Last week in Tour de Bintan, I was over the moon to see the results of a year and a half training. In 2014, I was slow, fat and borderline health risk. A change in diet, lifestyle and behaviour turned that around. Today I am 23 kilograms lighter than I was in August 2014.
Off the back of my success, I’ve tried my best to help the development of other riders in Singapore. Some 9000 cyclists get out over each weekend, but only a limited number reach their goals. I’ve been asked hundreds of times
‘What was the key to your early progress?’
The answer shocks a few people. I simply listened to my heart. I covered the science of it in my post Fuel Efficiency & Fat Burn. But I’ve been asked to take a closer look at ‘how’ we should listen to our heart.
One of the important tools you can use while cycling is a heart rate monitor. It can help you measure how your body is reacting to your workout, analyze cycling and workout performances and adjust your training based on the data you get from it. See the vast majority of people that go out riding, stay in the ‘grey’ zone, a moderate paced group ride. Social rides are great, but they don’t test your thresholds or efficiency effectively. To get the most out of your training, you need to know your key ‘zones’. Zone two is where all the fuel efficiency comes from, and zone 4 and above it where you test your limits.
If you’re a beginner and it’s your first time to use a heart rate monitor, here are some tips I can share to you based on my experience:
- Start with the basic. If you’re a starter, use a basic heart monitor. It is better that you buy a one of the cheaper models while starting your training and then buy a more advanced tool later when you know which kind of data you’re interested in. Simpler models are less expensive but still fairly functional for you to discover what you need later on.
- Test it out! When you’ve finally found the heart rate monitor that works for you, get out and use it! Spend a month with your regular training scheme just wearing the monitor. Check out how your heart reacts to your training and your efforts. Eventually, you will notice that you’ll be using the monitor to pace yourself. But don’t forget to first measure your heart rate during easy rides so you don’t overtrain yourself. Measure your heart rate during easy rides.
- Find your parameters. Two basic parameters are important for your training: resting heart rate and maximum heart rate. Find your resting heart rate by checking your heart rate first thing in the morning every day for a week and find the average. Make sure you’re well rested and not ill.
On the other hand, finding your maximum heart rate can be a little bit more complicated. Some suggest that since not everyone has the same cardiovascular make-up, to get an accurate max heart rate, you’ll have to go to a sports science centre and undergo a physiological test.
- To each its own. Like I said earlier, we all have different anatomy of our cardiovascular system. You should remember to only compare your heart rate values with your own previous entries. What you can instead do is learn from each other’s physiological experiences and adaptations.
Have you used a heart rate monitor before? What kind and what data do you usually take note of? Share it with me below!