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What are the benchmarks of an efficient heart(17 posts)

What are the benchmarks of an efficient heartKristin
Oct 13, 2003 8:52 AM
Now there are a group of people who are reading this who will roll their eyes and make that clucking sound with their tongue; and they will feel a great urge to respond to this post and tell me that I should just ride an not "worry" so much. Sigh. Bear in mind, that I think because I can. Perhaps I enjoy using my brain while riding. And despite the fact that am not a great multi-tasker I can use braincells and turn pedals at the same time.

So I've been wearing my HRM. I do this not because I'm training, but because I am curious. "What's going on in there," I wonder. The alarm also helps me to keep things under control. I think I am seeing some slight changes since I began wearing it 4 weeks ago. My HR seems to drop faster after a climb, and it seems to not climb as high on certain hills as it did that first week. So I'm curious. What are the differences between a strong heart and a weak, unconditioned heart? What should I be watching for as the weeks go by? Thanks!!
not sure you can isolate the heartDougSloan
Oct 13, 2003 9:20 AM
The heart, lungs, vascular system, muscles, blood, all work together and perform better after training.

However, essentially I think efficiency means that you can perform the same work (speed) at a lower HR, partially because the heart can pump more blood with each stroke, or more work (go faster) at the same HR. Also, as you train, you can sustain the same HR longer.

Yep, also...No_sprint
Oct 13, 2003 9:27 AM
A *healthier* heart is one that doesn't fibrillate or otherwise become irregular when under stress.

I look at the system as Doug says, if the whole system performs better at lower HRs, it's a good thing.
Good point. Its all very fascinating to me.Kristin
Oct 13, 2003 9:41 AM
But I don't know much about the body. I'm also curious about what lactate threshold is and isn't. As best as I can figure, these are my numbers: (at present)

MHR: 190 BPM (Guessing here. 184BPM is the highest HR I've seen on my Polar)
95% = 180
90% = 171
80% = 152
70% = 133
65% = 123
60% = 114

I must concede that I'm not very fit at all--the numbers don't lie. Most of my riding is at 80%. I've read that this is a "tempo" pace, and not the best place to begin; however, I find it almost impossible to lower my heart rate. Give me a headwind and it climbs to between 160-165 BPM range. Give me a hill, any hill...forget it. I'll climb to the 175-184 range in a heart beat! (haha) So I figure there is a period of time when I must just ride and not worry about the fact that my HR is too high. I assume that this will change over time and I'll be able to control my intensity. Right now its kinda random.

I'm puzzled with regard to LT. Doesn't LT always happen at around the same percentage of your max? And aren't you always suposed to feel that "burn" when you've reached your LT? That's how I had understood it anyway. But there have been times that my Heart Rate was at 184, and while I was my lungs were about to explode, I did not have any burning in my legs. There have been other times that my quads have burned and my heart rate has not climbed past 165BPM. I find that strange.
No, LT is trainable......Len J
Oct 13, 2003 9:51 AM
the better shape you get in, the more riding you do just below your LT, your LT will rise. LT is a measure of the threashold at which you are disposing of Lactic acid as fast as you are producing it. Go above it & you can only ride there so long because LT is building up in your muscles (I know it's more technical than this but it's close). Because you can condition your body to get more efficient at disposing of Lacti acid, your LT rises as you get in better shape. This is the main argument for using zones set off of your LT to manage your training, your LT changes. MHR usually doesn't change except over lang periods of time.

duration matters a lotDougSloan
Oct 13, 2003 9:57 AM
LT is based upon what you can sustain for about 30 minutes or so. I guarantee you that if you are at your LT for 30 minutes, the last 10 minutes will be very uncomfortable.

I can easily spike my HR at 95% of max and not feel that uncomfortable; if it's only for about 20-30 seconds, there isn't a lot of time for lactic acid to accumulate, and the first 10-20 seconds your are utilizing the anaerobic engine, not trying to pull yourself out of oxygen debt, yet. It's when that acid builds up and your anaerobic capacity is shot, and you continue to try to ride hard, that it gets tough.

My LT seems to vary depending upon my rest and fitness levels. Sometimes I'm so tired that I can't sustain it at all. Other times, the "superman" days (at peak) I can seemingly ride 5 beats over LT no problem.

I'm unsure of the physiology that causes you to be able to rider faster when well rested or unable to when fatigued. I think it's pretty complicated. If I'm over tired from the last week's hard training, sometimes I hurt from the beginning of a ride, and any effort at all will cause hard breathing.

If you sustain 184 for any period of time, your legs will burn.

Why don't you try a 10 mile time trial, and see what your average HR is? That will give you a better indication of LT.

