HRmax & VO2Max



Has anyone had their HR max measured professionally? How did they do it? What did it cost? Was it worth it?
With a treadmill THEY could literally run you to the point of exhaustion but with a stationary bike you would have to ride YOURSELF to exhaustion? Would a strange bike position be comfortable to ride to max?
I've settled on a max of 169 after considering various formulas. 220 - my age = 148 which is much too low. Max I've ever seen on my HRM is 165 (97.6%) and 162 (95%). Both these figs were with competition on the same route. Riding alone I don't seem to be able to get more than 90-91% (154bpm) yet I've always considered myself self motivated and able to push myself to the limit alone! Interesting with the competition the higher figures seemed easier!
Anyone got any thoughts on this?
Just off topic a little on this. When I was involved with skydiving I would sometimes check the first timers HR on the ground while they were waiting to board the plane for their first static line jump. Usually around 155-165. :eek: This was on the GROUND! :eek: Never got to check them flying at jump altitude standing in the door ready to go! Maybe 200?! :eek:
Point I'm making here is this. These guys were using mental powers (their minds) to physically control their bodies (ie their heart muscle) purely by THINKING about something that is going to happen in the FUTURE, (not something that has already happened to them!). If your mind can do that to your body in that way who knows what else it can do!! Ask Lance! I believe that the power of mind over body is something awesome that we don't really understand yet. :)
Adrenaline at work here. When our brains detect a stressful situation, it triggers the adrenal gland, which in turn secretes epinephrine (sometimes called adrenaline) and norepinephrine. Metabolic rate increases by as much as 100%. Blood vessels to the heart, brain and muscles are dilated, while those to the kidneys and skin are constricted (which explains why we turn 'pale' when we are frightened). Our hearts begin to beat faster. Thresholds in the reticular activating system of the brain are lowered, so you become more alert and focussed. Fatty acid and glucose levels in the blood are raised, ensuring needed fuel for extra energy.

And that’s your biology lesson for today, kids! ;D
The easiest and best known method of calculating your maximum heart rate (MHR) is to use the formula 220-age. The problem with this is that the relationship between age and MHR is not linear. Londeree and Moeschberger from the University of Missouri-Columbia studied the variables between MHR and sex, race, activity and levels of fitness. They found that neither sex nor race make any difference. What they did find is that MHR is effected by activity and levels of fitness. They suggest an alternative formula of 206.3 - (0.711 X age). Similarly, Miller et al from Indiana University propose the formula 217- (0.85 X age) as a suitable formula to calculate MHR.

Studies have shown that MHR on a treadmill is consistently 5-6 beats higher than on a bicycle ergometer and 2-3 beats higher on a rowing ergometer. Heart rates while swimming are significantly lower, around 14 bpm, than for treadmill running. Elite endurance athletes and moderately trained individuals will have a MHR 3 or 4 beats slower than a sedentary individual. It was also found that well trained over 50s are likely to have a higher MHR than that which is average for their age.
I use the following which combines the Miller formula with the research from Londeree and Moeschberger.

  • Use the Miller formula of MHR=217 - (0.85 X age) to calculate MHR
  • Use this MHR value for running and versaclimber training
  • Subtract 3 beats for rowing training
  • Subtract 5 beats for bicycle training
  • Subtract 3 beats for elite athletes under 30
  • Add 2 beats for 50 year old elite athletes
  • Add 4 beats for 55+ year old elite athletes
I also suggest you look at the MHR and Vo2Max tables on the website I got this info from.

Hope it helps and keep that heart pumping! ;)

This info from The Sports Coach Website. An excellent resource of training and sports information!
VO2. Re biology. That's a good explanation of the mechanics of what happens when the brain (mind) perceives something. But we have to remember it STARTS in the mind. Sometimes changing the way we perceive things changes the effect on the body. Anyhow pushing the HR up by mental stress is NOT good heart training! :eek: And prolonged mental stress is extremely detrimental to a healthy heart. Again the effect of mind on body! (Ask me about it, been there, done that, AND got a t-shirt). :'(

Re HRmax. Thanks for the formulas and the website. But none of these give me a high enough HRmax. I'm finding I can do a hard local route in the same time but at a lower HR than a year ago. Does this mean I am fitter now or is my HRmax coming down because of age? If I am fitter why isn't my time better on this route? ??? Thanks again.
A sure fire way of determining if you're fitter is to time trial the route. Select a day early in the week, when you're well rested and recovered, and ride the route as fast as you can. Take note of the conditions of the day, and try and ride the route keeping all the variables as close as possible i.e. same day of the week, same time of day etc. on all your runs.
You can then compare HR graphs and determine from that whether your training is adequate or not.
The only problem I find with training the same route, the same way over and over, is that you 'mentally' get used to it. You know where to push yourself and where to take it easy. Boredom soon creeps in. I try and alternate and change my routes whenever I can. Instead of going this way around, I'll go that way around, stuff like that. Obviously at some stage you run out of ideas, but I continually search for roads in my area that offer me alternatives.
Heard a fascinating interview with Prof Tim Noakes on SAfm today 21 February at 12h30. Interesting stuff on lactic acid, fatique, VO2max and the effect of the mind and brain. Search for it at "Patricia's People".

