HR Fitness Cadence

Hi, I am new to TrainerRoad and I’ve been cycling for around 4 years. I’m up to week 11 of base phase. Current FTP is 164 and watts/Kg is 3.09
It used to be that I would reach close to my maximum HR (183) in a really tough work out and that would finish me.
Today I completed Warlow +2, it was tough for sure but my HR maxed at 168 although legs were fried. My cadence averaged 95 - 105 rpm.
Is this the expected progression of developing fitness. Is my cadence too high?

Generally when improving fitness, you’d expect to be able to produce more power at the same HR, so this could well be a fitness gain, congrats!

However you have to be a bit careful when interpreting HR - it can be affected by many things, for example higher temperature will lead to a higher HR, while dehydration leads to a lower HR. Also when you get tired, that often shows in your HR not going up as far or as quickly as you’re used too. (On the other hand, your resting HR might be elevated with sickness).

Regarding cadence - just ride at whatever feels good to you, research has shown that a “self-selected” cadence is often the most efficient. Generally though a higher cadence puts more stress on the cardiovascular system (so would lead to a higher HR), while a lower cadence puts more stress on the muscles.

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Another variable is time. If you were maxing at 183bpm 4 years ago you could fully expect (all things like for like) to be maxing at 179bpm now.

I wouldn’t worry about your cadence though, FWIW I cycle about the same indoors but lower outdoors, just do what is natural.

I think this is likely just a sign of improved fitness, because once you have become fitter, your heart rate at about FTP should become lower and lower. Think of it this way: like in a video game, you have a power bar and a life bar. The power bar is self-explanatory: it roughly corresponds to your FTP. Your life bar tells you how long you can go or how many times you can repeat an effort before exhausting yourself. That isn’t reflected by your FTP.

One way you can gauge your life bar is by looking at how quickly your heart rate recovers from the heightened state to your Z2 heart rate. When I am in good shape, it takes 1:00–1:30 minutes for my heart rate to decrease from my Z4 to Z2 levels.

Thanks for the input, ok so I think my fitness has improved. My HR during recovery is coming down nicely and uniformly at each break, ie not trending upwards so much as 11 weeks ago and getting into zone 2 sometimes zone 1


Great to hear that! Just keep chipping away.