Increasing endurance, but why is most of my cycle ride in Heart rate zone 5

Hockeynut

Über Member
Location
Nottingham, UK
I'm not sure if this is the right section of the forum, please move if not. It's about me trying to get fitter through cycling.

I'm a 43 year old male, 86kg and 190cm tall (that's 13st 9lb and 6'3"), my Average Resting Heart rate gets recorded at ~60bpm (wearing vivoactive 3 long term). This is the year that I am would like to crack being able to go for rides of more than 10 miles, build up endurance, I want to go out for 2-3 hour rides for 30+ miles. I'm heading out with my friend each ride, which helps with motivation, one I notice that whenever we hit an incline, he gradually passes me, but he seems to power it in a high gear, where I'm spinning on a low gear because my legs can no longer push in a higher gear.

One constant I have always noticed is whenever I go for bike rides, most of it shows as zone 5. What I've never been able to work out is whether I am that unfit (it's possible) or whether it's a device thing. (Using a Garmin Vivoactive 3 - Elevate HR.)

When I go for a decent Bike Ride it's like this. This was a ride yesterday of 15 miles over an hour, no crazy climbing. It's only my 3rd ride of the year on my road bike.

Z5 > 161
Z4 = 143 - 160



The ride before was shorter, 9 miles, but similar effect.
 

CXRAndy

Guru
Location
Lincs
You are not cardiovascular fit enough yet. Also sounds like legs are weak.

Not to worry, here is the plan

First ride solo, so you can set the correct pace of Z2 mostly.

Get a HR chest strap, far more reliable. Wahoo Tickr are excellent Ant+ and Bluetooth

Spin a high cadence 85+ ideally 90+rpm. Try and hold this cadence for an hour in Z2 HR. Ignore speed or distance.

Once you have achieved an hour, extend 15 mins at a time in Z2. Once you can ride 2+ hours, ideally 3 hours non stop in Z2

Come back and we will discuss power drills:okay:
 
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MrGrumpy

Huge Member
Location
Fly Fifer
Are you trying to push in a high gear all the time ? As above spin to win, seriously get used to spinning an easy gear the rest will come naturally. The number of times I see some jumping up and down on a super high gear trying to go faster ! If your in Zone 5-6 all the time then your hitting it too hard ! Just had a look in my garmin stats for this mornings commute, zone 1 all the way for 15 miles. My resting HR is 46 approx and I averaged 112 for the whole ride.

You are a few years younger and 2 stone lighter than me :whistle:. Cycle more and keep the HR low, fitness will come quick !
 

YukonBoy

The Monch
Location
Inside my skull
As above you are not fit enough to keep up with your mate. Average Z5 is crazy. Do you know what you actual max HR is on a bike? Don’t rely on 220 - age etc.

I typically average Z2 on a ride and only push into Z4 on longer hills if I’m in the mood. So up to about 70% max HR as average.

The worst thing for working on endurance is cycling with someone fitter than you as you’ll be tempted to push harder than you want or need to. Get out on your own and be disciplined about staying in Z2 even on hills. That’ll build your endurance and the durability of your body for longer distance. As above build time in the saddle bit by bit. Ignore average speeds and distance they don’t matter when building endurance, length of ride does.
 

HarryTheDog

Veteran
Location
Basildon Essex
As others have said you are just not fit enough yet, my partner started traing around 6 weeks ago and we went for a 24 mile ride on sunday, my Avg heart rate 100bpm hers 144 and thats with me on the front into a headwind. You will get fitter in time to speed it up you need more time on the bike, my partner does structured training and is on the turbo 3 times per week, on the road once. She is a fair bit older than you and is making fair gains in both power and aerobic fitness.
 

Fab Foodie

hanging-on in quiet desperation ...
Alternatively....
Ditch all the zone stuff and associated mumbo-jumbo and focus on going in a bike ride.
Pedal at a cadence that comes naturally.
Do some shorter fast rides but focus on longer distance every now and then. Pace is everything and comes with practice as does spending hours in the saddle grinding along.
If you’re slow at hills, practice them, makes sure you relax your upper body rather than wrestle the bike up the slope.

Endurance? How far you looking to ride? Is time that important or is it about Strava bragging rights?

After a long abscence, lockdown has seen me back on the bike. Started with easy Flat 10 milers to regain some overall fitness after CV19. Threw in a few hills which I crawled-up. Added some 20s and 30s and built-up from there. Sunday a non-stop rolling 53 miles in 4 hours on 1 bottle with 2 dextrosols, 1 hydration tab. Flew up the hill I had practiced on....
57, 90kg, 5’9” 1 coronary stent.

