Max Heart rate

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  • Max Heart rate
  • Bludgeon


    I am already reasonably fit: Circuits twice, body pump once and about 25K/wk on the bike at the mo, but I thought that I’d get myself on a proper programme to get fit enough to take part in some 100K XC rides and some Welsh epics over the summer.

    The first thing to do (I am told) is to assess my max and min HR. Min is easy and comes in at 54. The calculation for max HR says I should be 174. I know that this figure is an estimate, but when I performed the excersise to determine my max HR I could only manage 155. Quite a lot less. Most biking folk actually exceed the estimate.

    Any ideas? I am 46, 6ft 3in, 91Kg/14st

    Ta mutchly….


    Premier Icon brant

    Ride to Hepstonstall, after standing around in the Stubbings carpark for half an hour, when you have a cold. That’ll do it.

    Premier Icon epicyclo

    Sounds all too complicated.

    Get rid of your gears and get out and just ride. That’ll fix everything 😀

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    155 sounds fairly low, tbh, I averaged 160 on my last ride (I’m 42) but everyone’s different.

    If you can keep up with the others it’s probably fine.


    the best thing to do is find a reasonably steep hill of say at least 2km and rid up an down it as hard as you can for as long as you can – probably manage 30-40 mins that should do it. i usually find my max running is higher than my max on the bike though, so do the running thing if your a runner as well.

    good luck


    Do you want to do a 100k ride, or race 100k?

    If you only want to be able to do it, just up your mileage a bit and you’ll be fine. No need to worry about heart rates etc. I always work on doing roughly the distance I want to do in a day per week, so if I’m training for a 100k, I’d work up to 100km weeks and then go for it. To be honest, even if you just did 2 short rides rather than 1 per week, or do 1 long ride (50km or so) instead of your current 1 short ride, you’d be fine on a 100km.

    In terms of max heart rate, I have a similar thing to you – if I just try and do a simple exercise on flat with no-one else around, I can’t always push myself so hard, and it goes up to 170 or so. However, I wore one a few times playing unicycle hockey, and I hit 200bpm. For me it’s about finding something that stops me thinking about how much it is hurting. Hills can have a similar effect I guess. As can racing other people.



    Can someone explain – is a high max HR a good thing, does it increase with fitness, and is it a good idea to push yourself to to this level?

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    advantage of a high max hr is you can pump more blood and thus oxygen around.

    If your resting heart rate is 50 amd max 200 – you pump 4 times more blood at max than at rest, if rest 50/max 150 then it’s only 3 times…


    Doesn’t sound like you’ve got a problem. A resting heart rate of 54 is very good and normally indicates a high level of fitness (72 would be an average figure). The fact that your max rate is quite low also suggests good fitness – it means your heart only needs 155 beats to cope with a level of exercise which would normally require about 174.

    Premier Icon Leku

    I’m 41 with a resting rate of 60. Did the Wall at Afan and managed a max of 194 in several places.

    That thats without coughing up blood or anything.

    The Badger

    Heart rates are a good way to determine your training effort but only for someone who want to get a bit serious. If you ride for fun and pleasure dont bother.

    I used to use a monitor to determine,
    1. If i was trying hard enough during training (usually no)
    2. To ensure i didnt over do the first bit of a race (usually yes, then blow up before the end, and crawl over the line with the strength of a 18 month old baby)

    The actual number is not important – its very indevidual
    – mine is low (both resting and max) and my mate was high in both cases – next to each other i would be 20 beat less than him, while trying harder.

    To acurately determine your real max, you’ve got to work so hard you need to feel physically sick.

    On the bike find a nice gentle hill, ideally about 4-5 mins long with a little kick at the top if possible
    Warm up for 15 mins nice and gentle – but ramp up to at least 75% max at the end.
    Without cooling down in between, ride at the hil, increasing the pace slightly with each meter – the idea being to hit your absolute max just before the top, then push over the top using every last bit of energy you have.
    If you don’t feel sick and fall off the bike in a gibbering heap – then you’ve not tried hard enough. Do it again. Really you should feel like your lungs are going to burst, your legs have been filled with acid and you heart is bursting out your chest.
    Thats your real max, you shouldnt really be able to quite hit it during a race or training. I used to occasionally hit mine if i did very extreme intervals.
    But not any more – it hurts. I just ride for fun – and slowly and gently, once i realised i had no natural talent or ability.

    Its sport specific – so you might need slightly different figures for each activity (mine is also slight higher for running)

    Also best done when you are fairly fit, and while it is not meant to change with training (instead your heart rate drops for a given activity level) its worth checking its the same as your fitness increases – or you learn to push your self harder.

