Form & Fitness Q & A
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age, sex, and type of racing or riding.
Cyclingnews is delighted this week to welcome Pamela Hinton to our fitness
Fitness questions and answers for May 17, 2004
The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel
Carrie Cheadle, MA (www.carriecheadle.com)
is a Sports Psychology consultant who has dedicated her career to helping
athletes of all ages and abilities perform to their potential. Carrie
specialises in working with cyclists, in disciplines ranging from track
racing to mountain biking. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology
from Sonoma State University as well as a masters degree in Sport Psychology
from John F. Kennedy University.
Dave Palese (www.davepalese.com)
is a USA Cycling licensed coach and masters' class road racer with 16
years' race experience. He coaches racers and riders of all abilities
from his home in southern Maine, USA, where he lives with his wife Sheryl,
daughter Molly, and two cats, Miranda and Mu-Mu.
Kelby Bethards, MD received a Bachelor of
Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University (1994) before
obtaining an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 2000.
Has been a racing cyclist 'on and off' for 20 years, and when time allows,
he races Cat 3 and 35+. He is a team physician for two local Ft Collins,
CO, teams, and currently works Family Practice in multiple settings: rural,
urgent care, inpatient and the like.
Fiona Lockhart (www.trainright.com)
is a USA Cycling Expert Coach, and holds certifications from USA Weightlifting
(Sports Performance Coach), the National Strength and Conditioning Association
(Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach), and the National Academy
for Sports Nutrition (Primary Sports Nutritionist). She is the Sports
Science Editor for Carmichael Training Systems, and has been working in
the strength and conditioning and endurance sports fields for over 10
years; she's also a competitive mountain biker.
Eddie Monnier (www.velo-fit.com)
is a USA Cycling certified Elite Coach and a Category II racer. He holds
undergraduate degrees in anthropology (with departmental honors) and philosophy
from Emory University and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.
Eddie is a proponent of training with power. He coaches cyclists (track,
road and mountain bike) of all abilities and with wide ranging goals (with
and without power meters). He uses internet tools to coach riders from
David Fleckenstein, MPT (www.physiopt.com)
is a physical therapist practicing in Boise, ID. His clients have included
World and U.S. champions, Olympic athletes and numerous professional athletes.
He received his B.S. in Biology/Genetics from Penn State and his Master's
degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University. He specializes in manual
medicine treatment and specific retraining of spine and joint stabilization
musculature. He is a former Cat I road racer and Expert mountain biker.
Since 1986 Steve Hogg (www.cyclefitcentre.com)
has owned and operated Pedal Pushers, a cycle shop specialising in rider
positioning and custom bicycles. In that time he has positioned riders
from all cycling disciplines and of all levels of ability with every concievable
cycling problem.They include World and National champions at one end of
the performance spectrum to amputees and people with disabilities at the
Current riders that Steve has positioned include Davitamon-Lotto's Nick
Gates, Discovery's Hayden Roulston, National Road Series champion, Jessica
Ridder and National and State Time Trial champion, Peter Milostic.
Pamela Hinton has a bachelor's degree in Molecular
Biology and a doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences, both from the University
of Wisconsin-Madison. She did postdoctoral training at Cornell University
and is now an assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University
of Missouri-Columbia where she studies the effects of iron deficiency
on adaptations to endurance training and the consequences of exercise-associated
changes in menstrual function on bone health.
Pam was an All-American in track while at the UW. She started cycling
competitively in 2003 and is the defending Missouri State Road Champion.
Pam writes a nutrition column for Giana Roberge's Team Speed Queen Newsletter.
Dario Fredrick (www.wholeathlete.com)
is an exercise physiologist and head coach for Whole Athlete™. He is a
former category 1 & semi-pro MTB racer. Dario holds a masters degree in
exercise science and a bachelors in sport psychology.
Scott Saifer (www.wenzelcoaching.com)
has a Masters Degree in exercise physiology and sports psychology and
has personally coached over 300 athletes of all levels in his 10 years
of coaching with Wenzel Coaching.
