Training with HRM

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Anonymous's picture

Can anyone recommend a good, basic book on training with a heart rate monitor? Nothing too technical--I'm not planning to become a racer.

But I would like to see more improvement in terms of raising lactic threshold. I guess I push too hard for too long (may not look like it to you, but I do!) and then end up extremely fatigued. Recovery seems to be insufficient too, so fitness-wise I'm just spinning my wheels.

So far this year I have been running rather than riding, because of the weather and time. But honest to gawd I will get back on my bike soon.

John Z., if you were willing to give a personal consultation, you could expect dinner in exchange.

Or why don't you write something on this subject for the bulletin? Or some other expert? Would be very useful!



Anonymous's picture
Not Wired (not verified)
Why bother?

If you're not a cat 2 training for the district championships, an HRM is big time overkill.

You don't need to train scientifically for recreational riding. A little common sense is more than sufficient.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Here's why

"As I wrote above, the casual approach, which may work for you, hasn't worked for me.

So thanks anyways, Not.

And a more ""heartfelt"" thanks to everyone else for their suggestions. I see a lot of books on on the subject, including titles for runners. Though of course I will give preference to NYCC recommended titles.

Anonymous's picture
Charles Lam (not verified)
Simpler approach

A causal approach might not work, but a simpler one might.

>guess I push too hard for too long, and then end up extremely fatigued.

> So far this year I have been running rather than riding, because of the weather and time. But honest to gawd I will get back on my bike soon.

I haven’t ridden w/you in a while but if I remember correctly, you could try working on your spin (and who among us can’t use a better spin?). Forget about MPH for a while and build up your leg speed. People who run love to push big gears. As cyclists, we want a high cadence at a low gear in the beginning and work towards spinning a higher gear. Staying aerobic helps with fatigue.

There is no substitute for time spent on a bike, just ride more. Worry about the dashboard of digital readouts after you get the engine and drive train tuned up.


Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
What it is


The problem seems to be the intensity and frequency of my workouts.

Though I haven't been riding, I have been spinning and lifting in the gym as well as running. Short on time, I have tended to favor intense workouts over recovery, and this is making me fatigued. I need much more sleep than usual and still am tired.

So today on my lunch break, I spent 40 minutes on the stationary bike at about 65% max heart rate (instead of 90%), and I feel fine.

I believe I need to vary the intensity more. Once my books from Velopress arrive, they should help me figure it out. Someone has offered to help me work up a program. I've heard a lot of positive feedback from people about the HRM and think it will help me too. Sure it's not for everyone.


Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Some Ideas


90% day in and day out is tough, even with the workouts are just 45 minutes. Admirable that you attempt them though. In the winter, when the days are short and the night are cold, I prefer something like this:

Monday -- easy spin, 1 hour, plus warm-up cool down. Also some upper-body weight lifting. I do not believe in any leg exercises other than on-bike.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday -- 85% 45 minutes, plus warm-up cool down. Vary cadence, one day low, one day high, one day ""normal"".
Friday -- easy spin, 45 minutes, plus warm-up cool down. Also some upper-body weight lifting.
Saturday -- Group Ride.
Sunday -- Hangover.

In the summer, its more like this:
Monday -- easy spin, 1 hour, plus warm-up cool down. Also some upper-body weight lifting.
Tuesday -- 90-95% 45 minute spin class, plus warm-up cool down.
Wednesday -- easy 2-3 hour ride.
Thursday -- 4 laps of CP as hard as I can go, and really hammering on the little hills...
Friday -- easy spin, 45 minutes, plus warm-up cool down. Also some upper-body weight lifting.
Saturday -- Group Ride, Race, or dedicated hill workouts, generally 3-4 Bear Mountain climbs.
Sunday -- Whatever I feel like, sometimes hard, sometime easy, sometimes off. I generally make every other Sunday a hard work-out in the summer.

I also firmly believe that in the spring and summer months, once a month a ride should go out and ride as hard as possible for 2-3 hours nonstop, alone, by yourself, no wheel sucking, the flatter the better, unless a 2+ hour climb is handy. Mid-day CP is a good place to do this but it gets boring; another way is to ride up to Garrison or so and take the train back."

Anonymous's picture
Chris T (not verified)
Heart rate monitors ARE for amatuers (not just for semi pros)

I must demurr with Not Plugged In. I have no dreams of racing, yet my HRM tells me that on a tempo ride I have to work harder to maintain a level of effort. It will also tell me during my recovery rides to take it easier. As John P. has illustrated, and many others could, using a Heart rate monitor will (not could) improve your performance on a bike.

