Archive for the ‘aerobic training’ Category

Training with a Heart Rate monitor

May 18, 2010

Power this, power that, how much power can you put out? whats your w/kg? do you know what w/kg is? with all the hype around training with a power meter (power tap, srm, et al.) some people have forgotten about the good ole’ heart rate monitor. A recent friend asked me to write an article on training with heart rate.

First things first, training with heart rate is far better than training with nothing. Heart rate is like a gauge for how hard you are working and can be an excellent tool for immediate and long term data gathering. How ever heart rate can be effected by a plethora of things such as: Temperature, Humidity, Sleep, Hydration, Hormone Regulation, Motivation, Stress, Diet and many more things. So training with heart rate must be taken with a grain of salt and realize it must be also instated with a system of measuring how you feel. This system can be as easy as rating your workout on a scale of 1-10 of how hard it is so you have a second back up measure of you feel. If you are working at 150 beats per minute (bpm) and with a rating of 5, you are clearly having a better day than working at 150 bpm and feeling like you are an 8. In this case the direct measure was the same, but yet you are at two different intensity levels. the second one is an example of training on a bad day or in an over reached or burn out stage.

With that being said, here is an explantion of hear rate training the way I see it.

Training begins with a test. You need to find out your threshold hear rate (a maximal heart rate that can be achieved for a decent amount of time) This test is best done with a field test of 30 min time trial. The goal is to find an average heart rate during this effort. To test you simply need to ride as hard as you can for 30 minutes, but try not to blow up or hit a wall while doing it. This is far easier said than done. Hopefully there is an organized time trial or you have a day of high motivation to go out and perform this test. The only procedure is to ride as hard as you can for 30 mins, with an adequate  warm up and cool down.

Once you have performed this test, it is time to set some training zones. Below is a table of what the zones will look like. (note* to get % of heart rate (such as 85%) multiply the field test number by .85 and round to nearest number, so 180 * .85 is 153 bpm)

zone Called hear rate (%) works on?
1 recovery 50 – 65 active recovery
2 endurance 66 – 84 increasing muscular efficiency and endurance
3 tempo 85 – 95 maximal development of aerobic system
4 threshold 95 – 102 increasing tolerance to lactic acid
5 VO2 max 102 – 104 increasing maximal overall output
6 Supra max 105 – max Developing short term muscle and metabolic systems
7 Sprinting N/A Muscle power

To get all of these zones multiply your tested heart rate by the above zones. As you can see the different efforts will work on very specific physiological adaptations of both the muscular and energy production systems (aerobic and anaerobic)

So how do you train with this?

Le me put the zones in correlation with more everyday terminology, as seen below:

zone Called Used For:
1 recovery used for active recovery from training 1-2 hours
2 endurance 2-6 hours
3 tempo 30mins to 1.5 hours (up to 3 hours for racers)
4 threshold 15mins to 30 mins (10mins to 1 hour for racers)
5 VO2 max 5 mins to 15mins (same for racers)
6 Supra max 1min to 5 min (same for racers)
7 Sprinting 1 sec to 1 min (same for racers)

As you can see, this might be a more easy correlation to real world application. The next step after you have crunched the numbers it to establish what zone you should train in. This is a very complicated question that is best left for a coach to tell you exactly how often you should ride in which zone. How ever you can effectively train by taking note of what your own weaknesses are or what characteristics a particular event may have. For example if you get dropped on a group ride during short hill efforts (1-8 mins long) you need to work in zone 5. If you have problems staying with your buddy after 2 hours, you need to do more efforts that are 2+ hours in zones 2 and 3. Also if you look at a criterium, it has many short efforts of 15 sec to 5 mins long. So this would facilitate training in zones 6 and 7. Furthermore these zones and training concepts apply to any terrain or conditions you may ride in. So if your weaknesses are hills, than train in the particular zones on hills. If you aren’t good in winds, then train in the zones in to winds. The body is a wonderful thing that will adapt specifically to the load placed on it. Training your weaknesses is the only way to minimize those weaknesses.

So lets talk about intervals. While this short synopsis can not tell you how many to do how often the following 2 tables will give insight to this.  First is a work to rest ratio deemed adequate to bring about change. For instance a work to rest ration of 1:1 would mean if you worked for 5 mins you should rest for 5 mins; or 1:2 would mean for every 1 minute you worked you should rest for 2 minutes. this table will then look like:

zone Called work to rest ratio (w:r)
1 recovery NA
2 endurance 1:.5
3 tempo 1:.5 to 1:.75
4 threshold 1:.75 to 1:1
5 VO2 max 1:1 to 1:1.5
6 Supra max 1:1.5 to 1:2
7 Sprinting 1:2.5

This is only a very basic example and I commonly play with it to help my athletes with specific training goals. A good coach will manipulate these w:r ratio but this a great starting guide line. Next is a how hard you should work per hour at threshold.

minutes @ threshold (minutes) Rest for (hours)
0 to 30 12 hours
30 to 60 24 hours
60 to 90 36 hours
90 to 120 48 hours
120+ 72 hours

All the above is only a general guide that can help you get started on a basic training program with heart rate. It is more than advantageous to talk with a coach about how this can all be specifically adapted to your own needs. However have fun and get out there and use your heart rate monitor!!

Ride Hard,

Jordan S.


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