Kendra Wenzel (www.wenzelcoaching.com)
is a head coach with Wenzel Coaching with 17 years of racing and coaching
experience and is coauthor of the book Bike Racing 101.
Richard Stern (www.cyclecoach.com)
is Head Coach of Richard Stern Training, a Level 3 Coach with the Association
of British Cycling Coaches, a Sports Scientist, and a writer. He has been
professionally coaching cyclists and triathletes since 1998 at all levels
from professional to recreational. He is a leading expert in coaching
with power output and all power meters. Richard has been a competitive
cyclist for 20 years
Andy Bloomer (www.cyclecoach.com)
is an Associate Coach and sport scientist with Richard Stern Training.
He is a member of the Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC) and
a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES).
In his role as Exercise Physiologist at Staffordshire University Sports
Performance Centre, he has conducted physiological testing and offered
training and coaching advice to athletes from all sports for the past
4 years. Andy has been a competitive cyclist for many years.
Kim Morrow (www.elitefitcoach.com)
has competed as a Professional Cyclist and Triathlete, is a certified
USA Cycling Elite Coach, a 4-time U.S. Masters National Road Race Champion,
and a Fitness Professional.
Her coaching group, eliteFITcoach, is based out of the Southeastern United
States, although they coach athletes across North America. Kim also owns
a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around
the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find
Advice presented in Cyclingnews' fitness pages is provided for educational
purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for individual
athletes. If you follow the educational information found on Cyclingnews,
you do so at your own risk. You should consult with your physician before
beginning any exercise program.
Regaining lost weight
Which HR equation?
I have always been curious about what my ideal weight should be. I am 165cm
tall and currently weigh 62kg. I have been as low as 57kg and as high as 67kg
so I suppose I have a struck a balance. How does this compare to riders like
Tyler and Lance?
Pam Hinton replies:
There is certainly a relationship between body type and cycling ability.
Smaller riders who are relatively lightweight for their height will excel
at climbing because of their high power to weight ratios. Conversely, larger
riders who are heavier because of their larger muscle mass have higher absolute
power outputs and will dominate on the flats and in time trials (see an article
in Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise, 31(6):878-885, 1999).
Within the pro peloton there is a wide range of body types, which is evident
when looking at the relative weight for height or body mass index (BMI= kg/
m2) of various riders. At 1.8 m and 74 kg, Lance has a BMI=23. Tyler weighs
62 kg at 1.7 m with a BMI=21. To put that in perspective, the normal range
for the non-athletic population is 20-25 kg/m2.
You are curious as to what your ideal weight should be. Ideal body weight
is one that allows you to be in the healthy range of body fat (5-15% for males
and 12-28% for females) without dieting. If you must starve yourself to maintain
your weight, you have set your goal below your ideal. Your current weight
of 62 kg, puts you at a BMI of 23, which as you say, is probably a good balance.
Cyclists as a group tend to be a little neurotic about weight. Rather than
obsessing on what the scale should say, you might consider what type of races
best suit your natural weight and body type.
I'd like to ask the opposite question of Marcus Tudehope (Fitness Q&A May 10):
Is there ever a time when a cyclist should consider gaining weight? I have often
wondered if I'm too thin for my height and if my power output is suffering.
I'm 35 years old, 6 ft. tall and weigh 145-146 in the summer and 147-149 in
the winter. I am noncompetitive and my riding consists of 3 hours a week on
the trainer or rollers and then two 2-3 hour group rides on mostly flat to rolling
terrain (longest hills are 2-5 minutes) at an average pace of 19-21 mph. Would
an increase in muscle mass be to my advantage for my type of riding or am I
okay at my current weight? If I need to gain weight, how would I do that? I
am a vegetarian and consume lots of vegetables, grains, legumes and essentially
no processed foods and I seem to have a really fast metabolism since I've weighed
the same for the last 15 years.
Thanks for the input. I really enjoy your Fitness Q&A column.
Apex, North Carolina
Pam Hinton replies:
You asked, "Is there ever a time when a cyclist should consider gaining weight?"