Anonymous's picture
Tim Casey (not verified)
Velo Press has good books


I just received my ""Heart Rate Monitor Book for Cyclists"" from Velo Press. You can also order Cyclist's Training Bible (now only $4.95) from them. I haven't used the book yet but I thought it would be a good starting point.

Go to:

Ride safe, ride helmeted,


Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)

Just wanted to report that I bought the two books Tim recommended from Velopress. Only recently have I had time to start reading the Heart Rate Monitor book, and it has made a BIG difference in my thinking.

In particular, there are benefits to REALLY easy workouts, which I have typically denied myself due to the delusion that more effort necessarily equals more payoff. (I say this at the risk of looking stupid; it's really taken me a long time to figure out.)

Last week, for instance, I cut back the gym sessions due to burnout. (One day, I went in and curled up on the leather couch for an hour--adding a totally new move to my repertoire.) On Saturday, I felt great, and even had the energy to sprint up hills for a change!

Okay, so I still have a long ways to go in terms of improving fitness. But this book has given me a more focused (and relaxed) approach that I think will pay off.

I recommend it to anyone wanting a more systematic way to improve basic fitness.

Anonymous's picture
Tom Laskey (not verified)
First Things First


Before training with a heart rate monitor, you need to find out where you are now in terms of lactate threshold and power output. There are all kinds of formulas based on age or whatever but they are not all that reliable. Getting a professional test is the most reliable way to get your baseline numbers. I would recommend Todd Herriott, local racing hotshot and fitness professional. If you want his contact information, let me know off-line.

- Tom

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
HRM Training

"John P and others have provided some good baseline discussion regarding training and HRMs. As one of the more ""wired"" riders, once I started riding with a HRM, I found it to be an indispensable aid, so much so that given my choice, I would rather ride with a HRM than a speedometer. Continuing on the trend of being ""wired,"" I got the power attachment for my S-710. After just a few rides, I can attest that riding with a power meter has been a tremendous revelation -- much, much more than I thought. So much so that my HRM has become a tertiary feedback mechanism, after power then cadence. I don't even monitor speed anymore. I now need to correlate training and riding with power monitoring into more traditional approaches. More to follow.

PS Carol Spring Street Natural?"

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)

HRMs are soooo 90's ;^/

Seriously, everything I read suggests power metering being more useful in more ways than heartrate monitoring. I haven't followed the discussions closely but when I hear diehard weight weenies saying that the added weight is nothing in comparison to the usefulness of power readings, guys who travel with digital gram scales in their bags when they go to bike shows, then I know without a doubt that they're dead serious.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
Heart rate

I defer to John Zenkus on these matters. If you look at his improvement over the last 2 years you will have to conclude that he is onto something.

Carol's request for basic knowledge on HR monitors is reasonable. These devices are no humbug, except when they have their unreliable moments.

The concept of limited time and resources becomes important when you are trying to get as much out of your training as possible. The comment on recovery should not be underlooked. Greg Cohen told me this simple test on recovery which he received from his (and Tom's) coach. Get into the habit of taking your pulse when you rise in the mornings. If your pulse is five or more beats above its normal rate you should devote the day to recovery, not active training. The possibility also exists that you are getting sick.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
recovery day morning heart rate
Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Weight Weenie


I must admit I am a bit of a weight weenie. The other day, I ordered from Sid's a Deda Black Stick Mag seat post, not only because its light but because it matches my Deda Mag 00 stem...

When I picked it up, my reaction was one of disappointment -- seems ""a bit heavier than the advertised 148 grams,"" I complained. To that John D brought over the scale: indeed 160 grams! I quickly realized he had ordered the wrong seat post, the non-mag clamp version. Who needs a scale!

Given my weight-weenie credentials, I agree a power measuring device (there are 3 methods) is well worth the extra 200 grams or so, even on a nasty climb. Actually, especially on a nasty climb."

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
>especially on a nasty climb

Yup, that's the consensus.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)

PS Carol Spring Street Natural?

Sorry John, I should have mentioned what I had in mind: Chez Violette, a little known but highly regarded California/French fusion kitchen in Midtown. Offers excellent food, service, and ambience, and I can afford it. Think you could you help me design a starter program--preferably before the first bottle of wine is consumed?

Anonymous's picture
Claudia (not verified)

I'm a neophyte so I can't give advice about using a HR monitor but... take a look at Sally Edwards book Heartzone Training for Indoor and Outdoor Cyclists. It has some of the info your looking for re: lactic threshold, etc. (it's available at the Heartzone website).

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)


John P not Z here.

""The Lance Armstrong Performance Program,"" by LA and Chris Carmichael and ""The Cyclists's Training Bible"" by Joe Friel are a great start and maybe all you need. Zones and training regimes are laid out nicely.

