Is there still a use case for Heart Rate? (HR)

Hi all,

after reading and listening to all information here on TR I do understand that heart rate ist not very useful as training metric, nor as real time performance assessment and generally very variable. Well, is there still any use for it? If yes, what would be the scenarios?

Thanks
Sina

I suffer from genetic hypertension so having a HRM is important to me (a) while riding to ensure my HR isn’t skyrocketing into what may literally be a death spiral (sure I might be doing 70-80% FTP, but if I’m 95% max HR at the same time, I may be in some serious do-do! Only having something tracking my watts is just not good enough in this respect), and (b) all the historic data can be used by my doc if needed.

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And I’m the opposite, not having a heart condition, getting limited and annoyed by my heart rate telling me “this is too hard, it’s unsustainable, you can’t do this”. So I tossed it and don’t miss it. There’s a tiny bit less unnecessary cognitive load as well.

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It’s useful, but I think you have to remember the drift you get.

Absolutely. IMO, using a heart rate monitor is the best tool you can use when doing endurance rides/runs; to ensure you stay under your aerobic threshold.

The fact that monitoring your heart rate takes all factors into consideration (other stress your body is under, plus external factors such as temperature) is why it’s so powerful for ensuring you’re not putting too much stress on your body during the easy days. Using a HR monitor is probably the best thing I’ve done to ensure I train consistently.

For higher intensity training I’d always use power (bike) or pace (run) though.

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PM and HRM is best imo, one tells you your output and the other the effect on your body for that output. HR is not so valuable over say one SS session but tracking it over a longer period will give you extra and valuable data. I also use HR for all my Z2 endurance rides

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I can certainly tell from my HR when I am under the weather.
On endurance rides I also know that if I stay at 146 I will be ok but if I raise it over 150 I will pay for it eventually

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I still use a HR chest strap during workouts to track data and a wrist based HR watch to see my resting HR, sleep cycles, etc… I’ve compiled this data and I hear most say that it’s “useful”. But in cycling, is it really? It’s interesting, it’s telling at times (post analysis) but is it “useful”? It may explain or add another indicator to why a workout felt harder than normal or that your fatigue is mounting (end of week 3 in Build plan), but again, is that useful in any meaningful way? Or does it just support what you already know?

I’ve never altered my training because of a HR number or used it to monitor and adjust a workout, ride or race. If anything, it just adds to cognitive load or tells me I’m at/near my “max”. Possibly it gives me an excuse if anything to let up, reduce a workout or skip a day. I almost wonder if it’s more of a negative than a positive :man_shrugging:. If I see I’m near my max HR does that influence my mental effort?

Maybe I will continue to collect this data but not display it, I’m just struggling to determine if I’m just being a data nerd.

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Since the podcast with Amber, use of the phrase “cognitive load” on here has gone up about 1000% :slight_smile:

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I think we just now have a phrase to what we had been experiencing/feeling. I’d never heard of that term before Amber, but it just rang so true.

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They are power centric because it’s a bit more objective and user friendly for the TR application. You have to keep in mind many have no clue how to train with power (or HR), basic training concepts, etc…It doesn’t mean they think HR is not relevant. HR is still extremely useful there are endless articles on the subject.

One of the main reasons power is more desirable as a metric over HR is for interval training. The shorter the interval the more useless HR data is. Not because it’s bad information but, because of lag. Power is more or less instantaneous while HR takes a while to elevate. So anything VO2max or higher is just more controlled with power.

However, the whole point to say VO2max is to train at or above 90%MHR. I ramp test well and trying to hold power causes way too high of HR and I basically go into the red early and shut down. HR allows me to tweak the power so I stay around 90% MHR much longer. So time in physiological zone is longer (not sure how to term it).

HR used with power can be super useful for longer interval or race TT pacing. For the same reasons as above you can easily go out too hard and power will slowly drop over time. Conversely if you just pace with HR your power will drop over time. Together you can pace closer to the upper end of your limits without going into the red or without leaving power behind.

HR is still the gold standard to determine if rested. Rested between intervals and between days, training blocks.

edit: I will say with al the years looking at both power and HR if I were a coach coaching someone who has not used either I’d want them to use power. It’s not perfect (mainly because of how we collect and interpret data) but, it’s a heck of lot easier to interpret than HR. In my opinion.

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I track HR in workouts. Time delay back to low HR between intervals and workouts is a good rule of thumb metric, for me, for my general form.

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HR in the context of a single workout isn’t too useless. If your heart rate is steady/declining at a power output then you know that you are doing aerobic work. How long it takes to come up to or drop down to your steady state can also be an interesting trend to follow for general fitness. I don’t know if any tools that will just calculate that for you though.

Exactly!

Still good data to record and review post ride. If you’re wary of seeing it and telling yourself ‘this is too hard’ just don’t put it on the screen. Over time, it could be useful to see how much less/more effort goes into generating the same amount of power, for example. Or just tracking how high your max heart rate goes. When I feel like I am pushing hard to not much avail, usually post ride I can see that my HR caps out at a lower number than usual… That tends to be a sign of fatigue… So… Still worth capturing that data

And you guys adjust your training based on these HR numbers?

I like to look at the ratio of TSS to hrTSS. TSS being higher seems to correlate well with being rested; hrTSS being higher correlates well with things getting tough.

Aerobic decoupling also corresponds well to things coming unglued late in the workout.

I actually really like HR display for over/unders, since HR will drop, albeit slowly, in the under part. That’s bonus feedback (besides just believing) that I am recovering.

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There are many usecases for HR as mentioned above.
But if your only goal is to get through base, build, specialty, what would you really do with your HR Data besides finding it interesting?

HR Data would be useful, if you want and know how to adjust your Training based on the data.

I do. I’m 61 years old so recovery is very important to me.

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Yes that’s the point.