Question about Risks of Max HR Training

Discussion in 'Health Nutrition and Supplements' started by freeagent35, Mar 29, 2006.

  1. freeagent35

    freeagent35 New Member

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    Is there a doctor in the house? Seriously, I am trying to get a reasonable estimatation of the risks of maximum heart rate training/levels. I suspect that a lot of older riders have similar concerns.

    I am 38 and in good physical shape. I am 5'8" and about 175 lbs. I am borderline hypertensive (130 to 135 over 80 to 85 usually). I ride at a moderately high recreational level (CAT 4). I have been an active cyclist since at least my early 20s. When I started training with an HRM (at about 24 years of age) I noticed that my max heart rate seemed to be a little higher than the charts would suggest (about 202). I try to train with an average of about 140 to 160 throughout a ride or trainer session of 1.5 to 2 hours or more, usually with several hard intervals (6 to 10 of 1 to 3 minutes of hard effort up into the 175 to 185 range). I ride about 150 to 250 miles a week consistently throughout the year.

    Recently, during the first hard ride of the season, I noticed that I spiked up to about 198 (every season it is this way, people go a little crazy on the first few rides). I did not stay there very long though I spend more time in the 180s than I would have preferred. According to the HR charts, my max should only be about 187. Last year, during a climb, I saw a 193 max effort. Again, I try to stay in redline zones only briefly during sprints, etc. and then relax and recover to a more reasonable zone.

    My question is what, realistically, is the risk (probabilty of heart attack or stroke) of operating at such a high level of HR? Is it unusual for a long time recreational athlete to have a HR that is significantly higher than the charts would suggest?
     
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  2. xchosen

    xchosen New Member

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    I'm in just about the exact same situation. I'm 35 5,7" 170 lbs I just started riding at the end of last summer. I got a heart rate monitor just after xmas. I'm riding 10 miles around a local lake and I can sustain 185 through out the ride. When I really push myself I've peaked at 205 but I was near death when I do it. I've been doing alot of reading and I'm still confused about where I should be training.
     
  3. kf5nd

    kf5nd New Member

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    At the risk of sounding like a wimp, at age 44 I've decided I don't want to go to the high heart rates for extended periods. A little bit now and again, OK. But you do pay a price, there is an increased risk of an MI as you get older and send your heartrate skyward. Why risk it, that's my thought.

    Both of you guys are, sorry to say, overweight, unless you're really packing lots of muscle and little fat, and the first poster already has an underlying risk factor, early hypertension, so why go headlong into oblivion?

    My advice, do lots of LSD long slow distance, drop below BMI=25, get a complete work-up by a cardiac doc, THEN go out with a clear conscience and hammer away.
     
  4. McSpin

    McSpin New Member

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    I had the same worries - over 50 with a max rate of 202. I did some research and found out that a high max rate is more of a genetic thing and not an indication of being in good shape or not.

    I'm not sure of what the risks are of being in that zone for extended periods. I suppose that would be a good question for your cardiologist. I know most people simply aren't capable of staying there for long - it hurts.
     
  5. freeagent35

    freeagent35 New Member

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    Definitely some good comments, thanks. Again, I'm no doc, but the first reply was a little scary. I have been riding semi-competitively since I was 19, racing BMX since I was 12 before that. If I just re-started a training program within the last year I'd be nervous about pushing that hard. Sudden athletic deaths due to blood clots, in middle aged athletes, seem to be more common than I realized, based upon an article I read in Bicycling last year.

    My peaks of 190+ are relatively rare (all out sprints, or hard rollouts after warmups on group rides, where the leaders are trying to break up the group). Still, I think I'll try to find a sports cardiologist and see if I can get a reliable opinion as to the relative probabilities and risks.

    I will say that during my last 2 physicals I asked for and received an EKG that indicated no problems. If you are a recreational athlete or better it is good to tell them that as they tend to freak out a little when they first see a pulse of 55 or less, or do a chest xray and find an enlarged heart. Resting in season, I run about 48, about 54 right now.

    I also agree with the comments about LSD. I spend a lot of time in the 145 to 160 range on the trainer, but on the road I seem to creep up a little. When I first got my HRM I found that I trained too hard. By toning it down just a little I had much more stamina and recovered better. I'm also experimenting with recovery drinks for the first time (Accelerade) based upon good reviews. Successive hard days have always been difficult for me and I'm looking to improve in this area.

    Good luck, all. Stay safe.
     
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