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.