Endurance sports athletes: Q about training.

So I hear Lance can peak at 201 beats/min. Wow.

The peloton riders average mid 130’s to mid 160’s depending on the terrain and pace.

Sprinters tap out in mid 180’s or so.

Following the generally accpeted guidelines of: Max Heart Rate = 220 - age, mine is about 180. Using the same guidelines, cardio training takes place at about 80% of max while fat/endurance training takes place at 60% of max.

So what are your heart rate targets?

How long can you maintain your max?

Are you able to build your max?

Me - I can go all day at 60%. In fact, it doesn’t even feel like I’m working. No shortness of breath at all. At 80% I can maintain a steady pace for a good long time, 30min to 1 hour depending on activity. Training at my max makes me feel like my heart will explode and I want to throw up after about a minute or two.

I hardly count as an endurance athlete, but I am obsessed with my HR, so I’ll post anyway.

My max, measured in a stress test, is 191, very close to what you get from the age formula.

I was told I could train going right up to 190, if I wanted to. However, I’ve observed that once I get much above 90% (172) my HR shoots pretty quickly up to the mid 180’s and I feel like I want to puke my lungs out, which I feel is kinda bad for my morale, even if it’s not actually dangerous. When I do intervals on the treadmill, I go up to 185-188 for brief periods (like 20 seconds, max), but I only do that at the gym, where I know that I can knock off early if I start to really feel sick. But when I’m out running in the neighborhood, the long slog home sucks bad if I’ve overdone it.

If I’m down around 75%, I feel like I’m working pretty hard. Doing a 40 minute workout at that level kinda sucks. At around 80%, though, I must be getting some endorphin action, because it feels goooood. 85% is my Happy Place. When I’m doing a non-interval workout on the elliptical, after warming up I quickly get my HR up to 165 and just keep it there.

When I run outside, I set the limits on my HR monitor at 155 and 172, and it beeps when I’m outside that range. I run until I hit 172 (doesn’t matter how slow I run, even doing that dorky might-as-well-be-walking thing, my HR will eventually get up there). Then I walk until my HR sinks down to 155, then start running again. I mix it up a little, and start with slow runs and do some sprints in the second half. I think I’m improving using this regime. I can now run longer before I hit 172, and my HR recovers down to 155 more quickly than it used to.

I’ve posted a long piece about HR’s before, but the formula is a pretty poor predictor of an individual’s max. The formula was based on a very few studies done in the sixties on male heart patients. The guy who devised the formula was on his way to a conference and said “hey, that looks like linear best fit line” and thus it became this kinda bogus guideline. People have different reactions to training. Some people’s hearts grow larger and pump more blood, some people have hearts that beat faster.

Anyway, my max according to the formula is 182. My observed max (not from a stress test but during an intense workout) is 211. Big difference.

To get my percentages, I take my max HR subtract my resting (58), multiply the result by the desired percentage, and add back in the resting. This formula makes my 60% 150 and my 80% 181.

158 I barely feel and can hold for a very long time. 181 I start feeling it. I can hold my 90% for around 30-45 minutes which is theoretically anaerobic. I don’t think the percentages scale as linearly as they should.

The ‘generally accepted guidelines’ are a bag of horses arses - there’s a lot of individual variation in MHR.

This terminology is mixed up, not to mention basically wrong anyway - fat is used during any protracted endurance event, at any level of effort, and training at any heartrate significantly above resting may improve cardiovascular fitness.

In what context? A long run (say 1.5hr+) would be at an average HR of 155-160 for me. A shorter race (say 10k) would weigh in at an average HR of c.172. In any race I can hit a transient max of around 188-194 during a hard effort, such as a balls-out sprint at the end.

No-one can maintain their MHR for any more than a very short period of time, a few minutes if that and even so it’s unlikely that the HR would be literally pegged to the max during the effort. At MHR you are into seriously anaerobic energy systems, and these can only be used for a very short time before the oxygen debt must be paid back.

Not significantly. It decreases with age, too.

Your max is probably not what you think it is - if interested, you could put yourself through a MHR stress test. If interested in pain and vomit, that is.

I suspected that was true but I had to start somewhere.

I knew this as well. But I understand that a higher ratio of fat to stored glucose is used at lower (approx. 60% of max) effort zone.

How do I go about this? Sports medicine clinic? Will they also test my VO2max?

:confused: Did you have a stress test supervised by someone who was trained to do so? If you were worked to the point that you vomitted, somebody screwed up. Pain, also, shouldn’t really enter into the equation. You’re pushing yourself to the limits of course, and it is uncomfortable, but you are at maximum for a very brief time. I was told that the test would stop immediately if I signaled that I was feeling any pain.

