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Heart rate monitor training
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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Dec 27, 2011
At the BRC
Just wondering if anybody has some practical experience or advice they'd be willing to share about how to use a monitor to improve sport climbing performance? A local training guru suggested I try this. Turns out I can easily get my heart rate up to 180 plus, just before falling off (cause? effect?) As best I understand it, I'm supposed to do a bio-feedback kind of thing to get my heart rate down so I can keep climbing. Maybe the force just isn't with me, but so far it's been more a matter of observing the natural consequences, rather than actually accomplishing anything useful. Definitely entertaining though.
Mark

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Dec 27, 2011
At the BRC
But how is that different from just trying to continue to pull without the monitor on?

I think there may be some benefit in being able to recognize when my HR reaches a particular zone, but so far I don't seem able to influence it much. I can also imagine training in specific zones, like runners do, but don't see a way to make it happen.

Mark

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By JohnJ80302
From Boulder, Colorado
Dec 27, 2011
Mark -- I read an interview with Steve Hong a few years back in which he explains that he uses his heart rate monitor in the gym all the time as a training tool, to see when he is actually finding a rest spot on a climb. According to the interview, Hong says that he knows he's not resting/recovering until his heart drops below 150 bpm, so he looks for rests/stances before cruxes where his heart rate drops below 150. I think it's a great training tool for the gym, when combined with anaerobic training too.

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By Harrison Harb
From Portland, Or
Dec 27, 2011
Up until this year, when I started climbing a lot, I was totally focussed on training for xc skiing and (road) bike racing. So we used HRMs a lot. I didn't think there was really any benefit for using it specifically for climbing until I read the post above. That seems like the only thing it would really help for...if you find a rest, try and get your HR down in the 130s range, and then start climbing again. The 120s-130s is sort of the range where you want to be before you begin your next interval while doing an interval work out. The lower you can get it between intervals the stronger you'll feel.

The only other thing I can think of is while using the HRM...train yourself to make hard moves while your heart rate is right up near the max. Lots of times you're already breathing hard going into the crux.

  • *as a side note. Most people use an HRM incorrectly. The most important thing to remember about them, is that it's used to LIMIT yourself. If you go running for 1 hr...use the HRM to stay below 150bpm. Going slower is more difficult than going faster. There's not a whole lot of training benefit from working out for long periods of time breathing hard. Even though it feels good, you're getting tired.

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By Ryan Palo
From Bend, oregon
Dec 27, 2011
Me
I use a RHM ( Garmin 610 ) for training. But only as it pertains to resting/recovery on long power-endurance climbing, like the terrain found in the Wicked Cave at Rifle or extensions in the Pipedream. These routes usually have shitty rests, so I usually only stay there until my HR normalizes.

I dont not use it to train, only to benchmark my overall fitness. Every so often I use my HRM to see where Im at when training intervals on our treadwall. Other than that, I dont really see the point.

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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 27, 2011
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suckers! <br /> <br />Photo by Samantha
Harrison Harb wrote:
**as a side note. Most people use an HRM incorrectly. The most important thing to remember about them, is that it's used to LIMIT yourself. If you go running for 1 hr...use the HRM to stay below 150bpm. ... There's not a whole lot of training benefit from working out for long periods of time breathing hard. Even though it feels good, you're getting tired.

You are highly under-informed. There is a whole world of use for HRM in ways that are not just about endurance training.

That said, eventually I quit using mine with my training clients and myself... I don't know why; I guess I felt it was not always that helpful anymore. I think mostly because heart rate training is all based on a set formula, and newer and improved testing is showing that 90% of people don't adhere to that formula. Not to mention that heart rate zones vary between types of activity even for a single individual-- making a set scale for everything even more questionable.

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By Harrison Harb
From Portland, Or
Dec 29, 2011
Aerili wrote:
You are highly under-informed. There is a whole world of use for HRM in ways that are not just about endurance training.


I usually don't care if someone on the internet has a bigger dick than me, but that's just ignorant. I didn't say anything about HRMs only being useful for endurance training. Also, I hope your 'training clients' aren't paying you to tell them that Zone training is out dated, and there isn't a need anymore for heart rate monitors. Every elite athlete I've ever known uses one.

If you can point to a specific thing I said, rather than just blanketing my entire statement as ignorant, that would help.

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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 11, 2012
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suckers! <br /> <br />Photo by Samantha
Harrison Harb wrote:
I usually don't care if someone on the internet has a bigger dick than me, but that's just ignorant.

No, but it is ignorant to say that heart rate monitors are only used correctly when limiting yourself. It is even more ignorant to then specify to a bunch of strangers a certain heart rate 'they' should stay below when running for an hour. Never mind all the variables that play into something like that.

Did I state heart rate training is outdated or that I marketed it thus to clients? Never. But what my years of ignorant college education, certification, and work experience in this field have taught me is that rating of perceived exertion is essentially as good. And costs nothing. And is often more accurate.