    Bet you can hit higher than 155 🙂


    155 seems a bit low. Like you, I’ve been trying to get a handle on what sort of Zones I should be training in. But I’ve found that using the standard formula it just seems like I’m not exercising at all. That’s using 220-age (50 in my case) giving a Mx HR of 170. Having done an informal test on a Turbo Trainer, I can record a HR of around 188. I must try that sort of test that Badger recommends though. I take it that it’s a good idea to have someone at the top of the hill waiting for you?


    Like the Badger says, numbers are less important and very person specific.
    What counts is stroke/volume, the amount of blood your heart pumps each beat.

    For measuring max heart rate I use the following. Bear in mind that max attainable heart rate can change slightly from day to day. If you’re tired it’ll be lower. You can’t get it up there….

    Note – Road bike is best for this as the gear ratios are closer.
    On a turbo, with a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) following a thorough warm up, shift to a harder gear and pedal for three minutes. Note that your heart rate goes up, then stabilises at the new work rate. Now go up another gear, another three minutes work, then another and so on…………

    There will come a point where you’re working harder than you can maintain. Instead of your heart rate going up and then stabilising at the new workload it will continue to rise. This is your aerobic threshold. Worth noting what it is.

    So now you’re working really hard, your legs are filling up with lactic acid, your starting to lose form and it hurts. Now you push on until just before you throw up. Your at your max. Hopefully your HRM will have recorded it.

    Thorough warm down required.


    Premier Icon wwaswas

    if you google ‘Ramp Test’ you’ll find lots of ways of acheiving what SB suggests.

    The Badger

    Stratobiker has it spot on if you have a turbo and a road bike.

    I did used to find I struggled to hit my max on a turbo, I need the motivation of the hill to push that little bit more.

    Those days are long gone for me, is it beer o’clock yet?


    Thanks for all the feedback. I though that, possibly, the gym bike just couldn’t load me sufficiently for me to get a higher hear rate.

    Valid points about us all being different too.

    I’ll give some of the suggestions a try and let you know.


    Premier Icon pretzelone

    At age 47 my heart rate reached 201 more than once riding my singlespeed up some of the climbs on the South Downs and I still had a bit left but it was a case of ‘what happens if I overdo it’ trying to find how high I could go….. My resting pulse rate at the time was about 58.

    At what age is it dangerous to see how high it will go?!?!!?


    When you are dead your HRmax will be zero. So a low max is not a sign of good health.
    Bench mark HR against yourself. Everyone’s heart is different. I have a large volume heart that pumps slow and big. My wife has a little heart and it pumps more like a mouse with a machine gun.

    ultra torque

    to get a real idea of fitness you probably need to correlate your power output to heart rate. Then you can see that you are getting fitter if your power goes up for a given heart rate. If you don’t have a power meter you can use a set stretch or road and holding your heart rate at a certain level see if you’re going faster.


    I’m 36 and have a max when riding around 168-170, resting low 40s, so pretty low by some of the standards here. I wouldn’t worry about it, Indurain was rumoured to have a max around 160, and he didn’t struggle up the cols. Associations between Max HR and athletic performance are so weak as to be meaningless according to many sports scientists.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth

    ah, the famous Indurain, with his 28bpm resting rate and lungs twice the size of anyone elses.

    Shame he was such a personality-less fecker.


    OMITN (resting HR c45; don’t know my max yet…)


    ianpv – Member

    I’m 36 and have a max when riding around 168-170, resting low 40s, so pretty low by some of the standards here. I wouldn’t worry about it, Indurain was rumoured to have a max around 160, and he didn’t struggle up the cols. Associations between Max HR and athletic performance are so weak as to be meaningless according to many sports scientists.

    It’s not so much about a certain HR meaning a certain level of fitness, it’s more about finding the right training zones.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    Thanks for all the feedback. I though that, possibly, the gym bike just couldn’t load me sufficiently for me to get a higher hear rate.

    It won’t, I doubt you’ll get anywhere near your actual max on a gym bike. Added to which the HRM’s you get on those aren’t that accurate in the first place.
    Google “ramp test” – I’ve had a few done over the years, mostly managed to get them done free as a guinea pig for student research projects so it might be worth asking at your local uni/health club if they do something similar. Last time I was tested I had a max of 204 which is more than I’ve ever seen out on the bike – highest I’ve seen was 198 during a road race and 192 for an XC MTB race.

    Your max will vary as well between running, riding, swimming etc and even during hard efforts I doubt you’ll see what it can actually go up to – you need a ramp test or a brutally tough race to properly see.
    So long as you’re otherwise reasonably fit and healthy I wouldn’t worry too much about it, if you want to do longer (100km) rides, start by upping your mileage.

    Premier Icon leftyboy

    I’m 43 and have a max when riding around 184, resting 44, average around 155 on commute (8.5 mils SS road) nd average 165 on weekly mtb night ride when I’m chasing my vry fit riding partner. Hit 205 in the last week of december when it was really cold and my gears went kuput leaving me to rider everywhere (off road) in a 34 / 14 combo!

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