Video: How To Train With A Heart Rate Monitor

Nov 4, 2015
by GMBN  
Heart rate monitors are a great way of measuring your effort during training and racing and are now thankfully much cheaper than they once were. It doesn't take much to improve your training and once you start measuring and judging your effort from day to day, you should start to see the benefits.

To train effectively with a HRM you need to work out your training zones. There are a few ways of doing this, but a word of warning - the old method of taking the number 220 and then minusing your age, is not the most accurate.

Garmin 510

Using a ramp test you can work out your maximum heart rate. But be warned, they are brutal!

Sprinting to find maximum heart rate.

Your functional threshold heart rate is probably the most useful number to work out. From there you can work out your training zones accurately and any heart rate above FTHR is anaerobic and unsustainable for a long duration.


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  • 2 0
 yes really, great info for those never used such before... well proven to help. tons of info that can be easily found. if you dont want to race... still really useful if you want better cardio ability. it bloody hurts though... no pain no gain.
  • 1 0
 Still don't understand why power meters are better. HRM takes in to account fluctuations, surely that's a good thing if your body is tired/ill. HRM can be used for climbing, just stay around threshold or max out if you need to. Listen to what your legs are telling you as well as your hrm.
  • 1 0
 Your competitors don't care if you are on an off day when the race comes around. If you need to produce a 1500 W sprint to be competitive, a power meter can tell you how close you are to that goal. HR training still has value for the reasons you mention, but for setting measurable goals, a power figure is hard to beat.
  • 1 0
 But if you can't, you can't. In a sprint you should give 100% regardless of what the meter says, power output is irrelevant, you can only output what your body allows. How does a PM take in to account fatigue, motivation, illness etc a HRM can show all of the above when you understand your threshold and how your muscles/cv system feels compared to the hrm figure.
  • 1 0
 The point of power meters is not necessarily to mete your output according to it in real-time during a race situation, but to gather information that can be used to direct your training. A power meter does not take into account those factors you mention, just as a measuring tape does not tell you how heavy something is. As I said in my earlier comment, HR training is still valuable, but for setting goals and measuring progress, power is a more reliable and useful metric.
  • 3 0
 Good stuff.
  • 2 0
 I broke a sweat today gardening. It was an unusual experiance
  • 1 4
 Heart Rate monitoring is so flawed as a training tool - all serious athletes have switched to using "power" (wattage) measurement.

The reason that HRM is inaccurate is its simply a "response" to your physical efforts - and heart rate is substantially affected by quality of sleep, illness, caffeine, temperature, altitude, recovery from previous training sessions, and other similar physical factors.

In others words the same athlete can have wildly different HR riding the same course on different days or sessions.

Even resting heart rate wildly fluctuates depending to physical responses to previous conditions - checking resting heart rate, over several days, when waking from sleep will show you how much it can vary depending on quality of sleep, recovery from a training session the day before, etc.

Power measurement tells an athlete what is happening "now" and with a basic understanding of power output, becomes an incredibly effective tool to maximize training time prior to events, and most importantly to control efforts during an event to ride "intelligently" rather than riding with "emotion". With power you know the wattage output you can sustain at a particular time, and for how long.

The best example of using power intelligently is when climbing. Sitting in a wattage band allows you to gain during a climb whilst competitors over exert themselves whilst riding with emotion (reacting to attacks, or becoming excited).

If you want a great case study, look at professional road cyclists like Team Sky's Froome and see how devastating his climbing has become since switching to using Stages power crank for training and competition.
  • 3 0
 All true, but price is the stumbling block for most people on this one. HR monitoring is the next step from training with 'feel' and definitely helps in comparison to nothing. Power meters don't come cheap but are getting better.
  • 1 1

you can pick up Stages for £450 for Ultegra HT2, and now they have produced an App for I-Phone and Android which means you don't need the expense of a Garmin. With a handlebar phone mount (dry case) you can easily train using the app.

Considering the huge cost of previous generation power devices like Vector, Powertap, SRM i.e. £1500-2500; the Stages crank arm is very affordable yet provides good quality data
  • 1 0
 Garmins are expensive enough - not sure i would want to take a £400 set of cranks to the trails!
  • 1 0
 Just ride threshold if climbing using a hrm if you don't want to blow up. Following a power target may not be achievable if you're ill, fatigued, can't be arsed etc a hrm shows these effects if you understand your threshold figure.
  • 4 3
 Really pinkbike...
  • 3 6
 This is kind of interesting to know how the pros and racers train but am I going to go out and buy a heart rate monitor? No, I'm not a roadie am I.

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