training by heartrate



leanman

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Sep 20, 2009
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if you dont have a powermeter, or power tap or whatever its called, is training by heart rate a good way to judge your longer interval (5-10 minutes) or tempo (15-60 minute) rides?
and if so, roughly, whats a good % to shoot for when doing these?
5-10 minute intervals 88-90% of max heart rate?
15-60 minute tempo rides 80-85% of max heaart rate?
thanks alot
 

daveryanwyoming

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Oct 3, 2006
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leanman said:
if you dont have a powermeter, or power tap or whatever its called, is training by heart rate a good way to judge your longer interval (5-10 minutes) or tempo (15-60 minute) rides?...
Heart rate works best for longer intervals, say 10 minutes or longer as it typically takes 6 to 7 minutes for HR to come up to level for a steady iso power Threshold interval. IOW, HR won't fully respond to intervals much shorter than 6 minutes unless you absolutely kill the front end of the effort which generally isn't a good idea as it's a sure way to go too hard, fade badly and end up with a mediocre effort. Beside's for Threshold work and below you generally want to sustain the efforts for at least 10 to 12 minutes to really target sustainable metabolic processes.

But yes, the longer efforts can be monitored pretty well with HR but if you're going to do that I'd strongly recommend a system that keys off of Threshold HR instead of Max HR and I definitely wouldn't use a system based off of Max HR obtained from a formula (like 220 - age) as that tends to be a very poor estimate for many active folks.

There's some good info here that relates Andy Coggan's power based training levels to rough HR ranges: Power Training Levels, by Andrew Coggan

Note that the HR ranges listed on that page are referenced to Threshold HR. So go out and do a solid twenty to thirty minute TT and see what HR you average for the final 20 minutes or so or look at average HR for a full 40K TT or to estimate Threshold HR.

Anyway, if you want numbers and don't have a PM then HR based levels can work for Threshold, Tempo and Endurance work but that approach falls apart for VO2 Max and harder efforts since the lag in HR response is too long for those shorter efforts.

Personally if I couldn't work with a PM I'd just define my efforts in terms of the duration appropriate to target a specific system (Threshold, VO2 Max, AWC, NM) and then just ride efforts for those durations at 90% of more of my best possible pace for the duration in question and just use perceived exertion as my guage.

-Dave
 

fergie

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Apr 10, 2004
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Those ranges are pretty tight and heart rate can vary somewhat. But if you did a 60min effort and looked at ave heart rate or looked at the ave heart rate from a 2 x 20min effort you would have a good indication of functional threshold heart rate.

Performing at 95-105% of this would be good for 15-30min efforts. Gets a little tricky for efforts less than 5min as heart rate tends to lag behind the effort. If you get into the zone too quickly you can overcook it so I allow 60-90sec to get in the zone.

That is where a power meter can earn its keep. But I don't like my guys to be slave to the power meter just much as 15 years ago when we all trained by heart rate.
 

dwhitty

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Dec 21, 2009
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I recently bought a new heart rate monitor as I just started to increase my cycling and wanted some indicator of my fitness levels.
Then I read somewhere that it wasn't as good as first thought, and heart rate monitoring is ok only as a guide in your training and your heart rate can be the subject of outside influences, like weather, state of mind and so on.
This is not good news for me as I like to get whatever stats I can to motivate me more.
 

cram1960

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Oct 13, 2008
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dwhitty said:
I recently bought a new heart rate monitor as I just started to increase my cycling and wanted some indicator of my fitness levels.
Then I read somewhere that it wasn't as good as first thought, and heart rate monitoring is ok only as a guide in your training and your heart rate can be the subject of outside influences, like weather, state of mind and so on.
This is not good news for me as I like to get whatever stats I can to motivate me more.

Training by HR is not the most accurate, but it works fine. Sure it has more variables that can affect readings, but on average it is a perfectly fine training tool. Do a max hr test to set your ranges...then commence training. Good luck.
 

kausbose

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Sep 29, 2009
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Let's put it at this! The elitest HRM cost about $200. The starting point for a powermeter is north of $500. I think that's still out of reach for most people (amateurs, i mean). So train with HR. Greg LeMond did not have a power meter when he won his three TDF's. I would read his book if you need more insight on how to use HR to train. But HR is still the way to go while you are starting unless you sit at the edge of the rainbow and have found the pot of gold!
 

dwhitty

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Dec 21, 2009
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Since starting this thread, I have used my HRM quite a lot to see how my training progresses.
I now use it only occasionally to check on my improvement or lack of it.

On the indoor cycle I tend to use the power output as my guide.
 

SolarEnergy

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Aug 15, 2005
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leanman said:
if you dont have a powermeter, or power tap or whatever its called, is training by heart rate a good way to judge your longer interval (5-10 minutes) or tempo (15-60 minute) rides?
and if so, roughly, whats a good % to shoot for when doing these?
5-10 minute intervals 88-90% of max heart rate?
15-60 minute tempo rides 80-85% of max heaart rate?
thanks alot
Now that I got back to active coaching, I faced this dilemma with a few clients that won't be training with power this year.

My recommendation (FWIW) was fairly simple. Keep an eye on your hr monitor if you like (I do) but don't use this to calibrate the effort.

Most people develop the habit of visiting the same training course on a regular basis. My non power clients are told to use a combination of RPE and speed to calibrate their effort. For instance, a 60min long interval should be done on a course that allows for 60min of (almost) uninterrupted riding, at best possible avg speed over the whole duration, independent of HR response.

A tempo ride on the same course (again FWIW) would be done under, but near your max avg speed over the duration. A 2 hour tempo ride (which makes more sense to me) would be done very close to, or spot on max avg power over the whole 2hour duration. etc etc...

In fact, prior starting to train with power, I used to ride with this attitude in mind: Always go as hard as possible over the duration. Lots of fun. The goal is to bring back home a personal best avg speed.