Re my posting above.
I'm finding I can do a hard local route in the same time but at a lower HR than a year ago. Does this mean I am fitter now or is my HRmax coming down because of age? If I am fitter why isn't my time better on this route? ???
Time IS consistently getting better at a lower HR! ;D So I guess I AM getting fitter! ;D
VO2 - if I take my max Hr as measured by the fitness test on my HrM and then compare it to the table on that website, I am an Elite Athlete. Cool.
Ouzo. Yeah, and I'm in very good shape for a 35 year old!! :eek: (I wish! ;D) Either that or going by the tables there are a lot of very unfit people out there? I think the only use for fitness numbers is to see if you can improve YOUR own number. Comparing it to other people's numbers or tables seems pointless.
They suggest an alternative formula of 206.3 - (0.711 X age). Similarly, Miller et al from Indiana University propose the formula 217- (0.85 X age) as a suitable formula to calculate MHR.
I like to stay away from magic formulas like this. We have a 5km climb not far from my house, about 4km into it there is a section thats like a wall for about 300 meters, i normally sprint up this section ;D Last saturday my HR was 205 at the top of the 'wall'
The formulas you mention would have me beleive my max HR would be 195, which is a big anough dif to make AT intervals less effective, Strength endurance on climbs would inturn be more 'junk miles'

Something we should add to the 'are you a cycling dork' thread is;

" I was riding that climb at 10bpm over my max man! I was flying " ;)

quote form a cycling wanka.....umm....dork ;D
Remember that these formula's and tables are not cast in stone. I've had my heart rate waaay above what's indicated as the MHR for my age.
Whatever formula you use, it will be the accepted 'average' of MHR of athletes of your age. From there on, many variables affect your actual MHR e.g. your genetic make-up, your level of fitness etc. etc. A good example is Mr. Armstrong: 31 years of age, MHR=201. Any formula you use will get you to a figure in the high 180's or low 190's.
The point? Your heart is a muscle like any other. The more you train it, the stronger it becomes. Men of my age usually have pot-bellies and sagging bottoms. I don't. If your MHR is above the accepted 'average' of people of your age, pat yourself on the shoulder and feel good about it, because it means that you are taking proper care of one of the most important muscles in your body.
Dear Old Timer,

The discussion of age and MHR is interesting, but only from a what happens as we get older point of view. Unfortunatly, MHR does not have a great impact on performance (unlike cardiac output but you will need ultrasound, etc. to measure that) as it is never a limiting factor in the performance of healthy people.

As the replies in this thread have pointed out MHR is an individual thing, from a performance/coaching point of veiw MHR is only used to set out training zones (remember that the use of HR training zones is flawed). The use of tables/formulas to calculate MHR or implications of your MHR are also flawed, because of the inividual differences in MHR that exist.

MHR is normaly measured as a part of a VO2 max test and so is not normaly the primary aim of a lab based test. If you want to work out your MHR why not take the highest values you have acheived during racing, because your motivation/adrenaline/etc. during the race would have alowed you to push yourself to the limit (hence the new MHR). Alternativly why not use a protocol from a lab based test on a road or turbo trainer, these are often refered to as 'ramp' tests and are typlicaly 8 to 12 minutes duration where intensity increases progressivly.

With endurance training your maximum heart rate may decrease slightly and this is caused by an increase in Stroke Volume and an increase in the amount of time it takes for the heart to empty and fill with blood. The increase in stroke volume with training allows you to pump more blood around your body at a given heart rate, this is cardiac output and it is a limiting factor in VO2 max and can have implications for training prescription of coaches and endurance performance.
2LAP, interesting point regarding stroke volume (SV). Would this mean that I can cycle closer to MHR because of the increase in SV? Is endurance training the best way to increase SV?

With training you will ride closer to your MHR because of increased lactate threshold, as this dictates the % of VO2 max and MHR that you can sustain for a period of time.

Instead increasing your SV increases your VO2 at a given HR, as each time your heart beats it pumps more blood out. Cardiac Output (CO) is a 'central' (rather than peripheral) limiting factor in VO2 max and CO=HRxSV.

This helps to explain two consequences of training:
1. At submaximal levels, following effective training you should have a lower HR at a given workload than before training. The increase in SV would alow you to maintain the same CO at a lower HR.
2. At maximal levels, following effective training you should have a higher CO at your MHR (because MHR is fairly constant but SV increases). This will cause you to have a higher VO2 max and therefore better maximal performance.

