Question: I’m 38 years old, 170 pounds and ride 5-7 hours per week doing a mix of intervals, hills and endurance. My heart rate has always been high compared to guys I ride with. I’ll see a max of 194 bpm during a big climb and average 165 bpm at 17-18 mph on flat-to-rolling terrain.
Also, I struggle to follow training schedules that advise recovery rides at 60% of max heart rate. That’s 116 bpm for me, a number I hit by the end of the driveway! My HR has been like this for many years no matter the level of fitness I’m at. Is this normal? — Christopher D.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Only a physician can tell you if you have a medical condition that’s contributing to your high heart rate. It’s always good to get a checkup whenever you suspect a problem, even if only for peace of mind.
From my layman’s perspective, your heart rate response sounds normal.
It’s definitely not unusual to hit 194 bpm during hard efforts at your age. Averaging 165 (about 85% of max) is normal for rolling terrain at a brisk effort.
As for easy rides, 60% of max is unreasonably low for everything but spins on a flat bike path. Recovery can take place even if your HR goes higher because the goal is muscle recovery, not heart recovery.
The trick to a recovery ride is to have very little sensation of pushing on the pedals. Spin your legs. Your heart will take care of itself.
David Mathis says
I’m 45 y/o and have the same high heart rate. I’ve seen a couple of doctors (including a heart doctor) who don’t seem to be as concerned as me. Still seems to go against all information I’ve read about HR.
D Magadi says
Did you check with some other brand HR monitor?
Noel Hernandez says
I’m 47 yrs old 175cm in height and 89kg in weight.
I often do 100KM ride once a week and my average HR is 166-170BPM and max HR can reach up to 192bpm on climbs. I have been cycling for more than 5 years now and I want to know if i’m doing it fine or making my health worst.
Reza toghraee says
I’m cycling for 2 years. 42 years 170cm ,70kg .
My heart rate is usually average at 160 to 165 on rides . Max around 185 .
But my other club mates same age on same ride beat at average 130bpm .
I been like this done last 2 years. Tried 3 different heart sensors but all same. I’m concerned why I have to put to much effort for every ride while others don’t but resulting better than me
It might be ur bike unfortunately, same happened to me I had a Diamondback road bike I poured $ into it completely swapped to an ultegra R8000 all this stuff and finally spent the big $ on a Canyon and my avg speed increased by 2.7mph over 13-27mi rides consistently (eTap rival axs). I’m 38, 175lbs and on a hot hard ride I peak at 190bpm avg 169bpm. Hope this helps ya!
I found this question because I am almost in the same boat…the only difference is I ride mountain bike trails, not roads.
41 years old
I’ve been riding a lot for a couple years now, On a 15 mile trail ride just yesterday my average HR was 160. A friend of mine did the exact same ride as me yesterday and his average was like 130.
I am wondering if this is normal. A friend of mine who is a racer suggested I do interval training to help condition my heart.
Richard C says
I am also on the same boat but slightly more extreme. I’m 48 at 174lbs and the last time I cycled on a group my HR went up to 206bpm on a flat road but intense speed. My Garmin edge 1030 beeped to advise me that it went up that high, (I didn’t even know it exists as feature) so I backed down on the pedal.
Side note; I have been training for triathlon for 8 months and maybe a year of 3x/week running before that. So I have been busy with swim and run as well. I did my first sprint triathlon 4 months ago.
Eddie Fine says
As a long time competitive minded cyclist, turning 64 in January… my HR has always been higher than the norm. As of last summer I could even find myself maxing out (at times) in the low 180’s. However, it appears I’ve now lost 15 to 20 beats per minute, almost over night.
At first I thought my monitor was on the blink, only to find it isn’t. So it’s with that concern (and search) that landed me on this article.
Unlike some of the comments I’m reading, I’ve always been confident and content to have maintained such a younger heart rate, but now with my interval efforts only reaching mid to high 150’s, it’s the instant drop that has me concerned and looking for answers.
Ivan Micallef says
Same thing here. 50yrs cycling since 3yrs found 125km weekly and HR max to 180 and average at 165. I know that genetically I am what is called the explosive type or fast twitch muscle type. Read that fast twitch muscles are more anaerobic. Could that be a reason that the heart needs to pump more to get more oxygen through? Seen cardiologist but none was able to talk to me in sports terms other than say it’s OK and no bad signs during stress tests…