HR Zones on a trainer

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Boke, Nov 14, 2006.

  1. Boke

    Boke New Member

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    Well, I've finally decided to take the plunge and commit to a formal training plan for next season (I think I'm getting too old for the "ride till you drop" plan.) The plan is based on HR zones (not power), and I've noticed significant differences between normal road riding vs. riding on an indoor trainer. Outside, it feels like I really have to hold back to keep myself in zone 3 (70-80% HR max). On the other hand, when I'm on the trainer I really have to push hard to even make it into zone 3.

    Does anyone else have a similar experience? Do you compensate or alter the indoor workouts at all to account for this?
     
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  2. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    Well I would describe it an other way.

    Outdoor it's easier to find the motivation to generate more power. Period. Therefore the HR response "may" be higher. It's the case for me at least.

    I write "may" because other factors can affect the HR response, both indoor and outdoor.

    Bottom line, big chances are that you are actually generating less power on the trainer. Therefore I can only recommend that you start using a powermeter, so that at least you have a clear picture of how hard you're training.
     
  3. blkhotrod

    blkhotrod New Member

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    i find the same thing. HR about 10-15 lower on trainer for about the same preceived exertion level. why waste a bill on a power meter? buy a set of new wheels
     
  4. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    I trained with HR for years starting with the first polar wrist unit in '85 I really believed in HR as the way to go. I've been riding with a power meter since early summer and comparing my HR to power both in the field and in my downloaded files. I've learned a lot about what my body is actually doing in different situations, but more importantly how often HR is misleading.

    For instance on outdoor rides it's pretty common to ride along at a fairly low average power output but with a few bursts related to wind, slight rises, starts from stop signs, etc. My power is comfortably in endurance levels but my HR tends to climb in response to those micro efforts and then it tends to stay up there and come down real slowly since HR is damped and slow to respond whereas power responds nearly instantly while rising or falling. In other words looking at HR alone I would have tended to back off my pace a bit to stay in the prescribed zone but in fact I wasn't actually working very hard. I'm convinced my reliance on HR alone led to years of undertraining and underpacing in time trials.

    So if you take that indoors on the trainer where you don't have little hills, temporary gusts and headwinds, stop signs and other pace modifiers your HR tends to stay lower for a similar workout. The flip side is that you tend to heat up more indoors and if you don't ventilate real well you'll get HR drift and by the end of a long sweaty indoor workout your HR tends to be much higher than it would be outdoors for a steady workload. Again if you rely blindly on HR this will tend to make you backoff and again leads to undertraining.

    So what can you do short of buying a power meter? I'm convinced perceived exertion (I use the 10 point RPE scale) maps to power and actual effort much better than HR if you take the time to tune into your body and your efforts. If you don't trust or don't like that approach the power curves on trainers are incredibly reproducible. In other words just structure your workouts based on hitting certain speeds on the trainer. If your trainer has a relatively linear power curve you can do power training with just speed info. Figure out your best 20 minute speed, estimate FTP and set levels based on percentages of FTP but make it all speed based. If your trainer has some funny non linear power to speed relationship you'll have to actually figure out your best 3 minute, 5 minute, 20 minute speeds and so on and structure your interval work accordingly.

    Anyway, FWIW I was a die hard HR based trainer steeped in Conconi and convinced my low tech bretheren were constantly overtraining. A couple of dozen power/HR files have shown me the error of my blind faith. Who knows, maybe your results and your HR/power relationships are very different but based on this sample of one I wouldn't go back to pure HR based training and wouldn't structure another season's training based on pulse alone.

    Good luck,
    Dave
     
  5. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    How can a new set of wheels be helpful for this issue?

    And for your info, it's very hard to feel the importance of using a commun unit of measure between road and trainer riding, until you actually try it.

    The core of my involvment in this thread is to make you guys realize that you're not actually training several months with an HR about 10-15 lower, you're actually training at a lower power level, hence the reduced HR.

    If you're confortable with the fact of training at a lesser degree on the trainer though, so be it.
     
