Low Exercise Heart Rate

My question is, should I be concerned that even when I am pushing myself to the point extreme discomfort my Heart Rate is lower than anyone I know? An example is last Monday I rode a group ride where TR says I rode 49 minutes, at 97% of FTP and my HR average was 115. And this isn’t something that has just occurred, it has been my experience for the last few years.

My resting heart rate, taken while sitting in a dentist’s chair, is usually around 56 BPM. Sitting at my desk at work it is mid 60’s. While exercising I find it very difficult to push it above 130. Most of my Sweet Spot Training is around 108 to 112. Last summer I rode a double century and rode at an average pace of 81% of FTP, my HR averaged for the entire ride 108.

I should add that I am 58 years old, I have been riding my bicycle, non-competitively, since my early 20’s. I average 6 to 12 hours per week of cycling. My normal cadence is 75 to 85 unless I focus and force myself to spin faster.

Do you know your approximate max heart rate?

Everyone’s heart is different.

Have you checked your heart rate when you do a ramp test? For a lot of people, you get close to your max hr at the end of it… so that should give you a good place to start.

But over years and years and years of cycling, you might have become more efficient with your cycling movements and therefore don’t require a higher heart rate to “oxygenate” your movement.

My last RAMP test the highest my HR was 125 with an average of 112

  1. Consult with your regular doctor and/or a cardiac specialist.

  2. Everyone is different for their heart rate, so comparing to others is not recommended.

  3. Assuming #1 above is OK, ignore any differences to others and only pay attention to your HR over time. It can be an indication of fitness, over-training, variability. etc.

That doesn’t sound like the most restful place to take it!

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Hopefully the dentist wasn’t Laurence Olivier.

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I would call that low but not unprecedented. More than 1 sigma removed from the mean, to be sure, but not impossible.

Your heart probably displaces a big volume of blood with every contraction.

Then no I don’t think you should be concerned. Given no medical condition you appear to have a max that is lower than most. It’s possible and super dependent on your mental state to push pain that the ramp doesn’t show close to max. So 125 might be 5-10 bpm low. Also, your 115 bpm at FTP is roughly 92% of 125 and that comparison is probably consistent (if not better) than most.

As others have indicated HR’s are as individual as finger prints. Comparing yours to mine for example means nada. But, what is consistent is the relationship of HR at FTP (roughly) to HR max. JMO.

Thanks for the opinion, I always feel good while cycling and when I climb a steep hill my HR drop fairly fast to under 100 on the decent, sometime into the low 80’s after a minute or two.

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That indicates you max HR is somehere in that range, perhaps higher. And if that’s the case, your 115 bpm in sweet-spot makes sense.

Or Mr Bean.

Are you taking a betablocker (eg, metoprolol)? They dramatically reduce HR, but increase stroke volume so overall the effect on cardiac output is a wash.

No medications, I am one of those people that is always warm, never wear a coat, almost never sick, never had a prescription except antibiotics.
I have talked to my Nurse practitioner daughter and she thinks I am a genetic freak.

+100

-100.

n=1, by all accounts I was a fit and healthy individual with no medical conditions…until I found out I had a medical condition and was not healthy. Just because there are no symptoms does not mean everything is A-OK.

A difference of ~75bpm, which compared to the results of one 23-year study:

The risk of sudden death from myocardial infarction was higher in men with an increase in heart rate during exercise of <89 beats per minute than in men with an increase of >113 beats per minute…An increased risk of death is associated with an inability to increase heart rate properly during exercise…

No intentions of scaremongering but often times we have zero idea of what’s going on inside our bodies until it’s too late. Just cuz y’all ride bikes doesn’t mean a thang!

Not sure where you live, @roubaix97, but the cost of getting a few heart tests might well be worth it. :v:

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Not sure if anyone has mentioned this but could it possibly be an issue with the heart rate monitor? Are you using a strap around your chest during exercise or wrist strap device? I know those wrist strap ones can give poor readings when exercise intensity increases.

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Do what Chad said & see a doctor. You can run a ramp on a treadmill whilst attached to an electrocardiogram (USA uses a ‘k’ instead of a ‘c’). Bike ECGs are rare but running ones are ten a penny. It used to be part of how chest pain was risk stratified.

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If you can force your cadence up to 100+, you could try that for the last few minutes of your next ramp test and shift more of the work onto your cardio system. Might give you a max a few BRM higher.

@Captain_Doughnutman my response was meant to be irrespective of a medical condition. For example, my average HR for a max 20 minute effort might be 175bpm while I have friends who can do more power (same weight) and they average 155 while another friend is just north of 190!

I assumed going to the doctor was a given.

Apologies. Wasn’t my intention to discredit your words; I know you’re a decent dude.

I know from recent personal experience and from recent professional events (Michael Goolaerts and Robbert de Greef), that nasty things can happen without symptoms.

So if non-normal symptoms do present, it might be wise to investigate.

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