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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I'm a 45 year old road cyclist and I've been riding on and off for 25 years.
I'm getting more serious with my road riding, meaning I'd like to see what my potential is on the road by doing more specific training to increase speed and power. I've mostly done centuries in the past and plodded along at around 17mph.
Here are my questions:
1. My Polar HR monitor read my max HR at 196. I did the Carmichael field test of two 8-minute intervals and recorded my highest HR and average for each effort. This number defies the typical calculation of 220-Age, which would be 175 bpm for me. How should I interpret this? Not sure if it's good or bad?

2. Is VO2 max and max HR the same thing? As I understand it now my average HR for my field test was 188 bpm. Should I consider that my VO2 max or my max HR? Again, this number is higher than what they typical age number would probably be.

Thanks in advance for your response to these questions.
 

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"220-age" often does not fit people, especially after 40. "205-1/2age" often fits better.

However these formulas are just generalizations. Your maxHR is what it is when you are at maximum effort. I'm 43 and my max is 186.

People who train sometimes also do not lower their maxHR with age. A running partner has had the same maxHR for 15 years, hasn't lowered from 190bps from age 40 to 55. But he is a 3 hour marathoner :) and has stayed in that fitness level for that time.

Good/Bad - if you have no underlying condition, reaching maxHR is not dangerous, just don't stay there for long, because there is no point.

In interval training, my running coach tells us not to go over 90-92% of maxHR, since after that you get no benefits, but run the danger of overexertion, meaning longer recovery and not being fit for the next training session later in the week.
 

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I come to cycling from running, so my training methods are from running. I've had the benefit of having good coaches and one in particular who believes in training from a HR perspective and encouraged us to do a blood lactate test. From those results he did a personal HR exertion level for each of us and a training schedule of speed/endurance workouts. This worked for me and I've come to preach it's merits a bit :)

I've never tried to maintain absolute maxHR for any long time, mostly because I probably can't and also because it's not beneficial for training and most likely detrimental.

Often during interval training with many short intervals we do the "last one fastest" after rigorously maintaining the "correct HR" for the training session and then I have reached it a lot of times for the final few meters of the sprint

I'm no athlete, 5 foot 9 inches, 10 - 15 pounds overweight at 185 lbs and run the best 10K at 48-49 minutes - with HR above 95% (175bps) for most of the time.

There this 10K race I do regularly with a 1K hill from the 8K marker to 9K where I sustain HR above 180 (97%) for 3 - 5 minutes during the most steep of the ascent and then come back to 95% during a flat final K and again over 97% for 2 minutes for the final sprint.
 

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I don't think anyone touched upon this, generally your VO2 max power is your absolute best average wattage for 5 minutes. This is certainly different than your max HR as you will definitely will not be at your max HR for 5 minutes.

Max HR doesn't relate well to power. You can sprint and put out max wattage, and still be well under your max HR... I think the only thing you can deduce from being at max HR is that your pace is somewhere above lactate threshold. Which isn't very specific.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the reply. Very good information.
Since I don't have a power meter to measure wattage, can I safely assume that my average HR for my two 8-minute max efforts will be my VO2 max? That number is 188bpm.
If so, how then do I determine my LT, which will be somewhere below my VO2 max?
The main thing I'm trying to do is increase my cruising speed from my current 17.5mph to 21mph, while riding alone without the aid of a pace line.
I've started riding with a group and can hang in the pace line at speeds up to 23mph. But once they turn on the gas and up the pace to around 26-27mph, I can can only hang on for a few miles before I need to dial it back to 20.5mph, a pace I can hold by myself for about 30 minutes or so. I'll average about 18.5mph for a 40 mile ride with about 10 miles of moderate climbing.
 

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LT HR is generally a tad below your HR the maximum pace you can hold for 20 minutes straight.
 

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Your highest average HR for 8 min should be slightly lower than your highest average for 5 min, but they're probably close enough. Training with HR isn't an exact science to begin with anyways. But why do you need to know your VO2 max HR? For LT I would take your average for a hard hour effort.

But trying to set a VO2 max pace, or any pace, based on HR is pretty tricky. The first minute at your VO2 max pace your HR may be 10+bpm lower than the last minute, even though the entire time you may have maintained a constant power output. So lets say your VO2 max HR is 188 (average). If you're cruising along at 165bpm and decide to suddenly go to a "VO2 max HR pace", if you actually tried to get your HR to 188 now you'd end going much too fast and totally blow up because you will have reached 188 too quickly.

The response in your HR is very much delayed, and reaching a specific value is just as much a function of time as power. Also with cardiac drift your HR is always changing, on top of that.

Most of the time when people train without power and try to set a pace based on a certain HR, this is what happens. They start out with too high of a wattage (of course they don't know this), quickly get to their HR number, then dramatically lower wattage to maintain the HR. As time progresses their wattage decrease even more to account for cardiac drift. So someone might do an hour FTP effort on the bike, the first 5 minutes do 300w, in the middle be at 260w, and towards the end be averaging 240w... but the whole time their HR could be constant. They might be inclined to think they did a constant effort. Not at all.
 