Quicksilver, I had mine done at the gym at work, through a special program for college employees. They did test my VO2 max. You can have your physician refer you for a stress test, but I hear that it is quite expensive if they are not covered by your insurance.

Yup. Sounds like you were just dumbing down for a general audience. I admit it is a personal peeve for me, when people say stuff like ‘60% is the fat-burning zone’, or other nonsense.

Yes to the latter two. Decent gyms (or university gyms anyway) will sometimes offer max testing and other sport testing. If confident, you can also look up protocols yourself - there are a variety available - and run your own stress test for MHR.

Well, the guy said he was, but I suppose I should have been suspicious at his appearance: 325lbs, wearing oil-stained overalls, and carrying a dead baby seal. He said he was a member of the American College of Sports Medicine or maybe it was the American College of Sprat Masseurs?

Ho ho ho - try taking a VO2 max test, pain doesn’t so much ‘enter’ the equation as become the equation. I’ve never thrown up during a MHR or VO2max test, though I know people who have. I have received enjoyable bloodied gums from the snorkel device used to inflate the gasbags used in the VO2max protocol.

Depends on your definition of ‘pain’, but a VO2max or MHR test is certainly ‘painful’ if you are truly working as you should, and a VO2max test is considerably the more painful of the two.

If you’ll review my post, Boldface, you’ll see that I have already stated that I did the VO2max.

WTF? You were joking about the greasy overalls, correct? It sounds like either the people who gave you this test didn’t have the best. equipment, or they didn’t know how to adjust it properly.

A stress test should not lead to vomiting, bleeding, or excessive pain. If it did, I strongly suspect that it was not administered properly.

I haven’t had a VO2 max test or a supervised max heart rate test, but I do workout with a Polar heart rate monitor with they claim is very accurate.
Anyway at 54 years old my max rate should be 220-54 = 166.
Bullshit. I can ride for hours at 160-165, sprints at 170-180, max I have observed recently is about 190. (used to be 205, so I am slowing down :slight_smile: )
One thing I have noticed is that the more I get into shape, the faster my recovery is after a hard sprint.

I see - apologies. And you didn’t find this painful in any sense? What was your VO2max value?

Gosh, no, most sports science researchers of my aquaintance are greasy-overall clad, 300lb, dead-seal wielding members of the American Society of Whelk Fondling. I don’t see how you could possibly think I’m joking.

Without customisation of the bitepiece for an individual’s dentition, there is always a risk of the mouthpiece abrading mouth surfaces, particularly if the test subject does not maintain a good grip on the bite pieces. Occupational hazard, though not AFAIK a very common problem. There may be protocols that use mouthpieces that don’t need to be clamped between the teeth, and perhaps those would be better - I don’t know of such.


Guess you haven’t encountered the VO2max treadmill protocols where the person runs until they collapse and zing off the back of the 'mill, eh…? (Re. the classic descriptions of Roger Bannister’s participation in some early sports sci work as a guinea pig). The protocol is basically 'treadmill running to exhaustion ’ (see this paper / preprint, Word document), with peak perceived effort reaching nearly the greatest imaginable by the participant. This is painful, although perhaps a different type of pain to being impaled in the buttocks with a frozen herring, I’ll grant you that.

What Rick said.

I think I need to figure out a better/more effective way to work out. I’m past all the usually recommended training stats and numbers but I’m no longer seeing changes or improvements. I need to change things up and it’s not a cross training issue. I’m already swimming, biking, running, doing weights and playing squash (poorly). I think I’m looking to do things smarter but I don’t know where to begin.

First off, Lance’s HR is nothing spectacular. I guarantee that 90% of the peloton can do at least 190 and many have higher max HR’s. Your actual max. HR appears to have no correlation with fitness or how strong of rider you’ll be.

Anyway, since you wanted IMHO, my absolute highest HR ever was 187. I can easily consistently hold 160, and 170-175 is where I really try to be for my lactate efforts. I can maintain that for around 25 to 35 minutes. 180 for about 3 to 4 minutes is my absolute max. sustained HR.

I’ve had a Powertap for about four and a half months, and that thing is just simply awesome. If you’re trying to compare yourself to Lance Armstrong, that’s what you need.

I can average about 240+ watts with a good amount of effort on a 2.5+ hour ride.

My max. power is pitifully weak, around 780 on most days to 830 on a good one.

