• “No Matter How Slow You Go, You're Still Lapping Everyone on the Couch!"
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Road Go slower, get faster using a heart rate monitor?

Discussion in 'Cycling Department Forum' started by Petra, Jul 7, 2016.

  1. Petra

    Petra Well-Known Member

    Interesting see on how to get faster by going slower, using a heart rate monitor.
    I'm curious if anyone tried this and what the outcome is/was.

    Go slow to get fast
    When people ask me how to get faster on the bike my first response (other than to hire a coach!) is to ride slower. This is often met with a perplexing look, as if I was making it up. I’ll admit that it does sound counter-intuitive, ride slower to get faster, but there are sound principles behind it. Often referred to as base training, it is important for building a strong aerobic foundation that will prepare you for harder, faster riding down the road. It all boils down to one word, efficiency. Specifically, the goal of training is to become more aerobically efficient, making the body better at utilizing oxygen along with fat and carbohydrate to produce energy.

    Read more: http://www.optimizeendurance.com/go-slow-to-get-fast/

    Heart Rate Monitors

    The Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) is touted by many cyclists and trainers as the most significant training advance in the last ten years. Although many coaches refuse to work with an athlete without the physiologic training information it provides, HRMs have their detractors. And that small backlash is slowly growing. An alternative to a HRM, not quite as technical and rigid, uses perceived effort as a measure of your level of exertion.

    Read more: http://www.cptips.com/hrmntr.htm
    Bram Hengeveld likes this.
  2. Ryann

    Ryann Member

    Yea, it works, but to get to the state where you are training aerobic efficiency, the rides have to have some minimum duration. From my experience, I would say 1 hour+ as a minimum. If I'm doing anything shorter, I don't bother with low HR zones and rather go "full-out". It's just different type of training.
  3. Günthar

    Günthar Active Member

    Just what @Ryann stated. If you are doing less than 60 minutes on the bike, allow your muscles to warm up and then crank it out in T4 and T5. Otherwise for 1 hour+ I try and sit at 100rpm (or 80-85rpm in the hills out of the saddle) and high T3 / low T4 the whole ride. This is for road rides. On the MTB I still aim for 100rpm but am not as concerned on the hill climbs which might have me drop to 65rpm. This is due to climbing out of the saddle on an MTB is just a slower rhythm for me.
  4. James

    James Active Member

    Cadence - red herring. There's no perfect cadence. What works for one person doesn't work for another. More important is the ability to ride at a range of cadences, but cadence is often self-selected. For myself, I've always been in the upper 70s/low 80s in many situations. FWIW, physiologically cadence in the 60s is most efficient (reference Bicycling Science from MIT Press).

    HRM have their purpose, but honestly I'd put them #3 on my list for training methods. #1 is clearly a power meter. If you live weights you target the number stamped on the weight, not your heart rate. Power is directly analogous - it's measuring what your legs are putting out (i.e., the load) rather than the response.

    #2 is perceived effort. This is even more valuable when you've ridden a long time with a power meter. Your breathing patterns can be synched up to various power ranges quite well.

    Bringing up the rear is the HRM. Why? HR can vary all over the place due to being a physiological response to all stimuli on the body. Dehydrated? HR goes up. Caffeine? HR goes up. Chased by a dog or narrowly escape a crash? HR goes up. And then there's the issue with HR lag. I haven't used a HRM in a dozen+ years, but when I did, the thing I really noticed is that I could get to my time trial power in seconds, yet my HR would not settle until 10 minutes into the effort. Further, for VO2 intervals and above, it's even more useless.

    I wouldn't say HRMs are the most significant training advance in the last 10 years. That would have been a good comment 15 years ago, but not now. Heck, even power meters have been around over 20 years, and they are fully superior to HRMs. I got my first power device 14 years ago (a Computrainer), and have since used Powertap wheels, Ergomo bottom brackets, and now Powertap P1 pedals. Haven't used a HRM since.
    Gavin likes this.
  5. Ryann

    Ryann Member

    James, everything you have written is truth, but you forget to take in consideration the money one can/wants to put in the training gear. And even nowadays power meters are still too expensive for a hobbyist compared to a heart rate monitor. For a casual cyclist that needs basic training guide, a HRM is sufficient.

    And without using a power meter or heart rate monitor for longer time before, it is also quite hard to perceive actual effort without these guides.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2016
    Günthar and Gavin like this.
  6. James

    James Active Member


    Currently on sale for US $300 for the hub only. Used Powertaps (already built to wheel) can be had for the same or less. Yes, more than a HRM, but certainly nor SRM price range, but riders don't seem to have a problem spending that kind of $$$ on a computer (as witnessed by people posting their Strava rides).
  7. Ryann

    Ryann Member

    Well, here in EU, it is 400 GBP, which is 75% more. Quite a difference.

