why do you use a heart-rate monitor

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by baffer, Oct 6, 2004.

  1. baffer

    baffer New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I am a student industrial design and am currently working on a project which involves the improvement of current heart-rate monitors.

    One of the first things I noticed was that relatively a lot of people use these heart-rate monitors while cycling.
    However the interpretation of the data you receive of such a device is quite complicated (MLSShf etc) and is in fact only useful if precise training-schedules are devised with accurate target heart-rate zones in which you should train.

    My question is the following: do you all devise training-schedules in combination with your heart-rate monitor, and if you use a model without the pc connectivity, how do you analyse your training??

    thanks already
     
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  2. beerco

    beerco New Member

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    First issue with HR - because it's so variable, it is practiacally impossible to calculate an accurate target HR. In fact, it would have to be adjusted for fatigue level, temp, hydration status etc. before the workout session. To keep a constant workload during a session, target HR would have to be adjusted during the session.

    Those of us in the know with the resources (i.e. $500 to blow on another gadget) have abandoned HR training in favor of training by power. All of my structured workouts (typically 2x20 intervals, 5x5, and 10x1) have target powers. Analysis is pretty simple - did I hit or exceed my targets.
     
  3. baffer

    baffer New Member

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    so target heart-rate zones are actually not useful in training sessions?

    is there any literature that describes this issue?
     
  4. cheapie

    cheapie New Member

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    i use mine to record my workouts and to make sure i don't blow up. when my hr starts to creep up to 185 or so, i back down and either shift to a lower gear or slow down.
     
  5. beerco

    beerco New Member

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    I guess it depends on how you define useful. I personally don't use HR at all for anything. Is it better than perceived exertion? Arguable. I think not, but then again my sense of perceived exertion is calibrated by using a power meter. For someone without a power meter or access to one things might be different.

    another problem with HR is that it can lag exertion by several minutes.

    Here's a good starting point on some power stuff: http://www.midweekclub.ca/powerFAQ.htm

    As to the variability of HR, you can check any physiology text on HR response. Finding evidence that HR training isn't useful is more difficult. However, you'll also have difficulty finding hard eveidence that training by HR is useful.
     
  6. danch

    danch New Member

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    Basically, I use mine to keep under certain thresholds for recovery and LSD rides, and as a 'gee, I guess that _was_ a hard ride' point of data/shiny toy for hard rides. For setting effort of workouts, It really doesn't give me anything that perceived exertion wouldn't, but it's easier to look at a number and say "Hey, this is supposed to be a recovery ride!" that it is to listen to my body. Something psychological - I don't have to hammer after that guy up ahead because I have the excuse that I'm on an easy ride and my HRM says I need to back off.

    The measures it gives (avg HR and resting HR, for example) are additional data to consider when you look at how your week has been, evaluating where you are on the stress/adapt cycle. If you've got one that will record samples, you can also look at how fast you're recovering, etc.

    It's certainly not as accurate as power, but not all of us are training for something rewarding enough to justify an 800 US$ wheel to train more efficiently. HR is additional data, and as long as you treat it as additional data and not The One True Measure of Athletic Performance, you can make use of it. If you're looking for the One True Measure, yah, watts is it.
     
  7. Grant Orchard

    Grant Orchard New Member

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    I have a Polar 720, and I haven't gotten around to defining training zones (heart rates) on it yet. I guess if I were a more serious rider I would but I use my HR monitor as a logging tool rather than a training one. Since I use a bike 90% for commuting I like to see what my body did during a ride, rather than using it as a tool to set the "pace' for my body to follow. Hope that made sense.

    Grant
     
  8. baffer

    baffer New Member

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    I also own the S720 and I have programmed the heart-rate zones. However I must agree with the fact that the feeling I have varies a great deal from day to day and sometime cycling at 175 bpm feels completely different on a different day.
     
  9. cside

    cside New Member

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    Well I have been cycling for a short period now, about 5 months. I know that since I have been using my HRM (about a month) , I feel better about my training.

