Lowering Heart Rate While Climbing

bearonabike
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Lowering Heart Rate While Climbing

Postby bearonabike » 11 Dec 2014, 1:24pm

Hi all, and apologies in advance for the essay.

I was off the bike for a few months while a heart condition was investigated. Turns out that it was much better than initially suspected - I have a mild case of genetic HCM, which will need monitoring but no other treatment other than a low dose of tablets to keep my slightly raised BP in check.

My cardiologist, a cyclist himself, is happy for me to keep riding. When I asked if there should be any restrictions, he scratched his chin and said no racing (I don't) and to keep my HR below 150. After the initial euphoria, I realised that there could be a catch, and so it has proved. I'm a natural 90+ KG and I am struggling to keep my HR to 150 going uphill. On the flat it seems fine and it's OKish going up modest gradients, but if the road gets slightly steep, I am at sub walking pace which is incredibly frustrating when the legs are capable of a lot more.

I’m a classic MAMIL – 46, ride at weekends, turbo in the week and do 2 or 3 sportives p.a. I'm really after some training tips to help get me back to where I was. My own thoughts / observations:

1. The 150 felt like a pretty arbitrary figure, albeit borne from years of experience. I won't stress too much if I'm at 155 for a couple of mins, but will fundamentally stick to the 150.

2. I have some basic fitness to recover from the months off so that will help. To what degree I have no idea, but I was able to do some lightish turbo stuff during that period.

3. Lose some weight. I will try to drop a few kilos, but I really am at my normal fighting weight. I'm a natural 90KG, not an overweight 70KG merchant

4. I am going to have to be patient and climb a lot of hills. Slowly.

5. I'm much more of a masher and the evidence so far seems to prove the adage that spinning raises the HR much quicker. So, when using the turbo, should my emphasis be on improving my mashing power so that I can ride further up hills in a higher gear, or should it be more towards addressing the real weakness of high cadence / high HR stuff? My unscientific thoughts are both - initially concentrate on the mashing, and as that levels off introduce more of the cadence work, intervals etc.

6. For those that know the Surrey Hills, I used to ride Box Hill on something like 50-25 while I'll puff and pant my way up Whitedown in my lowest 34-28. Dread to think what the HR was for the latter!

7. Half the fun of riding is tackling the hills, so I am prepared to do pretty much what it takes.

Any help will be appreciated.

BOAB

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easyroller
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Re: Lowering Heart Rate While Climbing

Postby easyroller » 11 Dec 2014, 4:10pm

My initial thoughts would be to use a lower gear ratio and spin a bit or use your normal cadence with the lower gear to go a bit slower. That way you should be using less effort to climb the same hill (although the effort will be longer). Maybe get a wider cassette with a 30T biggest cog. Take it easy for a while. No matter your gearing, getting up Whitedown while keeping the heart rate low may be quite a challenge though!

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Re: Lowering Heart Rate While Climbing

Postby eileithyia » 12 Dec 2014, 9:08am

Go back and talk to the cardiologist? If you are coping at 155ish it might be worth re-visiting this figure with him.
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Mark1978
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Re: Lowering Heart Rate While Climbing

Postby Mark1978 » 12 Dec 2014, 9:12am

An interesting challenge! Isn't it generally accepted wisdom that having the 90-100 cadence on hills is designed to take pressure off your legs and instead put it onto your heart? So perhaps if a low heart rate is required then actually a higher gear is the way to go? I guess the OP will have to experiment!

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al_yrpal
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Re: Lowering Heart Rate While Climbing

Postby al_yrpal » 12 Dec 2014, 11:05am

The classic formula for heartrate is 220 minus your age. Which gives 174. And, the classic recommendation is train up to 85% of that - 148. So, the quack is being conservative. Its no doubt for good reason if you have some sort of heart condition. To get your heart rate down you need a more powerful heart. If you have been doing fairly extreme training like you describe for many years then its obviously not going to get any better. But if this level of training is only recent then a few years of moderate exercise should do the trick and improve your heart to stay within his recommended limit. The wrong thing to do is to overdo things, just try to be patient and work at it gently.
I am 72 and whilst MTBing my heart rate often goes to 160. I ride alongside my quack sometimes and he just grins and says ignore that thing and rely on how you feel.
Al
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Re: Lowering Heart Rate While Climbing

Postby Vorpal » 12 Dec 2014, 11:44am

I think that you have supplied the answer yourself. Climb lots of hills slowly, and build up your fitness. I think that you will find the fitter you are, the less impact the same climb will have, or the faster you will be able to go and stay within the 150 bpm.