    Edit: Also, with a $300 "HRM" you're usually buying the whole cycling computer. The cheapest HRM (BT chest strap) to be used with your phone can be obtained for lower than $50.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2016
  8. Günthar

    Günthar Active Member

    Yes, of course. Terrain, rider weight, bike, gearing, the list goes on, and so does the reasons that you can or will vary your cadence. Ideal, in best form and conditions, it's still 100-105rpm. Here is the avg RPM on 1 hour world record attempts over a 60 year spread from 1935 to 1996. The only thing that was constant was that they rode for 60 minutes.

    Giuseppe Olmo 1935 102,7
    Maurice Richard 1936 103,4
    Frans Slaats 1937 103,7
    Maurice Archambaud 104,4
    Fausto Coppi 1942 103,3
    Jacques Anquetil 1956 104,0
    Roger Riviere 1957 105,7
    Roger Riviere 1958 104,7
    Ferdinand Bracke 1967 106,3
    Ole Ritter 1968 105,4
    Eddy Merckx 1972 103,9
    Francesco Moser 1984 104,3
    Francesco Moser 1984 103,1
    Chris Boardman 1993 101,8
    Miguel Indurain 1994 100,9
    Tony Rominger 1994 101,4
    Tony Rominger 1994 102,2
    Chris Boardman 1996 105,0

    I know this is a very narrow form of cycling, but it is the ideal real world test. I have to leave it there as I am meant to be working :)
    Bram Hengeveld likes this.
  9. Jim Layee

    Jim Layee Senior Member

    "Ideal, in best form and conditions" ie if you're a world class time trialler... Back in the real world ideal is 70 -90 rpm is the range where most cyclists are most efficient. Older riders typically find there ideal cadence dropping slowly as they age. I've always been a spinner rather than a grinder but a riding mate is exactly the opposite even though we are similar age etc.

    Back to the OP's first point. Petra's bang on with the base miles, without a solid foundation of basic aerobic fitness all the hrm's and power meters won't benefit you in any way.

    IMO's these are my top 5 tips
    1. The BEST way to improve your cycling is to ride ... a lot !. 3 or more easy rides a week will do you more good than 1 hard ride.
    2. Base miles are a must. When building the distances needed for this then ride at a work rate where you can hold a conversation and ride as long as you can while staying in this zone. Early in the year i do this pretty much all the time.
    3. Vary your routes. Find a balanced mix of flat, hilly rides and middling rides.
    4. Remember you're supposed to be having fun , suffering on every ride is for fools but you need to suffer sometimes to build your speed.
    5. For motivation nothing ( for me) beats finding new road, go exploring and have an adventure !

    None of the above are quick fixes or promise you rapid gains but I've ridden most of my life and i don't do cars, At 50 (sob) I've found the above will do you more good than any amount of money blown on toys.
    Velo Wringer and Bram Hengeveld like this.
  10. James

    James Active Member

    Hour records are done on the track with a single speed fixed gear. My n=1 experience is that when I rode at the track, both in mass races and pursuits, my cadence was higher by virtue of the kinematics. Even my typical ~80 rpm road cadence is improved by 10-20 rpm on the fixie. Once you get up to speed, the benefit you get from the rear wheel wanting to keep the chain moving is clearly there. That is, you have the rotational inertia not just over your legs and cranks to stop, but also the rear wheel which is being driven by your forward velocity. Ever try to stop pedaling a fixie instantly? But it's easy to do with a free wheel - you can stop pedaling at a moment's notice.

    For comparison, take a look at https://www.strava.com/activities/582537172

    This is a relatively flat TT stage from the Tour of California this year. I just happened to race on the track a few times against this kid when he was a junior. As a junior, one year he was 2nd in the junior world TT championships, and this week he's been partaking in that little 3 week race in France. On the track (as well as on the road back then), he spun a high cadence. Part of that was the requirement to run junior gearing. But in this particular TT, his cadence hovered around 90 rpm. If you look at other pro riders, you'll see all sorts of cadences.
    Bram Hengeveld likes this.
  11. Michael

    Michael Member

    Base miles are a must. When building the distances needed for this then ride at a work rate where you can hold a conversation and ride

    I am still working on this.. I spit, sputter, and cannot speak clearly when traversing the 10%+ grades
  12. Michael

    Michael Member

    It might be because I am 200+ lbs, It may be that I was a 22yr smoker pack a day.
    Somehow I still can climb and enjoy it sort of . No need for a heart monitor, power meter or any other sort of metric to tell me how bad I am doing compared to the real world. What matters is what you feel :heart:

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