    One day I used my wifes HRM, never knew much about how to use it, and cycled by myself, which was also something new. I hit about 183 up a hill and almost died right there. I have used that as my max HR and it seems ok.

    Now what I do is to choose two zones in which I wish to work (on the road ride and one zone on my trainer) and put that into my target. I then try and stay within those limits, even if I feel stronger. The zones I choose depends on what I wish to achieve. It might me recovery after a long and hoard ride, cardio fitness if I am working towards a long ride or if I am in bewteen rides I then try a bit of fat loss - I am largley overweight and would like to lose some kilos, but also wary of doing it while training for rides. I have a race at the end of Nov that I am working towards. After that I will take a short break and try base training to a bigger race next year March.

    As for the data I get from the HRM, when I am on the road I know the bpm that I start feeling fatiqued from an uphill and often when I start feeling bad I look at the watch and see that I am in the area that I normally get to feel bad. So I always try to get a decent target zone for what I expect to train or ride. I use it as a rev counter for my heart.

    As for post training - the watch (polar M32) has a file function. It stores the date, total time, time in the zone, kcal expended and ave hr. These I then enter onto the website at polarcyclingcoach.com.

    I understand that the HRM is probably less scientific than the power meter but it is working well fo rme at this stage....
     
  10. edd

    edd New Member

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    nothing complex at all:

    So I do not overtrain

    So I reach minimum target HR for intervals.

    Analysis: what was the HR how do I feel

    HR varies for reasons other then just effort... need to consider this.

    Time over a set distance ( course ) is more important or if you have a power meter, power output.
     
  11. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    There are a range of reasons why heart rate data can be useful and many athletes train with it successfully even at the professional level in cycling and triathlon. Lucia et al in Spain have written several papers and review articles outlining various ways in which heart rate data can be meaningfully interpreted. The variability of HR data can in fact be an advantage - there is often a reason for the variation: lack of sleep, recovery, illness, stimulant intake [caffeine, pseudoephedrine, etc]. I find when I'm getting sick my HR data changes in an identifiable way before I notice the illness - my HR will drop extremely rapidly when stopped at (for example) traffic lights despite me not feeling recovered, and PE is much higher at lower HR's. Is it a perfect science? Definitely not. Is it nonetheless potentially meaningful data? Definietely.

    I would agree that power is the gold standard, but it is also a blunt tool in some ways. Attempting to hit set power targets while unrecovered or with a lingering minor infection is unlikely to be a great idea.

    I would definitely train with power if I could afford it, but I think writing off HR completely is going way too far on little good information. HR doesn't have to be all bad for power to be good.
     
  12. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    There is definitely some lag in HR, and this can be a problem when using it to set intensity for intervals (not necessarily its best use). I have to ask, though, who on Earth lacks central nervous control to such a great degree that it is several minutes before HR matches exertion? 30 seconds, maybe even 60 (unlikely in my experience), but several minutes? Like, more than one?
     
  13. Virenque

    Virenque New Member

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    To push as hard as coach said:D
     
  14. dhk

    dhk New Member

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    I like the HRM mainly to help me control my effort on recovery and endurance rides. Without the monitor, I tend to go too hard too often. Also like it on Centuries to remind me to keep the pace down during the first half of the ride and take it easy on the early hills.
     
  15. artemidorus

    artemidorus New Member

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    On rides under 30 minutes, like my 7.5km commute, I don't think that they're much use. I know when I'm working hard and when I'm not.
    On rides that aren't simply sprints, my HRM stops me going too hard too early. Otherwise the speed just keeps creeping up again...
    Otherwise, the appeal is mainly technogeeky! :)
     
  16. beerco

    beerco New Member

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    Once you get a power meter, things will be clearer for you. Check out the attached graph (one of the last times I wore my HR strap).