As eileithyia suggested, it may be worth going back, or giving him a call and asking a few more questions.
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TonyR
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Re: Lowering Heart Rate While Climbing

Postby TonyR » 12 Dec 2014, 4:54pm

al_yrpal wrote:The classic formula for heartrate is 220 minus your age. Which gives 174. And, the classic recommendation is train up to 85% of that - 148.


That's a very unreliable formula and I would not use it as a guide. Its very nice that it says I must be 21 but reality says otherwise. I would second the recommendation to go back and discuss it with your cardiologist.

TonyR
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Re: Lowering Heart Rate While Climbing

Postby TonyR » 12 Dec 2014, 4:54pm

al_yrpal wrote:The classic formula for heartrate is 220 minus your age. Which gives 174. And, the classic recommendation is train up to 85% of that - 148.


That's a very unreliable formula and I would not use it as a guide. Its very nice that it says I must be 21 but reality says otherwise. I would second the recommendation to go back and discuss it with your cardiologist.

bearonabike
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Re: Lowering Heart Rate While Climbing

Postby bearonabike » 14 Dec 2014, 10:16am

Many thanks everyone.

I will go back to the cardiologist, but probably not for a few months - I think I'll give myself the opportunity to experiment and get fitter first. I am certain he was being pretty conservative and interestingly he did use the 220 minus formula, so if it's good enough for him it's good enough for me.

Lots of moving parts in this though - my HR is much higher in the cold anyway.

There's some black ice on the roads around here, so I'm off to set up the turbo. GRRR!

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Audax67
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Re: Lowering Heart Rate While Climbing

Postby Audax67 » 14 Dec 2014, 10:45am

The 220- formula is even law here, as being the maximum heart rate a cardiologist may recommend. I remember reading that the figure was more or less pulled out of a hat by a couple of medics Polar consulted when they marketed their first heart monitor. When the docs heard it quoted back at them as authoritative they laughed their legs off.


I ought to be on the turbo but I hate that bugger. Anyway it's lunchtime.
Have we got time for another cuppa?

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NATURAL ANKLING
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Re: Lowering Heart Rate While Climbing

Postby NATURAL ANKLING » 14 Dec 2014, 11:52am

Hi,
The 220 minus thing is some what academic, as cyclist tend to have higher easily sustainable heart rate, and that fique is for MAX.
But the quack is also talking max, as the average will be way down on that, if it were average then your max would be 20 -25 % higher if you were flat out all the time.
I normally train at 150 average which is approx 80 % of my max, but on a layup of two and a half weeks, when I returned that average was up to 157.
So your HR will be high anyway because of layup and in time that will come down again as you get fitter, so you will be doing more in time at the same restricted max of 150.

There is only one way that you can keep the HR down easily, I would sugest that you spin up the hills with lower gears not getting out of the saddle.
Getting out the saddle means higher exertion as you are propelling and supporting your body weight.
Also getting out of saddle will make your HR peak, you could be tootalling along at 140 and up a hill and crest at 160 + without knowing it.
If you have a virus or a heart condition over stress could well damage you heart which I suggest is why your quack has restricted you.

High HR is only sustainable with a higher cadence, yes you can hit a high by mashing but the sustain that.....you cant for long.
It takes time to raise your HR with high cadence but it is very controllable, also gives you max power that is sustainable.
Mashing off and on will make your HR jump like a yoyo, ask your quack which is safer :?:

We talk of high cadence but the pros only do 75 - 85 on average, yes Wiggo can do say 95 for a period but will not maintain that over a stage which is longer than an individual TT.

The only guy who made history as a pro who could maintain a 95 leaving the competition is now dead.
So we are not talking revving you up to 95 but controlling your cadence with effort to limit you HR.
So you will be just be seated and spinning and when your HR starts to rise you just change down or ease off on the revs, not bend the cranks :)

A big guy like you will have a lower cadence than a 60 kilo pro even in a TT, so 85 might be your max comfort.
If you sit on your natural cadence with big muscles your HR will just jump on the first hill.
Like others are saying you need lower gears, If you twiddle along the flat and twiddle up the hills your out put will be consistant across the ride so will your HR.

Thats what TT's do is'nt it :?: But at a higher cadence and higher output and higher HR.
Aerobic is what you will be doing which is beneficial for anaerobic too, no sudden stress.
Idealy we would all work at 80 % on a mixed course for overal fitness and strength, but thats not for you at the moment.
Take it easy and good luck.
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