  6. Boke

    Boke New Member

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    Thanks for the input on power. It certainly seems like the way to go at this point, now all I have to do is convince the boss (the wife)! Hah...

    I do have one more question though, and perhaps this is the question I should have asked the first time. Why does it feel so much harder on the trainer? Example: Mid zone 3 on the road feels like a mellow ride , but mid zone 3 on the trainer leaves my legs significantly more tired (during the workout and next day). I honestly feel like I'm pushing more power on the trainer but without a power meter I'll never really know...

    I definitely get your point that power is the only way to truly measure "why" this happens, I was just curious for theories...
     
  7. BullGod

    BullGod New Member

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    I feel the same. I just did 1 hr L3, 20 mins L4 and 20 mins L2 on the trainer and I'm really tired. I feel as tired as I do after a 3 hr ride outside.

    I reckon it's the absence of freewheeling, braking, coasting that punctuate an outside ride...
     
  8. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.

    Some threads on this forum have addressed this issue. Dr. Andrew Coggan (acoggan), one of the high profile experts, having decades of experiance training with both power and trainers, issued some very smart hypothesis. But at the end, I still don't know.

    Next summer, I will indeed conduct a little non-scientific study. We have a perfect course her in Montreal on a Formula One race track. I'll bring one or two trainers outside, ask some folks with their power meter equiped bikes to do some testing outdoor, on the trainer, to at least be able to rule out the usual indoor related hypothesis : heat, lack of air flow and alike.

    Then I think I might know a bit better.

    Chances are that you're actually pushing less power on the trainer.

    For my riders this years, I revised their functional threshold power down by 10% compared to race-fit values. And it's ok given that here up north, beginning of trainer's season corresponds exactly with the beginning of the base preparation season.

    refs
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t343971.html
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/t279842.html
    And especially this one here
    http://www.cyclingforums.com/showpost.php?p=2207610&postcount=8
     
  9. Boke

    Boke New Member

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    Thanks for the links to the old threads, and I guess we'll all have to wait and see what "Solar Energy" comes up with next summer during the informal study.
     
  10. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    Ouff. For what it's worth :eek:

    What do you think I should be testing?

    I was thinking about someting like 2 times a week, same riders same course :
    2x20min all out preceded by one or two days off. 1th week the first interval done on the trainer, second interval done on the road. Perfect rolling condition no stop no cars no interruption.

    Second week first interval done on the road, second interval on the trainer.

    Let me tell you one thing, in such a study I can't wait to look at HR data. It will have it's significance since the trainer reps will not be as much affected by indoor additional constraints (though the reduced wind compared that on the road can play a role). Aside from this aspect, HR coupled with RPE may allow me to conclude if their's indeed a extra charge caused by purely biomechanical factors.

    And with a bunch of other folks cheering during the intervals, that may help for the motivational aspect :D
     
  11. normZurawski

    normZurawski New Member

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    I would also explore mixing individual workouts. Such as...

    * warm up on trainer, test on bike, and vice versa
    * warm up on one, test on the other, repeat test on intial, and vice versa

    Has there been any study done on power measured on a trainer at different measurement points - hub, cranks, bottom bracket? And with the Revolution you could measure the power at the shoe. That may or may not be interesting.

    I don't think it has anything to do with heat/fans. I find the first 1/4 of any trainer ride the hardest. After that I find my groove and I'm generally fine, no matter how much I sweat. Oddly, the cooldown is actually the toughest 5-10 minutes of the whole ride.
     
  12. Old Junker

    Old Junker New Member

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    FWIW i think you will still need a fan outdoors:)
     
  13. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    LOL :D

    Imagine the look on tourists and recreational people :eek:
     
  14. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    yes there have been. I need to get ready to go to work but I'll try to come back to this thread to provide you with the links.
     
  15. wiredued

    wiredued New Member

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    If the trainer is not a fluid trainer it will take a while to adapt and heart rate based training is like nailing jello to the wall while you are adapting. Speed to power based workouts would be more accurate is your trainer one of these? http://www.kurtkinetic.com/calibration_chart.php

     
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