Also, for max, it's pretty tough to estimate it. Given what you describe, my bet is that it is higher than what you think. Could easily be 200. If you really haven't tried hard to max, you probably haven't come close.

Well, you know, I typically avoid pain.Kristin
Oct 13, 2003 10:14 AM
Whenever I'm at 184 BPM, I'm hurting somehow. Either my lungs are ready to burst, or my legs are, or both. But I've never stayed there for more than 60 seconds max. What are the instructions for doing a 10 minute TT? I could do one in 2 weeks, after the Hilly.
10 mile TTDougSloan
Oct 13, 2003 10:34 AM
For a 10 mi TT, here's what I would suggest:

*be well rested
*find a road with little traffic, no stop signs, good pavement, where you can go 5 miles out, turn around and come back 5 miles; alternatively, at worst find a loop that is 10 miles around, and make all right turns. The goal is to ride with minimal interruption and out and back of some sort so you more or less cancel wind effects.
*try to pick a day or time of day with little wind
*too cold or too hot will slow you down; about 70 degrees would be ideal
*if you are used to aerobars, then use them; if not, use the drops
*warm up well; you should start after having pushed youself to LT a few times, sweating a little, throughoughly loose, but not tired; if you aren't warmed up, you'll feel good for about a minute, then you'll hurt pre-maturely
*go for a standing start, but if you have trouble clipping in, just start clipped in but barely rolling; make sure to reset your computer at the start
*drink well before your test; you probably shouldn't need to drink during, but take one bottle just in case your mouth gets really dry
*start in a low enough gear to allow you to accellerate rapidly without mashing too hard; shift up rapidly; don't sprint, but get up to speed quickly
*settle into a relatively high cadence, maybe around 85-95, whatever makes you comfortable; don't mash or spin wildly
*your HR will take a few minutes to come up and stabilize; don't go too fast at first, thinking your HR is too low; at first, ride at the *speed* you think you can sustain, instead
*after about 2 miles, your HR should be up; then, try to measure effort by HR, whatever you think you can sustain; if you've not done this before, I'd pick about 85-90% of maximum.
*you might change gears and cadence from time to time; this will use different muscles a bit; if you are breathing too hard, drop cadence and mash a little; if your legs hurt but your not breathing hard, spin more
*at every moment, ride as fast as you think you can for the rest of the 10 miles; in other words, if at 8 miles you feel pretty good, that probably means you are going too slowly, and can up the pace to get your fastest finish; at about 2 miles to go, you really should be suffering; at 1 mile to go, it's only a 1 mile race, so guage your effort to blow at the end; with the finish in sight, it's sort of a head down use yourself up feeling; not much need to sprint at the end, though -- it won't make that much difference
*if you are going so hard you are losing good form, slow down, as you are probably going too hard.
*it doesn't matter if you go exactly 10 miles; just note your average speed on your computer at the end; that will probably be about the same whether it's 8 or 11 miles; just do the same route each time to have meaningful comparisons
*if your computer doesn't show average HR, then just try to not your typical readings between about 5 and 9 miles; that is probably about where your LT is

This is not fun, so I won't even say "have fun." If you are not miserable in the last half, you are not doing it right. Make sure you still are riding carefully, as your brain will be mush. No race is worth taking an undue risk.

Well, I'll have to do it next summer or move to FresnoKristin
Oct 13, 2003 10:54 AM
The days of 70 degrees are long gone I'm afraid. And I'm not sure there is any road in Illinois that goes for 10 miles with not traffic signal. It might just take me till next spring to search out such a location.
alternate suggestion for finding max HR - kinda longinnergel
Oct 13, 2003 11:36 AM
If you cannot find a suitable 10 mile loop for your TT, then you could always do this on an indoor trainer. This will allow you to gauge your effort without all the external forces of nature. You will need to have a fan blowing on you to cool you off, but you can easily get in a hard workout on a trainer.

I usually do the 12 week indoor training sessions from Dr. Arnie Bakers book, Smart Cycling. There are a couple of the workouts that will put you in a world of hurt very quickly, and they are only 1 hour long. All of the workouts incorporate a 12 minute warmup in an easy gear (39x17) that gradually increase your sping rate from 70-120, going up 5 rpm per minute. There are workouts for strength, spin, aerobic capacity, etc.