Depends what you want to do? 4 years ago I rode 208 plus miles in ~ 27 hours. Not record breaking, but who cares? It was twice as far as I’d ever ridden before....

https://www.relive.cc/view/vMv85jLpeNO
 
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Milkfloat

An Peanut
Location
Midlands
I would ignore the zones until you are fit enough to work out what your true zones are. A true Zone 5 and you would be lucky to last 5 minutes before you collapsed. If you are with a friend and want to push yourself make them ride at a speed where you can just about have a converation, but it is difficult. This will boost your cardiovascular system and your aerobic capacity. When you can ride for an hour like this you can start to add a few harder efforts in for a few minutes at a time where you won't want to talk to anyone.
 

lane

Über Member
Can you please explain how you have calculated your zones or are you relying on some approximation or using the HR device default zones. Unless you set your own zones correctly (there are various ways of doing this all documented online - see British Cycling for example) you really don't know what zone you are working in.
 

CXRAndy

Guru
Location
Lincs
Can you please explain how you have calculated your zones or are you relying on some approximation or using the HR device default zones. Unless you set your own zones correctly (there are various ways of doing this all documented online - see British Cycling for example) you really don't know what zone you are working in.
Its quite easy to work out zones. They do vary a bit as fitness develops but not massively.

Simplest way is to balls out up a hill until you're gasping and can't continue. That should give you a close max HR.

Go to British cycling and several other Zone calculate websites. They all will be with a few bpm of each other for zones.

Ride according to zones, but its not like a switch, where 1bpm tips you into another zone
 

lane

Über Member
Its quite easy to work out zones. They do vary a bit as fitness develops but not massively.

Simplest way is to balls out up a hill until you're gasping and can't continue. That should give you a close max HR.

Go to British cycling and several other Zone calculate websites. They all will be with a few bpm of each other for zones.

Ride according to zones, but its not like a switch, where 1bpm tips you into another zone
I don't think (may be wrong) that BC use max HR to calculate zones. That said nothing wrong with that (what you describe is exactly what I did) but might be confusing as zones using max HR are different % from zone % on BC website IIRC.

Edit - which is why I suggested the OP look at the website and follow that.
 

CXRAndy

Guru
Location
Lincs
British cycling use Functional threshold HR. I understand that to be a HR where you can work maximum effort for an hour

I punched in 3 different number over 6 bpm difference. The zones only varied 1 or 2 bpm. Not a great difference.
 
OP
Hockeynut

Hockeynut

Über Member
Location
Nottingham, UK
Thanks everyone for your replies, it's been really helpful. The zone 2 advice sounds pretty common, as well as not trying to keep up with another person. I had thought it was good for my improvement to push myself to keep up with him. I would add that I struggle to 'take it easy', so I find keeping to lower heart zones/effort really hard, it doesn't take much to tip me quickly to Z3-4, and ultimately to Z5+. All that said it's not often I'm trying for high gears, I only do it on downhills, to feel some resistance.

You are not cardiovascular fit enough yet. Also sounds like legs are weak.
It's nice to find words not being minced, quite frankly it's what I've wondered for a while, but have struggled to believe I could be that weak. It makes sense I guess, I know my upper legs are not strong, this is part of my reasoning for doing this. Chicken... egg.... :biggrin:

Get a HR chest strap, far more reliable. Wahoo Tickr are excellent Ant+ and Bluetooth
Spin a high cadence 85+ ideally 90+rpm. Try and hold this cadence for an hour in Z2 HR. Ignore speed or distance.
Come back and we will discuss power drills:okay:
I love an excuse to buy new toys. ;) I'll grab a cadence sensor and a stem computer while I'm at it. :biggrin:

Are you trying to push in a high gear all the time ?
No, infact some slight inclines I am down to the lowest gear I can by nearing the top.

As above you are not fit enough to keep up with your mate. Average Z5 is crazy. Do you know what you actual max HR is on a bike? Don’t rely on 220 - age etc.
I only know what my Garmin watch tells me at the moment, the highest I've recorded max on a ride was 188bpm.

As others have said you are just not fit enough yet, my partner started training around 6 weeks ago and we went for a 24 mile ride on sunday, my Avg heart rate 100bpm hers 144 and thats with me on the front into a headwind. You will get fitter in time to speed it up you need more time on the bike, my partner does structured training and is on the turbo 3 times per week, on the road once. She is a fair bit older than you and is making fair gains in both power and aerobic fitness.
That's really encouraging, thanks.

Alternatively....
Ditch all the zone stuff and associated mumbo-jumbo and focus on going in a bike ride.
If you’re slow at hills, practice them, makes sure you relax your upper body rather than wrestle the bike up the slope.

Endurance? How far you looking to ride? Is time that important or is it about Strava bragging rights?
Far from it, it's because I want to enjoy going on a ride for more than about 5 miles that I'm trying to improve this! Plus I want to improve my upper leg strength as a general goal, this is just a more fun way of doing it. I always check out Strava, but only for me, to monitor any progress. I'll try the hill tip, thanks.

