Heart rate vs. Power

Hey every smartguy out there!

I’m abit curious on why my body reacts the way it does - and maybe some of you smart guys have a suggestion?

Ive been cycling alot over the years, and im in pretty decent shape - doing mid volume atm. Rested weeks, i have a resting HR at 36-38 bpm ish - and my top is around 198 BPM.

However it seems im having trouble getting my HR up to a point where its in the zone of power output. In ramp testing, i will fail around 180 BPM. And the FTP set from ramp test feels right enough, as the intervals are hard.

Today i took Mount Goode - threshold work 3x15minutes - and looking at my HR zones, i only did 43s in that area. It just seems strange to me? Alot of other guys i know, incl. my brother would in that kinda workout have hell of alot more in thier HR threshold zone?

So any1 of you know, how and why this could be? I feel like i may be doing something wrong? Could it me my blood pressure is off? or anything else?

Let me know what u guys think!

If you have power ignore heart rate during the workout. You can trend similar steady state efforts against HR over time, but even that is pretty loosey goosey.

You resting and max seem interesting. How are you calculating/measuring them?

I’m in the same boat, my ramp fails short of my max and my sweet spot/low threshold efforts power wise barely get me into threshold HR territory. I’ve self interpreted this as a good thing, since my limiter would seem to be my legs and not my heart. I think the reason for HR coming up short on the ramp test is because it’s a progressive ramp up which beats up your legs more than the heart, and because you’re not really doing an all out out of saddle effort you’re not engaging as many muscles in the body, and the HR doesn’t rise as much as on a sprint.

Then 15min at a time isn’t enough to drive your HR up to “threshold” levels. But training at THR is for developing power output, so as long as you’re hitting power targets I wouldn’t worry too much about HR.

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Have you done a LTHR test?

Problem is tho, at that second interval that was almost right at threshold my legs were smashed. Wouldnt have been able to hold onto it much more

I sleep with a garmin fenix - and i ride with a hr. i just took the most reason highest hr which was 198 :slight_smile:

If your zones are based on HRmax, I’d guess your max HR is in error. It happens. It’s probably somewhat lower than 198, and your Fenix or strap just got a bit of an off reading. Unless you’ve hit 198 a few times before, that’d be my guess. I’m 43, my max is 191, but I can get up to 188 during a crit. I was regularly mid 180s or higher during my ramp tests. If you’re failing your ramp test at 180, I don’t think your max is actually 198.

That hr, are calculated with a strap and is outdoors work. Ive reached that number, dozens of times. So i think my max is around that number. However, on trainer id never reached above 180 i think

You should probably set or monitor HR zones for what you’re training to. If you’ve never gone over 180 on a trainer, but LTHR is set by an outdoor max of 198, your zones are off and that data is meaningless. You could do a 20 min FTP test or a true LTHR test indoors and set zones by that. It would be way more accurate regardless.

I really don’t know how to do that proper. Because the workouts feels the right amount of taxing. I mean, I’m doing dade, Spanish needle, carpetian peek and so on - and IF I where to follow hr zones I prolly couldn’t finish it. But on the other hand - if we turned it around, then the workout would prolly feel too easy.

It’s just so strange. Early December i rode outside 7m at 340 watt - and my ftp indoor is set at 260. So the difference on how I can perform indoor vs outside is massive eventhough I’ve spent a lot of time riding on trainer

Sounds fine to me. That’s 7m at 130%. Hard, but nothing crazy. Outside riding and indoor riding are so heavily influenced by cooling, you’d be surprised. To bring this comment back into your post topic, what was your max and avg HR over that 7m interval, out of curiosity?

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avg. 171 and ma was topped at 189

130% for 7 min is nothing crazy? Of course it depends on rider strenghts, body composition etc but it is really hard effort.


I’m pretty sure max HR should be set based on max HR, not max HR on a ramp test or a workout. If I can hit 193 outside but don’t get over 185 inside, my max is still 193


This and you also can not glean LTHR from a ramp test AFAIK.

I’ve taken three ramp tests this training season. The first two tests I pushed my HR to near its max value, but on my last test where I set a Ramp Test PR, my HR was significantly under its max. My new “FTP” feels right as well (I’ve veered between thoughts of overperforming and underperforming).

The big trend I notice in myself is as my training drags on my cardiovascular limitations become non-existent and the limiters are in my legs and perhaps in my head. At the start of training I can push near to my HR max but as training progresses it gets progressively harder to push my HR to its max.

HR does have value in what we are doing but too often we put too much stock in it. A bigger engine needs a bigger fuel pump but we don’t measure engine performance by the output of the fuel pump. My understanding is HR has its best use in as a recovery gauge and when doing base training.

Generally speaking, I would avoid HR zones set on HRMax. Resting heart rate has nothing to do with it.

LTHR is more consistent. Look at the last 20 minutes of average HR for a 30-40minute time trial or all out steady state effort.

That being said, there is rarely good correlation between HR and power zones. About half of my long endurance rides will be “tempo” even though I’m barely in the bottom half of Z2 heart rate.

As others have said, HR isn’t really useful as a zone guide if you have power.