How to Use a Heart Rate Monitor for Cycling

How to Use a Heart Rate Monitor for Cycling
Heart rate training is one of several methods used by serious cyclists to maximize workout potential. By monitoring your cardiovascular effort, you can gauge your body's overall stress levels independently of perceived fatigue levels. While it is important to pay attention to how your body feels, workouts based on predetermined exertion levels can be used as part of a rigid training regimen to achieve elevated fitness.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Purchase a quality heart rate monitor. Most monitors use a chest strap to monitor your heartbeat; some use pulse taken at the wrist or arm. Units without chest straps tend to be less reliable in high-output training conditions.
Step 2
Determine your maximum heart rate. The Mayo Clinic recommends subtracting your age from 220). This is the estimated highest rate at which your heart can pump blood through your body.
Step 3
Find your target heart rate zone using the calculator at the link in the Resources section below. Aim for spending at least 20 minutes in this zone every workout.
Step 4
Develop a structured training plan for more intense workouts. Spend two to eight minutes riding just below your lactate acid threshold (about 85 percent of your maximum heart rate), spin easy for one to five minutes, then ride at lactate threshold again. Start with two intervals, working up to four as your get stronger. Try to increase time spent at threshold; do not increase intensity.
Step 5
Monitor your heart rate during warm-up and cool-down time. Try to remain below 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, and cool down to 50 to 60 percent before ending a workout.

Tips & Warnings

 
A heart rate monitor is useful for achieving training-level output during workouts, but it should also be used to avoid injury. Do not work beyond your training levels for the ride.
 
Maximum heart rate and lactate threshold training place significant stress on the aerobic engine in your body. Talk to your doctor before using these training methods if you have weakness in your cardiovascular system. Stop a workout and cool down slowly if you experience sudden jumps in heart rate or perceived fatigue, dizziness or nausea.
 
Maximum heart rate and lactate threshold training place significant stress on the aerobic engine in your body. Talk to your doctor before using these training methods if you have weakness in your cardiovascular system.
 
Stop a workout and cool down slowly if you experience sudden jumps in heart rate or perceived fatigue, dizziness or nausea.

Article Written By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson earned his Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from The Ohio University. He has been a professional writer since 2008, specializing in outdoors content and instruction. Johnson's poetry has appeared in such publications as "Sphere" and "17 1/2 Magazine."

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