Low Heart rate on the bike…and what to do about it! Part II
Mary’s question highlights another issue, we can get our heart rates highest in the sports that we are most efficient at. Because both Mary and I come from a running background our bodies are more efficient while running and thus better able to maximize performance and heart rate.
While cycling we are both less efficient and probably do not have the correct muscle groups developed enough to allow us to push our hearts to the limit.
Simply put, the legs give up through lack of strength before the heart does.
At 10km race pace for each stride you take it is suggested that you only use about 20% of your maximum muscle power, this explains why runners do not need large muscles and why Mary and I can get a high heart rate while running. However, cycling in a 40km time trial we can use up to 60% of our muscle power to turn the pedals, which means we need more powerful muscles to cycle. It is this lack of muscle power that is stopping us getting our heart rates higher, and leading to us to under achieve. We will both need to spend more time developing our maximum power-output to improve our efficiency on the bike.
One way to do this is the inclined leg press. Research suggests that if you have a weak leg press, in relation to your body weight, you will not be able to cycle fast. Being strong on the leg press does not guarantee that you will be a good cyclist, but weak performance will ensure you remain a poor cyclist!
1. Aim to build up to 3 sets, start with lighter weights and only one set !
2. Do weights for 6 to 12 weeks
3. Do this twice a week as part of a strength programme
4. Pick a weight you could do about 20 lifts before reaching exhaustion
1. Leg curls 12 x 3 sets
2. Leg extensions 12 x 3 sets
Note: Your quads will always be stronger than your hamstrings. should be 8:5 ratio. i.e. if you do extensions at 80 kg you should be at 50 kg for the curls.
3. Calf raisers 12 x 3 sets
Note: this will ache at about the 8th, last 4 should be tough.
4. Leg press 15 x 4 sets
Note: the aim to press about 65% of your one lift max.
In summary a lower than expected heart rate in one sport, compared to another, suggests a weakness that needs to be overcome in that sport. Although heart rate may help to highlight a weakness, don’t get too hung up on heart rates, as everyone is different.
On the bike it is more beneficial to monitor your average power output. While running, see what average times you can hold during interval training.
If you can maintain your target race pace, it does not really matter what your heart rate monitor is saying.