Two Year of Structured Training: Self Conscious of RHR

This post will be an informational overload so I apologize ahead of time.

So a little background on me: I am a 31 years old male and have a clean bill of health. I did not have an athletic background growing up (I was a nerd) and I started getting into fitness when I started during some structured training for running when I started doing higher level soccer officiating in my 20s. Cue two years ago (2021) where in March I get an entry level aluminum road bike and a Peloton. I start doing irregular outdoor rides (20-30 miles, approximately a couple times a month) but I am pretty regular on the Peloton bike. 4-5 times a week, 30-40 minute rides with some intervals. No structure.

This continues through August 2021 where I decide that I want my niche to be road cycling: I sell the Peloton bike and reinvest in a Wahoo Kickr and start a TrainerRoad subscription. I do the ramp test and my FTP is evaluated to be 192 (2.2W/KG). The next day I start Sweet Spot Base I (mid volume) and the rest is history.

With the odd exception of getting COVID (I will get to that), vacations and life getting busy I adhere to the workouts and see a lot of growth in my cycling fitness up to today. Here is a very general list of plans I have followed:

  • Fall 2021 - Summer 2022: Mostly Sweet Spot Base-Build (Repeat) - Specialty (Mid Volume)

(Towards the end of Summer 2022 I get COVID which knocks me off the bike and I lose some fitness)

  • Fall 2022 - Summer 2023: Polarized Base (with some weeks of traditional base) - Build - Specialty with a taper.

I am proud of the progress I have made on the bike so far. My FTP has gone up, from 192 (2.2 W/KG) when I first tested in August 2021 to 285 (3.3 W/KG) in July 2023 before I went into a specialty block/full taper.

But more importantly I am proud of the accomplishments I made because of that fitness. This year I joined a race team and competed in several criteriums where I was able, for the most part, to finish competitively. I completed my first century ride with ~7000 feet of climbing. I also start doing more group and social rides. To be more general I am having more fun on my bike by virtue of being able to go farther and faster.

With that being said the one thing that keeps nagging me is my RHR. What is now a little over two years of structured training I have seen my RHR lower marginally. My max heart rate is ~195. Here are graphs from my Apple Health:

FWIW my RHR was being measured by an Apple Watch, that I also wore while I slept, from the beginning of the data until February 2022 when I switched to a Whoop.

Now on a year by year basis I do see a decrease: 60, 59, and 56 BPM.

The data for 2021 makes sense, with the slight decrease, as that is the year I both started riding regular: without structure in the first half of the year and structure with the introduction of a power meter and TrainerRoad in August.

2022 sees little change in my RHR seemingly. Probably for a couple reasons: I was new to structured training and doing the TR sweet spot plans probably resulted in overtraining in hindsight. Plus in August 2022 I got COVID which halted my training and the week of illness let to some abnormally RHR.

2023 looks promising. I am smarter about my training and I am less naive about how much volume I can handle. I do A LOT of Zone 2 training from January through the spring which probably helps. I have had days where my RHR during sleep, as calculated by Whoop, is low as 53. And during the day I sporadically catch my HR to be between the mid 40s and low 50s. And my historical “Power vs Heartrate” graphs from seem to confirm my increased aerobic fitness:

But I can’t help compare myself to others (I know, don’t let comparison be the thief of joy) who seems to see dramatic decrease in RHR with similar loads of training. Now I understand I am probably not genetically remarkable but I am curious if I overthinking this (this is rhetorical, I know the answer)? I have a lot of metrics to show I am getting fitter but my own analysis of RHR seems underwhelming. I fixate on RHR and probably shouldn’t but this long post has more to ask than just to alleviate my overthinking.

I am currently on a two week break off the bike before I start my training for next season. I have general goals to be more competitive and get upgrade points in crits with one or two A events being one day (or perhaps multiple stages) open road races. My plan is to do TrainerRoad’s High Volume Polarized Plan and supplement it with additional zone 2. Mostly by extending the 60-90 minute zone 2 days to at least 120 minutes. I believe this would put me at 600-700 TSS per week when historically I have done approximately 400-500 TSS:

I am motivated for the suggested volume and believe I can do it. And I also believe, with the experience I have gained, that if indeed this is too much I can recognize that, rein it in, and cut volume.

