Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | November 24, 2008

Determining Maximum Heart Rate for Cyclists

  In my last two posts, I provided examples of how you can accurately determine your maximum heart rate (MHR).  These included the 1 Mile Walk Test and the Step Test.  Both of these techniques provide an effective means for estimating MHR if you are a runner or a walker.  However, if you are a cyclist, there is a much more effective method.  However, I must begin with a warning.  Unlike the Walk and Step Tests which are Sub Max protocols, the following method can be described as a Max HR Test because you work harder and harder until your heart simply can’t beat any faster.  You actually achieve your heart rate maximum.  Because of this, only extremely fit individuals should attempt this and even then it is recommended that you do so with proper medical supervision.

While you can perform this test outdoors, I suggest you use an indoor trainer for safety reasons.  Begin by warming up for at least 15 minutes, and preferably for 20 to 30 minutes.  Make sure you perform some high cadence spin-ups to really elevate your heart rate (but don’t work so hard that you’re too tired to perform the test).  Once you have finished warming up, do the following (keep in mind that this test should only take about 5 minutes maximum): 

Start spinning in a reasonably comfortable gear at about 90 rpm.  Every 60 seconds shift up one gear while maintaining a cadence around 90 rpm until you just can’t go any higher (gearing) or harder (intensity).  Frequently check your heart rate monitor readout.  During this test, it will rise steadily and then reach a point where it plateaus and doesn’t rise any further even though you are working at absolute maximum intensity.  Congratulations, this is your MHR!  Spend about 10 minutes cooling down by spinning a very low (easy) gear at 90-95 rpm.  

NEXT POST: December 2, 2008

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!


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