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Educate me on Heart rates?

AllezAllezAllezAllezAllezAllez Posts: 207
I know a HR is a very personal thing, but as my cycling has progressed I've noticed my average HR has come down and I can tolerate a higher HR.

Two questions:

1, Is a reducing average a measure of overall fitness?

2, Does your Max HR increase as you get fitter? Or, is it just a case that you get used to pushing harder and can hold a higher max HR?

I've just turned 42 and have been cycling more serious for the last 6 years. In the last two years I have done more focused efforts and mileage.
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  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,605
    (1) some say it isn't ..... but everyone I know that has taken up exercise has seen their average HR drop ... and those that regularly do sport all have lower HR's . In fact the only people that claim otherwise are people that I don't know, so kind of reluctant to believe them in the reals of overwhelming proof from people I have actually witnessed

    (2) I don't know, possibly because as I get older my max heart rate is meant to drop .... BUT .... I am getting fitter and its staying the same, so perhaps its going up and down at the same time
  • mrfpbmrfpb Posts: 4,543
    2) Max HR doesn't increase with fitness, you just do more work at a given HR. As fat daddy says, it will reduce with age. I haven't seen anything.

    1) I assume this is the case from my own experince. Also, If you lose weight, you should also be able to acheive more at a given HR. However Garmin and Strava don't appear to have any charts to display work done at a given HR t make real comparisons.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    My max cycling HR is definitely declining as I get older. Annoyingly is it staying pretty close to the old 220 minus age thing. 60 next birthday, so I expect it will have fallen to 160 by then.
    Average HR seems to be pretty constant despite my improving fitness, so I think that suggests I'm not trying hard enough :D
  • bobmcstuffbobmcstuff Posts: 10,375
    If your HR is going down for the same effort (= power, or whatever less accurate measure you use as a proxy, such as climb times), then yes you are getting fitter. I also find as you do more high intensity stuff it gets easier to tolerate but I suspect that might be at least partly psychological.

    Max HR won't change. I guess threshold might change a bit, but I'm not sure of the relationship. Both will go down with age.
  • andy9964andy9964 Posts: 930
    mrfpb wrote:
    However Garmin and Strava don't appear to have any charts to display work done at a given HR t make real comparisons.

    If you use Chrome on a laptop etc, try adding Strava Enhancement Suite and StravistiX extensions. You can get time spent in different zones of cadence, speed, climbing/gradient and I assume heart rates (my HRM is out of action at the moment, so I can't confirm)
  • stretchystretchy Posts: 149
    Andy9964 wrote:
    mrfpb wrote:
    However Garmin and Strava don't appear to have any charts to display work done at a given HR t make real comparisons.

    If you use Chrome on a laptop etc, try adding Strava Enhancement Suite and StravistiX extensions. You can get time spent in different zones of cadence, speed, climbing/gradient and I assume heart rates (my HRM is out of action at the moment, so I can't confirm)

    Veloviewer does do W/Beat or something similar
  • 1, Is a reducing average a measure of overall fitness?

    2, Does your Max HR increase as you get fitter? Or, is it just a case that you get used to pushing harder and can hold a higher max HR?
    1. In general as you improve fitness HR for the same absolute power output will be lower, to a point. There will however be acute variations from that general trend due to various things. Also resting HR tends to fall overall as fitness improves, and again there can be acute variations from that overall trend for various reasons.

    2. Not usually. Typically cardiac output improves with aerobic fitness through an increase in heart stroke volume (i.e. more blood is pumped per heart beat).
  • joe2008joe2008 Posts: 1,531
    1, Is a reducing average a measure of overall fitness?

    2, Does your Max HR increase as you get fitter? Or, is it just a case that you get used to pushing harder and can hold a higher max HR?
    1. In general as you improve fitness HR for the same absolute power output will be lower, to a point. There will however be acute variations from that general trend due to various things. Also resting HR tends to fall overall as fitness improves, and again there can be acute variations from that overall trend for various reasons.

    2. Not usually. Typically cardiac output improves with aerobic fitness through an increase in heart stroke volume (i.e. more blood is pumped per heart beat).

