21 Jun 2016
TRAINING TRUTHS: HEART RATE MONITORS MADE EASY
Heart rate monitors are fantastic tools that provide a wealth of information. You’ve got to know how to use that information, though, and that can transform your training by working smarter, not necessarily harder.
Our sister site Vision has outlined a comprehensive plan so you can emulate pro peloton riders, and we’re complementing it here with this more quickfire guide. Doesn’t matter if you’re riding road, MTB or anything on two wheels, everyone can benefit from HRMs now.
Remember, they’re not like speedometers: it’s not about maximum rate, or for how long you can keep it there. The first thing to do is define your own parameters – your maximum and minimum – so you know where you are on the scale.
Cyclocross, road, MTB – whatever you ride you can benefit from easy HRM-based training
Measure your resting heart rate
It’s best to do this over a week or so, just after waking when you’re (relatively) relaxed. Put on the monitor, lie back, and think happy, thoughts. Then average the lowest number from each day. Enjoy this test, as it’s a lot more pleasant than the second one.
Measure your maximum heart rate
There are formulas – such as 220 minus your age – they’re ok to get a vague understanding, but we can get you a much more accurate guide for a little more effort. A proper scientific test would be very accurate, but right now we’re not going to send you to a sports science lab; we’re making a reliable measurement that anyone who’s already fit and healthy can do themselves. Here goes…
Warm up for at least 15 minutes, then find a long (6-7min), constant climb. Start off seated at a brisk pace, and increase your effort each minute for at least five minutes. Then, once you can’t go any faster (still seated), stand up and sprint for at least 15 seconds. Your heart rate at this point is your maximum.