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heart rate zones


Maximum Pace
Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
((caution: I'm new to this, so understand that I'm speaking from ignorance))

I've been browsing around the web on this, and (apart from extremes) it all looks pretty mushy and unclear. There seems to be a generic disclaimer that you either need to get tested right (thoroughly/completely), or you take a given calculator's "results" with a grain of salt and adjust your level up or down depending on how you feel...

And there are people who have posted here, such as: https://tokyocycle.com/bbs/threads/today-september-2013.4837/page-3#post-69904

Also, I've looked at calculators such as at: http://www.digifit.com/heartratezones/maximum-heart-rate.asp?Age=62#table

Or: http://www.digifit.com/heartratezones/training-zones.asp?MaxHR=170&Age=62&RHR=65

I think the numbers I put in those will come thru in the links, but in the 2nd link MaxHR could be lower by 10 bpm from 170, depending on the chosen formula. (220-62=158)


The reason I've been looking at this is that I've started using a trainer (besides ongoing swimming). All well and good, and I'm satisfied with those things, but when I look a little more and try to judge what I maybe should be doing, or try to align what I'm doing with the numbers, I'm puzzled by the numbers.

On the trainer, I've been doing sessions like 30min+30, 40+20-25, or 45 straight. No variation in difficulty (no intervals), just what I can maintain for that long. It depends how I've been pushing, but at the end of any time period I'm usually close to 150bpm, and sometimes 156. Which would seem to be zone 4 or even 5, depending on which maxHR calculation system is used. I try to hold a cadence of 85, but usually slip back to 80 or a little less.

After sessions like that, I'm not really exhausted aerobically, but my legs are ready for a break. (This could be lactic threshold? --another thing I'm pretty ignorant about.) These trainer sessions are similar to a part of my normal fair-weather riding, where I'll go hard for 40min or more on the way out, and then take it easy on the way back.

Tho I see some advantages to the steady push on the trainer--no stop lights (breaks), no coasting along with traffic, no downhills to take it easy on (just steady work)--I think I end up breathing more when actually out riding.


ramble, ramble...

So, keeping in mind that I'm a pretty casual rider, and while training a little, not at all training for anything apart from general health (no racing, or other specific goals, etc), any suggestions/ideas/comments?


Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
Your heart rate loosely corresponds with your 'throttle'. As we get older, we have a little less throttle to work with. Like an engine, the more power you demand, the more energy (and stress) required. Unlike an engine, we can condition the internal parts so they are more efficient and stronger, thus more power can be associated with the same throttle.

Knowing your heart rate range of operation is important to training within specific zones. The online calculators are just approximations based on general population statistics. To fully understand and grasp your individual range you really need to conduct a stress test. The best (and my advise) and only way to do this is under Physician guidance. Almost any cardio center in Japan and many Sports Gyms will offer this.

What you get:

1) Cardio checkup - important to spot any anomalies that might prevent you from exercise at high efforts or stress
2) General cardio evaluation and inspection
3) Treadmill or ERG dynamic test - to discover your heart condition vs load
4) Optional - some places will conduct periodic lactate test (finger prick)
5) Optional - some places will conduct gas analysis (mask collection)

At the end of the test, the doctor will give you a brief rundown of your test and it will provide things like:

1) Max Safe HR. The maximum HR you could achieve and based on the Doctor's evaluation, the max safe. If you'd experienced any cardio issues during the test, the Doctor will note these and provide you the information. Oftentimes someone's MaxHR may not be the Safest MaxHR.

2) Anerobic Threshold. Often associated with the point where you begin to suffer Oxygen debt. It is also associated with a HR that may be slightly lower than your MaxHR. A very significant training point.

3) Lactate Threshold. Also very close to the point where you begin to suffer Oxygen debt and is measured as a an actual value of Lactic Acid present in the blood. At LT , your body cannot process (clear or convert) the lactic acid faster than it accumulates.

What you can do with this.

1) You can identify 'zones' that will provide you a grasp on efficient training or riding.
2) You can establish benchmarks of performance.
3) You can establish recovery benchmarks.
4) You can establish estimated power curves.

So, there's alot you can do with HR data once you can apply it to your individual conditioning and bio-mechanical process.


Maximum Pace
Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
Tim--thanks for taking the time on that. I think I'll ask around locally for cardio testing. And the levels of testing (1-5) are good to have in mind when exploring that.
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