The answer to your question is, "yes". There is point of diminishing returns
when it comes to losing body weight with the goal of increasing the power
to weight ratio. The power you can generate is proportional to your muscle
mass, so if you have lowered your body weight to the point of losing muscle
you are hurting your absolute power output. Having said that, however, our
potential to gain muscle is largely determined by genetics and some of us
will never have the quads of Nothstein or Cipollini no matter how much strength
training we do or how much extra protein we eat.
I do, however, have a few suggestions related to your diet that might help
you increase your muscle mass. But first a refresher on the First Law of Thermodynamics
-the one about conservation of energy. In order to increase your body weight,
you must put yourself in positive energy balance - you have to eat more energy
than you expend. So, the first thing is to make sure you are getting enough
energy. It takes a surplus of ~350 kcal per day to gain one pound of lean
body mass in one week. Add that to what you need to maintain your weight (~3500
kcal), for a total of ~ 4000 kcal per day.
You may find it hard to eat that many calories on a vegetarian diet. This
is because plant-based diets (vegetables, grains, legumes) have a low energy
density, meaning that the energy content is low per unit of volume. So you
fill up before you have eaten the calories that you need. You can increase
the energy density of your diet by making a conscious effort to eat more of
the plant-based foods and dairy products that have a higher fat content-like
nuts, full-fat cheese or tofu, and whole milk. While the fat in these foods
will not be used directly to increase your muscle mass, the extra calories
will prevent your body from having to break down your muscles for energy.
Secondly, you need to provide your body the substrates that it needs to support
protein synthesis for muscle growth. Muscle proteins are complex molecules
made up of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids and we need them in the correct
proportions to make protein. We get most of these amino acids from the protein
in our diets-the rest are made in the liver and kidney. Protein in food can
be scored based on how closely the proportion of amino acids it contains matches
what we need, correcting for digestibility of the protein. Proteins that are
high quality have the right mix of amino acids and receive a score of 1.00,
while proteins that are missing in an essential amino acid or are poorly digested
receive a lower score. Typically, protein from animal sources like meat (0.9)
and egg whites (1.0) is high quality and protein from plant sources like beans
(0.6) and wheat (0.4) is lower quality. For this reason, vegetarians need
to combine plant-sources of protein so that they get all of the amino acids.
Examples of complementary foods are beans and rice, peanut butter and wheat
bread, tofu and rice. Because of the lower protein quality of plant-based
foods, it is recommended that vegetarian athletes consume 1.6-1.7 g protein/kg
of body weight; this is higher than the recommendation for non-vegetarians
of 1.2-1.4 g per kg of body weight. So you need ~105-115 g protein per day.
To put this into foods, 3 ounces of meat has 25 g, ½ cup tofu or cooked black
beans has 10 g, one cup of milk or yogurt has 10 g, 1 ounce of cheese has
7 g and one egg has 3 grams of protein.
At 145 pounds, you are relatively light for your height of 6 feet, and an
increase in muscle mass would probably benefit you. However, because your
weight has been stable for the past 15 years, you should maybe not tack any
pictures of monstrous-legged track sprinters on your wall. Instead, you should
maybe go for a triumphant shot of the Great Dane, Bjarne Riis.
Regaining lost weight
I'm a 20yr old male, cat. 1 road cyclist who is racing UCI and kermesses in
Europe. I have a question about how to go about gaining back lost weight.
First off, I'm 5ft 10in and currently weigh 131 lbs. However, I'm currently
about 4-5lb under my race weight from last season and it's really hurting my
power. The reason I feel I'm under-weight is due to me training in Florida during
the months of January and February before I headed off to Europe. While in Florida
I stayed with my grandparents and was a lacto-ovo vegetarian. But I found that
was too hard so now I'm now longer a vegetarian. So, that could be one reason
I'm under-weight, however, I feel the next reason is the biggest reason. During
my stay in Florida, I started to show signs of depression. It was getting to
the point where I was getting moody and wasn't eating enough as I should have
been. I was doing on average 425 miles-550 miles per week while in Florida.
It is now almost Mid-May and I'm still struggling to get my weight back up.
