Since I started using a monitor in January I've focused on using it for
running and have a pretty good grasp of ranges and rates for various types
of training and races. I find the monitor especially helpful in races,
when I can watch my heart rate start to slack off and then know that I
have to "kick it up" despite a perception that I'm running as hard as I
ought to. It really helps!
My questions now are about rates on the bike and the swim. How much lower
should they be? I'm a relatively stronger biker than runner, and yet it
seems to me that my heart rate is at least 10 bpm (7% or so) lower on the
bike at what I perceive as an equivalent effort as on the run. Should I
expect lower heart rates riding than running? If so, why? How much lower
is "equivalent." Ditto for the swim.
(Still looking for a good tri-handle. Tri-out? Tri-ed and True? I'll
claim that one for now...)
>Does anyone want to talk to me about this? Sally Edwards
Just bought a Polar Pacer two weeks ago because I've having dead legs at
races so I concluded I was overtraining. I did my own max heart rate test
by warming up with a 15 minute slow run and then doing two brisk 400m
intervals with full recoveries, followed by one fast 800m interval where I
gave it all I had in the last 100m. My heart rate at the end of this
interval was 179, which is 8 bpm less than the value I obtain using the
220-age formula (I'm 33).
When I use this measured value in the formula for calculating exertion
(I'm using the formula: (max - rest) * % exertion + rest) the values I
obtain for what should be my regular, day-in-day-out, training range
(60-75%) seem really low (my resting rate is 45). I'm sure if I keep
within this range I won't have dead legs at my next race, but at the same
time, going so slow affects my running style - it's more like a jog! I'm
spicing up my training with fartleks, intervals, and pace runs, but I'm
worried that running at 60-75% are just ending up as junk miles. Any
voice: (604) 822 0899 University of British Columbia
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You have used the formula that I've seen recommended and that makes the
most sense (0% effort = resting HR), and you're arriving at the proper
numbers for 60% and 75%. At first it will seem incredibly easy to blow
right past the 75% point--this is because your body is used to
overexerting beyond that endurance zone.
You'd do well to try and correct your overtrained state by forcing
yourself to stay in the 60-70% range for several months. However, its
unfortunate that the timing is probably not right to start doing this now
with your key race of the season no doubt coming up shortly.
Try this: After your last "big" race of the season, take about two weeks
off (no more). Then begin your endurance base building, but wear your Hr
monitor and--no matter what--keep your HR under 70% (closer to 60%).
You'll find after about 6-8 weeks that (#1) You'll be traveling faster at
60% than you are able to go now; (#2) you'll feel healthier; and (#3) you
won't have had the slightest injury-related set-back.
Til then, let your body rest in time for your late season races.
Assuming that your max HR really is 179, then it seems that you are doing everything
right by the book in terms of setting your training intensity. The problem in using
HR as a guide to training intensity, though, is that it is mostly a reflection of
cardiovascular fitness, whereas endurance performance is more a function of muscular
fitness. That is, two individuals exercising at 75% of HR reserve (which is actually
what you've calculated using your resting HR in the formula) won't necessarily feel
the same stress, or achieve the same training effect. It sounds like that you've
slowed down because of the HR monitor, which is probably good if you have been
training too hard. On the other hand, I don't believe that a healthy athlete should
hold back from training they know they can recover from and that works for them just
because the intensity exceeds some "magic" target HR.
Andrew R. Coggan
If I train in the aerobic zone (dixit Polar explaination), I should be
between 108 (65%) and 125 (75%). It's painfully slow! It's a 9-10
min/miles! and my legs hurt like hell, they are like wood.
If I am racing on sprint races, I have my HR all the time in the 155-160
When I am running for 10+miles, I have my HRM in the 140-160 (85-95%,
anaerobic) zone, I find it just perfect. I can work after, I do not feel
What happening there? Am I just different or weird? The common zones do
not work for me, why? Why such low max? What am I doing wrong there?
Thanks -- Fabien
"Computers allow you to make more mistakes in a shorter period of time
than any other development in the history of mankind, with the possible
exception of handguns and tequila."
Again, thanks for the book! It's changing the way I work out.