If you go by the heart rate monitor and the Zone training like the Bible, you can easily be over- or under-train since your personal maximal heart rate probably does not come close to these charts. I have seen a study that found 95% of men and women at age 40 had a variance of +/- 20 bpm around the age-predicted max. That's pretty significant. I once attended a seminar by a man who tested a large sample of the population in a diverse array of physical activities using indirect calorimetry and compared their actual zones to their age-related heart rate predicted zones. He said 4 people out of 1000 came remotely close to matching.

I do get a kick out of 22 year olds telling me how dumb I am, though. Thanks.




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By tim naylor
Jan 12, 2012
so angry.

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By Harrison Harb
From Portland, Or
Jan 12, 2012
And did I say HRMs are only used correctly when limiting yourself? You should hang out with more 22-years-olds...since we're not qualified yet to have an opinion, you'd get plenty more kicks where that one came from!

And the 150bpm statement was just an example...to illustrate what I was trying to talk about in a broad sense: that what most people think is base or distance training is actually too intense and they end up not benefitting very much from it.

Further more, why does it matter? You have an education and background. I'm a nobody. I have no experience in sports and no education and know nothing about training! No one should even read what I have to write!

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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 12, 2012
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suckers! <br /> <br />Photo by Samantha
Harrison Harb wrote:
And did I say HRMs are only used correctly when limiting yourself?

See here:
Harrison wrote:
as a side note. Most people use an HRM incorrectly. The most important thing to remember about them, is that it's used to LIMIT yourself.

And:
Harrison wrote:
And the 150bpm statement was just an example...that what most people think is base or distance training is actually too intense and they end up not benefitting very much from it

But stated to sound as an all-around fact:
Harrison wrote:
If you go running for 1 hr...use the HRM to stay below 150bpm.

For some people 150 bpm is not so intense, even for long durations. Especially as training fitness increases, thus does stroke volume increase, thus must heart rate increase to maintain a certain level of intensity.

I'm not implying what you have to say is meaningless. But you made some statements that just aren't really that true or were rather incomplete. Sorry that pisses you off? Heart rate monitors are not useless and I have used one extensively myself in the past. I might even use mine again. But there are some caveats to understand with their use.


tim naylor wrote:
so angry

Hmmm. If disseminating some info and knowledge on a topic is anger, then um, sure. Whatever works for you.

Anyway, I don't think I have much more to add to this.

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By Harrison Harb
From Portland, Or
Jan 12, 2012
honestly the only reason why i continued the argument is because of the statement "you are very under-informed." Under-informed and too young to know anything.

I didn't put much thought into my first post and I guess I thought it was implied that I was giving an example...not making "this works for everyone" statements.

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Jan 12, 2012
At the BRC
Aerili wrote:
Heart rate monitors are not useless and I have used one extensively myself in the past. I might even use mine again. But there are some caveats to understand with their use.


If you have a chance, would you mind sharing some of those caveats and suggesting some useful ways I could add HRM training to my climbing?

FWIW, I've been wearing the monitor just to get some baseline info. I'm 55 but typically get my max heart rate up to 185 on hard routes, at which point I am prone to lose focus, climb poorly, then fall off. I think my age predicted HR is substantially lower (but don't have a chart in front of me.)

If I can get my HR down by resting, I can keep going. When I am tired, and pure finger weakness makes me fall, I can't get my HR up to my max, more like 165.

I have noticed that I am more aware of my 'level of perceived exertion' than I used to be, even when I don't have the monitor on, and can try to dial things down, catch my breath, and keep climbing. This is useful for me.

Mark

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Jan 13, 2012
At the BRC
I usually try to avoid Doctors.
That being said, I started seeing an internist annually back when our kids were born. He's yet to find anything seriously wrong. I've just always been able to mount a really high max heart rate. Could go over 200 in my 30's. Not everyone gets to be normal, not that it's done me any good.
The routes involved are hard for me, low to mid 12s, but barely out of 'doing fourteeners' range for Boulder.
On a different subject, I've finally gotten my body fat percentage low enough to apply for Boulder citizenship, but am afraid I'll be blackballed since I think Open Space should actually be open. Gotta stand up for my beliefs sometimes, despite the costs!
Mark

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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 16, 2012
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suckers! <br /> <br />Photo by Samantha
Mark E Dixon wrote:
If you have a chance, would you mind sharing some of those caveats and suggesting some useful ways I could add HRM training to my climbing?

If you are really serious, it is IDEAL to do some testing to find out your true maximal heart rate. But such testing--and the motivation to do what it takes during the testing--are harder to accomplish (and, depending on health status, can carry some risks). Most people will not really want to do a true maximal HR test (i.e. it is HARD!). That said, you must use Rating of Perceived Exertion to help you establish where you fall in regard to the Age-Predicted Max Heart Rate (and associated training zones).

It's like one researcher said to me once: "Some people are born running like Harleys. And some people are born running like crotch rockets." [I'm a crotch rocket--please, no jokes :) ]

Now, you stated a 'training guru' recommended this training to you. Have you asked him/her for more info? Maybe you should pay them for a few sessions to get something concrete developed. I can give you some ideas I have personally off the top of my head, but I haven't ever used HR monitors with climbing and not sure if I agree it would make a statistically significant improvement in your training.

