Is this a decent workout?

by Esper   August 7, 2014  

I've only recently got back into biking so I'm still exploring my boundaries, both physical and geographical. On my recent rides I've plucked up the nerve to extend my range and venture around Epping Forest. I've been wearing an oldish heart rate monitor and collecting the data on my lap-top since I (re)started cycling but I've never thought of it as anything other than a fun thing to look at after a ride.

Here is today's 'readout'....

The three almost identical spikes denote three times up Mott Street hill in Epping. The fourth is going up Daws Hill (the nasty side), and the very last spike is carrying the bike up to my flat (ha!).

While I really enjoyed the ride is there anything useful I can glean from the HRM data I'm collecting that might inform future rides?

11 user comments

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Only if you can overlay your speed and distance. Once you have done the same route a few times you will see hopefully a drop in time, but if you are working just as hard then the heart traces will be similar.

posted by CXR94Di2 [234 posts]
7th August 2014 - 21:03

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Ahh, see I have no fancy GPS gear.

I suppose I could plot everything out using Google Earth and a calculator - but the chances of me doing the exact same route (or for that matter breaking out a calculator) are slim!

posted by Esper [6 posts]
7th August 2014 - 22:40

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Heart rate data is a tricky one. It's heavily affected by factors outside of the effort exerted on the bike and not really 'real time'. Any change in heart rate can take in the region of 15 mins or so to return to normal, masking reductions in effort. Your maximum heart rate can cover easily an effort range of hundreds of watts too, so again it doesn't tell you a great deal. All this makes gleaning anything useful post-ride pretty difficult.

For someone in your position I'd recommend just going out and enjoying yourself. Ride on feel, and push a bit harder each time and you'll quickly get better.

posted by giobox [342 posts]
8th August 2014 - 2:48

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HR isn't really that great of a measure to use on it's own.
Ideally you need to use it with power.

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posted by glynr36 [506 posts]
8th August 2014 - 6:58

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Only bit of info, is that you are probably nearly 40 years old?

220 - Age = theoretical max heart rate Smile

posted by CXR94Di2 [234 posts]
8th August 2014 - 7:06

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Except for me = 44 and MHR = 207...... Worried

posted by CarlosFerreiro [67 posts]
8th August 2014 - 7:27

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CXR94Di2 wrote:
Only bit of info, is that you are probably nearly 40 years old?

220 - Age = theoretical max heart rate Smile

That equation is about as reliable as the theory a bearded old guy made the planet in 7 days...

I'm 27 and my max as tested sits at 208.

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posted by glynr36 [506 posts]
8th August 2014 - 8:01

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Heart Rate Zones are a decent training tool - provided you've put the right resting and max rates in first. On first viewing it looks like a decent work out with a few intervals and mainly in Zone 4 (race pace). Anything in Zone 5 should in theory improve anaerobic threshold.

Don't overlook training at lower intensity -especially Zone 2 to build base miles off-season. There's loads of info online on HRZs.

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [566 posts]
8th August 2014 - 8:34

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Crickey... the power meter marketing departments have done a cracking job out there haven't they?

Yes, yes, the tool used almost exclusively by nearly every other endurance sport is absolutely useless as a training tool. You might as well be pissing in the wind, just go out and ride for fun and/or on feel, it'll probably be more accurate anyway.

Honestly....

Yes, power is the ultimate tool for training as it accurately measures work done, but even that only really works properly when used in conjunction with a tool for measuring how you respond to that known work. ...ie heart rate.

So as cyclists, we are damn lucky to have power measurement, it opens up a whole host of training possibilities that were not scientifically possible before, but lets not right off a perfectly valid training tool simply because someone with an interest in selling power meters tells you its rubbish.

Yes, HR can vary with fatigue, dehydration, cardiac drift, a whole host of things, but do you know what, its hardly rocket science... if you are tired, if you've ridden for a few days preceding a particular session, your HR is likely to read a little lower. If you are dehydrated, it will read high... hell you may find HR is typically higher in the morning that afternoon... however none of this is anything you can't predict and work with/around.

Anyway, back to the original question, no, not really... What you are asking is actually where power comes into its own. As for each of those climbs it would give you numbers that you can chase on future rides.

HR measurement is more of a control thing... for instance, if you know your HR zones you'd be looking to hit and maintain a given HR range for a specific time... and you'd know by doing so, you'd be generating a physiological response that hopefully causes you to get fitter... so once you know your zones, you can go out and train better.

For instance, looking at your spikes, you could say that climbing between 170-180bpm is more or less going flat out, so in future, if going hard, you want to look to get HR into that zone approximately 90secs into a hill.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [354 posts]
8th August 2014 - 8:56

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glynr36 wrote:
CXR94Di2 wrote:
Only bit of info, is that you are probably nearly 40 years old?

220 - Age = theoretical max heart rate Smile

That equation is about as reliable as the theory a bearded old guy made the planet in 7 days...

I'm 27 and my max as tested sits at 208.


I did say theoretical Smile

I am 50+ and my theoretical is ~170bpm but my HRM recorded 186bpm

Now either the calc is wildly inaccurate, most probably. Or my fitness says I have a heart younger than I am?

posted by CXR94Di2 [234 posts]
8th August 2014 - 9:26

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Jimmy Ray Will wrote:
Crickey... the power meter marketing departments have done a cracking job out there haven't they?

Nope, I've read a number of training books, and papers about it.
Now they may have bias in them, but it's not just marketing.

Quote:

Yes, yes, the tool used almost exclusively by nearly every other endurance sport is absolutely useless as a training tool. You might as well be pissing in the wind, just go out and ride for fun and/or on feel, it'll probably be more accurate anyway.

They also use it in conjunction with something else, speed, mile pace etc.

For cycling power is the ideal tool to use it with, speed & time are also a half decent measure to use as well (perhaps I should have added that as well.
Honestly....

Quote:
works properly when used in conjunction with a tool for measuring how you respond to that known work. ...ie heart rate.

Exactly what I said....

Quote:

Yes, HR can vary with fatigue, dehydration, cardiac drift, a whole host of things, but do you know what, its hardly rocket science... if you are tired, if you've ridden for a few days preceding a particular session, your HR is likely to read a little lower. If you are dehydrated, it will read high... hell you may find HR is typically higher in the morning that afternoon... however none of this is anything you can't predict and work with/around.

Yes HR is okay to use, when people educate themselves in the use of it fully.
But to get the full story you really need another metric to use it with.
A HR tells you how hard your body might be working, but it doesn't tell you what you are getting for that work.

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posted by glynr36 [506 posts]
8th August 2014 - 10:22

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