    Alex, with regard to HR versus Power what do Slope Watts/BPM, and Intercept mean?
  • joe2008 wrote:
    1, Is a reducing average a measure of overall fitness?

    2, Does your Max HR increase as you get fitter? Or, is it just a case that you get used to pushing harder and can hold a higher max HR?
    1. In general as you improve fitness HR for the same absolute power output will be lower, to a point. There will however be acute variations from that general trend due to various things. Also resting HR tends to fall overall as fitness improves, and again there can be acute variations from that overall trend for various reasons.

    2. Not usually. Typically cardiac output improves with aerobic fitness through an increase in heart stroke volume (i.e. more blood is pumped per heart beat).

    Alex, with regard to HR versus Power what do Slope Watts/BPM, and Intercept mean?
    Not sure where they come from but presumably someone is plotting HR v power and coming up with a linear regression to provide a slope and intercept value. Depending on how that's done, then it could be complete rubbish or at best nothing particularly meaningful.

    wrt fitness, what matters is the power you can sustain for durations of relevance. HR is just a low-fi tool to aid with guiding intensity of effort while riding sub-threshold and relatively steady state efforts. Anything beyond that limited scope and you are reading the HR tea leaves.
  • joe2008joe2008 Posts: 1,531
    joe2008 wrote:
    1, Is a reducing average a measure of overall fitness?

    2, Does your Max HR increase as you get fitter? Or, is it just a case that you get used to pushing harder and can hold a higher max HR?
    1. In general as you improve fitness HR for the same absolute power output will be lower, to a point. There will however be acute variations from that general trend due to various things. Also resting HR tends to fall overall as fitness improves, and again there can be acute variations from that overall trend for various reasons.

    2. Not usually. Typically cardiac output improves with aerobic fitness through an increase in heart stroke volume (i.e. more blood is pumped per heart beat).

    Alex, with regard to HR versus Power what do Slope Watts/BPM, and Intercept mean?
    Not sure where they come from but presumably someone is plotting HR v power and coming up with a linear regression to provide a slope and intercept value. Depending on how that's done, then it could be complete rubbish or at best nothing particularly meaningful.

    wrt fitness, what matters is the power you can sustain for durations of relevance. HR is just a low-fi tool to aid with guiding intensity of effort while riding sub-threshold and relatively steady state efforts. Anything beyond that limited scope and you are reading the HR tea leaves.

    Thanks for your reply Alex, it's from a WKO4 Heart Rate versus Power chart.
  • joe2008 wrote:
    Thanks for your reply Alex, it's from a WKO4 Heart Rate versus Power chart.
    Ah, OK.

    Giving people the power to make charts show whatever takes their fancy doesn't mean their creations will be of any value. Like anything, each bit of "analysis" requires some critical assessment.
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    bobmcstuff wrote:
    If your HR is going down for the same effort (= power, or whatever less accurate measure you use as a proxy, such as climb times), then yes you are getting fitter.
    I would have thought as you get fitter, for the same average HR (i.e. same effort) you would produce more power, resulting in higher average speeds for the same effort?
  • bobmcstuff wrote:
    If your HR is going down for the same effort (= power, or whatever less accurate measure you use as a proxy, such as climb times), then yes you are getting fitter.
    I would have thought as you get fitter, for the same average HR (i.e. same effort) you would produce more power, resulting in higher average speeds for the same effort?
    Effort <> HR
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    bobmcstuff wrote:
    If your HR is going down for the same effort (= power, or whatever less accurate measure you use as a proxy, such as climb times), then yes you are getting fitter.
    I would have thought as you get fitter, for the same average HR (i.e. same effort) you would produce more power, resulting in higher average speeds for the same effort?
    Effort <> HR
    Does that mean Effort can be less than or greater than HR?

    For me, the more effort I put into a ride, my average HR goes up.
  • Does that mean Effort can be less than or greater than HR?

    For me, the more effort I put into a ride, my average HR goes up.

    Not sure what you mean in the first line, the two are not linked directly so how do you measure one being greater than the other?

