Capping HR during Ramp Test

I recently taked to a cardiologist who was a bit alarmed by my high HR during exercise. Basically they told me even though I can sustain it, I won’t get away with it for long because it is putting a strain on my heart. Until a couple of weeks ago my HR max was at 204 bpm. I hit a new max of 209 (quite frankly, I wasnt proud of it). I initially chalked it off to the heat and being detrained, but recently started thinking about it quite a bit more.

A little about me:

  • 39 yo, 130 lbs, 5’10’’, good overall health.
  • Min HR around 43,
  • Max HR > 204
  • 60 min avg HR is 185 and 90min avg is 180
  • Current FTP 200. 1 year ago was around 250
  • Caffeine intake : 3 cups a day (8 oz each)

If you go through my TR workouts, you will notice I can work on a high for a dencent amount of time.
Equipment I use for HR tracking: Garmin premium HR monitor. I was thinking my monitor might just be off, changed batteries a couple of time but after the EKG confirming my low HR (and the value approx from my strap), I had to reconsider.

Fast forward to my question:
I was asked to reduce the intensity and keep an eye on my HR, although they found nothing wrong with my heart. Their explanation was quite simple: some calculation based on how much the heart is pumping in terms of blood have them scratching their head about how rare they see these numbers. I have been rethinking my testing and decided I would stop the Ramp Test as soon as my HR reaches a particular value (right now, 185). This would allow all my training sessions to ensure my HR stays in a zone I would feel better about (and my doctor).

Curious what the community thinks and hearing some of your experience. My friends feel I am going to hurt myself and should stop training (I did for several months, just to take some time to think - notice on my profile). I am following my medical practioner advice but just wanted to hear from the community as well.

Thanks, sorry for the long post.
My TR workouts are here

What was the origin of the conversation?

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Required EKG for ear surgery. My family Dr, mentioned I should just double check with a cardiologist after doing my EKG, though cleared me for surgery.

Find a different cardiologist.

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200+ max is for sure higher than what most would see but not out of the realm of possible. If you don’t have some condition that causes you to keep away from your max, I wouldn’t worry about it, maybe seek a second opinion.

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You should ask them for the scientific resources to substantiate the claim.

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I would of course, dive deeper with medical professionals here and talk seriously about the risks involved vs coming to an Internet forum for this advice.

Having said that I’m 44 and have hit 200-204 max bpm in races this year. Hell, just this morning I hit 198 on a hill I was trying to PR on.

Obviously consult your doctors, but I can say for myself, I’m not concerned and not limiting my exercise. Take that for what you will.

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Oh, one more thing since you mention that you’ve lost fitness recently - I do find my HR tends to spike more when I have less endurance/training/riding under my belt than when i have been consistent with it.

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I would get another opinion. Also read as much information as possible on the matter. Educate yourself. While we should listen to medical professionals. Many are not athletes. I would ask for a 3D Echo of my heart to determine its size. Maybe you have a small heart…and as such you can maintain higher heart rates. One of my friends on TR has a small heart. Even in Z2 its 150-160bpm. I cruise at 110-120.

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This.

I spent a year unnecessarily sidelined because the medical community at large is not trained nor experienced with healthy individuals. This leads to a bias of pathology, if you will, when dealing with an athlete. Which is fair, their main concern is keeping people alive (which differs from keeping people healthy), so even if they wrongfully stunt the performance efforts of a handful of athletes it’s a better general practice than to dismiss “unhealthy” conditions…even when they are not actually unhealthy. Phew!

Seek out a sports doc/cardiologist. :+1:

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  1. Perhaps upgrade your cooling setup with an additional/more powerful fan - better cooling will reduce heart rate and RPE, especially at higher intensities where you are generating a lot of excess heat.

  2. Doing the 20 minute FTP test will probably keep your HR lower than the ramp test.

  3. Look at your training plan, and the number of over-threshold workouts there. Consider switching to Sweet Spot Base or Traditional Base to keep building your fitness up while keeping you HR below threshold - at least until you and your doctor figure things out.

This is sort of the whole point of training…i.e., supercompensation…or have I been doing it wrong?

Obviously, speak to another doctor: one who is au fait with endurance athletes and their unique physiologies.

Do a TTE/Kolie protocol FTP test if you want to really cap your HR; won’t go over threshold.

I used to do the 20 min protocol but was so poor with the pacing. I will make sure to give it another try. Maybe starting with a conservative estimate and moving it up.

+1, that’s my POV as well. But I will try and get a couple more opinions.

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Thanks for the insights. Very interesting. I did not think about it this way :-).

As a person with a high H/R-span, 199 MaxHR and 48-52 RHR, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

I’ve been riding since 2017 but have been racing since 2018. Now I’m doing Z2-work indoor with a H/R of about 20-30bpm lower than when I started out. So if you haven’t been training endurance-sports all your life it’s probably just how it is. I have a really hard time getting up to anaerobic levels H/R-wise and I reached 198bpm during a ramptest in October last year. However playing hockey this winter I’ve been doing several minutes at 194-196bpm so my H/R is probably higher than I’ve reached before. It’s probably due to fatigue, sleep and motivation on how high your H/R goes on a specific day.

That sounds as reasonable as an orthopedist being alarmed by the length of your tibia.

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I disagree with the 20 minute effort not capping your HR. the 20 minute test is by definition and all out effort test where you technically should fall off the bike at the end of it and throw up. :wink:

If that doesn’t max your HR, I don’t know what will. Lol.

I’ve not really hit my max HR on ramp tests. My muscle give out on me before my cardio sorta does it that makes sense tho you might be different.

Plus. A 20 minute FTP test sucks to do. :slight_smile:

Technically, it’s not a true “all out” effort because you are riding at a steady pace, thus your HR is never going to peak like it does in a ramp test. Intensity and time determine HR.

I’ve done a good handful of 45-60min TTE tests w/ “all out” efforts and my HR never hits max.