Sunday 31 October 2010

Target Heart Rate Training

Winters on the way and with it comes the prospect of fewer miles outside and putting a bit of weight on. Or does it?

After a year on the road, I'm not losing any weight and I'm stuck at my current weight, even though I've been cycling around 400-500 miles a month. I knocked about a stone off in the beginning, but after that, nothing.

It's mostly to the intensity I've been training at. When you have a heart rate monitor, you can begin to understand how hard you're working. My problem is that I spend most of my time in Heart Rate Zones 4 & 5, I like to ride fast, push myself on the misunderstood basis that it's better for you. On my recent healthcheck, my heart and lungs were judged at someone ten years younger, so that's a good start.

However, I want to lose weight to get my power to weight ratio better for the going up hills. The solution, is to do more miles in Heart Rate Zone 2 and 3. This calls for longish rides, really keeping an eye on your intensity and ensuring you don't go out of Zone 2 in the main. Staying in Zone 2 means you're body burns more fat, than carbohydrate, which should contribute to reduction in weight, when combined with a decent diet. If you're always pushing, you end up relying on carbohydrate for fuel instead of fat, well that's what the experts say.

After today's 36 mile ride, it's quite tough going slow. Reason being, is your instinct is telling you to ride fast, get out the saddle up a hill, get the old heart pumping. Today, I was up and down my gears on my winter bike, just making sure the old ticker stayed in Zone 2. It slowed me right down, at times to 8mph going up hills, 12mph on some drags and no more than 17mph on some flats, where I would normally be hitting 22-23mph.

Of course it means, you get overtaken whilst you're out, which as a naturally competitive person, is a bit tough. However, thinking ahead, a good winter of aerbobic base miles should do me the world of good and help shift the 10 - 12Ibs I want to shed over the winter and come into 2011 a bit leaner, a bit meaner and much keaner. Let's see.


  1. Interesting topic Phil and very timely as I am just starting to monitor my own heart rate while training. I am a little older than you but essentially the heart rate zones are comparable. I have lost a great deal of weight over the last 2 years but most of that was in year one. In year one I was principally power walking (some cycling) and I know that my heart rate was mainly zone 2, ie I was burning fat. As I got fitter I started to do more on the bike and like you my heart rate went up and the weight loss stalled.
    I find it really difficult to strictly restrict heart rate while training but am making an effort to monitor the situation.
    Thanks, Tony

  2. As Tony says, a very timely article, plus I seem to have stalled on the old fat losing front too, having lost 5 and half stones since July last year.

    I've gone back to my Ridgeback commuter and towpath commute to keep the heart rate where it should be, I was beating myself up permanently on my road bike.

    I've linked this article in my blog so I can keep coming back to it.

    Useful stuff Phil ta for posting it.