However, the most important measure for climbing, I can do Boulder’s Flagstaff Mountain averaging 354 watts at 6,000 feet over around 15 minutes. Apparently you can adjust about 10% for altitude, bringing the total up to 390 at milder altitudes. Apparently Lance can average just under 490 watts for around 25 minutes, so I need about 100 more watts and ten minutes of endurance to kick Lance’s ass. Don’t hold your breath, but the PowerTap is a fun tool to have to compare with.

I hate to think that people are being dissuaded from having a stress test based on what you’re saying Boldface. A stress test is a very useful thing to do if you’re trying to improve and monitor your physical condition, and it does not have to be the kind of grueling, painful torture you are describing. I can’t claim any special expertise in the subject, but they give these things to heart patients, for crissakes.

All I can do is relate the experience I had:

They hooked up electrodes to monitor my heart, and took resting heart rate and blood pressure. They hooked up the VO2 mask. I’ll admit that if someone said, “We’re going to make you work until you reach your maximum heart rate!” I would probably not reply “Could I pretty please breathe through a 1 1/2 inch tube while I’m doing this?” The mask made breathing a bit harder. However, it was not painful. They made sure it was adjusted so that it was at least comfortable, and they told me that I should pat the headgear to let them know if it grew uncomfortable during the test. (You can’t really talk with the mouthpiece in.)

I was told to adjust the treadmill to the fastest walking pace as I could do comfortably. (Around 4.5 mph, as I recall.) The incline on the treadmill was increased gradually as they monitored my heart rate, and periodically took my blood pressure with a normal pressure cuff. They also periodically asked me to point to a perceived rate of exertion on a chart that had levels like “light,” “moderate ,” “hard”, “extremely hard.”

They encouraged me to keep going as my heartrate increased. Once I was chosing the highest exertion level, they stopped increasing the incline. At the end they were asking, “Can you give me just ten more seconds. Stick it out ten more seconds! Keep going! Keep going! Five seconds! You can do it! Keep going! You did it! You did it! Can you give us five more! Five more seconds!” and so on. However, the choice of when to end the test was entirely in my hands.

My lungs were burning, I felt starved for oxygen, and of course I was hot as hell and sweat was pouring off of me, which didn’t make the VO2 mask any more comfortable (though that was the least of my concerns at the time). I think I got a bit of a cramp in my side early on, but if I’m remembering correctly that faded into a more general misery after a few minutes. The total test was about 15 minutes, maybe, or 20, tops, with the really uncomfortable part being less than two minutes, if that. I have done many, many more prolonged intense workouts that were much more uncomfortable.

I hit the stop lever on the treadmill when my vision started going dark around the edges in a serious way. I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out, but I figured that was a good sign that my body had probably had enough. I don’t know whether you consider that “truly working as you should” but when I told the people who administed the test that’s why I stopped, they replied that that was probably a good choice. (Sorry, I don’t have my Max VO2 measurement. I just checked the fitness assement I have on hand, and it’s from my mid-year evaluation, which didn’t have a stress test.)

It is not their goal to injure you in the course of giving you a stress test. Having you fall down and possibly hurt yourself would probably count as what you might call a sub-optimal result—the sort of thing that might get them sued. Perhaps there’s some kind of competitive, balls-to-the-wall machismo that would cause some athletes to keep going to the point of throwing up or passing out, but I would like to emphasize that this is not what the average person should expect from a stress test, and I hope that won’t scare anybody away.

Eh, some people are pukers, some aren’t. Puking’s fairly common in rowing tests. The average person probably won’t experience it but a conditioned athlete will be able to push themselves a lot harder than the average person will. (part of becoming a top athlete is realizing you can push your body a lot harder than you realize)

Since the thread is advertised for “endurance sports athletes,” I guess my point is actually kinda pointless, and I was unnecessarily negative in characterizing the sort of person who might push themselves to the point of pain, puke, and passing out, and the test administrator might not be able to tell that was going to happen and stop the test.

But if any non-endurance-athletes are reading out of curiousity, hey, don’t worry, a stress test isn’t really all that bad, and does not equate with pain and vomit. I, and many of the faculty and staff that use the gym at my college, have them every year, and I’ve never once heard of anyone puking, bleeding, or passing out.

You’re right, I think almost all conditioned people can easly pass the old formula, which was likely done for average people.

I ran distance for 20 years and always could easily surpass the formula for my age. Now that had to quit due to bad knee, still climb mountains daily, hard climb for more than 40 minutes ascending. As I’m 78 next month, the formula indicates my maximum heart rate would be 142, which is laughable as can maintain that for hours. If use 85 percent of that, it is only 120 and I can do that going backwards. :slight_smile:

Another indicator have read about states your heart should get back to about 80 beats within a minute or two of stopping hard exertion, which mine always does.

