Is my Max HR not really my Max?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by ZimboNC, May 2, 2006.

  1. ZimboNC

    ZimboNC New Member

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    I have always thought that my Max HR is about 185. Barring erratic HR monitor interference (which is pretty obvious looking at the HR graph), I've never measured a heart rate above 185 even under my most strenuous hill climbing sprints or that last gasp sprint at the end of an interval on the trainer. Since I'm 37 years old, that number seems to fit with the proverbial (but flawed) 220-age formula so I've used 185 for all of my training.

    To wit, I almost always do my 5x5 interval workouts on a trainer and find it difficult to average higher than about 168-170 for the 5 minutes without becoming quite fatigued (burning in the legs, etc). However, the last time I did 5x5s I did them outside in preparation for an outdoor 20km time trial and I found it somewhat easier to exceed the 170bpm number during outdoor intervals but my max HR never exceeded about 175 during any of the 5-minute intervals.

    So last Saturday was the 20km time trial (the bike leg of a triathlon relay). That's a fairly short distance all things considered and I was motivated to put in my best effort so I went as hard as I could go. What I found was that although my heart rate never exceeded 183bpm, I averaged a surprisingly high 177bpm for the duration of the TT. The curve is not at all jittery and it appears to follow my perceived effort (ie. it goes down to 170 during the easier downhill portions where I was still pedaling firmly but not killing it and briefly goes above 180 on one of the really windy stretches and on the last big hill right before the end where I went all out).

    My question is... From what I've read, an average of 177bpm is rather high to sustain for 33 minutes if my Max HR is 185, isn't it? It makes me think that perhaps my Max HR number is wrong or perhaps something else is fishy.

    One more data point... I have a long ride event coming up soon (4-5 hours) and wanted to see what I could sustain over a long distance. I rode about 3.5 hours today and picked up the pace after the first hour. My heart rate averaged about 165 bpm for the last 2.5 hours, never exceeding 173 bpm at any time during the ride. My average speed for those 2.5 hours was about 10% lower than my average speed for the 20km TT with very similar terrain/weather conditions.

    Thoughts?

    --Steve
     
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  2. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    One day, I got hit by a car. Stubbern old man that used his car as a weapon.

    I had to stop for almost 3 weeks. When I got back, I started a ride on flat course against the wind. The pace felt relatively easy, although I was cruising at usual speed on that course.

    When I looked at my hrm, I thought it was interference, but no, my heart was pumping at 197bpm. But I don't count 197 as my max, because I can't repeat it. No way I can get over 190. My max is 186 at the moment, I am 37.

    My typical 110 tempo ride avg at 164-168. My hr at VT2 is 168-174 sometimes 176.

    So hour values are rather alike, but I'd be pretty happy about myself to complete a 30min effort avg 177. For me that would be getting the job done.
     
  3. flipper

    flipper New Member

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    Zimbo, I'm 39 and worked on 186 as my MHR because that's the highest I'd ever had it.
    Two weeks ago I was put into a crit with A grade riders - I managed to stay with them for 30 minutes before being dropped.
    Average HR for that 30 min was 169 which is 91% MHR.
    I did a crit last weekend that has a 250m+ sprint - I hit 190bpm sprinting which makes the previous week's average figure come out as 89% MHR.

    Your figures are saying 33min at 96% MHR. I reckon your estimated MHR is probably wrong.
    Before I raced, my MHR on the road was 179.

    Solar, I wouldn't discount 197 because you can't repeat it - if you hit 197, then your heart's capable of 197... and that's your MHR.
     
  4. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    HRmax decreases with increasing fitness, such that if you'd been sedentary for 3 weeks, you would expect your HRmax to increase. It would likely decrease once training is recommenced.

    FWIW, i'm 37, and my HRmax is 200 b/min, which is a drop of 3 b/min which was the highest figure i saw (203 b/min) from the age of 20 to 30.

    ric
     
  5. BlueIcarus

    BlueIcarus New Member

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    Why is everyone 37 here?!?! :p
     
  6. MY02_STi

    MY02_STi New Member

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    If we're comparing numbers, I've just turned 50 and MaxHR is 191. Back in 1993 it was tested at 198 :p
     
  7. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    You've experienced one of the joys of training with HR. I always loved that sudden "wait, what if my MHR is really higher? That means all my zones are too low, and that I haven't been training hard enough all this time" feeling after a good, hard ride. ;)

    Race-day adrenaline/jitters was probably worth a few extra bpm, compared to your training rides, so it's not unusual that you saw a higher avg HR during your relay. It doesn't sound like you were really pacing by HR, which is a good thing as those extra few adrenaline beats will most likely mean that you're racing a few beats below your actual limit for the event. I'd guess that if you went out and rode that course again for training, you could get pretty close to your TT time with a lower avg HR.

    HR increases over time relative to power output (ie, speed under similar conditions). It's called cardiac drift. It's not unusual to see higher HRs when you're tired or near the end of a long ride, than when you were riding just as hard but were fresh.

    Oh, and I'm a mere 36 years old. :p
     
  8. davidbod

    davidbod New Member

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    I'm 43 and MHR of 196. Don't forget temperature which has a large affect on HR. I find it interesting to look at my overall and zone average HR for rides at different points in the season. In winter it is much lower than in Summer. Some of it is intensity related, but even at full intensity I can't get close to 196 until the weather heats up. For that reason I skew my MHR based on what point in the season I am riding in. In winter I lower it to around 180-185 which is my observed max during that time of year even at what I know to be near collapse intensity. Even if I am off its OK, because you don't want to overdo it in the base building part of the season.
     
  9. SolarEnergy

    SolarEnergy New Member

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    I don't discard it, I just calculate % relative to the max I can get at the end of a hard VO2Max effort. And these days, it would rather be around 186, maybe a beap or two over, but no more. But VT2 for me is a bit over 90% maxHR, and FTP is probably slightly under at the moment, but may be over later this summer.

    All that becomes clear when your in charge of a runners squad.

    You base their max HR on what. The 'very single day' that they reached an exceptionnally high but not repeatable HR value? Or on what they can reach during a 3k max test that you supervise, and for which you note the corresponding speed?
     
  10. Bikeridindude

    Bikeridindude New Member

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    I am curious about the increased heart rate due to pre-race jitters/adrenaline. The last race when I checked my heart rate at the start it was at 130something. That's probably 70 bpm more than what I would call normal. My assumption was that once I got into it a little bit (about 30 seconds) the excess bpm would disintigrate into nothing and everything would be normal again. Is this not true? I'm pretty sure that I wasn't carrying the extra 70 bpm with me throughout the entire race.

    Another thing that I agree with is that temperature has a large impact on heart rate. Just having a fan blow on me during my indoor training rides dropped my heart rate significantly.
     
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