The workout that would probably work best in this situation goes something like this:

12 minute warm up as described above
2 minutes rest at a very low gear/cadence combo, or even completely stopped

3 sets of 9 minutes each - gearing 39x19 or similar
cadence - spin up from 80-140, it should look something like this if you chart it out:
80 - 1 minute
85 - 1 minute
90 - 1 minute
95 - 1 minute
100 - 1 minute
105 - 30 seconds
110 - 30 seconds
115 - 30 seconds
120 - 30 seconds
125 - 30 seconds
130 - 30 seconds
135 - 30 seconds
140 - 30 seconds

2 minutes rest at a very low gear/cadence combo, or even completely stopped

15 minute TT
gearing 53x19 or similar
cadence 85-95
You should be going hard enough that you can barely finish the TT w/out blowing up. Similar situation as to what Doug describes in his workout.

Cool down at 60-80 cadence in an easy gear for 10 minutes.

If you cannot reach the high-end of the cadence, you can adjust the gearing or cadence numbers as necessary. From my experience, this workout will get your HR spiked about as high as it will go. My personal maxHR was 189 using this workout and I'm 36. And I personally have a very difficult time holding a cadence above 140 for more than a few seconds. But then again, I'm 6'5" and ride a 63cm bike, so it's hard to get my legs going that quickly :-)

If you email me directly, I will dig out the exact workout from the book and send it to you. But this is a very close approximation.

Good luck and let us know how it went.
Riding vs. trainingNo_sprint
Oct 13, 2003 10:48 AM
There is a huge difference between riding and training. If you're a rider seeking enjoyment and general fitness, seeking your VO2 max, LT, AT, capacity, power, etc. is useless. Riding and enjoying at any pace as often as possible is much more meaningful. Knowing some of this stuff for general knowledge is just fine.

Training without goals is worthless. Training is not necessarily enjoying either. Training and knowing all those numbers above is worthwhile in attaining some goals. If the goal is racing to win then knowing those numbers simply help refine a training schedule in order to maximize potential when it's important for you to peak. All those numbers simply help in putting together a routine that will, in a nutshell, maximize power. Boiled down, the game of racing, at least here in the U.S., IMHO, is maximization of power and power at LT.
Good point also.Kristin
Oct 13, 2003 10:57 AM
I'm in the mode of wanting to learn and understand my fitness. But certainly I have no ambitions for racing or optimizing my performance in order to win a race. I'd like to be able to join a local club ride one day. At present, I'd only show up and get dropped. But even that goal is rather ambiguous. I'm not miserable riding alone.
In the words of Eddie Mercx...No_sprint
Oct 13, 2003 11:23 AM
Just Ride.

The more you do it, the better you'll become. If you want to ride with the local club, just do it. I can't imagine a club where you'd be the slowest from what I've read of you. The local clubs here have weekly rides that are rider friendly and *no drop*. Simply introduce yourself to the head honcho before roll out.

There is one thing I try to instill in all who I train/instruct, that is the 70/70 theory. If you do quite a bit of cardiovascular exercise, attempt to keep somewhere around 70% of your total training time at or beneath 70% of your total possible exertion/max HR.
I quit using onespluti
Oct 13, 2003 9:31 AM
after a couple of years because I kind of knew what my heart rate was doing and what to expect. It takes some careful observation and note taking to maximize your HRM experience. I wasn't really willing to give it that much attention to detail so as the novelty wore off I quit using it. Given that, the most valuable feature was recovery time. I always slowed to 120 BPM and started a three minute recovery from there, without moving at all. If I couldn't recover to something under 190 PBM I was either over training or getting sick.
My heart rate never really changed as my conditioning improved (or digressed). What happened was that my recoveries became quicker from all levels. Along with my ability to sustain a higher level for longer periods of time. Time is the key.
what a heart, yeah me too, cold hearted bastard I am.... nmafrican
Oct 13, 2003 9:48 AM
Things I've noticed as I get in better Cardio vascular shape....Len J
Oct 13, 2003 9:47 AM
1.) I recover faster. After a hard effort, I recover faster. If I don't, it usually means that either I'm overheated (too many clothes especially in winter), I'm overtrained, or I'm sick.

2.) The speed I can maintain at a given heartrate on a flat road with no wind increases, as does the amount of time I can sustain it. I do a high proportion of my non-group riding in Zone 2 (80 to 88% of LT/AT). Since my aim is long sustained riding, this riding is aimed at increasing endurance & suits me fine. Because I do so much there, I have a created a relationship between terrain, wind, speed and heartrate. Over time I can see this improve. More in the beginning, less now.

3.) I can sustain hard efforts longer.

Hope this helps.

re: What are the benchmarks of an efficient heartColnagoFE
Oct 13, 2003 10:19 AM
lower resting HR, quicker recovery after effort, able to sustain higher heart rates at lower percieved exertion. if overtrained the RHR may go up.