All well-conditioned athletes I know always surpass this, and also have extremely low resting HRs (mine is about 46 or so), due, I suspect, to large efficient hearts.

I think mine will keep beating for hours after I die, and maybe somebody will have to beat it with a stick to get it to stop!

A MHR test can be useful or semi-useful, but VO2max is a bit more of a specialised thing, and there’s more curiosity value than practical in getting your own VO2max for most people. It’s fun to do though, if you like that sort of thing. Very few non-competitive athletes can / will actually do something with their VO2max value.

In training terms, it’s far better to determine lactate turnpoint and such, and really these can be obtained based on perceived effort to an acceptable degree. Plus monitoring your fitness can be carried out quite well by tracking training speeds for given distances, looking at your HR for a given run / cycle speed, and so on.

Man, each time you reply, you exaggerate my position further! From ‘pain’ to ‘excessive pain’ to ‘gruelling, painful torture’. All this based on a throwaway vomitous phrase (mind you, I’ve known rowing ergo tests / trials where vomiting was so common that a bucket was kept handy! Rowers are complete hammerheads though).

I don’t think MHR or VO2max testing is carried out in heart patients. In fact, AFAIK such patients are excluded from these tests. Stress tests of a lesser flavour may be used though (i.e., submaximal tests).

Your test setup sounds much as mine, except mine was on a cycle ergo. The mouthpiece was not painful until late in the test, and though I could have quit I was not about to screw up my VO2max reading (and lose the researcher some data) on the basis of some minor gum abrasions. In fact, I’m not sure I even noticed the rubbing until post-test.

That sounds like de rigeur for the test! (And you think I’m overstating the discomfort level by my calling it ‘pain’!)

How I love the litigious mindset! In these types of tests the treadmill will be padded, with a crash pad at the rear for the cases when the runner exceeds their max, and the stop button isn’t hit in time (or if the button is hit, but the runner goes gravitywards before the belt speed drops enough).

Absolutely - ISTR Steve Prefontaine in some sort of test was totally motivated to beat the machine, to the extent that they had to drag him away from it / shoot him with an elephant tranquilliser, but he was a grindstone kind of guy.

The sort of person who would benefit from a MHR or VO2max test is the sort of person who would not be dissuaded by the fact it’s a very hard physical effort. I.e., if you are interested in MHR or VO2max, you are a ‘competitive’ athlete to some extent. Other types of submaximal stress test are a different bag of carrots.

I guess since pain is very subjective, it’s not too surprising that we disagree. I’ve experienced cramps in my side, burning lungs, and gasping for air any time I did a serious workout, which is why, unfortunately, for most of my life I haven’t done a rigourous exercise program. I didn’t find the MaxHR/VO2 test to be exceptionally uncomfortable compared with, say, doing an intermediate spinning class or running high-speed (for me—I’m pretty pokey) intervals on the treadmill. Since the stess test was shorter, I’d say it was easier in some ways, though of couse much more acutely uncomfortable at the end. It seemed to me that you were discouraging people from doing it because of the pain, and I just didn’t see why, because I went through a hell of a lot worse pain in phys ed in high school. Oh, and that summer my mother made me go to swim camp. shudder

Just a wild stab in the dark: maybe I’ve been so out of shape for so long that any vigorous exercise brought me close to the limits of performance, so the test just didn’t seem exceptional to me.

On the bright side, I just realized that I can only recall getting a cramp in my side once this summer, and it went away really quickly. It used to happen pretty much ever time I ran. Cool . . .

When I get to that point, I just start changing it up.

Do you do hill repeats on your bike?

Accelerations at near max heart rate?

Do you do ATP work (one site for a description)?

LT work?

It’s easy to fall into a “comfort zone” when training. You need to shock your ass to get improvements. And shocking your ass isn’t fun.

FWIW, I don’t use (or want to use) a HR monitor so I can’t comment on that stuff. I just know who drops me and who I drop.

I don’t use an HR monitor either. My numbers are from occasional pulse counting and when I do treadmill workouts that have the touch sensors on them.

As for shocking my ass, perhaps a couple of electrodes hooked up to both ass cheeks. :slight_smile:

Like I said, I do mix it up but what’s currently missing is long distance rides. I do a lot of LT and sprint training on stationary (spin) bike classes. My heartrate generally peaks at max several times through the class.

I’m thinking that the best way for me to switch it up is to join a cycling team and get my ass kicked by the rides. I’ll be doing that come August when my new bike arrives.

Sounds like I need to focus less on the numbers and more on doing something different.