    Min Max Avg
    Power: 191 281 242 watts
    Heart Rate: 105 172 159 bpm
    Cadence: 65 112 84 rpm
    Speed: 18 23.2 22.3 mph
    Torque: 62 83 73 lb-in


    I added dotted lines which represent the average HR, Power, and speed during this 20 minute interval. As you can see, it takes my HR about a minute to hit 140. Another 5 to get to 159 (which is the average for the session) it holds at 159 for about 5 minutes then creeps up to 172 by the end of the interval. Meanwhile, power hovers right around 242w for the whole duration. HR is worthless.
     
  17. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    You attempt to correlate absolute values of power and HR, show it can't be done, then claim HR is useless because of this - I would suggest this isn't what HR is normally used for (or at least it shouldn't be).

    Although the absolute value HR does lag, there is definitely a relationship there between exertion and HR. It responds quite quickly to an increase in intensity and is higher at the end of the interval when your body is working harder to maintain the constant workload. It's hardly surprising that a measure of the stress on your body is higher at the end of a constant effort than at the start.

    The dose-response relationship between workload and HR is not linear, lags a bit, and is multi-factorial and complex - that doesn't mean HR means nothing and has no use.

    VO2 is another potential measure of workload (not of practical import in training because of diificulties in measurement) - it lags significantly under various conditions and has many possible variables affecting it. Does this make VO2 meaningless?

    Power at ventilatory threshold has been found to correlate well with actual real world TT performance [Which laboratory variable is related with time trial performance time in the Tour de France? Lucia A, Hoyos J, Perez M, Santalla A, Earnest CP, Chicharro JL]. HR variability has been shown to indicate whether exercise is above or below ventilatory threshold [Heart rate variability during exercise performed below and above ventilatory threshold. Cottin F, Medigue C, Lepretre PM, Papelier Y, Koralsztein JP, Billat]. Finally, in elite cyclists HR at ventilatory thresholds has been shown to remain constant or close thereto over the length of a competitive season [Heart rate and performance parameters in elite cyclists: a longitudinal study.Lucia A, Hoyos J, Perez M, Chicharro JL]. Despite increases in power values consistent with training effect, HR at VT1/VT2 was constant. Hence if one were an elite cyclists wanting to train for TT performance, there is some evidence HR would be a very useful tool, while power would have to be constantly recalibrated to take into account training effect.

    Do I totally agree with what I've outlined above? Not really - feel free to buy me a power monitor, I'd rather use one of those. Can you say HR is worthless as a training tool? Definitely not.

    By the way, I don't need a power monitor to understand the criticisms of HR you are making - I fully understand and essentially agree under many circumstances. It just doesn't make HR worthless.
     
  18. pod

    pod New Member

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    "I added dotted lines which represent the average HR, Power, and speed during this 20 minute interval. As you can see, it takes my HR about a minute to hit 140. Another 5 to get to 159 (which is the average for the session) it holds at 159 for about 5 minutes then creeps up to 172 by the end of the interval. Meanwhile, power hovers right around 242w for the whole duration. HR is worthless."

    I'd be more inclined to say that this is evidence that the Power meter is "worthless". What I'm trying to achieve by doing intervals is to stress the heart and lungs so they will respond by getting stronger and increasing my power output. As your own figures show, performing at some arbitary power "output" doesn't necessarily achieve this aim for the duration of the interval as there is a lag before the necessary stress is achieved and towards the end you are possibly causing more stress than is desirable. A HRM is probably a better measure of of the stress levels your heart and lungs are being subjected to than a power meter. You couldn't set target training zones for a power meter without having a HRM or at least a very good estimate of percieved stress.

    Of course the power meter is very good for measuring your improvement over time.

    Pat
     
  19. beerco

    beerco New Member

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  20. Roadie_scum

    Roadie_scum New Member

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    Yes. Accurate power guidelines are likely to give the best pacing for TT's. Still doesn't make HR useless, meaningless or worthless though. Note also that the coaching and TT experience of the riders in the study would have a significant impact on the results.

    VO2 only accurately correlates with power at steady state or in incremental tests with reasonably gradual increases in power.

    The goal of training is to increase power. Often this is done by targeting a specific energy system. You are both right.
     
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