Max HR increasing?

The only time I hit my Max HR is during my Ramp Tests, I’ve noticed a trend since I’ve started TR and structured training(started in March of 2020, prior to that it was unstructured riding in the area of ~5k miles a year/350-400hrs a year) My first Ramp Test was April 28th and had a Max HR of 188bpm. My most recent test was yesterday and set a Max HR of 194. This has steadily increased over that time frame from April to now. Is there any insight that can be gleaned from this? Is it an indication as to a specific type of adaptation or lack there of? or just a normal consequence? an indicator of some needed change in training stimulus? During this time frame my ftp has stayed pretty steady, trending up 1-2% most tests, The most recent though saw a 3% drop(not surprised, coming off a long recovery period after my A event). What I have gained is what I perceive as a large increase in ‘Endurance’ So I’m not upset with my progress, just curious if there is any insight to be had.

Your actual max HR hasn’t increased however your ability to push yourself harder may well have done


Agree, probably able to get closer to ‘true’ HRmax. Actual HRmax probably hasn’t changed (gone up)

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Ok, so do we need a term for an achievable Max HR? regardless if you want to put the chicken or the egg first doesn’t change the intent of my questions.

I don’t think so.

that depends whether we’re all clear on the terminology and the intent of your questions in the first place. I’m simply pointing out that Max HR doesn’t change and therefore isnt indicative of “a specific type of adaptation”. Seeing a new max HR just illustrates that you’ve likely pushed harder this time than last.

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I fully understand that actual(mythical) Max HR doesn’t increase(will see it decrease with age) My questions are in regards to being able to achieve a higher recorded Max HR and if it has any correlation to any specific type of adaptation or lack there of.

I answered that in my first reply. Seeing a change in max HR is dictated by how hard (or not) you pushed yourself.

It has a lot more to do with other limiters (hence your ability to push yourself further in a ramp test, for example), with the type of effort done (a long hard climb ended in a sprint may yield a higher value than a ramp test, for example), and the inherent variability of max HR as a function of hydration, temperature, time of day, fatigue, etc.

It’s a mental/psychological adaptation, rather than a physical one. The ability to push yourself to your absolute limit - to the point you could not go any harder with a gun to your head type of scenario - is a learned skill and takes practice.

Your body could have hit that number previously, but now your mental idea of what your true limit is has changed.

Not sure there is much concrete to be gathered here. At a high level, I think you anaerobic capacity is allowing you to get closer to your max heart rate, which others have touched on. Other than that your ability to endure discomfort has probably improved. Most people don’t realize what going hard means until they’ve done some of these efforts. Last, heart rate is kind of a fickle thing. I’ve had ramp tests that were bad, where I hit my max heart rate and I’ve had ramp tests that were good where I didn’t. Other than max heart rate, I do think it is somewhat helpful to pay attention to the heart rate you can sustain for a longer period of time. Typically called your threshold heartrate. You may notice you used to fade in the high 160’s, but now you can handled the low 170’s. Overall, I think that’s a good sign, but being heart rate is affected by so many other things, isn’t really a reliable indicator.