Trying to Lower Heart Rate

Hi All

I am looking to join TR and would start with a sweet spot base plan.
My concern for this is that when I presently do 3x15 minute intervals, my heart rate tends to be up at 187-190bpm which seems pretty high, (I am 44 years old). In fact, when cycling outside at even a moderate effort on a 4 hour ride, my heart rate sits around 170-185bpm.
I had a test done about 10 years ago and the physiologist told me I had a poor aerobic base so needed to work on that. I didn’t as gave up cycling for a while.

I am wondering if a sweet spot base would send my heart rate right up as it is based on power rather than heart rate. I would think, (and I am guessing) that a lower zone 2-3 ride would mean I would work more with oxygen and therefore encourage my body to build more capillaries and therefore lower heart rate. If I train with power and my heart rate is up at 170bpm or higher, this may not happen?
As I say, the above is a guess but wanted others feedback on whether I should be focusing on low level heart rate riding to bring my heart rate down or should I join TR and ignore heart rate and just work with power?

Any help would be really appreciated as stuck for where to go with my training.

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  1. I am not a doctor so take this advice with a grain of salt. Or two.

  2. Max HR is variable from person or person, more so than the protocols would lead you to believe.

  3. Sweet spot intervals are hard, particularly at the start of the base plan.

  4. All of the above being said, you may want to try one round of traditional base or drop your FTP for SSB 1 and see of your HR is lower in the long sweet spot intervals.


Both will lower your heart rate at a given effort. But traditionnal base will give you more endurance and build capillaries and probably lower it further. Note that all training is power based on TR even the lower zones plans and workouts. Lower heart rate is a consequence of building fitness but not the measure of it.

This being said 170-185 BPM for a 4 hour ride sounds very high to me.

What is your max heart rate? It must be over 200?

And for comparison what’s your resting HR?


I am also someone that has a heart rate (when working out) that is generally higher than other riders of my same age. I am about 10 years older than you and my heart rate is regularly 160 to 165 on rides and up to 170 - 180 when really working hard (on a steep climb for example). I was a little worried about it and discussed with my doctor who sent me for some tests and gave me the all clear.

Now here is the interesting part. I started TR about a year ago when I got a Kickr. I only train on ERG mode and worked through Sweet Spot Base 1 and 2 low volume twice over the winter. I just did a comparison of a few TR sweet spot workouts from a year ago to the past few weeks. My FTP was about 12% higher but my average HR over the workout was 18 to 20 beats per min less. So basically the fitness gains you will get will lower your heart rate in general. Note that this is with the caveat that there are not underlying heart issues and for that you need professional medical advice.


If you are able to do a 3x15min (presumably at 85-90% of FTP) without blowing up, then just forget about the HR and do the program. If a long ride at moderate effort gets you in the 170-185 bpm range, that indicates your max HR is probably in the 210-220bpm range, higher than the average individual but nothing worth calling 911 about.

All of the above assumes you have verified there are no medical issues at play here, of course.

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Are you staying cool enough? Increased core temperature will also increase your heart rate. Lots of fans and cool liquids.


Hi Didierbr

The max I have seen my heart rate is 192bpm about 2 years ago. However, this was on a sportive and I wasn’t trying to hit a peak heart rate so it could well be noticeably higher than that. Of note, I had a max bike test about 10 years ago and I peaked at 199bpm.
My RHR is 54bpm.

My concern is that I appear to be right up towards my peak heart rate which would lead to a lot of fatigue on longer rides as I wouldn’t be using my aerobic system very much


I am training in a gym with pretty poor aircon. It’s actually a blowing system and non of the blowers are near me so it does get warm. Having said that, I hit similar heart rates when I cycle outside whether it’s 7am in the morning and cool or closer to midday when the temperature has climbed.
A big difference is I often cramp after cycling indoors and I think that is a result of heat and only 750ml of water.

Hi Mark767

I did wonder if I just continue to push hard that my FTP will go up and therefore if I ride at the same pace I do now, my body would not be working as hard and so my heart rate would be lower…which is what you are suggesting in your reply.
I am thinking of just doing the sweet spot and just seeing what happens but would prefer to feel a little more confident before committing to 4 months of training.

One of the recent podcasts talked about cramping. I think that typically cramping is caused by pushing beyond your limits for longer than your body can withstand. Now, electrolytes play a role in how your muscles function, but if you push your muscles too far, they will cramp.

I would try and figure out a way to get a fan setup at the gym. Even if it’s a bring your own small fan and extension cord for power. Cooling is really important. To me, cooling and fans, is more important than the bike / trainer I’m sitting on. Heat is the enemy of the body in exercise. Good luck!

@Day I’m not sure where your HR should be but here are my figures:

Max HR: 198bpm (ramptest in August)
Average HR during Sunday’s SS-workout Eclipse - 167bpm, 169bpm and 169bpm.
That’s how it usually is and sometimes lower and if there’s more above threshold-work HR increases.
Did an all out race end of June where I rode 3hrs 14mins @ 180bpm average HR.

Did nothing except walk to the fridge until 2017 when I dropped in weight and started riding. 2018/2019 have been more structured and seen an increase in trainingtime from about 4-5hrs/week to 10-12hrs/week. Just letting you know my baseline.

Another data point. I am about to turn 52, max heart rate last stress test was 197 but I still see over 200 from HRM. I still ride regularly for long periods with avg HR in high 170s, low 180s.

My cardiologist - “It’s just the way you are, I’m not worried about. No need to change anything”

My advice, get it checked out to make sure you don’t have any underlying issues and if there isn’t any, don’t worry about it. HR is spectrum, 220-age is a gross simplification, and like any spectrum, there are outliers at either end.