What's a good heart rate target zone for daily cycling?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by JamesAA, Aug 13, 2013.

  1. JamesAA

    JamesAA New Member

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    I'm pretty new to road biking. Totally love it! Sometimes When I work in the mid 150s to 160s bpms I'm usually ready to call it a day after as little as 45 min to and hour (my max is about 180 as I'm 40, and I cannot sustain much over 165 bpm for extended periods).

    So what's a good HR zone to stay in and for how long should I be cycling? I did 1 hour earlier today where my HR was between 120 and no more than 150 (but most often around 135) and it was super easy. I could have gone much longer.

    Also, what's a good recommended plan per week? An hour a day, 3-4 times a week good? My goal? To maximize my cycling fitness, and any positive health benefit that may come from training. I'm a 9-5er, sadly, but I still want to be the best cyclist I can be, and hopefully do some (non-pro) races and tackle more hills at some point in the future! :)
     
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  2. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    Guidelines are about the best you can get for "what's the right ...". Your fitness and individual physiology will dictate what the numbers will ultimately be.

    I can give you some reference, having noted previously that our redlines are similar. Typically when I'm not slacking I ride solo 3-4 days per week and 1-2 days in a group ride.

    My typical evening solo ride is 25-35 miles and covers four different routes. (I have a bailout ride of 18 miles if I know I don't have 60 minutes to ride.) Average total vert is between 1,000-1,500ft. When pushing it, I shoot for a time of 1:13 for the 25, which accounts for intersections and dealing with some traffic, etc. A more relaxed pace is 1:20 +/-. Similar pace for all rides in this distance group. When I have time, I extend solos up to 45-50 miles and usually drop to a moving average of 19mph+/-. My HR averages high 140's to mid 150's. I can pretty much go all day at this pace ... at least for 100 miles, as this is typically where I land when doing a particular century that I ride every year.

    Group rides are Thursday nights (~31miles/1.5 hours) and Sunday mornings (~50miles/2.5 hours). Both target 20+mph and tend to average around 21+/-. Depending on route and how much I pull, my average HR (for the ride) is usually mid 150's to mid 160's. There are many times when it is definitely in the red and some times when I am peaked near 180, but there are also periods of "sitting in" and recovering.

    There are a couple of local TT's in the 14-18 mile range that I can hold average speed up to 22-24mph on a good day. My avg HR is 165+/- for those depending on weather conditions.

    If you want to be a good cyclist you'll have to work harder than I do, but this keeps me relatively fit and riding with the faster recreational riders around my area.
     
  3. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    I'd turn those questions around and it should all make sense. IOW, pick a training plan that fits your lifestyle and addresses your cycling goals, start there. The plan should give you training goals for different days of the week with some harder and or longer rides and some easier rides or complete rest days. When you've figured out hard you want to go on the harder days then set HR or RPE targets that are sufficiently hard but don't totally fry you and on the days you plan to go easy just glance at the HR monitor to make sure you're not turning easy days into hard days or even easier just tune into RPE and make sure easy really is easy on those days.

    If you have particular cycling goals like long organized day tours or particular types of races then craft your overall plan to target those goals. If your goals are more general as in better overall cycling and life fitness and the ability to go longer or climb some bigger hills at a good pace when the opportunity arises then it can be simpler.

    Regardless, try to ride most days as in four, five or six days per week. Try to make cycling part of your normal lifestyle if it isn't already so think about things like bike commuting or running easy errands around town on the bike. Make some days harder and longer and some days easier and pay attention to your body in terms of rest, recovery, excessive soreness and things like unexpected bad moods and back it down if you've been going after the training a bit too hard or a bit too frequently.

    Many weekly plans arouund the internet targeting century rides, road racing, triathlons, time trials, cylocross, crits, you name it but they're mostly going to come down to ride a lot, ride most days and focus your harder efforts into two or three days per week, ride a longer day or two per week at more moderate paces and take a verry easy day or two and perhaps one day completely off the bike.

    If you're not clear on the demands of specific events then focus on sustainable power or FTP in power terms. You don't need a power meter to focus on that just do the training. For more on that and for someone with a 9-5 job search SST (Sweet Spot Training), FTP training, 2x20s and other related terms on these boards and on the internet. And read the first hundred pages or so of the classic 'It's Killing Me....' thread to get an idea of how to proceed with focused SST/Threshold training.

    The HR you held that you could only sustain for about 45 minutes sounds like classic SST or low Threshold pacing. It's not easy and you can't do it all day and wouldn't want to try it every day but it is very effective in terms of improving fitness and raising your FTP and overall sustainable power when done on appropriate days in blocks of 20 to 60 sustained minutes.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  4. JamesAA

    JamesAA New Member

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    Hey Mark. Thanks a lot for both your responses (in the red line thread too). It indeed sounds like our bodies are very much akin, with respect to how we feel at certain HRs. Although I'm not sure I can sustain 165 for as long as you can, as you are able to do in your TTs. That's pretty cool! Do you know what HR zones the pros preform TTs in? I also was wondering in any given stage of the tour, what zone they are running in. I can't imagine them averaging 90% of HR max for those stages but then again they are super athletes so I really don't have any idea. Just seems like even a super athlete couldn't go at 90% for 2 hours+.
     
