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Am I over training?

Posted December 19, 2016 03:43AM by Bernie in the Cycling Forum

Bernie Bernie
Location: Japan
Joined: 5 months ago   Posts: 1

Hi Everyone:

I have a question about interval training and target heart rates. I am a 56-year old make. My weekly routine at the gym (6 days per week) is: 3 days of weights followed by 90 minutes on the bike, On the other 3 days I do 90 minutes of intense interval training. I use workouts that I used to do many years ago as a competitive rower:

Workout 1-10 minutes warm-up. 5 minutes hard and 5 minutes off. 5-minute warm down

Workout 2- 10 minute warm-up. 3 minutes hard and 3 minutes off. 5-minute warm down.

Workout 3. 10-minute warm-up. Pyramid. 1-3-5-7-5-3-1. 5-minute warm-down.

When I am doing the hard part of the intervals, my heart rate ranges on average between 120-145 bpm. I am basing my training range by the 220-age=max HR (60% and 80%)

I would like to know if I am over training? For example, when I do Workout #1, which is 90 minutes-warm-up/down, I am doing 75 minutes, or roughly 13 intervals (7 hard and 6 off), and the same for Workouts 2 &3, where after subtracting the warm-up/down, I am doing intervals for 75 minutes. Is this too much. Also, I am not sure if I am going to hard during the in-between period of the interval. I remember when I did these workouts in rowing, after the intense 5-minute piece, we would relax and "row it out" to wind down and go easy for the 5 minutes, trying to recover and allow our HR to go down. For my cycling workouts, I am riding at a 70% max HR range on the "off" pieces and riding at around 75-80% (250-140 bpm) on the hard portion of the interval.

On the three days I do weights, I spend about 45-minutes to complete 3 circuits of machines and free weights, not pausing, but going from one exercise to another without pausing. After when I ride the bike for 90 minutes, I am riding at a steady pace, at around 125 bpm.

Any advice would be appreciated.



Bikegeek Ray
Location: USA
Joined: 1 year ago   Posts: 15

Maybe? The "accepted" heart rate levels are widely subjective. At age 58 with over twenty years of racing I can stay at upper 160's and max out at over 175 bpm.

Heart rate varies per person and I have found it to be an unreliable measure for me.

I train based on my FTP (http://www.bikeradar.com/us/road/gear/article/ftp-for-cycling-what-functional-threshold-power-means-how-to-test-it-and-how-to-improve-it-48624/).

Anyone else?


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/24/2016 01:10PM by Bikegeek.

Skye Skye Nott
@TheStaminist   Skye Nott Staminist.com
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 2 years ago   Posts: 493

Hi Bernie,

I agree with Ray that using heart rate has problems.

The 220-age guideline doesn't estimate max HR correctly for most people, it's just a starting point (apparently it was developed back in WW2). If you want to find your max HR, you'll need to do a max heart rate testing protocol, there are several out there but they generally involve increasing effort every X minutes for as long as you can. If you have a variable resistance (fluid) trainer or a sufficiently long climb just warm up, start out at a moderately hard pace for the first minute, then increase effort every minute after that until you pop.

Of course if you have any heart or health issues you should check with a doctor before doing any max heart rate testing protocol.

Max HR and measured HR during a workout on any particular day can vary though, depending on how much sleep you've had, stress levels, caffeine levels, sickness or overtraining, even your position on the bike and hydration levels. You can't compare HR values between people either - physiological, fitness, and genetic differences makes it impossible.

I guess what I'd ask is why are you concerned that you're over training? How do you generally feel with your current training load on rest days or before the next workout? What you can handle as far as training load is going to depend on your current fitness level and what load your body is used to. If you're concerned about over training based on 220-age max heart rate alone, I don't think that's a cause for concern.

If you really want to be precise about your training load and ramping up your load in a manageable way to hit some sort of fitness target by a particular date (eg for a race), power meter is the way to go. Of course at a gym this is problematic unless you can find one that has a Wattbike or you bring power pedals like the PowerTap P1 and fit them yourself before a workout with permission. Weekly TSS (training stress) based on power is pretty much the gold standard for training metrics these days.

The only thing I use HR for now is to keep myself in check when I'm supposed to be on a Zone 1/2 recovery ride, and when I'm training hard, I often wear a Fitbit overnight to measure my min heart rate. A min heart rate 5 bpm or more higher than normal can indicate overtraining, but again it's really hard to get consistent HR measurements.

Webmaster - Staminist.com

Skye Skye Nott
@TheStaminist   Skye Nott Staminist.com
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 2 years ago   Posts: 493

I should also mention that heart rate is especially unhelpful with interval training because there's a 30-60 lag between starting an effort and your heart rate catching up. You mention average HR on your intervals, but if you're using HR to gauge your effort level for the 3 minute or shorter intervals it's not going to be that helpful.

If you're using HR on longer "time trial" type efforts it can be useful, but I'm talking about at least 10-20 minutes. Keep in mind that whenever you read about heart rate and cycling (for instance LTHR) those tools were developed with time trialling in mind which is usually around 60 minutes at max sustainable power ("threshold"). A sufficiently long effort will cancel out the HR ramp time , but long "steady state" efforts will still suffer from day-to-day variance from fatigue etc as I mentioned above.


Webmaster - Staminist.com
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