Question for anyone with a background in physiology (or who is better with google searches than I am):
Resting heart rate varies widely from person to person, especially between athletes and non athletes. Yet most max heart rate calculations seem to simply be (220 - age). Do individuals with low resting heart rates have lower max heart rates, and if so, should heart rate zones be adjusted to account for this?
Good question. Your max HR is mostly a function of age and (to a lesser extent) genetics. No amount of training will really alter your max HR, so that’s why most refer to the 220-age equation. Still, that equation has its limits, especially when outside of ~20-50 years. Some research shows 208 – (age x 0.7) to be more accurate in estimating max HR. A lab max test is nice for actually measuring it, but many simple field tests can also determine it. Also – something to keep in mind…while you only have one true max HR (usually found running), you will likely have trouble ever reaching this max in the water & possibly on the bike. Because of this, some people like doing field tests in the different disciplines to determine more accurate zones for the 3 sports.
In terms of calculating HR zones, most prefer the Karvonen method, because it does account for individual variation (ie. training effects) in resting HR. If you’re not - a quick google search should pull up the equation (or shoot me an e-mail!). Hope that helps! All of that said…I no longer use HR zones and just go by feel. :)
I've also heard that you can't raise your max heart rate, but by lowering your resting heart rate, you have more of a range to work with, which is advantageous.
Speaking of "training effects," I notice some high-end Garmins that boast this feature. Same thing? Helpful? See https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=84374&ra=true for example
yes--that's exactly right. Endurance training lowers resting HR, so it essentially increases a person's HR range. The decline in resting HR can be pretty significant, which is why I don't recommend that athletes base their HR zones solely off their max HR. By using heart rate reserve (Karvonen method) instead, you take this lowered resting HR into consideration: Intensity (%) x (HR max - HR rest) + HR rest
re: Garmin's "training effect" feature...I love my Gamin, but put zero faith in this value. It is designed to provide you with a single # (from 1-5) that accounts for the accumulated "load" of a workout. They base it off the duration & intensity (HR) of your workout, as well as the limited info you entered into the user profile. To give an example, it would classify a very hard effort of ~45 min as "overreaching" for many people. Most folks reading this forum would probably snicker at that! I feel it best serves people who've been pretty sedentary, & are just starting a new CV training program. -Jessica