearing, heart rate and efficiency question(18 posts)

Cadence, gearing, heart rate and efficiency questionsuperdog
Jul 16, 2003 8:03 AM
I have a favorite hill climb I like to time trial several times a month. I'm trying to figure out the best bike setup to perform efficiently and get a better time. Yesterday I wore a HRM just to see what my HR was on the steep sections. What I noticed surprised me. On the very steep sections my HR was around 154 (max HR is 172 LT is 152). I was cranking pretty hard but due to my gearing (39 x 25) I could only crank out sub 60 RPMs. On the less steep sections my HR went up to 160 as I was getting my RPMs back up in the 80's. I was not sandbagging the steep sections as I was doing all I could to keep the cranks turning over. I think this means my gearing is way to big for these hills and that my HR and cadence should be higher on the steep parts. I'm just guessing here but I'd like to be sure before I start making changes.
correctcyclopathic
Jul 16, 2003 9:30 AM
the reason your HR was low on steeper sections your power output dropped on steeper sections. Lower gearing should help, I'd also look at force training (weights/on bike) or riding steeps out of saddle. Many pros use do not run gearing low enough for 12%+, that's why they stand on climbs.
I'm no expert but....Steve Young
Jul 16, 2003 9:32 AM
I'm quite interested in exercise physiology and have been trying to work out how cadence, HR and progress (essentially average speed) are related.

I've been primarily experimenting on a 20 mile flat route outside my house but I have tested some of my ideas further afield on hills etc.

Here are my current ideas:

HR is closely related to cadence and related (but less tightly than you might think to speed per se)

Going at the same speed at a higher cadence (over a short distance at least) results in a higher heart rate.

However (against increased resistance) i.e. into a headwind a higher speed can be sustained by pedalling at a higher cadence (for me 90 rather than 75-80). Thus I can increase my sustainable speed by changing down a gear or two and pedalling faster despite the fact that this clearly results in an increase in my heart rate (say from 75% max effort to 85-90% max effort). And yes I know that I might be training at too high an intensity but I'm not looking to compete at present and I am having fun ....

Of course this might all be BS. To give you some context.

I'm mid thirties, have been pretty fit for a long time but am relatively new to raodbiking (have been mountainbiking for ages) I bought a road bike 2-3 months ago and have put about 400 miles on it so far.

I think that you might see performance gains up hills by increasing your cadence (by adding a lower gear) despite seeing a resultant increase in heartrate.

I'd be interested to know what happens when you try it. I guess it may take several rides running at a higher cadence to get your legs used to the idea.

Steve
higher HR do to cadence = faster recoveryandy02
Jul 16, 2003 10:15 AM
If you max your HR doing a cadence of 115 you will recover a lot faster then maxing your HR at a low cadence at around the same speed. I find it much easier to recover from maxing my HR spinning then to fry my legs mashing (<90rpm sitting)at a lower HR on a hill.
Just curious...Fez
Jul 16, 2003 10:55 AM
How old are you?

And what method did you use to determine your max HR and LT?

And yes, experimenting with higher cadence style even on the flats may help maintain it in the hills, provided you select gears that will accomodate that. Maybe a triple will help?
Just curious...superdog
Jul 16, 2003 11:20 AM
I'm 41.75 years old. Calculated VO2 max, max HR and LT at a performance testing lab at the University where I work.
Just curious...cyclopathic
Jul 16, 2003 11:25 AM
how come your max is so low? did they stop test too early?
for comparison I am 37.96 years old and my max HR is over 200.
prob 220-age for maxcyclopathic
Jul 16, 2003 11:21 AM
I cannot imagine anyone having max as low.
Needless to say it doesn't work well for aged but fit people: my LT is higher of that.
prob 220-age for maxsuperdog
Jul 16, 2003 11:31 AM
Although I only started cycling a few years ago, my background includes competitive running in college and later. I ran 10Ks in the 30 minute range and marathons in the 2:20's. My heart rate is much higher running. I cannot get my HR anywhere near 190 (which was my max running) during a cycling workout. Even during my VO2 max test on the bike I could only get to 172. (I haven't run in 3 years since I started cycling)

