Heart Rate question by Noob



histrung

New Member
Feb 16, 2004
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Just getting back into cycling after a long layoff (seems like there are quite a few of us). I'm 39, 6', 215. Rode mountain and road in the 90's, was in great shape, did some MTB racing.

Now I'm back. Got the old Trek 2100 out, noticed that the stem is too long and makes my hands fall asleep after 8 or so miles.

Now, here's the question.

The 5 mile loop I've been doing has quite a steep 400 yard up hill. My heart rate peaked to 196 after a strenuous ride up the hill. Usually it peaks at 185. I didn't feel bad but definitely felt stressed.

How do you determine your max heart rate?

Thanks in advance.
 

Duffy Pratt

New Member
Jul 26, 2006
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The most accurate way to determine your max heart rate is to do a maximal stress test.

Many people rely on formulas like MHR = 220 - Age. These formulas are typically an approximation for a large group of people and the standard deviation is very wide. That means that the formula is very likely to be wrong (and wildly wrong) for any individual, even though it is a fairly good approximation for the population at large.

If you can trust your heart rate monitor, then the best you are likely to know is that your maximum heart rate is equal to or higher than the maximum reading you have ever taken with the monitor.

The 185 rate you got is already higher than what the common rule of thumb would predict (which is 181). The queston about the 196 number is whether it is a spike that was not a true reading, or whether something about the conditions actually put your heart rate up that high. There is no way that someone on these forums can answer that question (at least not without more information).

It is possible that the numbers are correct. On a really tough group ride about 5 years ago (at age 43), I pushed my heart rate up to 200. The readings were taken every 5 seconds and they rose to that rate pretty gradually, stayed there for several readings, and then came down gradually. So my conclusion was that the HRM was doing its job correctly. I already knew that I could push my heart rate up to 190, so it was not _that_ surprising.

I think the 196 number may be high, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.

Duffy
 

frenchyge

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Apr 3, 2005
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histrung said:
The 5 mile loop I've been doing has quite a steep 400 yard up hill. My heart rate peaked to 196 after a strenuous ride up the hill. Usually it peaks at 185. I didn't feel bad but definitely felt stressed.

How do you determine your max heart rate?
Most people won't get anywhere close to their max HR on a training ride (especially newbies). It's likely that you still have several beats left even once you're feeling gassed at the top of a climb.

The times that I've recorded the highest HR have been at the end of a competition sprint and are accompanied by dizziness, tunnel vision, and feeling faint. It's not a pleasant feeling. For setting training zones, I'd suggest either adding about 5-10 beats to the highest HR you typically record in training, or going as hard as you can for 2-3 minutes and sprinting hard at the end and then adding 2-5 beats.

In reality, it's not terribly important to have the exact value anyway, so an approximation is good enough.
 

histrung

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Feb 16, 2004
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Thanks for the info..

I did not feel dizzy or light headed, stressed yes. Watching my heart rate monitor my heart rate went up 'gradually' and then went down smoothly.

The dizziness statement I think will help answer the questions I have about, can I push myself too far and injure myself, heart rate wise. When I was younger I over exerted myself and could hear my heart 'squish' each beat and it really freaked me out, went to the doc and he told me I over exerted myself and not to worry too much about it unless it starts happening again, never happened again, but I don't want to go there EVER again.
 

SolarEnergy

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Aug 15, 2005
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max values for zone calculations should be based on what you can repeatedly do.

In other words, you peaked at 196 because of a lack of fitness. Once you get your fitness back, your zones should not be calculated with this value (196) anymore, because as you say, you usually peak at 185.

For what it's worth, my max is at 185 too. But I haven't really seen this value so far this summer yet. I can do 181-182 very often, but with the feeling I could have gone a bit higher (I know I know, it's a shame) :eek:

So I add few beats to come up with a fair estimate, hoping to see it for real in my ride files sometime.
 

histrung

New Member
Feb 16, 2004
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I didn't take the lack of fitness thing into account. Good point.

Thanks for the info.
 

was7g

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May 11, 2006
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For what it's worth, be aware that those fenceless yard things that use a wire buried in the ground to keep your dog in your yard REALLY mess up heart rate monitors. I don't know squat about radio waves and how that all works, but my running loop takes me by several yards in the neighborhood where I see my heart rate spike to something like 215... and since I'm 30, that's impossible- so it's got to be one of those fenceless things.

This probably has absolutely nothing to do with your situation, but I thought I'd throw that out there as a (remote) possibility.