Cycling and Heart Rate

Heart Rate monitoring is the basis of numerous sports training & monitoring. 
The first heart rate monitor was sold in the 80’s and used during the Tour de France early in the 90’s.

Greg LeMond in the Tour’90 using Heart Rate Monitor

When I was competing in road cycling, as a rider, I learned how to use Heart Rate monitoring and experienced its limits; that’s why I developed a specific method based on muscular power measurement.

But let’s not anticipate on future post, let’s concentrate on Heart Rate Monitoring.

The first heart rate were very expensive (I remember to have worked during a summer to buy me a Colombus frame and an Heart Rate monitor and the most expensive was not the frame …).

Now the monitors are very affordable and also included in the most of connected watches.

The first advantage of trying to understand how your Heart Rate evolves will lead you to try to understand the different intensities of effort.
As a basis in your daily life you will find almost three intensities :

  • Resting
  • Walking
  • Running 

For runners, Heart Rate rise is easier to correlate with your running speed as there is more correlation between HR & Speed  than on the bike.

Indeed, riding your bike is more complicated as at a certain level of speed the aerodynamic component is the one to overcome and drag is not proportional to speed but to his square !
This explains why it is more difficult to gain 1kph from 40 to 41kph than from 25 to 26 kph.

If you want to use properly your Heart Rate monitor you need to define your Training zones.

Endurance Training Zones :

Before calculating these zones; let’s have a look on the zones I’m using.
I use 5 zones and the zone 4 is the famous Threshold (intensity when you really start to struggle). 

To define your zones you need to know at least 2 values :

  •  Resting Heart Rate (RHR) : to be taken the morning before waking
  •  Max Heart Rate (MHR) : to be determined in the lab or otherwise you can estimate it through the different equations :
    • ‘the famous 220-Age’
    • ‘the more modern equation’ :
      214 minus (0.8 x age) for men
      209 minus (0.9 x age) for women

Once you have defined your MHR and measured your RHR, you can now calculate your 5 training zones, using the following :

                                         RHR < Zone 1 <  (MHR-RHR)x50%+RHR

(MHR-RHR)x 50% +RHR < Zone 2 < (MHR-RHR)x 75% +RHR

(MHR-RHR)x 75% +RHR < Zone 3 < (MHR-RHR)x 85% +RHR

(MHR-RHR)x 85% +RHR < Zone 4 < (MHR-RHR)x 90% +RHR

(MHR-RHR)x 90% +RHR < Zone 5 < MHR                                   


Interest of Heart Rate Monitor :

Heart rate indicates mainly your body answer to the different stimulus (effort intensity, temperature, humidity, ….). It can vary a lot from one day to another but his monitoring will help you to quantify your training volume,

Heart Rate curve during sprint training session.

For competitive rider I will recommend at least to monitor Heart Rate with cadence and speed, you will be able to find affordable computer recording these three values.
Analyzing these 3 values will help you a lot to better understand how your body works. 

Let’s train and have fun !




Has one comment to “Cycling and Heart Rate”

You can leave a reply or Trackback this post.
  1. Samuel DENIS - December 30, 2018 Reply

    Je voulais poster le premier com’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.