Don't forget the other training adaptations though.

To increase the function of the heart it needs to be stressed specificaly through:
1. Maximal efforts, that stress your heart maximaly.
2. Time spent at 50 to 60% VO2 max, because research has shown that this is where the heart has the greatest stroke volume. This will stress the heart specificaly
Check this out, maybe it will help getting a more realistic HR max for you guys, good luck. Remember to look for a nice spot to fall off et the end of this test!! ;D ;D
Sorry guys,
Ths is it!!* Maximum Heart Rate Test Protocol:
I continually get email about heart rate training;
Especially Maximum heart rate and how to ascertain it;
So often I hear cyclists talk about seeing there Max heart rate in an event or training ride, chances are that you have not worked out your Max heart rate correctly.
Using a formulae like;
220-age=max heart rate. [This is a conservative start, but may well be far from your real Max]
Remember if your Max heart rate is wrong- all your training zones will be incorrect.

Once you have been cycling for a few months I suggest you do a True Max Heart Rate Test:
Only proceed with a maximum heart rate test after you after discussed the test and are granted approval from your doctor.
Warm-up: 15 minutes at a moderate pace at a pedal cadence of greater than 75 rpm. [Revolutions per minute]

Stage 1: increase your effort by 10% and maintain this effort level for 2 minutes and maintain a pedal cadence above 75. You will need to increase your gearing as your effort raises
But still maintain a pedal cadence greater than 75 with each gearing increase.
Stage 2: increase your effort by 10% and maintain this effort level for 2 minutes 75<rpm.
Stage 3: increase your effort by 10% and maintain this effort level for 2 minutes at 75<rpm.
Stage 4: increase your effort by 10% and maintain this effort level for 2 minutes at 75<rpm.
Stage 5: Complete as many 2 minutes stages as needed.

When you reach the point that it is extremely difficult to maintain a pedal cadence above 75, sprint absolutely as hard as you can. Keep an eye on your heart rate monitor and, just after you have finished sprinting, you should see your maximum heart rate value.

Your individual maximum heart rate is NOT a performance indicator. Many athletes compare their max heart rate to those of their training companions. Maximum heart rate is an individual measurement for determining training intensity. There is no relationship to your cycling performance and maximum heart rate. This is why you don't need to compare your maximum heart rate to those of other athletes. Maximum heart rate is not a static or a fixed number; it will change through the course of the year and, therefore, it is important to re-test 3-4 times a year to update heart rate training zones. Protocol from C. Carmichael.
i just had a vo2 cycle test done for the first time yesterday. the results were very valuable.

i've used various methods for trying to determine my max HR up to now (ie 220 minus age, etc). never really been happy with the results of those methods. i think there are too many factors that affect HR (fatigue, illness, heat, etc) to nail down one definitive number. it seems to be sort of a gray area. i was given a max HR number after the vo2 test, but it's lower than what i've seen in races. as are the other numbers i came up with before my test. what i found most valuable from the test was my AT(anerobic threshold or lactate threshold). with this i now have a more accurate number to train from. i think the AT is about the same as 85-90% of my max HR. so, i can find my 'true' ??? max HR(which i should never see) by using my AT and calculating up to my max HR. from the numbers i got back my AT = 172bpm so, that would put my max HR between 192 and 202. this sounds more realistic since i've seen 190 in a race before. i'm still pretty new at the scientific side of training so i expect a few stumbles in my evaluations. however, i've learned quite a bit from this one test.

the test constisted of using my own road bike mounted on a schwinn velometer(or velo-something) with 12 electrodes stuck to my chest like the 6 million dollar man, and a mask over my mouth and nose. i started out maintaining 50 watts for 1 min. this increased by 25 or 50 watts every min until exhaustion. i lasted until the 350 watts mark and couldn't hold the wattage output level anymore. i recovered for 1 min and the test was over. it lasted about 10 min and cost $60 bucks. i think it's worth every penny since i'm trying to get more 'scientific' about my training this year. in fact, i've got two more tests scheduled during certain periods of this season. if you are considering this type of test, any reputable sports medicine clinic should be able to perform this test.

good luck.
So what was your VO2 max?
Your lactate threshold will be independant to your max heart rate as it will increase as a % of your maximum heart rate with training.
Instead of making a prediction (as this is very unscientific) a more reliable maximum heart rate is the heart rate acheived when your VO2 max was measured, as VO2 max occurs at the same point as maximum heart rate.
Also if you only ever acheive 190 bpm in races then I would suggest that this is your maximum heart rate as by definition you can't get a heart rate higher than your maximum heart rate.
my VO2 max was 48.8 with a max HR of 188.

i thought one could never actually see their _true_ max HR since death would result from achieving max HR.

is it true that you can increase your max HR through training, or is this number set for life?