Author Topic: Heart Rate and training zones  (Read 683 times)

Heart Rate and training zones
« on: December 10, 2020, 09:06:09 pm »
With turbo season well and truly upon us I have been looking at my heart rate and training zones. I have come across something which is new to me (probably been around for years though) called Heart Rate Reserve and the use of the Karvonen formula, which is HRR = HR (max) - HR (rest).

If I assume a maximum heart rate of 160 and a resting heart rate of 50 I get the following table:
Zone 150% - 60%80 - 96105 - 116
Zone 260% - 70%96 - 112116 - 127
Zone 370% - 80%112 - 128127 - 138
Zone 480% - 90%128 - 144138 - 149
Zone 590% - 100%144 - 160149 - 160
Sweet Spot75% - 85%120 - 136132 - 143

I don't have a power meter. A lot of my workouts are at, or around, sweetspot but with the two methods of calculating this being so different, I am not sure which to use.

So question is, do people use straight HRmax calculations or HRR? Or is the something else that can muddy the waters even more?


Re: Heart Rate and training zones
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2020, 02:41:05 pm »
I don't have experience of the 2 methods you mention but that's some big old variances there.

When I started I used 220-age and then tested max by sprinting up a dirty great big hill.  Neither were quite as high as I hit when i did my first proper ramp test and, in truth, I've never quite managed to hit that since.

I suppose the question would be how do you feel riding in each zone ?   In sweetspot you should be breathing heavily but not gasping.   Efforts should feel repeatable at that sort of effort.   

Re: Heart Rate and training zones
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2020, 03:31:19 pm »
I started using the basic HR from 0bpm to HRmax. I used to find I could ride far longer in the

When I discovered the HRR or Karvonen formula, thanks to NickM back in the days of the C+ forum (he now goes by another moniker on YACF but I cannot remember what it is), my cycling changed as it suits me better and I am sure it is probably a mathematically more correct forumula.

My Polar HRM doesn't have HRR so I just display the current HR and have the pulse rates in my mind for each 10% from 50% so I can instantly convert from a pulse rate to which 10% it sits in.

Re: Heart Rate and training zones
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2020, 10:23:19 pm »
My thoughts are that sweetspot should be fairly hard but it should be sustainable, you should be able to ride at that intensity for a long workout. I feel that using the HRR method of calculation it is closer to what I would expect. Using straight heart rate it feels, well, too easy! And the same applies to the other zones as well.

 I also use a Polar HRM which doesn't display zones either so I had them printed out by the turbo bike.

Re: Heart Rate and training zones
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2020, 09:33:21 am »
Last time I did focussed training (a while back) I used the HR max - HR min approach. Both of mine are higher than might be hoped for / expected, so it made sense to consider that in finding my zones. The “assuming” is probably the biggest issue in whether it gives the right result :)


Re: Heart Rate and training zones
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2020, 10:06:10 am »
They can't both be right. It's bigger discrepancy in the lower-down zones, they don't even overlap at all below z3 in the above table.

I would suggest that the way it's being worked out for the HRR based formula means that you shouldn't use the same percentages to compute the same zones.

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Re: Heart Rate and training zones
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2020, 10:54:09 am »
I train to power indoors and to HR outdoors but even though I train to power on the turbo its' all about how long I spend in the HR zones so I can measure the "training".

So for example, 3 sets of 15x30":15" will give me 30 minutes in the >90% HRmax range, and 3x25' targets the 80-90% range.

Then for endurance rides outside it's about keeping HR above 65% HRmax.