    Your second point, yes absolutely in general riding for 1 hour at 200watts will give you a higher average HR than 1 hour at 180 watts though remember HR can vary depending on how tired or how well you are.
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    OnTheRopes wrote:
    Does that mean Effort can be less than or greater than HR?

    For me, the more effort I put into a ride, my average HR goes up.

    Not sure what you mean in the first line, the two are not linked directly so how do you measure one being greater than the other?

    Your second point, yes absolutely in general riding for 1 hour at 200watts will give you a higher average HR than 1 hour at 180 watts though remember HR can vary depending on how tired or how well you are.
    I wasn't sure what Alex meant by 'Effort <> HR, so I was summarising what I thought he meant.

    As regards the second point, although my HR goes up with more effort, I would expect that if I was to get fitter I would be able to produce the same amount of power with a lower HR (i.e. less effort). That also means that for the same amount of effort, I should be able to produce more power if I was to get fitter.
  • joe2008joe2008 Posts: 1,531
    OnTheRopes wrote:
    Does that mean Effort can be less than or greater than HR?

    For me, the more effort I put into a ride, my average HR goes up.

    Not sure what you mean in the first line, the two are not linked directly so how do you measure one being greater than the other?

    Your second point, yes absolutely in general riding for 1 hour at 200watts will give you a higher average HR than 1 hour at 180 watts though remember HR can vary depending on how tired or how well you are.
    I wasn't sure what Alex meant by 'Effort <> HR, so I was summarising what I thought he meant.

    As regards the second point, although my HR goes up with more effort, I would expect that if I was to get fitter I would be able to produce the same amount of power with a lower HR (i.e. less effort). That also means that for the same amount of effort, I should be able to produce more power if I was to get fitter.

    I would hazard a guess that Alex was saying that effort 'less or more :)' equals heart rate... in other words, heart rate is a poor predictor of performance.
  • joe2008 wrote:

    I would hazard a guess that Alex was saying that effort 'less or more :)' equals heart rate... in other words, heart rate is a poor predictor of performance.

    '<>' usually means "does not equal" (when the normal symbol is unavailable, '!=' is another synonymous symbol combo for it)
  • joe2008 wrote:

    I would hazard a guess that Alex was saying that effort 'less or more :)' equals heart rate... in other words, heart rate is a poor predictor of performance.

    '<>' usually means "does not equal" (when the normal symbol is unavailable, '!=' is another synonymous symbol combo for it)
    That's what I meant.

    HR is but one physiological response to effort. It also responds to factors other than effort.

    It's most consistent with effort when performing quasi steady state (e.g. indoor trainer) type rides ridden sub threshold. Once greater variation of effort occurs or one rides beyond threshold then it does not track effort all that well.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,473
    recovery rate is proven to be important in cardio fitness. The quicker you drop back to norms after a blast the fitter you are. Personally I find doing lots of Cardio improves my resting HR along with regular bonk training. I also find it damn hard to get close to 220 - age. I'm 45 now resting HR is 36-38 and my max is about 173-176. At 176 I am literally exploding. I can recover at 35-40bpm, which I'm told is an indication of good cardio fitness. I did a proper vo2max test quite a few years ago and hit low 70s.. I've never been able to turn my supposed good cardio in to real world performance though. Even in my peak I could rarely get in the top 10-15% of events. As with everything - good cardio means nothing if you eat censored and have a stressful job.
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    diy wrote:
    recovery rate is proven to be important in cardio fitness. The quicker you drop back to norms after a blast the fitter you are. Personally I find doing lots of Cardio improves my resting HR along with regular bonk training. I also find it damn hard to get close to 220 - age. I'm 45 now resting HR is 36-38 and my max is about 173-176. At 176 I am literally exploding.
    But you are close to the 220 - age formula, as for your age it works out at a max HR of 175, and you say your max is 176. So although the formula is just a rough guide, it seems pretty accurate for you.
  • But you are close to the 220 - age formula, as for your age it works out at a max HR of 175, and you say your max is 176. So although the formula is just a rough guide, it seems pretty accurate for you.
    Doesn't work for many though, I am 58 and my MHR 179 or 180
  • joe2008joe2008 Posts: 1,531
    diy wrote:
    recovery rate is proven to be important in cardio fitness. The quicker you drop back to norms after a blast the fitter you are. Personally I find doing lots of Cardio improves my resting HR along with regular bonk training. I also find it damn hard to get close to 220 - age. I'm 45 now resting HR is 36-38 and my max is about 173-176. At 176 I am literally exploding. I can recover at 35-40bpm, which I'm told is an indication of good cardio fitness. I did a proper vo2max test quite a few years ago and hit low 70s.. I've never been able to turn my supposed good cardio in to real world performance though. Even in my peak I could rarely get in the top 10-15% of events. As with everything - good cardio means nothing if you eat censored and have a stressful job.