Only thing is that now I'm racing in long/hard European UCI races as well as
training hard. As of right now I'm at 131 lbs, but know I should be around 135-136
lbs. I am desperate for some help, because I came over here to try and get a
professional contract, but right now since I feel a lack of power, all I'm doing
is getting my butt kicked. If you could please help me, I would be extremely
Also, do you have any way of telling how many calories someone in my position
should be consuming? This meaning on a "totally off the bike day" or recovery
day. I have a polar S-510 which tells me how many calories I burn, but I'm not
really sure how many calories I should be consuming daily (not including calories
expended from my rides). If you could help me out I would really appreciate
Pam Hinton replies:
So many racers want to lose weight, not realizing that they can get themselves
into the physical and emotional difficulties you are dealing with now. At
5ft 10in and 60 kg, you don't need the scale to tell you that you are 2 kg
below your race weight - your performance is suffering, and more importantly,
so is your sense of well-being.
My advice to you is, throw the calorie counting out the window and stop obsessing
about whether you are eating enough or too much. With all of the training
and racing that you are doing, you need to be eating all the time. Eat three
complete meals and snack whenever you can. Even on "totally off the bike days"
or recovery days, you need to eat frequently.
You were wise to recognize that a vegetarian diet may have been making it
difficult to gain weight. The reason for that is the relatively low energy
content of plant-based foods. You need to apply that principal to your current
diet and add energy dense foods that have other nutritive value like nuts
and seeds, full-fat milk and cheese. Don't be afraid to add fat to your diet.
The extra calories will allow your body to preserve your muscle mass and use
the protein you eat to increase your muscle mass.
The numbers you should pay attention to are the amounts of protein and carbohydrate
that you are eating. Because you regularly train and race at high intensity
and you want to gain muscle mass, you probably need 1.6-1.7 g of protein per
kg of body weight. For you, this would be 100-105 g of protein per day. Again,
to put this into foods, 3 ounces of meat has 25 g, one cup of milk or yogurt
has 10 g, 1 ounce of cheese has 7 g and one egg has 3 grams of protein.
You need 6-10 g carbohydrate per kg or body weight to maintain your liver
and muscle glycogen stores. So for you, that would be about 500-600 g of carbohydrate
everyday. Whole grain bread, pasta, cereal, and brown rice are the best sources
because they haven't had the vitamins, minerals, and fiber removed in the
refining process. To give you some idea of how that translates into food,
a bagel has 60 g carbohydrate, one cup of oatmeal has 20 g, one cup of cooked
rice has 50 g, and 1 cup of cooked pasta has 30 g.
I am quite certain that if you increase your energy intake, you will feel
strong again, and your appetite for life, including bike racing, will return.
I am a 29 yr old female roadie who races regularly and is hoping to lower my
body fat percentage significantly to produce better results - especially in
the hills. I ride 250-300km per week at an average HR of about 155 and speed
31km/hr on the flat and 27km/hr for rides in the hills. Unfortunately I am limited
by the weight I carry - 60kg at 162cm in height, My fat percentage is about
28% according to a set of scales I have - way too high for optimum cycling.
Could you please advise on what is the best type of riding to achieve my aims.
I eat very healthily (mainly low fat and low GI) and have maintained the same
level of riding, eating and weight for a number of years - I just want to get
rid of the fat! I could up the kilometres on the bike, but whenever I do, I
just get hungrier and stay the same because I find it difficult to decrease
my food intake.
Scott Saifer replies:
Since you've already figured out the low GI as a way to control fat, the
next step maybe intensity control. Many of my riders report that higher intensity
riding leaves them hungrier post ride than does easier riding. This makes
sense as higher intensity riding depletes glycogen more quickly than lower
intensity riding, and depleted glycogen supplies must be replenished before
you can ride well again, while depleted fat can stay depleted with no adverse
effects on your riding.
Since lower intensity riding triggers less of a hunger response, it is more
effective for generating fat loss than is higher intensity riding. The important
issue here is not what kind of fuel is used or how much of it during exercise,
but whether you feel compelled to replace it after exercise. You haven't said
how hard you are currently training. I recommend doing the majority of your
training below 80% of your maximum heart rate. If your AT is less than 85%
of your maximum, do the majority of your training below 10 beats below AT.