As you zoom into local and/or general anaerobic threshold during climbing, it is possible a HR monitor could maybe provide the feedback of your heart rate spiking (probably via auditory--climbing isn't terribly conducive to checking a wrist watch readout). You can then develop mental calming techniques to drop the HR, PERHAPS. (This really falls into the realm of sport psychology, my least knowledgeable area.) Or perhaps you can use it to gauge or manipulate recovery between intense anaerobic bouts, depending on your goals. (There! A cut-and-dried ex phys approach, just my style!)


Mark wrote:
FWIW, I've been wearing the monitor just to get some baseline info. I'm 55 but typically get my max heart rate up to 185 on hard routes, at which point I am prone to lose focus, climb poorly, then fall off. I think my age predicted HR is substantially lower (but don't have a chart in front of me.) If I can get my HR down by resting, I can keep going. When I am tired, and pure finger weakness makes me fall, I can't get my HR up to my max, more like 165.

Maybe 185 is your max, maybe not. I don't think it's crazy at all. But anyway, based on such info, all your training zones may be of the 'shift upward' variety wrt age-predicted norms. Just a guess. Like I stated earlier, there is evidence there is variance of +/- 20 bpm to age-predicted norms (you fall on the very end of the +20).

The "lose focus and fall off" is predicted by Selye's Inverted U Theory. As arousal increases, performance decreases. If you can rest, of course you can get keep going--arousal diminishes and performance increases. Not to mention the many and sundry biochemical things occurring during recovery that contribute to this.

HTH

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By Harrison Harb
From Portland, Or
Jan 17, 2012
Mark E Dixon wrote:
When I am tired, and pure finger weakness makes me fall, I can't get my HR up to my max, more like 165. Mark


That also makes sense. The more muscle groups your body requires to perform an activity, the higher your heart rate will go. For most people, for instance, their Max HR is higher running uphill than it is cycling uphill.

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Jan 20, 2012
At the BRC
Aerili- (and everybody) thanks for the feedback and suggestions.

I spoke with the guru again- assuming I understand him, his suggestion is to use the monitor in a biofeedback sort of fashion. Use it to increase body (really arousal/stress) awareness, and develop 'mental calming techniques' to get the heart rate back under control. Ultimately you don't need the monitor once your self-awareness is sufficiently sensitive. FWIW, I don't see Steve Hong wearing a HRM in the gym anymore.

Analyzing rest stance effectiveness is an interesting idea. I watched my HR at a rest and discovered that my breathing normalized MUCH faster than my HR, leading me to wonder if I've been leaving rests way too soon. Will experiment and see what happens.

Using the HRM for interval training seems like a helpful approach, but I don't think I'll go for the max HR testing- enough suffering already! Anyway, I just can't deal with the treadwall at present, although I suppose I could do route intervals at the gym, rest till my HR dropped a certain amount, then climb the next lap/interval...

It's usually reasonably easy to glance at the watch dial occasionally while climbing. Listening to the beeping is unbearably distracting and it's too hard to calculate the heart rate from the beep rate anyway. There's a target heart rate alarm function of some kind, but I'd need to find the manual before I could use this. I suspect I wouldn't hear the alarm in the midst of the climb.

I don't know that I'll get a statistically significant improvement, but the HRM doesn't interfere with my other training and climbing, so it's kind of 'no lose.' And it's fun. I still can't remember why I even have the monitor. But might as well use it.

Mark

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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 22, 2012
The West Desert...it's not just for climbing, suckers! <br /> <br />Photo by Samantha
Mark E Dixon wrote:
I watched my HR at a rest and discovered that my breathing normalized MUCH faster than my HR, leading me to wonder if I've been leaving rests way too soon. Will experiment and see what happens.


In my experience doing VO2max tests on people (primarily the Balke treadmill protocol which incorporates a HRM) and in just training myself with a HRM in the past, this is totally normal. But this is one of the reasons why I think HRM training isn't necessarily useful to be strictly followed. Your Rating of Perceived Exertion (which includes your respiratory rate) is a great indicator of 'where you're at.' Don't get paralysis by analysis. Over-resting is not always that helpful, either, especially if you are trying to push anaerobic threshold.

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By wankel7
From Indiana
Apr 24, 2012
Aerili wrote:
In my experience doing VO2max tests on people (primarily the Balke treadmill protocol which incorporates a HRM) and in just training myself with a HRM in the past, this is totally normal. But this is one of the reasons why I think HRM training isn't necessarily useful to be strictly followed. Your Rating of Perceived Exertion (which includes your respiratory rate) is a great indicator of 'where you're at.' Don't get paralysis by analysis. Over-resting is not always that helpful, either, especially if you are trying to push anaerobic threshold.

I did a lactate threshold test on my bike and having the hr rate where lt occurred made my hr monitor a lot more useful. Having my lt number was great for the mountain bike racing I was doing at the time also.

Other than that its nice to have for pacing on solo runs and rides.

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