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The truth about maximum heartrate......

Simon1890Simon1890 Posts: 117
edited August 2009 in Road beginners
I'm hoping someone on here can answer my question...i've just spent 2 hours searching online for an answer but failed to get one!!!

I'm starting to get into some form of training and everything i've read says training is best done in 'zones' based on your % maximum heartrate. So my first question when i started was "how do you know your maximum heartrate?".....i quickly came across the common answer of 220 minus your for me 220 - 27 = my max heartrate should be 193.

Right, that makes sense.....but...

I recently went out on a ride and early into the ride i had to conquer two short-ish but very steep hills (1st one only 1/4 mile but at avg 22%, the second 1/2 mile at avg of 15%). Now i know looking back at it i pushed myself too hard too quickly and half way up the second hill i had to stop as i suddenly felt sick and very faint. I stopped, stood tall and breathed deeply. It took me a good 3 minutes of this to come round, before i felt normal enough to carry on.

Now during this 'moment', or at least just before it when i was working VERY VERY hard and was certainly working at my max, my heartrate peaked at 172bpm!!!

Now 172 is quite a lot different to 193.

Is this something i should be concerned about or is it normal? Does this mean i would never be able to compete?
I can believe that everyones max heartrate is slightly different but mine seems far lower than it should be.

My resting HR is around the 45bpm mark if that has any effect on max HR.

Please don't say "check your HR monitor, it sounds like it might not be working correctly" as this result is almost identical to two other HR monitors i have used and all have been good HR monitors, not cheap ones.

Any thoughts/help on max heartrate?

Thanks in advance.


  • doyler78doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    Poll I put up a while ago. ... ight=maxhr

    Should answer your questions.

    If you want to know your maxHR then you will have to test for it. RestingHR & maxHR are totally unrelated and therefore having a lower restingHR doesn't mean you will have a lower maxHR. You are highly unlikely to ever see your maxHR in any ride/race though you may get close.

    I have a lower restingHR than you but a significantly higher maxHR than the formula says I should have.
  • Simon1890Simon1890 Posts: 117
    Thanks for that...didn't think to search these forums bad!!!

    Do you know how to do a max HR test at home etc???

    Or is it just a case of the maximum heartrate you've ever seen?

  • GarzGarz Posts: 1,155
    Max HR in theory would be when your bordering feinting/passing out. Obviously people cant or shouldn't be reaching this. I guess it is a guide so that you don't over-exert yourself, so if your equipment is accurate enough then you know now that around 175bpm is say 90% of your max.
  • doyler78doyler78 Posts: 1,951
    Simon1890 wrote:
    Thanks for that...didn't think to search these forums bad!!!

    Do you know how to do a max HR test at home etc???

    Or is it just a case of the maximum heartrate you've ever seen?


    I wouldn't worry about it. We tend to cover the same things over and over again. I suspect this board would be dead if all used the search facility properly :lol:

    Here's another thread - was a discussion on lower heart rate however it covers maxHR tests

    Just on what Garz said it isn't recommended to a maxHR test without medical supervision if over 35yo - now that's the disclaimer out of the way.

    If you are worried about doing a maxHR test then you can set up training zones based on lactate threshold.

    Basically 10 mile tt - average heart rate less 5% (though some say don't take the 5% off if you arne't doing an actual time trial as you are unliekly to be motivated enough to have given a full on effort - only you will know whethter there was more to give or not).
  • EscargotEscargot Posts: 361
    You mention that you are starting to get into some form of training. Does that mean what you are literally saying or do you do other sports ?

    Only reason I ask is that the general equation probably applies (generally) to the average fit bloke of a certain age. If you haven't done any training for a while then your heart probably isn't working as efficiently as it could and will take time to achieve the theoretical max.

    Either way I wouldn't worry about it too much as it's only a guide to help you train effectively.
  • WoodchipWoodchip Posts: 205
    Calculated - 190
    Max recorded on HRM - 205
    (Oh, and I had to lay down after that as the world was spinning and going funny colours)

    15 out
    I have nothing more to say on the matter.
  • I calculated mine the following ways

    (non athletic) 220-age(35) = 185bpm

    (fit) 205-age(35)/2 = 187.5bpm

    (Alternative) 214 = (0.8*age(35) = 186bpm

    However my max at first was 186... 3 days and 3 rides later it was 190. Not bad for how unfit i am having not exercised in 20 years.

    Why are these measurements way off ??
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  • voxegamvoxegam Posts: 244
    Just a say that these hills are early on in your ride. Personally I find that my heart rate is always a little bit lower in say the first quarter/fifth of my ride....whether my heart is "warming up" I dunno but I can never achieve close to my maxHR early on.
    Trek Madone 6.5 Pro
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  • dilemnadilemna Posts: 2,187
    edited August 2009
    Why would you ever want to reach max HR? Do you want to bust it :( ?

    It's not necessarily important the number of beats the heart makes but the quality/power of the beats/pumps. MaxHR is a theoretical value and the calculations are only a guide. Everyone is diffrerent. I suppose if you constantly wore a HR monitor on your wrist then you could more than likely establish your individual max HR.

    Blood pressure and electrical activity in the heart are also important indicating how efficiently one's heart is pumping.

    And faint heart never won a fair lady :wink: .
    Life is like a roll of toilet paper; long and useful, but always ends at the wrong moment. Anon.
    Think how stupid the average person is.......
    half of them are even more stupid than you first thought.
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    I didn't think max heart rate was influenced by how fit or unfit you are?

    According to the (very rough guess) of that formula my max HR should be 188bpm. On a bike I've never reached more than 174bpm, though I have got to 180bpm once while running. Perhaps I could push a bit harder, perhaps not.

    This has been discussed at length on the forum, but the (220 - age) and all similar formulae are pretty much meaningless to the majority of the population.
    More problems but still living....
  • OlliedaOllieda Posts: 1,010
    Interestingly enough your body can go above you MHR but only in extreme circumstances. My friend's son had a serious car accident. In a coma for about 5 months then woke up, serious brain damage and lost feeling in his right side. He was bed bound in hospital when one of the nurse came to wash him and she forgot he had no feeling on the right side and tilted him over onto his right side to get to his back and his body went into a panic thinking it was falling/floating and he started fitting and his heart rate hit an immense 260bpm. Luckily the nurse realised and laid him back down and the doc had to come and help him.

    Apparently it can happen it surgery sometimes that the heart just overloads and panics but if its sustained then the heart will be seriously damaged.

    All of thats not really relevant to cycling but I thought I would let you guys know as I was shocked when I heard about it.
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