Brett Aitken replies:
My advice for weight loss is quite different to what Scott has suggested.
Fat loss is as much about what your body is doing off the bike as it is on
the bike. Since the majority of our daily calorie needs are burnt up off the
bike the key is to turn up your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and burn more calories
off the bike even while you sleep. The best way to do this is with high intensity
exercise (specifically short intervals of 5 to 10 minutes at 80-95% heartrate).
Do this 2 to 3 times a week in the mornings and then follow it up with a steady
state low intensity ride. It will give you an elevated oxygen consumption
throughout the rest of your day and raise your overall BMR.
Not only this but the actual interval session will give you a much higher
calorie expenditure and improved fitness. Although the percentage of fat burn
may be higher at lower intensities it's the total calorie expenditure overall
which counts and this is always greater at the higher intensity. Remember
it's calories in vs calories out no matter how you look at it. So if you are
burning 10% more calories while you sleep (a time when you can't eat!) then
this is a good step in the right direction.
What do you recommend for fuel/food during a road race? I am happy with my
Hammer 'Sustained Energy' drinks, but the best mix of solids with liquids escapes
Pam Hinton replies:
There are several things to consider when it comes to deciding on what to
eat and drink during a race. First of all you need to stay hydrated, so fluids
are a necessity. Second, you want to stay fueled with carbohydrates, not protein
or fat. And, as you put it, "are you happy with it"?
Performance deteriorates rapidly with dehydration. Loss of only 1% of body
water has been shown to increase the workload on the heart and to decrease
the ability to dissipate heat. Consequently, staying adequately hydrated is
a top priority. Drink 16 ounces of fluid two hours prior to the race and attempt
to drink 8-12 ounces every 20 minutes during the event.
A fluid replacement drink that contains sodium has two potential advantages
over plain water. The sodium increases palatability, or how it easily it goes
down, so you are likely to drink more fluid than if you were drinking plain
water. The sodium also reduces the risk of hyponatremia, the condition where
blood sodium levels become too low and performance deteriorates rapidly. This
condition is quite rare and most often occurs in marathon and ultra marathon
type events lasting longer than three hours and in individuals who ingest
a large volume of fluid without electrolytes.
Consuming carbohydrate during events that last longer than 90 minutes has
been shown to improve performance by delaying the onset of fatigue that occurs
when muscle and liver glycogen stores are depleted. The recommended intake
is 30-60 grams of carbohydrate per hour. Drinking 16-32 ounces of a commercial
fluid replacement beverage that contains 4-8% carbohydrates every hour, would
meet this guideline. Typical energy gels contain about 25 g of carbohydrate,
and these work fine as long as they are taken with water to avoid gastrointestinal
distress. The best type of carbohydrate to consume during exercise is glucose
or maltodextrin. Fructose stays in the intestine longer and may cause diarrhea.
The final consideration is just as important as the other three-how well
does your food/fuel suit you? This is a question you need to answer by experimenting
during training rides. Unlike your expensive, ultra-light wheels that you
save only for race day, you need to try out new combinations of food and drink
on hard training days. In your case, it seems that the Hammer Sustained Energy
Drinks are working well. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
I am a Junior racer and plan on doing about 10-12 races this year including
some stage races. I have a pair of Mavic Ksyrium Elites on my bike, but I was
wowed by the American Classic 420's for their extremely low weight and aerodynamics.
I figured I could have the heavier (but bulletproof) Ksyriums as my training
wheels and set up the American Classics with ultra-light tires and tubes for
race day. My local shop man thinks I'm just wasting my hard earned cash. The
question is, how much does 3/4 of a pound help? I ride in the hills a lot and
would love to cut a little weight, but he said it's not worth it and advised
me to spend it on training tools such as a power meter (which is much more expensive).
My training is going great and I have great confidence in my program, I was
just thinking the wheels would give me that extra tiny boost as an added bonus.
Cyclingnews tech editor John Stevenson replies:
Keith Bontrager does a good - and entertaining - analysis of this issue here.