  5. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    I do not. I believe they focus much more on power than HR.

    My only reference is riding with Chris Horner in 2010. Rode in a charity 100 with him and a small group he was riding with. Averaged around 18-19 mph most of the time. A couple of relatively steep climbs (for Maine "mountains") and some up tempo periods 22-24. Rode that way until about mile 80 or so. Chris was obviously out for a joy ride. I was in my solid work range.

    When I dropped from the group around 83 miles in, my speedo read 28mph, the terrain was flat open roadway with a good strong headwind. Chris and a small paceline group rode away from me like I was standing still. Right at 80 miles Chris pulled into a lead position and the group organized single file/paceline - obviously preparing to hammer home the final 20 miles. I was just beginning to think I might be able to finish with the lead pack.

    No idea what his HR% was, but I know without question he had plenty in reserve. I met up with some of the group at the finish that hung on longer than me and they all said he easily dropped them too before the 90 mile marker. Fun while it lasted .... :)
     
  6. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    That depends on the length of the time trials. For something in the 20 minute to hour long range you'd expect Threshold power or above and that translates to roughly 100-105% of their Threshold heart rate which is around 95% to 100% of their max heart rate by the end of the effort.

    For short time trials in the 3 to 8 minute range they'll likely hit max HR by the end but since HR takes time to respond will likely not hit max even though the effort is maximal in power terms by the end of say a 2 to 4 minute prologue.

    Basically if you sustain the effort long enough you hit max HR at VO2 Max intensities, that's the upper bound of purely aerobic efforts, you can put out more power and go harder by drawing heavily on unsustainable anaerobic processes but your HR can't go any higher than VO2 Max as that is defined in part by maximal cardiac output so HR will max out but power can be quite a bit higher for short bursty efforts. So a kilo TT is performed at very high intensity on the order of 3 or more times Threshold power but HR may not actually reach maximum in the minute plus it takes to ride the kilo. A five to eight minute time trial will be ridden mostly at VO2 Max pace but will dip heavily into anaerobic reserves for the start and during the time trial and will likely hit max HR by the end but not at the beginning even with the very hard starting effort. During a longer time trial in the 20 to 60 minute range HR will climb up towards Threshold HR (somewhere around 95% of max HR) after about five minutes and then slowly creep upwards throughout the remainder of the time trial often hitting max by the end due to cardiac drift.

    But for much longer efforts like all day stages there will be very intense periods, some hitting max HR but overall HR averages will be lower as much of the day is ridden down around Tempo or less. Granted a pro rider's Tempo pacing may be up around 350 watts which is crazy powerful but they're not riding four to six hour stages up at Threshold pacing. But you can bet they're up at Threshold HR for things like major climbs, especially stage ending climbs to the finish line where they likely hit max HR in the closing minutes if they have enough energy left to do so.

    Good breakdown on power, RPE and HR zones and typical durations associated with them here: http://home.trainingpeaks.com/articles/cycling/power-training-levels,-by-andrew-coggan.aspx These HR zones are based on Threshold, not max HR so if you work from max you'll want to adjust accordingly. As a rough estimate Threshold HR is somewhere around 92% to maybe 97% of max HR. But if you'll train with Threshold HR zones it's best to go do a long solo interval very hard and find out what you can manage for Threshold HR, a common test is a 30 minute all out solo effort as hard as you can sustain without blowing up (so basically a half hour time trial) and then take your HR average for the final 20 minutes as your Threshold HR.

    -Dave
     
  7. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    Thank you Dave. Great information if I ever get motivated enough to really get serious about cycling.
     
  8. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    James, you might hunt around this site for some data. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/97337723 In previous years more Garmin team members shared stage data, including power and heart rate. Looking quickly through the current riders, most are no longer publicly posting results, and when they do power and HR are missing.
     
  9. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    Just stumbled on this flipping through FB news - some pro athlete / cycling hack HR info for you.
    Shared link by SRAM/Zipp http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/kellen-winslow-whose-motorcycle-wreck-almost-cost-him-135122952.html
     
  10. JamesAA

    JamesAA New Member

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    You guys rock! Great info!!! Much appreciated. Hope to be able to keep up and maybe ride with you guys someday. :)
     
  11. vspa

    vspa Active Member

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    yes i would say the very well trained athlete could hold 90ish% heart rate for about an hour sustaining his watts high or sustaining speed and performance,
     
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