Fitness, speed, and heart rate

I am an inconsistent cyclist. I often have a couple of quiet months, then build fitness back up for a few months. I've noticed something during these build ups that I find strange, and would appreciate any thoughts that would help me understand it better.

As I do more miles and become fitter, I get faster in terms of average speed on the same loop (duh). But as my speed rises, so does my average heart rate for the ride. It's almost as if training somehow makes it easier for me to put more effort in, at a higher HR, and it is that which is helping me to go faster.

It seems a bit odd that training just helps me to rev the engine faster, but doesn't much increase the power available at a given level of revs? Or perhaps I have never reached the level of fitness at which that happens...

I just wondered whether anybody can point me to something that explains this


Puzzle game procrastinator!
Perhaps when you are unfit you feel deep down that your efforts go unrewarded, therefore why bother? As you get fitter, you notice how much quicker you are going and that encourages you to really go for it!

What are your heart rates when unfit and fitter?

I always seem to end up with the same kind of heart rate on hard rides, but obviously go quicker when I am fit.

cougie uk

Über Member
It will get easier to ride a higher HR with practice.

With more practice you'll be able to put out more power for a given HR but if you're inconsistent it might be hard to see this. Turbo training is a great way to do this as it eliminates outside interference and as you can see the improvements you're more likely to carry on training.


Consistency is the key. It works slightly differently, as you build cardiovascular fitness, you should be able to ride the route with lower HR for the same speed or faster for the desired HR. Its called HR tracking. like others have said turbo is a great way to train analyse the data and see fitness improvement. I have in winter spent upto 16 weeks doing base high cadence endurance rides. By the end you can clearly see the numbers are much much better re HR, power and overall fitness


I have had the same experience as @CXRAndy - I am not at all surprised to hear that you're getting faster and seeing a higher HR at the same time.

As Andy has suggested, you'd need to match either of those to your baseline to quantify an improvement. So if you keep your avg HR the same as baseline your speed is likely to be higher, and if you match your avg speed to the baseline your HR is likely to be lower. Its not a surprise to see both increasing together :smile:
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