Eddie Monnier replies:
I'd have to agree with your local shop owner and with Keith Bontrager. If
you want to experience the difference yourself, you could climb your longest
favorite hill once with two standard water bottles full of water and once
with only one bottle. A full standard 20 oz water bottle weighs about 1.3
pounds, which is 1.7 times as much weight as you hope to save. I think you'll
find you cannot discern the difference. Use that money toward coaching and/or
a power meter and it will be money better spent (but of course I'm biased!).
Other factors to consider besides weight include aerodynamics, stiffness,
durability, braking performance and of course price. For a high performance
wheel that is suitable for both training and race use, I think you've got
a fine wheelset. Realize that for many racers, Ksyriums are exclusively for
racing and they have a heavier, less aero, more durable set for everyday training.
Which HR equation?
When discussing heart rate percentages which of the two popular equations are
used by the staff at Cyclingnews? One uses HR resting and the other does not.
Here they are:
HRdesired = HRworking * desired% = ((HRmax - HRresting) * desired%) + HRresting
HRdesired = the desired training HR in bpm (beats per minute).
HRworking = The working heart rate. Defined as: HRmax - HRresting
HRmax = Some upper limit HR, such as MSP (maximum sustainable power), MSS (maximum
steady state), maximum heart rate, etc.
HRresting = Resting HR
desired% = Desired intensity level (0 to 100%)
For instance, if HRmax is 180 and HRresting is 60 then HR at 90% intensity
HRdesired = ((180 - 60) * 90%) * 60 = 168 bpm
HRdesired = HRmax * desired%
For instance, HRmax is 180 then HR at 90% intensity is:
HRdesired = 180 * 90% = 162 bpm
IMHO, although simpler, equation 2 seems a little ridiculous since, in the
above example, a resting HR corresponds to a workout intensity of 33%! (180
* 33% = 60 bpm). How could workout intensity be anything other than zero (0%)
at resting HR?
Recently Dario Fredrick responded to a question titled "Hills" from Steve in
Wisconsin where he suggested that the max steady state (MSS) HR should be determined
and intervals performed at 85 to 90% of MSS HR. Which equation is he referring
Dario Fredrick replies:
I was referring to percentages of maximal steady state (MSS) heart rate.
As I mentioned in my original response, MSS is defined as the maximal sustainable
power & corresponding average heart rate for a 30 minute effort.
I do not recommend using resting or maximum heart rate (HRmax) values to
determine training intensities. Resting HR varies significantly between people
and over time. Determining maximum heart rate HRmax is difficult and at times,
not possible to reach. HRmax can also change with training and declines with
age. More importantly, heart rate training zones are not necessarily a fixed
percentage of one's HRmax.
For example, cyclist A and cyclist B each have a HRmax of 195bpm. If we use
absolute percentages of HRmax to determine training, such as 95% of HRmax
as MSS, we assume that both cyclists will time trial at ~186bpm. It is possible
however, that cyclist A has a max steady state heart rate of 186bpm and cyclist
B at 176bpm. At 186bpm in a time trial cyclist B will likely blow up after
3 to 5 minutes.
A valid method for determining heart rate training zones is based on one's
individual maximal steady state (MSS). Rather than doing a 30min time trial
each time you want to determine your training zones however, a valid performance
test is a shorter, relatively easier (at least in terms of recovery) and more
descriptive method of measurement.
Keep in mind that the design of the performance test is critical to the heart
rate numbers that result. A valid and reliable testing method is one which
accurately predicts MSS heart rate and power each time you test. An effective
test will also reveal your power output throughout the heart rate training
zones so that re-testing can show the progress of different levels of training.
I have developed and validated a new test protocol that predicts MSS. The
study was presented at the 2003 ACSM conference and should be in publication
soon (Fredrick, 2003).
1. Fredrick, D.M., M. A. Kern, and B. F. Miller. Validation of a New Maximum
Steady State Protocol for Cyclists. Med. Sci. Sports & Exerc. , Vol. 35(5)
Sup. 1, p. S192, 2003.
Tom Jordan responded:
In my question I defined HRmax as, "Some upper limit HR, such as MSP (maximum
sustainable power), MSS (maximum steady state), maximum heart rate". Perhaps
I should have used HRul (for Upper Limit), or HRmss to avoid confusion with
peak maximum heart rate.
