HR zones and low max HR on rides?

tonysj Posts: 391
Hi All,

I have been road cycling since I got a road bike on Cycletowork scheme in December 2016 and really enjoy it. I would class myself as an Improver rather than Novice.
I set my HR earlier this year after hitting 182 bpm on a steep climb ( though prior to this I thought it was 172 bpm ) my resting is 44 bpm and set the zones from those on my Garmin.
The last 2-3 rides I've noticed I'm either Not pushing myself as hard or getting fitter as I'm no where near getting above 128 average and hitting only 152 bpm when I'm really pushing.
I went on a 100km ride just last week and was in zone 1 for most of the ride and only 10 minutes in zones 2. HR average 119 bpm max 140 bpm, Speed 16.3 mph average but I was riding steady and not flat out.
Other ride last weekend on a 31 mile on a very flat route when I was gunning it I had HR average 136 bpm Max HR 152 bpm average speed 19.3 mph.
I don't know if its my lungs don't have the capacity as I'm more out of breathe or legs go rather than me sustaining a high HR.

I feel my fitness has improved but my average speed has not increased. Any ideas appreciated.




  • i. Speed is a poor indicator of fitness changes. The speed-power relationship on flatter terrain is mostly cubic*, meaning small changes in speed require large changes in power, and there are way too many variables which impact overall speed other than fitness to make it any more than a fairly imprecise indicator of fitness changes.

    Speed sustainable or time to ride up a decent length steepish climb is a much better indicator as the speed-power relationship is much closer to being linear on steeper ascents**.

    ii. HR monitors may be subject to erroneous spikes. if you are considering your HRmax value as a means to help set training levels then it would be wise to use a HRmax value you've been able to reliably and repeatably attain.

    * e.g. to ride 10% faster on flat ground require approx (1.1)^3 = 1.33 times more power (usually a bit less as there are linear components as well to the relationship). IOW a 10% increase in speed demands approx 30% more power output, ceteris paribus. Change air density (i.e. air temp and pressure) or wind and those the power demand can differ wildly.

    ** e.g. to ride 10% faster up a steep climb requires only a little over 10% more power, ceteris paribus
  • cgfw201
    cgfw201 Posts: 674
    I assumed my max hr was 181 for 5 years until i started racing. turns out its 197 (highest i've hit so far). wouldn't worry about it too much, just try and build fitness and when it comes to race day you'll find out what you can really do.
  • zefs
    zefs Posts: 484
    Do this test for max HR: ... sts-28838/

    I do the first (steady climbing) part twice, so the sprint/final part is done on the second run for me.
    To complete the test, warm up thoroughly for at least 15 minutes. On a long, steady hill, start off fairly briskly and increase your effort every minute. Do this seated for at least five minutes until you can’t go any faster while seated. At this point, get out of the saddle and sprint as hard as you can for 15 seconds. Then, immediately check your HR reading or, after the ride, download your data and look for the highest HR number. This is your max HR.