Whenever you are involved in any type of aerobic endeavour, it helps to know something about measuring your heart rate, and how it impacts your training schedule. Fitness trainers insist that it is not the amount of time you spend on exercising that matters, but rather it’s your fitness level and heart rate that make up the key factors. That is because your heart rate is a telling indicator. It shows the amount of endurance you currently possess, and it helps identify reasonable fitness goals moving forward.
How Maximum Heart Rate is Determined
According to the popular Karvonen method, the target heart rate zone ranges from 60 to 80 per cent of your maximum heart rate, which is determined by subtracting your age from 220. This means that as you increase your fitness level, you target heart rate will rise accordingly. Heart rate numbers are gauged by beats per minute or BPM. As a cyclist, you need to be concerned with your active recovery rate, target heart rate, and lactate threshold, as these factors play a huge role in advancing your physical fitness.
Calculating Recovery, Target Heart Rate, and Lactate Threshold
To determine your active recovery rate, subtract your age from 220 and multiply it by 0.5. Your target rate can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying it by 0.6, 0.7, or 0.8, depending on your level of fitness. Finally, your lactate threshold is determined by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying it by a number between 0.6 and 0.9, again, depending on your level of fitness.
Just like a cycling jersey design, there are many patterns of thought when you review heart rate zones. Therefore, as a cyclist, you need to be mindful of the training program you are adhering to, as well as your own training philosophy. However, as previously stated, for endurance and weight loss, you should pay attention to your active recovery rate, your target heart rate, and your lactate threshold.
The Active Recovery Zone
Working and pushing your target heart rate zone is necessary for losing fat and enhancing your aerobic capacity. If you cycle regularly at less than your target heart rate (or about 50 per cent of your maximum heart rate), you will fall into the active recovery zone – a good spot in which to stay when you are recovering between high-intensity workouts. However, staying in this zone will not give you any real results when it comes to building up your aerobic capacity.
The Lactate Threshold Zone
If your cycling workout entails working out above your target heart rate, you will find yourself in the lactate threshold zone. When you reach this zone, you create a major workload on your lungs, heart, and muscles. This is the moment when the body starts getting its energy through anaerobic respiration, or by breaking down glycogen stores without using oxygen. Usually, both fat and glycogen are broken down in the presence of oxygen.
The specific point at which you reach this threshold depends on a number of factors, including your level of fitness and your lung capacity. If you have not trained extensively, you might reach this level at around 60 per cent of what you determined as your maximum heart rate. This means that your lactate threshold and target heart rate may actually overlap until your fitness level improves. Most highly trained cyclists cannot sustain this kind of intensity for more than 30 minutes to an hour at a time. Less-trained cyclists may have trouble holding it for as much as 10 minutes. Rely on this information to help you improve during your cycling workouts.