Friend's trouble with heart rate


Jul 25, 2004
So a friend of mine, inspired by the data I was collecting concerning my Heart Rate on Strava, got a HRM for his birthday. Now, my friend is a much more accomplished cyclist than I am. He's a bit older than me (I'm 46, I think he's 48 or 49) and he's a LOT faster and fitter than I am. He's been cycling for a long time but isn't the cyclist he was in his youth.

However, where I'm going out and hitting an average heart rate of 157BPM for 1:15:00-ish on a flat-ish route (admittedly during a time when I'm struggling to get 1 ride per week in), he rides a route that has hills in around the same amount of time (we're flat-landers, so our idea of hills is .4 miles at 3% average) that's around 3 miles longer (told you he was faster) and his MAX HR is only 146 with an average of 130.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but zones don't really change with fitness, it just takes more watts to get to them. But the PE for zone 3 or 4 should be the same for an un-fit or moderately fit person as it is for a fit or highly fit person, shouldn't it? They'd just be going putting out more watts to get to that PE?

He's concerned by this a bit. I realize that he has to go faster than me to get the same HR results, but he can't seem to consistently get out of Z2. He says that even when he hit his highest HR on that ride he felt like he was at his limit.

This guy does a lot of running and a LOT of gym work as well. During runs his HR spikes at around 179 right off the bat then settles WAY back down to the high 130s, so I know he doesn't have some weird cap on his HR.

Why is he having so much trouble getting his HR up?