Your explanation does make it clear that HRmss is a better upper limit than
However, the major thrust of my question was shouldn't HRresting be part of
the equation (as shown in Equation 1)? You said, "Resting HR varies significantly
between people and over time." This is true, but HRmss also varies significantly
between people and doesn't HRmss also vary over time? Even if HRresting does
vary over time, is that really a problem since it is so easy to measure?
Equation 1 (amended):
HRdesired = (HRworking * desired%) + HRresting ,or
HRdesired = ((HRmss - HRresting) * desired%) + HRresting
HRdesired = ((180 - 60) * 85%) + 60 = 162 bpm
HRdesired = ((180 - 60) * 25%) + 60 = 90 bpm (slow walk)
HRdesired = ((180 - 60) * 0%) + 60 = 60 bpm (HRresting)
All the intensities yielded by this equation make sense - intensities of 0%
at HRresting and 100% at HRmss.
Equation 2 (amended):
HRdesired = HRmss * desired%
HRdesired = 180 * 85% = 153 bpm
HRdesired = 180 * 50% = 90 bpm (slow walk - 50% intensity?)
HRdesired = 180 * 33% = 60 bpm (HRresting - 33% intensity?)
HRdesired = 180 * 0% = 0 bpm (dead at 0% intensity!)
This equation yields intensities that don't make sense at the lower end of
the scale - 100% at HRmss, but 33% at HRresting (when HRmss=180 and HRresting=60,
for instance). One would have to have a HR of 0 (be dead) to be working out
at 0% intensity! Why not use an equation that yields sensible intensities throughout
its entire range?
If you don't like HRresting, perhaps the lower end of the scale could be set
by some reference low-level baseline activity such as a slow walk. That would
make would yield:
HRdesired = (HRworking * desired%) + HRslowwalk ,or
HRdesired = ((HRmss - HRslowwalk) * desired%) + HRslowwalk
HRdesired = ((180 - 90) * 85%) + 90 = 166.5 bpm
HRdesired = ((180 - 90) * 50%) + 90 = 135 bpm
HRdesired = ((180 - 90) * 0%) + 90 = 90 bpm (slow walk)
Here the intensity level is a true indication of the effort over the baseline
activity, and again, HRslowwalk is easy to measure.
I contend that Equation 3 makes more sense than Equation 2 in the same way
that the Celsius temperature scale is more appropriate than Kelvin for everyday
use. The lower limit of the Celsius scale (0 C) is set by the freezing point
of water, where as the lower limit of the Kelvin scale (0 K) is absolute zero
The relative confort zone for life is approximately 0 to 30 C, or 273 to 303
K. Since, temperatures less than 233 K (-40 C) is beyond the experience of most
people, the Kelvin scale is more awkward for everyday use. Similarly, heart
rates less than HRresting (and arguably less than HRslowwalk) are uninteresting
to athletes. The Kelvin scale is very useful is some scientific areas such as
cryogenics and super-conductivity, just like the heart rates less than HRresting
are interesting to medical science. So both equations have their uses, just
like Celsius and Kelvin; it is just that Equation 3 has a scale that is more
appropriate for athletes.
Thanks for your insights. I look forward to reading the results of your study
- is it available on-line? If so please reply with a link to it.
Dario Fredrick replies:
Since we are talking about training intensities for endurance cycling performance,
values that are lower than 70% of maximal steady state heart rate (HRmss)
are of limited training value except perhaps for active recovery. I do not
prescribe specific intensities that are below 70% HRmss, but simply suggest
active recovery rides to be generally <70% HRmss. Resting HR need not be factored
into training zone determination for endurance cyclists. If you know your
HRmss, and you wish to train at an intensity that is a percentage of your
individual MSS, there is no reason to alter this value simply because of your
To answer your question about the variability of HRmss, it does vary among
cyclists, but not much over time. It can change in an individual after a significant
period of inactivity (>3 weeks), but there appears to be little variation
in individual HRmss between pre-season training and race fitness periods.
What changes is sustainable power at MSS.
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