How To Find Your Maximum Heart Rate


The ideal test is a short warm up followed by a gradual increase in intensity until you reach your maximum heart rate. Sounds simple, but damn hard!

I have discovered that using a power meter might be one of the best ways to make the increments in intensity just as smooth as needed. Making small increments of 10 Watts every 30 seconds is a successful approach to attain your maximum oxygen consumption. You might have noticed that I recommend the same strategy for Watt Max Testing.

Typical mistakes when testing Maximum Heart Rate

Starting out too fast
If you start out too fast there is a great risk that you get exhausted before your oxygen uptake is ready to perform at 100%. The reason for this is that your body uses anaerobic metabolites to produce the required energy.

Starting out too slow
If you start out too slow it is very unlikely that you will have the power when you need it. Again you can conclude that pacing strategy is very important for the final result.

Not motivated
If you are not motivated when you perform a maximum heart rate test (or any other physical test) it is obvious that your performance will go down. Try to motivate yourself before the test and have a training partner or personal cycling coach to support you through the whole event.

It is not an easy to job to find your maximum heart rate, but if you prepare a physical test with the tips I have recommended above, there is a good chance that you can make a new personal record.

If you want to know more about interval training for cyclists, why not get instant access to my e-book: Time Effective Cycling Training

4 comments… add one
  • Frank

    Jesper,
    Are you familar with the “Foster Sub Maximal Heart Rate Test”? If so, what is your opinion of this method?

  • Ole Herman

    Hi – I have read your book and I have been visiting your website. I find your ideas very interesting and I realy would recomend your book for other cyclists as well. I see your point about VO2 max focus in any training program, and I really think your ideas can work for most of us. My self included.

    I am quite dedicated to this sport, and I do read many books about training. I also read about periodization and I am interested to get your advice about the number of high quality V02 max training sessions you will recommend. And also when to start VO2 max training, since it seems to be the general advice from others to hold back during vintertraining and wait for theese harder workouts untill later in the training period.

    Let’s say that my most important race is in end of June every year and one in late August. When will you start to execute “your winner” 3x (3/2) at VO2max or other V02 max intervals ? January ? or would you wait untill March/April ? (My assumtion here is that I will train through the whole Vinter starting in October with SubTreashold Intervalls and increase the intensity during Nov – Dec and Jan.

    I am a bit confused about this issue, so I really hope your can share your thoughts with me. Thanks in advance.

    BR
    Ole Herman

  • Mike McClure

    Hi – I am a 66 year old spinning guy who has always kept fit but i am over weight by 15 kg. When spinning for upto 3 hours at a time I average a heart beat of 138bpm but I can hit 168 + and top out at 178bpm for 40+ minutes during the sessions. There are not physical signs of stress and my rate drops instantly. I spin usually 5/6 hours each week. Starting slow and steady but buidling up during the last hour of each session.
    Can I have your thoughts on this as I am a little concerned as the calculation is 220 – age = 154bpm maximum!
    Regards – mike

  • BRYAN ARNOTT

    Hi Mike
    I think you are very fit .
    I am 63 and spin 5 times per week but usually a max of 45 mins and do cardio and strength work sessions with each spin session
    My weight is 73kg which is ok.I don’t carry any weight.
    I use a myzone belt and my max setting is 188bpm , I usually hit 95% but only in the last third of a session.
    I think you are fitter and stronger than me and would say that you should have no concerns

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