Max Heart Rate vs Fatigue

I’m 39, and I haven’t seen a heart rate in the 180s since January, 2018. I hit 176 earlier this month 3/2/19 during Huxley. I suspect fatigue and stress (off the bike) may be playing a factor. I have been carrying about 600-800tss/week, which is down from last year. That said, I did absolutely 0 training or racing before January 2019, so it’s definitely different TSS.
Thoughts on a best course of action? I don’t want to be wasting my training by not going hard enough. I’ve been trying to go really easy on days when I’m not going really hard. Do I need a day or 2 of total rest (and not riding taku-1/dans)?

Thanks all!

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HR is subjective, that is to say it is influenced by too many things (e.g., caffeine, temperature, fatigue, etc…) It is also very individual. That said, it is better than nothing.

This could be for any number of reasons, but it sounds like you are just fatigued/tired. Even if you are sleeping plenty, eating great, nailing all of your workouts, your HR may be depressed due to fatigue. If you take a recovery week or two, you will more than likely notice a change (i.e., HR is quicker to come up and also higher)

Listen to Velonews Fast Talk ep 68 The three rides you should do…

You sound exactly like the guy they talk about in that podcast.

If I were you I’d heed the advice in it that they give this person.

(the podcast itself though is nothing like TR podcast… Like plucking ingrown hairs from one’s nether regions…)


I’m not quite sure what the issue is? Your HR hasn’t been in the 180s for almost 15 months, but you’ve had it at 176 about a month ago. Our max HR declines slowly with age, so this might just be normal for you. I’m 45, and when I was 42, I would max out at 174. Now it’s 167.

How does your HR look when doing threshold intervals?

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Loses 12 beats every 3 years…


… 2033 might be a bad year :wink:


I am close my max HR every 6-8 weeks. Hello ramp test :wave:


The relevant sequence starts at 34:30min.

My HR has spiked due to hydration/electrolyte issues in the past. Make sure you are well hydrated before & after the workouts. I have found that slow dehydration can occur over a few days of hard riding and the symptoms will all-of-the-sudden show up a few days in. Hydrating during the workout isn’t enough for me, I have to stay on top of it by continuing to hydrate for a few hours after the ride. Everyone is different. Hydration & electrolyte replenishment are often overlooked while indoor training.

I’m 51 and see a cardiologist every 6 months due to some “stress” complications I had a few years back. My cardiologist always reminds me that my HR is totally individual and will vary greatly between people. He also tells me not to be concerned if my HR gets up there so long as it comes back down quickly like in about 2-3 minutes following a hard effort. I seem to max at around 186.

The last ramp test I did I went as hard as I could till my HR hit 182 then I bailed out. I still had a little [very little] gas in the tank, however, I don’t want to create an FTP that will max my HR on every high intensity workout. Remember i’m 51! Different story when I was 39!

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Heh - that podcast is that sparked this question. I’ve been trying to adhere to those 3 ride types, and that’s what caused my hr to get back into the 170s. :slight_smile:

I haven’t gotten much above 165 on a ramp test, and my cadence is usually North of 105. If I am going to get my hr into the 170s my power output needs to be high. I hit 172 yesterday while climbing pretty hard (on one of the rides the aforementioned 3-ride-type-podcast said not to do #shame), but my power was about 260% of ftp.

During threshold intervals it’s in the 150s.

Is that normal for you?

Yes. I generally need to go way above threshold to get out of the 150s. There’s a chance I’m underestimating my ftp. My 5 minute power seems disproportionately high when compared to ftp.

Are you working out in the cold?

If you turn your fan off, wear a sweater, and take 300mg of caffeine…you’ll get that heart rate up! :wink:

So the 180s you saw January 2018 was NOT cycling, correct?

It was cycling.

Ok just trying to get a better picture…is it accurate to say prior to 2019 you JRA (just rode around) and starting 2019 you started “training”?

JRA/commuted, yes - that’s accurate. I know now that most of my tss was coming from “medium” intensity commutes. I hit the 180s on one of the climbs on my commute route.

As you get fitter, stroke volume increases, which can mean max heart rate goes down.

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Thanks for pointing us to this episode in VeloNews. I have been having a similar problem with not being able to get close to my max, and this podcast explained why this is most likely happening. I’m going to adjust my zone thresholds down, especially my aerobic one, as I think I’m not training easy enough on easy days… once again, thanks to you and the original poster. A helpful thread…