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What should heart rate be during sprints or intervals?

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  • What should heart rate be during sprints or intervals?

    I do my "sprinting" during spin classes. I spin about four or five days a week (four hours total (max) per week), and usually do not exceed 70% to 75% of my max heart rate. One day a week I sprint all out on the bike, usually above 170 RPM for about 15-20 seconds then recover to below 70% max heart rate. I do this for, usually, five or six "sprints". During the sprint I get to, sometimes, 90% or even 100% of my max heart rate of 168 beats per minute. (I am 56 years old with a 39-43 resting heart rate.)

    Is a 95% to 100% max heart rate effort too extreme for sprinting, even though it's only for a few seconds at a time, usually for no more than five or six times, and no more than one day a week?

    For what it's worth, I spin since I have had knee surgery, and am a rabid snow skier. I save my knees for Phat Rocky Mountain Pow!

  • #2
    I can't imagine that those "maximum" heart rates are anything but rough averages. Sprinting can get my heart rate up to 180+, if my nurse friend was counting it properly. Sprinting is to hit the "flight" part of the "fight or flight" response, which involves the absolute max you can do for a short time.

    I would say that if it goes back down to normal pretty quickly and you don't feel any negative effects from it, you're probably okay.


    • #3
      When I used to speedskate, my heart monitor would max out at 220. I have no idea whether that was my max or a design flaw. The numbers we read are our max can be very far off.


      • #4
        The max I've encountered on a bike ride was 200+ (202 I think, but can't remember 100%).
        I feel that during a max effort my heart rate will be whatever it will be, and I'll feel inclined to slow down before it gets too much.


        • #5
          A couple of years ago I pushed hard up a hill with my bike and got my heart rate to about 180 (am 58 years old and that is a lot higher than the formula says it ought to be.) So I use 180 for my calculations. There are some risks depending on age to doing a real max heart rate test; it CAN be done in a cardiologist office with a monitor to make sure you don't have an abnormal rhythm.
          10/2/12: 169 lbs, 37"waist
          Now: low 150's, 33" waist


          • #6
            168 seems kind of low for a max hr. But that being said, 15-20sec is not long enough to reach max hr (this is known as cardiac lag) You are probably going at your max effort for that sprint but it would take longer for your heart to reach its max in that short of time; so the fact that it got that high in 15sec means that you were deffinitly going pretty damn hard! Nice work!

            (And just to give a little credential, i am currently working toward my PhD in exercise physiology) Nick Burgraff | Rantings in health, fitness, nutrition and even performance training


            • #7
              I am a professionally trained indoor cycle instructor. The max rpm I allow in my class during sprint (according to my training) is 110 rpms. If you want to really increase HR, add more gear and take it to 100/110. That will increase your HR. Pedaling like a rat on crack (insider nope!) Will do nothing more than destroy your knees according to exercise science research. On the other end going below 50 rpms will also help destroy your knees.

              Today I am working progressive sprints/rest:
              15/15 x5
              30/30 x4
              45/45 x5
              30/30 x4
              15/15 x5

              Give it a whirl with big girl/boy gears on that bike.