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Discussion Starter #1
I've read several times that you cant go by your HRM to see if your getting in better shape. I was going to pick up another one, now that my Polar is giving me problems, but I'm not too sure now. What good is a HRM and what do you use to see how much your progressing? I cant afford a Power Meter.
 

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My sugestion....Get a power meter and use your 20 minute power as your base measurement....which BTW...is easiest to measure on a constant low % grade climb.

If you can't do that...use a hill climb as a base standard measurement. Go back every month or so and time your self and see what your progress is time wise up the climb.

HR is OK for a measurement, but there are so many variables that it can be off quite a bit from day to day. I know using my Powertap from one day to the next I was putting out the same power...but my HR was on average a little over 10 beats lower the second day compared to the day before.

So my speed and power were the same, but my HR was 10 beats lower....so if I were using HR alone, I would have thought I was having a horrible day when in reality it was just as good as the day before.
 

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Ok, you don't have a power meter and your HR monitor may be on the fritz. Do you have a trainer and a computer that will give you cadence? Make note of what gearing you're in for a given interval. If you can rip it off in a higher gear at the same cadence, you're improving.

In the advent of power meters, heart rate monitors have been regarded as cheap junk. Sometimes HRMs aren't 100% reliable, but they still tell you something, sometimes valuable, sometimes not so valuable.

Still, keep track of basic stuff like gearing, cadence, how you feel, etc. There were winners long before power meters, computers, carbon, etc.
 

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Find a loop or ride around your house and time yourself. If you are able to go faster over time you are getting in better shape. Weather and traffic can effect time, so factor that in.

In my 1 1/2 years of road biking I've gone from around 16mph over a 20 mile loop to around 21-22mph over the same route. It's fun to see those gains as your legs and endurance improve.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
When I use to ride up this hill near me and my heart rate was 160, now I do it with a heart rate of 130, at a faster speed, but I was told I cant go by that. It felt good though. Thanks for the replies everybody.
 

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What Would Google Do.
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when your going faster or putting out more power. This is going to be a L - -o --n---g thread :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
What brought this to mind was, I was at the book store today I read that in Friel's training bible. I probably should have bought it to see where he was going, but I had to leave, plus I have his other book, Cycling Past 50. I would think that before the Power Meter came out, that most serious riders used a HRM. I have 6 different books on training and all of them give zones to be in while riding and I pretty much went by them. After reading that you cant go by that, I said to myself what the heck is this.
 

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The zones are useful if you base them on your own LTHR or (less useful) maxHR. You can do tests on the bike to determine those. Then you calculate your zones from there. My zones won't work for you but your zones would work for you.

Both LTHR and maxHR change over time, so you need to perform the tests periodically.

You can determine improvement pretty well by doing timed intervals. Pick a hill that takes you at least 20 minutes. Pick a day when you are rested, warm up well, and time yourself. Do it again in a month or so and see how much you have improved. You can also estimate your power during the interval using one of the on-line power calculators like analyticcycling.
 

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George M said:
I've read several times that you cant go by your HRM to see if your getting in better shape. I was going to pick up another one, now that my Polar is giving me problems, but I'm not too sure now. What good is a HRM and what do you use to see how much your progressing? I cant afford a Power Meter.
HR is helpful as a guide to monitor relative intensity of effort, however it doesn't tell you absolute intensity of effort (i.e. power).

How much power per unit of body mass you can produce over a given time frame is really the only measure of fitness that matters.

In order to monitor that you need a power measurement device, or to infer/estimate it. The former can be accurately measured with many devices available (power meters or high quality ergometers), that latter can be a bit hit and miss depending upon how you do it.

For a discussion on monitoring fitness without access to power measurement, see this item:
Homebrew Fitness Testing
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the link Alex and thanks everybody for your replies as well. If anything else the HRM can tell me what zone I'm riding in after I test myself for my MHR. After reading about power meters, I guess my MHR will be in question as well though.
 

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George M said:
What brought this to mind was, I was at the book store today I read that in Friel's training bible. I probably should have bought it to see where he was going, but I had to leave, plus I have his other book, Cycling Past 50. I would think that before the Power Meter came out, that most serious riders used a HRM. I have 6 different books on training and all of them give zones to be in while riding and I pretty much went by them. After reading that you cant go by that, I said to myself what the heck is this.
Ride more. Read less.
 

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pretender said:
Ride more. Read less.
Winner of the best answer on here in months!
To the original poster.....print out pretenders answer and tape it to your monitor, frig and bathroom mirror.
And HEED those words!
 

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No Crybabies
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win?

Can you beat your buddies? That's all that matters.

Seriously, I'm with the time trial approach. They call it the "race of truth" for a reason. It measures how fast you can ride. There is some benefit to experience and strategy, but it really is the best measure.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
the mayor said:
Winner of the best answer on here in months!
To the original poster.....print out pretenders answer and tape it to your monitor, frig and bathroom mirror.
And HEED those words!
:thumbsup: :D
 

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Discussion Starter #17
icebreaker said:
The answer to your question is here.

You are going up the same hill faster at a lower heart rate.

Everything else that is going to be said here is meaningless, the answer is in your question.
Why didn't I see that. I did mention in another post, that that is what I thought, but one of the replies said, I cant go by that. I think I will just to make life easier. I've been having a terrible week.
 

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icebreaker said:
The answer to your question is here.

You are going up the same hill faster at a lower heart rate.

Everything else that is going to be said here is meaningless, the answer is in your question.
Yup. There you go.

I was going to suggest that you find a hill you ride all the time and time yourself. When you go up the hill faster you've gotten fitter.

Yes, using your HRM is likely more accurate but perceived exertion is telling you something too. After all, it's all about how much it hurts, right? If you can climb faster and hurt less then what does it matter what your heart rate is or how much power you're putting out?

Of course a power meter is going to be the most accurate measuring device but if you can't afford one then use what you've got!

Cheers!
 

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Fixed said:
Can you beat your buddies? That's all that matters.

Seriously, I'm with the time trial approach. They call it the "race of truth" for a reason. It measures how fast you can ride. There is some benefit to experience and strategy, but it really is the best measure.
Beating your buddies is one way to measure, but who is to say that you didn't beat them because they got weaker? Hell, I'm a horrible sprinter, but managed to beat a guy who simply started his sprint way too early.

Time trials are good, but wind can always change results. How much can depend on the wind and form. Sometimes you have guys who are incredibly strong, but have trouble finding a rhythm and level of exertion that maximizes speed without running out of gas before the finish line. Even with a power meter, perhaps you did the prescribed 218 watts/hour, but perhaps had a little left in the tank to where you realize you could have done more.

Nothing is perfect or flawless, so just get out and ride.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Well anyway, I just picked up a Timex HRM and I'll see how that works. I've been using a Polar for about 2 years now and I'm having a pretty hard time getting a reading. I thought it would be the batteries and you have to send it in, so they can change them for you. After posting this and pretty much ready to buy a new one anyhow, I went and bought the Timex. I think it was $55 and you can change your own batteries. My wife said I can't use it until Christmas. She still believes in Santa. Anyhow I'll just use it for my different zones and be happy with that. Thanks for all the tips and replies and have a good Christmas.
 
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