After reviewing my heart rate stats from my little blue machine (Garmin) I was wondering if there was any way to work on lowering your heart rate. I know I could lose 10kg, cycle slower, stay away from hills etc, however I like my food too much, love the hills and figure I may as well push myself (for fitness sake) to try and keep up with some other cyclists I ride with so they don't have to wait too long for me at the top of the next hill.
Too often I see my my heart rate above 90% of max (this morning topped at 104% with an average of 85%). I haven't had any official test to see what my 'real' maximum actually is but anything above 90% and I'm feeling pretty stuffed so I don't think its too far off in calculations.
My original motivation for starting cycling 18 months ago was to get fitter and lose some weight - both have been achieved to some/good degree. I am now just loving being on the bike - its addictive.
Any help would be appreciated.
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I am similar to you mate, the answer is more hard work, the more hills you do the fitter you'll be. I don't think there is any magic formula!
The fact you topped at 104% means that your calculation of max heart rate is definitely out, if you are really concerned about riding in correct training zones then you need to get this more accurate.
Assuming that the reason you want to lower your heart rate is to be in the correct zone then the answer is that you do need to slow down; the whole purpose of zone training is to keep the heart rate correct.
However if you just like riding as you currently are, then I would say keep doing it and not worry too much about your heart rate.
What do you mean by "lowering your heart rate"? Do you mean during any particular workout? What are the particular reasons you want to lower your heart rate? Its hard to comment without seeing specifics of training data over time, but if you've been riding for 18 months and have achieved a good degree of fitness/weight loss, then a heart rate that consistently hovers around 90% and peaks out at 104% (discounting electromagnetic interference) is most likely based on a max that is set too high. Short of testing yourself properly, drop your max in your garmin by 15-20bpm. That should represent about a 10% difference, and mean that you'll never see your HR exceed 100% (which logically, it never will), and your regular 90% HR looks more like 80-85%. So, it may be a simple case of your HR looks so high not because it is, but because the max in your garmin is wrong.
Other than that, how to lower your heart rate? Get fitter. Adopt interval-type training, and prioritise recovery (needed most with high HR efforts), and remember the law of diminishing returns - moderate fitness is easier to achieve and maintain than peak fitness (defined as the ability to maintain HR at or above lactate threshold for sustained periods with efficient recovery). Its also true that everybody has physiological limitations, and the only cyclists who can climb at high speed AND keep a HR below 80% are pros - the phyiological elites/freaks of the world.
It also raises the question of what you want to do with fitness - fitness is just a means to an end. What you need to have a clear understanding of is what your end goals are. If you're hill-climbing, what average speed do you want to be climbing at? Fitness is just the tool to reach that goal. If your goal is to be climbing an 8% gradient at and average of 35km/hr, then you'd have to be super-human (or a pro) to be doing that with a HR lower than 90-95%. If you only want to be able to climb at a 20km/hr average, then its possible with specific training over time to be able to do that with an average HR lower than 80%.
hope that helps.
Riding in the colder weather increases your HR , it takes more energy to warm up your muscles
Indoor rollers are good for maintaining HR hence cruising at 90-95 RPM or whichever you feel comfortable over time.
Inform cycling website has some great cycling articles including heart rate zones etc