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3 MHR: Body Is Smart

April 18, 2013

Now, if one thinks about survival when there are big, hungry carnivores around, one would recognize that, the Maslow scale is correct: if physical safety is at risk, everything else can go hang.

The American Heart Association captures this in their "exercise" table:

Ideal For

Benefit Desired

Intensity Level (% Maximum heart rate)

Light Exercise

Maintain Healthy Heart/Get Fit

50% - 60%

Weight Management

Lose Weight/ Burn Fat

60% - 70%

Aerobic Base Building

Increase Stamina Aerobic Endurance

70% - 80%

Optimal Conditioning

Maintain Excellent Fitness Condition 

80% - 90%

Elite Athlete

 Maintain Superb Athletic Condition

90% - 100%

So, why stop at 70% if you want to "lose weight"?
The "secret" is that "burn fat" stops at about 70%: if a person's MHR is greater than 70%, the body doesn't waste the O2 to convert fat to glucose.  When I checked, that conversion was pretty expensive in terms of O2 need and, if you're trying to outrun a lion, it likely isn't too important.

So, why stop at 70% if you want to "lose weight"?
The "secret" is that "burn fat" slow/stops at about 70%: if a person's MHR is greater than 70%, the body doesn't waste the O2 to convert fat to glucose.  When I checked, that conversion was pretty expensive in terms of O2 need and, if you're trying to outrun a lion, it likely isn't too important.

So, how does one safely determine MHR?

Treadmill test

The best way I have heard of is to have a formal "treadmill test".  I had one when I was 39 (long ago).  The cardiologist (yes, a real, live one) hooked me up with a lot of wires to watch my heart rate, etc, and took my blood pressure every couple of minutes.  He put me on a treadmill and told me "hit the stop bottom when you feel you need to" (??? what a thing to say).

Well, I'm an over achiever.  I just kept going and going as the incline got steeper and steeper.  I finally said "enough" and hit the button.  The Doctors commented "good, I was just about to stop it.  See these little 'glitches; on the heart graph?  Your heart is starting to miss beats which means you needed to stop...".
=> turns out the max was 196, gee, I must be 24 (again :-)

An Overachiever's Determination

Back to that Century Ride: it seems I had determined my current maximum heart rate on my own, and probably with a chance I could have done myself in.

 I had valiantly stayed up with them.

The flats were fine (but hard) and then we came to Clapshaw Hill: while keeping up, my heart rate when up to 183 bps!  Wow! I'd never see it that high, so I slowed a bit more as I went up the hill. (and worried a tiny bit about whether I would keel over...).

But then I noted that my heart rate when up to 188bps!!  All this is recorded in my Garmin Edge 305 so I have it in "electrons".  I note that 4 hours later, on the steepest part of the ride, my legs "gave up" and started cramping, but that is a different story and likely not related to MHR.

At my age, it is amazing that I simply didn't keel over; a definite possibility (note to self: don't do that again without a doctor present!).
Note to reader: don't be crazy, it might be the last thing you do!

 


Recent Commentaries
in Max Heart Rate Book

STP: HeartRate - May 19, 2013
5  MHR: Digestion Shuts Down
STP: HeartRate - May 19, 2013
7  MHR: Notes
STP: HeartRate - April 18, 2013
1  MHR and Age
STP: HeartRate - April 18, 2013
4  MHR: Fat Shuts Down
STP: HeartRate - April 18, 2013
3  MHR: Body Is Smart
STP: HeartRate - April 18, 2013
2  MHR Declines with Age
STP: HeartRate - April 01, 2013
6  MHR: Aerobic

Max Heart Rate
       Chapters

1   MHR and Age
  April 18, 2013
2   MHR Declines with Age
  April 18, 2013
3   MHR: Body Is Smart
  April 18, 2013
4   MHR: Fat Shuts Down
  April 18, 2013
5   MHR: Digestion Shuts Down
  May 19, 2013
6   MHR: Aerobic
  April 01, 2013
7   MHR: Notes
  May 19, 2013
Carpe Diem: What you can envision, you can achieve!sm
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