So my questions, finally, are:

  • Does the RHR data, and any trends it might suggest, make sense with regards to the training I have done. If you feel obliged to look here is my riding history via TrainerRoad. If it doesn’t make sense:

  • With regards to my RHR am I training correctly? Is there something I can change about my plan (e.g more zone 2, more VO2, more volume/TSS, better recovery, etc.)?

  • Considering that I have only been training for two years am I expecting too much in terms of the changes I have so far seen in my RHR?

If you made it this far I would preemptively like to thank you for reading and any insight you might share. :slight_smile:

I had a similar question a while back: Resting heart rate not dropping in spite of training, is it relevant?

My RHR isn‘t dropping either, despite my increasing fitness. I‘m 2.5 years in, but not that structured.

Interesting: My max HR is also on the higher side (198 bpm).

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You’re trending in the right direction but you’re worried about the magnitude of change in RHR.

I wouldn’t expect such big changes in RHR even over years, so what you show is actually quite ok? Who’s your reference that you’re comparing to and how do they measure?
Most importantly you’re not going up (ie, overloading yourself with training you can’t recover from?). Everything with the side note that RHR is probably also affected by life stress, sleep, …

Anyways your RHR is only one surrogate measure or fitness. It’s not your VO2max, your skeletal muscle fiber composition, mitochondria, glycolysis enzyme expression, vascularization … It sounds like your training and outcomes are great. I vote: Forget about it!


I did 3 years of “Zone 2” I would say 95% below AeT ( ~68% of max HR) running and saw a drop from 60 to 52, averaging about 4 hours of running a week. This was out of shape to in shape. This was 10 years ago so I don’t have all the data to share, I just remember this detail fairly clearly. I was and am a big Maffetone believer. I also built the 2nd HRV app in the iOS app store (9 years ago)… So I was a bit obsessed with HR vs pace/ and now power.

I am sure I am not exceptional, although I was ultra distance mountain climber in my 20s and this drop in RHR was in my late forties, so it’s possible it was just returning to previous lower RHR levels (never tested in my 20s). I am now 57 and RHR about 50-51 on a good day and minimum sleeping HR is frequently 45-46. Not sure if my data helps anything but personally I think your drop is fine, my belief is this is highly genetic or individual and not predictable. It’s a very interesting question though.


This is an interesting question and I look forward to seeing some information on it. My RHR (before coming down with covid 2.5 weeks ago) had been 46-49. I’m 55, but I’ve been active with soccer (pre-teen through the early 20s), swimming (pre-teen through “present” though with years of breaks, like now), water polo (teen through mid-20s), mountain biking (mid-20s through early 30s), and running (trail and ultras) and IM (30s through “present”) and gravel/road riding in mountains. In my younger days, pre-40s, my RHR had been as low as 40-42 (including one time I remember it being under 40 while I stared at a clock counting the beats while sitting in class back in college after a swim workout).

Regardless, I’d say you’re more fit than me (“me” being earlier this year and before coming down with covid) even though my RHR is about 20% lower than yours. My w/kg has dropped below 3 (it’s no higher than 2.6) as I’ve slacked.

From my cheap seat, you’re putting out the power for the necessary periods, so you’re good. You’ve also only been doing this endurance stuff briefly, so I’d not worry about the RHR. Further down, I’d be curious to see, if it doesn’t drop, if a change in your recovery is advisable.

Your lack of a sports background probably impacts your starting RHR. But, one of my old IM friends from the turn of the century had a “sports” background in ping-pong (I get that table tennis can get energetic, but come on), and he was an absolute beast, a machine performing at ridiculous levels as if he’d been endurance training since he was a toddler.

As I said, I look forward to the ensuing discussion from more knowledgeable folks.

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I appreciate the time you put into your question and the info you shared, so feel guilty about a short answer, but I think deep down you know the answer. You are overthinking this. The trend of your RHR is the right direction. Beyond that, I wouldn’t worry about it.

Said another way, no one should target a certain RHR. You wouldn’t put a training plan together to lower your RHR. RHR is an outcome that is waaaaay down the food chain of your training results. So monitor over time and look for trends. Beyond that, focus on more tangible measurements.


As noted, you are overthinking this. The only thing that really matters in evaluating your fitness is your performance on the bike.

FWIW, my resting HR used to be below 40 at peak fitness. I’m not in the high 40’s and I am WAY fitter than I ever was back then (although we are admittedly talking about a span of ~30 years).