I don't spend a lot of time wondering about numbers and statisitics as long as I'm having fun and my times are improving.
Trainingirregardless
Jul 16, 2003 11:59 AM
your cycling muscles are not yet developed enough to tax your heart they way your running muscles did. I used to be in the same boat. With vigorous training over the last two years, including lots of seated and standing hillclimbing, my maximum observed heart rate has risen over 14 beats per minute, and it's still going up. I can now go for an extended period of time at what I used to think was my max heart rate. Keep up the regular high effort training and you should see your max heart rate and LT and VO2 heart rates increase close to what you observed while running.
I might be too far over the hill ( no pun intended )superdog
Jul 16, 2003 12:39 PM
How old are you? I'll be 42 in a few months and I think I'm getting too far over the hill to see a lot of improvement. I don't know anything about exercise physiology and aging but I think the hormones that control muscle growth/repair really start falling off in your late 30's and 40's.
We're the same ageirregardless
Jul 16, 2003 7:49 PM
Two years ago I thought my my max was 186, never saw it go any higher. But I never trained doing seated climbing. As I started training doing seated climbs on weekends, and doing repeats until I was close to my max, I noticed over a period of weeks that my max went up, as did my strength and speed and endurance. Now it's over 200. I never would have thought I'd be where I am today when I was sucking wind and almost collapsing at 186. Give some serious seated climing a try every week for a month or two and see if it works for you. You may be surprised. Good luck.
prob 220-age for maxal0
Jul 16, 2003 12:00 PM
I would confirm that 220-age rule is complete bullshit/ My max. HR at 21 was 235 (on bike in lab).
Now (47) I haven't measure it in reliable way but as I can pedaling at 172 for hours I can safely assume that max. is about 200.

Concerning your specific case - max. HR should not depend on what exactly you do - run or bike. It just capability of your cardivascular system. Your difference just prove that your other system (skeleton muscles and so on) can't take a pace during biking and perform as limiting factor. For all your trainig you shall take your real max. HR (i.e. from running) to calculate intensity (zones, intervals and so on). And you should (at least at the moment) put more attention on developing your legs and pedaling techique rater then endurance.
Yes and no.TWD
Jul 16, 2003 1:51 PM
Yep,

220-age is a load of crap. For me at age 21, I could never get my HR over 186 no matter how hard I tried, except on one occaision which I chalk up to factors such as heat, too little sleep, and being hyped up on caffiene. I'm 28 now, and have only seen 184. My resting heard rate is in the mid 30s however, and I have seen as low as 34 bpm, which I think is pretty low compared to most folks, so the range I have to work with is probably comparable to others with higher max heartrates.

As for the max heart rate for different sports, I've read in several books and articles (can't remember which ones off the top of my head) that your max heart rate will be different for each sport. I recall seeing a recommendation for triathletes to use a heart rate monitor with multiple zones so that they can program in their target zone for each leg of the event, since they will be different.

It makes sense to me. In my experience, I'm able to hit my max HR on the bike a lot easier when standing out of the saddle. You are using more muscle groups when you stand vs when seated. In cycling, you are primarily using only your legs and glutes (although these are the biggest muscle groups), but in other sports, say cross country skiing, you are using those muscle groups and a lot of others too. You can only push each muscle group so hard, and if you are pushing more muscle groups to the max, you will push your cardio system a little bit harder.

I do recall having hit higher max heart rates while cross country ski racing, though I can't recall by how much. Probably only a couple bpms.

That's just my theory, I'm no expert.
Just curious, PART 2Fez
Jul 16, 2003 2:31 PM
Can any of our knowledgeable folks here tell me if there is any functional difference here:

Athlete A - elite athlete, resting HR 35, max HR 185, LT 160ish

Athlete B - elite ahtlete also, same age, resting HR 55, max HR 200, LT 175ish

B has a higher resting rate, but higher max and higher zones. Does it make any difference?

Is the ideal to have extremely low resting rates but extremely high max and LT numbers?
The idealwilsonc
Jul 16, 2003 3:26 PM
the ideal is to go fast, long, or both. those numbers are just to help you train. thats all. period.
Switch from a 25 to a 27 tooth cog ???superdog
Jul 16, 2003 2:43 PM
Would it make much difference if I switched cassettes and went from a 25 to 27? I'm guessing it wouldn't make a significant difference.

I have an Ultegra double chainring with 39 53. I can't afford to convert to a triple but I'm wondering if I can buy a smaller chainring for up front. I'll take a look at Colorado Cyclist to see if they carry such a thing.
no smaller than a 39 on ultegrawilsonc
Jul 16, 2003 3:23 PM
you cant get smaller than a 39 on shimano cranks, unless you go to a triple. Apparently, you can get a 36 or so on certain FSA cranks though (thats what tyler hamilton is running in the tour).

wilson