    Your max isn't 'about 173 - 176', it's at least 176.
  • MrGrumpyMrGrumpy Posts: 288
    diy wrote:
    recovery rate is proven to be important in cardio fitness. The quicker you drop back to norms after a blast the fitter you are. Personally I find doing lots of Cardio improves my resting HR along with regular bonk training. I also find it damn hard to get close to 220 - age. I'm 45 now resting HR is 36-38 and my max is about 173-176. At 176 I am literally exploding. I can recover at 35-40bpm, which I'm told is an indication of good cardio fitness. I did a proper vo2max test quite a few years ago and hit low 70s.. I've never been able to turn my supposed good cardio in to real world performance though. Even in my peak I could rarely get in the top 10-15% of events. As with everything - good cardio means nothing if you eat censored and have a stressful job.

    Same age as you, and i think the 220 - your age is not far off to be fair. Only way I seem to be able to give the old heart a good run out is racing CX. Managed to hit 180bpm, which was a fair jump from what i thought was my max. However lots of variables can determine that. My resting heart rate about 10yrs ago was not far of yours now, pity years of bad living up till now has probably effected it now :p . I was off the same opinion that how quick you can get heart rate back down was a good indication of cardio fitness after a good workout. Must be some experts out there that i can qualify that ?
  • diydiy Posts: 6,473
    its well documented.. summary here:
    http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/110/18/2778#ref-1

    I've had my RHR as low as 32-34, but not for a few years and usually as a result of not having a coffee or anything to eat (as I type now its showing 39bpm).
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    joe2008 wrote:
    diy wrote:
    recovery rate is proven to be important in cardio fitness. The quicker you drop back to norms after a blast the fitter you are. Personally I find doing lots of Cardio improves my resting HR along with regular bonk training. I also find it damn hard to get close to 220 - age. I'm 45 now resting HR is 36-38 and my max is about 173-176. At 176 I am literally exploding. I can recover at 35-40bpm, which I'm told is an indication of good cardio fitness. I did a proper vo2max test quite a few years ago and hit low 70s.. I've never been able to turn my supposed good cardio in to real world performance though. Even in my peak I could rarely get in the top 10-15% of events. As with everything - good cardio means nothing if you eat censored and have a stressful job.

    Your max isn't 'about 173 - 176', it's at least 176.
    Can also recover at below RHR!

    My RHR hasn't changed with 20%+ differences in threshold power. It's about 60. It isn't a good measure of fitness.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,473
    You've misunderstood RHR is resting heart rate and recovery heart rate is the rate of fall after exercise - not the same. I think you know that, I suspect you misread or it wasn't clear.

    i.e. talking about this stuff http://www.livestrong.com/article/26080 ... -exercise/
  • Tom DeanTom Dean Posts: 1,723
    It wasn't clear! 'At x bpm' doesn't imply 'HR during effort minus x bpm'
  • robertpbrobertpb Posts: 1,866
    I think that the 220 - age should be taken with a pinch of salt if you are fit.

    I max out at 186 and have no problem riding at 168 for an hour and my max with that formula should be 154 that is 32 adrift.
    Now where's that "Get Out of Crash Free Card"
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    robertpb wrote:
    I think that the 220 - age should be taken with a pinch of salt if you are fit.

    I max out at 186 and have no problem riding at 168 for an hour and my max with that formula should be 154 that is 32 adrift.
    I've read that max HR declines as you get fitter as well as declining with age.

    If your age is 66 and your max HR is 186 that does seems incredibly high for your age.
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