HR isnt matching intensity

doing a high volume gran fondo plan, i have started TR training programmes coming from zwift and a number of years of cycling outdoors. I am in decent shape, 4.2 w/kg and enjoying the structured training. my question is my heart rate doesnt seem to max out on the workouts, my legs always go before HR. Should i start including strength training and drop hours on the bike to increase leg strength or just keep riding? The goal is being strong on the bike
In a very privileged position that i have a home gym and time to train
Any advice is welcome

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This seems like an awesome problem to have, to the degree that it doesn’t even seem like a problem to me? I am jealous! But I guess the grass is always greener, and maybe your ideal cause of failure is only 50% muscular and 50% cardiovascular stress? There are TR rides that are specifically about muscular endurance but yeah, if you aren’t doing any strength training, I don’t see why you wouldn’t.

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Have you considered that your indoor environment may be the cause of a few beats on the HR higher than normal? I had the same feeling when I started TR indoor training. Once I got my cooling sorted it seemed to come back to ‘normal’.

For me it was cooling and drinking as cold water as possible. Another thing I found was that depending on the length of session, adding in carbs to my sessions helped my Rpe and HR.

Sorry, if I told you things you already know about cooling etc…

Just my observation from a year or so if solid TR sessions

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Maybe too low cadence?

Low cadence shifts stress from cardiovascular system to muscles, higher cadence other way around. Try to play with it, see if changes anything.


Same for me, one factor I found is accumulated fatigue which can supress heart rate but it often happens when i am not even tired


Is it a strength problem or endurance?

Really need to see your training to give accurate feedback. We only have so many hours available to train and with you already on a high volume plan upping volume may not be possible. Strength could help with this but not sure if cutting back volume would negate your gains.

What are your goals? How long is the event you are training for?

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That your heart rate doesn’t max out is normal. I only max out my heart rate during races and don’t come close to it even during/right after an all-out VO2max workout or a ramp test, which leave me panting on the floor.

I’d like to echo two things that have been mentioned:

  • What is your cadence? If your cadence is low, I’d work on pushing that up, because that shifts the load from your muscles to your cardio-vascular system.
  • Abnormally low heart rate (as mentioned by @ArHu74 can be a sign of long-term fatigue and insufficient recovery. However, we’d need more info on that.

I’d reduce the number of hard workouts or hard rides by 1 per week and substitute that with an easy Z2 ride. I’d also make sure I sleep more than 7:30 hours per night. Sleep is the most factor in my training.