: Well I have a question about that.
: My 220-age is 191. My REAL running max is 168 (on a 800m all out).
: My REAL Bicycling max is 160. My resting heartbeat is 50.
I was also wondering how much these formulae can be off. Using 220-age,
I come out with a supposed max of 197. However, running all-out (last
1/4 mile of a 5K) I've hit 208 several times. Is it really possible that
it could be this high? The highest I've ever managed to hit on the bike
is 191. My resting HR is 46, so this just seems to be a VERY large range
to me. Is this really possible, or is my Polar maybe a bit nuts?
Tri-Slug (If it's not already taken...)
1) Maximum heart rate varies considerably within the population. The common formula
of 220-age (which, BTW, is not the only one around) has a standard error of the
estimate of 11 beats per minute. Thus, 68% of the population has a max HR of w/in 11
bpm of that predicted by the formula, and 95% have a max HR of w/in 22 bpm of the
formula. This means that 5% of the population will be different from predicted by
more than 22 bpm!
2) Max HR per se has little or no predictive value as an indicator of endurance
performance ability, at least across individuals. Both the fastest and the slowest
persons in any given race may have the same max HR. In fact, max HR actually tends
to decline slightly (0-10 bpm) with strenuous endurance training. One exception to
this generalization that max HR is not that important, though, is the effect of
aging, where the decline in max HR is one of the major factors accounting for the
age-related decline in VO2max.
3) One way to determine your true maximum HR is to be tested in a laboratory under
carefully controlled conditions. Even then, it is not uncommon for athletes to
occasionally exceed this value (by a few bpm) in competition, because of greater
motivation. If a greater discrepancy is seen, then either 1) the lab test was not a
true maximum (there are other ways of assessing this), or 2) the higher values are
artifactual. Although the Polar and other HR monitors are highly accurate, it has
been reported that they may occasionally provide incorrect data when HR is changing
rapidly. Ideally, one would like to see HR reach a near-plateau, maybe increasing by
only 1-2 bpm over a 1-2 min period, to be certain that max HR has been reached.
Realize, also, that just like your performance, there is some biological variability
in max HR, so that it may vary by a couple of bpm one way or the other from day to
4) Finally, several r.s.t.ers have commented that when the attempt to train within a
specified HR zone, the pace is much slower than what they are used to training at.
This illustrates the danger of placing too much faith in one's HR as a guide to the
optimum training intensity. Some individuals can routinely train at high HR's, and
probaby benefit from doing so. Others have a difficult time forcing their HR up
unless challenged in competition. HR is only one of a number of factors that one
should use in gauging training intensity, and it is my opinion that blind faith in
the HR monitor and training "zones" may be worse than not using a HR monitor at all.
Andrew R. Coggan, Ph.D.
> (stuff deleted)
> Is it better to have a high maximum heart rate, or does it really
> matter? Can the max be changed through training?
> I have a high resting HR. If I figure the target HR percentages using
> the "220 minus my age" method, I can get my HR into the moderate zone just
> by thinking about running, and I never feel as if I've really worked out
> very hard, even at the AT level. Is the "(220-RHR) x XX% + RHR" the best
> approach for me?
> I'm still haveing a hard time figuring out what my max HR is...(stuff deleted)
Your mutual starting point is using 220 minus your age as your max, which
can lead to very strange results for some people. It is a good
approximation for most, however.
Actually, it is far better to learn what your Anaerobic Threshold HR is
(and, more importantly, your speed at Anaerobic Threshold) for each sport
and to use this as a basis for calculating the HR intensity zones. Your
max and other intensity levels can be estimated if you use the assumption
that your AT is about 88% of your max.
How do you find out your AT HR? You can get a stress test done, or
you can perform a Conconi test on yourself. There are too many details
involved with this for me to list in a post (I wouldn't do the subject
matter justice), but I can direct you to Peter Janssen's book "Lactate,
Heart Rate, whatever" (I don't have it in front of me, but it's listed
among the HR books sold in the magazine ads). Dave Scott's regular
training articles earlier in the year in Inside Tri covered the topic
pretty well, also.
Best of luck to both of you-
11. Heart Rate Zones