Pedal at a cadence that comes naturally.
This could be part of it, I crave the feeling of resistance, it doesn't have to be heavy, but some.

I would ignore the zones until you are fit enough to work out what your true zones are. A true Zone 5 and you would be lucky to last 5 minutes before you collapsed. If you are with a friend and want to push yourself make them ride at a speed where you can just about have a converation, but it is difficult. This will boost your cardiovascular system and your aerobic capacity. When you can ride for an hour like this you can start to add a few harder efforts in for a few minutes at a time where you won't want to talk to anyone.
I'll try mixing a bit of solo riding in, but also ask him to take it easier, to help me for now. Thanks.

Can you please explain how you have calculated your zones or are you relying on some approximation or using the HR device default zones.
Using the Garmin cycling setting.
1591125949270.png
1591125953976.png

Simplest way is to balls out up a hill until you're gasping and can't continue. That should give you a close max HR.
I've done that before until I couldn't continue and had to get off, jelly legged. The max I've seen come up on my heart rate is 188.
Go to British cycling and several other Zone calculate websites. They all will be with a few bpm of each other for zones.
I don't think (may be wrong) that BC use max HR to calculate zones. That said nothing wrong with that (what you describe is exactly what I did) but might be confusing as zones using max HR are different % from zone % on BC website IIRC.

Edit - which is why I suggested the OP look at the website and follow that.
British cycling use Functional threshold HR. I understand that to be a HR where you can work maximum effort for an hour

I punched in 3 different number over 6 bpm difference. The zones only varied 1 or 2 bpm. Not a great difference.
I'm reading some parts of the British Cycling website about HZ zone calcs. In the Threshold Test it talks about using 20 mins at a certain cadence and taking the average HR. I couldn't do that as I don't have a cadence sensor, yet. Then I put that value into this calculator. In the meantime is there any other method I can use that would at least give me a better idea for now?
 

CXRAndy

Guru
Location
Lincs
Thanks everyone for your replies, it's been really helpful. The zone 2 advice sounds pretty common, as well as not trying to keep up with another person. I had thought it was good for my improvement to push myself to keep up with him. I would add that I struggle to 'take it easy', so I find keeping to lower heart zones/effort really hard, it doesn't take much to tip me quickly to Z3-4, and ultimately to Z5+. All that said it's not often I'm trying for high gears, I only do it on downhills, to feel some resistance.



It's nice to find words not being minced, quite frankly it's what I've wondered for a while, but have struggled to believe I could be that weak. It makes sense I guess, I know my upper legs are not strong, this is part of my reasoning for doing this. Chicken... egg.... :biggrin:



I love an excuse to buy new toys. ;) I'll grab a cadence sensor and a stem computer while I'm at it. :biggrin:



No, infact some slight inclines I am down to the lowest gear I can by nearing the top.


I only know what my Garmin watch tells me at the moment, the highest I've recorded max on a ride was 188bpm.



That's really encouraging, thanks.


Far from it, it's because I want to enjoy going on a ride for more than about 5 miles that I'm trying to improve this! Plus I want to improve my upper leg strength as a general goal, this is just a more fun way of doing it. I always check out Strava, but only for me, to monitor any progress. I'll try the hill tip, thanks.


This could be part of it, I crave the feeling of resistance, it doesn't have to be heavy, but some.


I'll try mixing a bit of solo riding in, but also ask him to take it easier, to help me for now. Thanks.


Using the Garmin cycling setting.
View attachment 527098View attachment 527099

I've done that before until I couldn't continue and had to get off, jelly legged. The max I've seen come up on my heart rate is 188.





I'm reading some parts of the British Cycling website about HZ zone calcs. In the Threshold Test it talks about using 20 mins at a certain cadence and taking the average HR. I couldn't do that as I don't have a cadence sensor, yet. Then I put that value into this calculator. In the meantime is there any other method I can use that would at least give me a better idea for now?
The 188bpm is close enough to give you a basis of zones. If you took 180 as threshold compared to 188 the difference in zone 2 is

122-149 (180)

127-156 (188)

You can see there isnt a great deal of difference. You would try and stay somewhere in the middle 130-140 ish. That is good enough to train with. Spin away for as long as possible. This will involve using inner chainring and easier gears on the back. You might think its silly slow speeds. Buts its what works if you put the time into it.
 
OP
Hockeynut

Hockeynut

Über Member
Location
Nottingham, UK
That calc shows 179 as max but you say you’ve reached 188. Replace 179 with 188 for a start.
Done.

The 188bpm is close enough to give you a basis of zones. If you took 180 as threshold compared to 188 the difference in zone 2 is

122-149 (180)

127-156 (188)
As in use 180 that on the website as the FTHR for now? Like this?
527134
Now I’m double confused... or naive, how my zone 5 is more than my Max HR! And do I put 189-217 in my Garmin settings for zone 5 etc?
 
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