Basically, if you push really hard once a week or every 10 days - I mean maybe an hour or
more above your lactate threshold (85% of MHR), pushing close or at MHR - you will be
fatigued, to say the least. Maybe start with intervals of 3-5 minutes of realy hard riding, then
5-10 minutes of recovery. (The CP and PP hills are great for this - you can warm up with a
lap or 2, then go all out up the hill, use the rest of the lap to recover and then hammer the hill
again, etc.) I just started this part of my training 2 weeks ago - I was dead. But not just
spinning wheels. Above LT is where you build muscle and improve blood/O2 flow. Kind of
like training at race level - always pushing.

Important - RECOVERY. After a really hard session, I just spin slowly, but my HR stays
up, as the body is recovering. Eat protein and carbs right after you stop. And do NOT do this
hard push for at least another week. Recover. Ride, ride lots, but NOT at 98% for an hour.
Warm up, stay areoboic(70-80% of MHR), maybe flirt with LT, cool down - but no hard
sustained efforts until the next epic ride. Soon, if you keep this up, you will not only get
stronger and faster, for longer ride times, but your recovery time will shorten, especially
when you really get into shape. And then they shall tremble before, uh ... behind you ;-)

I’m sure John Z can add more info, as can several NYCC members.

G’luck, John JP"

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)


FYI, in between the recreational and the pro-peleton, there are many cyclist who are
PERFORMANCE-ORIENTED. Myself and most riders I know, for example. We have no
dreams/illusions about becoming Cat 2/1/pros. Some are/were Cat 3/4/5 (Cat 7 ??). (Jeez,
one guy IS Cat 1 and was the USCF National Gold Medallist a while back.) But we want to
be fit, fast and furious in our riding - including, but beyond recreation. To this end, most
have HRMs. It is a popular tool, because it works. Like a tachometer for an engine. I watch
my HR go up but my speed drop if I have not eaten or rested properly. I watch my HR stay
down but my speed rise when I am properly (somewhat) prepped and fit.

If you select to not use a HRM, fine. But a HRM is not overkill, just a tool, one of many, in
cycling and all aerobic sports. Plus mine records and displays so much info, it’s a necessity,
convenience and, at the same time, a great toy too.


John JP

Anonymous's picture
Not Wired (not verified)
Submitted for your inspection...

One fine rider and great all-round guy.

I won't mention his name since I'm not mentioning mine. But a few hints: former NYCC president, lifetime member, and long-time SIG leader.

The guy's been riding forever, and just keeps getting better, even though his 50th is in sight. Strong, steady, and smooth-smooth-smooth.

Wired? Pshaw! He'd rather concentrate on a smooth pedal stroke than compulsive button stabbing and analyzing data. Fast fixed gear spins in the morning, longer rides on the weekends. That's it, that's enough.

But, you can't get that with a Mastercard.

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

Ride and let ride.

Or better yet, let it ride.

It is important to cycling, as it is to life and living, that there be divergent approaches, a melting pot, a great mosaic. Fixed gear or free-wheel, single speed or multi-gear, left wing or right, rare or well-done, red wine or white, jazz or folk, ... all the various approaches yield experiences richer than any one approach would.

Please do not dilute!

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)

Agreed. Any commentary of mine is not meant to imply other approaches won't work for other riders' goals. Regardless of approach, we do all agree on one point: the best way to become a better ride is to ride. Long rides, short rides, hard rides, easy rides, small hills, big mountains, fixed gear or not.

Anonymous's picture
Bill Vojtech (not verified)

"I just started using a weight training method that uses very slow lifting and lowering, (10 sec up, 2 sec squeeze, 10 sec down), 6-8 reps until failure, one set per exercise, one workout per week. In the riding season I only do upper body. In the winter I hate ""indoor riding"", (an oxymoron if there ever was one), so I do some weight training for my legs and the elyptical trainer, (no seat to adjust).

The author finds that many people over-train and end up plateauing or getting injured as a result. I've seen evidence of that in a lot of people, myself included.

I rode with someone who had not been on their bike in a week and they were worried about keeping up. They ended up being one of the faster people on the ride: up the hill ahead of me, when on past rides they usually were behind.

Heart rate is a good gauge for overtraining, as others have said. I rode with one years ago, but only learned that my normal pace was in my training range and the thing made me feel like a patient in the hospital, so I stopped using it.

Wired or not, don't ""max yourself out"" more often than once every 7-10 days, eat right and rest."

Anonymous's picture
don montalvo (not verified)
join the crca'll learn more about training there than you will in the nycc.

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