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Oh, I guess because I just wrote a short story about how training with HR is a pain, I guess I finish the story... the biggest reason why it's not reliable is your HR changes constantly. My HR at a specific power X for time Y is different every single day. Sometimes by a lot.
 

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can I safely assume that my average HR for my two 8-minute max efforts will be my VO2 max?
No.

The V in VO2max refers to "volume" and the O2 refers to "oxygen".

Hence VO2max is a measure of the maximal volume of oxygen utilised during exercise.

It is measured in litres of oxygen per minute, and often expressed anthropometrically as ml per kg of body mass per minute.

It has nothing to do with heart rate, which is a measure of how frequently your heart beats.
 

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If so, how then do I determine my LT, which will be somewhere below my VO2 max?
and to follow on from this, LT is a measure of concentration of lactate in the blood while sustaining a specific intensity*, and again is not a measure of heart rate. It's expressed as millimoles per litre.

We can refer to a power output at LT or a HR typical at LT. Your HR at such levels is typically in a range, and is not one specific value.

Presumably what you are trying to do is use HR as a guide to intensity of effort while training, so that you do sufficient quantity of training at the right levels to improve fitness.

All you need do is to establish through testing a typical HR response for a given effort level, and then set some training levels relative to that.

The two most common are to establish through testing or a stressful effort your maximal HR, or your average HR for a longer time trial effort of 30-60 minutes duration, and use training levels set relative to one of those anchor points.


* LT occurs when BL rises 1mmol/L above baselines levels, and is generally a level of effort you could sustain for several hours.
 

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View attachment 283049
Here is my lactate test so you can see what it looks like.

First blood test was done after a good 15 minute rest, sitting on a couch
Then I did a 5 minute stint at a certain speed on a treadmill and during a 1 minute rest a blood sample was taken again to measure the lac level in the blood.

The x-axis is the speed of the treadmill and there are 2 y-axis

The lactate level after 5 minutes at that speed green curve is read at the left axis, the HR at the end of the 5 minutes in red and read on the right axis.

The lactate threshold is always at 4 mmol/l, if you read where the green line crosses 4.0 on the left axis and go vertically to the red line you see it is smack at 150bpm read the right axis.

Along with my coach we drew boxes around lactate levels for Recovery, Endurance1 (60min+), Endurance2 (30 - 60 minutes), Tempo1, (4-30 minutes) and Tempo2 (30sec to 3 minutes) and extended them to read the HR range for those types of workouts.

The point is to extend the green curve to the right, to keep it under 4.0 (threshold) while going faster.
 

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No, it's not. 4mmol/L is an arbitrary point that is neither the normal LT definition of 1mmol/L above baseline, nor what one might term BL concentration at functional threshold, which can be quite a variable number.
Well, close enough to 4 to generalise for a bunch of amateurs. I have the test data from the group of more than 20 of us from two tests taken one year apart that shows the curve taking the upswing at around 4, some go straight sky high immediately after 4, others have a markedly steeper curve after 4, but not that sharp a bend.

We had the same guy, a sports medicine professional take both tests, and lecture us on the results. This was his message, that you can take 4 as the general threshold...
 

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Funny, cause I was just looking at one today where the significant change occurs between 6 and 7 mmol/L.

4 might be an average, but you can easily be above or below this level.

Really though, two things:

- be consistent with testing method, and what matters more than what BL value you use as threshold* is the method of obtaining the data as it can be fairly imprecise if care is not taken

- BL really isn't really all that interesting/helpful. All that matters with performance testing is the power (or pace for running/swimming) you can sustain for the durations of relevance.


* since an improvement in one BL marker will usually be in lock step with improvement measured with another BL marker
 

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Funny, cause I was just looking at one today where the significant change occurs between 6 and 7 mmol/L.

4 might be an average, but you can easily be above or below this level.

Really though, two things:

- be consistent with testing method, and what matters more than what BL value you use as threshold* is the method of obtaining the data as it can be fairly imprecise if care is not taken

- BL really isn't really all that interesting/helpful. All that matters with performance testing is the power (or pace for running/swimming) you can sustain for the durations of relevance.


* since an improvement in one BL marker will usually be in lock step with improvement measured with another BL marker

I'd just emphasize the following--much of which I learned from Alex's posts:
1. Max HR can't tell you S--t. HR @ LT (from testing so it's -functional-) is usually more useful.

2. Pace/power> HR. I used pace the first time this winter and it helped a LOT. There are a ton of phone apps that will measure it, and the attack point web site will give you suggested interval splits. A different approach, but analogous to using power on the bike. (The difference: you have to learn RPE a bit better to deal with hills.). Same with bike-find FTP, then drill it or some percentage thereof.

3. Pay attention to RPE and learn to relate it to output levels as best you can.
 
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