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Low Maximum Heart Rate

by John
(Livingston MT)

I'm a 32 year old trail runner in Montana and I do all my runs on trails in the mountains. I'm training for a 50k run and I recently got a heart rate monitor to help prepare.

I went out to determine my max heart rate today. I picked a steep trail and after warming up for about ten minutes ramped up my pace until I was going flat out and kept going until I couldn't hold it any longer.





I repeated this 4 times and the highest my heart rate got was 151 (the results were 150, 151, 149, 150). Each time I spent 3-4 minutes ramping up and maxing out. My resting heart rate is 42.

I'm concerned because it seems like 151 is too low, and I feel like maybe I haven't actually maxed out. The formulas (which I understand to be inaccurate) say I should be at 184-188.

Could anyone tell me if my approach to maxing out was flawed? Should this be done on a track? Do I have to build up and hold max for a longer time? Should I simply spend the $$ and have a physiological test done? I've never heard of anyone my age having such a low max...does anyone here know of any such examples?

I've always been a pretty strong endurance athlete and was a competitive mountain bike racer in college, so I don't feel like anything is necessarily wrong with me...just that I might be missing something in my approach.

Thanks

John


Answer by Dominique:
Hi John,
Thanks for your question about your low maximum heart rate.
It is an interesting one as a maximum heart rate this low is very uncommon.

I think your approach is pretty good. I have got my own approach to determining my maximum heart rate, which you can find here.

Basically anything that makes you go flat out for long enough will drive up your heart rate to max levels.

Have you tested what your heart rate monitor says compared to the good old-fashioned approach of putting two fingers on your pulse and count the beats for ten seconds? There may be an initial reliability issue with your new toy?

If this is not the case then you might have to go with a full lab test to get worked out what your maximum heart rate is. And if it is really that low, the experts might be able to give you some reasons as well.

Get Marathon Training Secrets Now
and...
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Best of luck.
Cheers,
Dominique


Comments for Low Maximum Heart Rate

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Aug 28, 2009
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HEART RATE
by: Anonymous

ONE THING I NOTICED ON A RELIABLE TREADMILL
THAT MY H.R.GOES UP AND A BIT DOWN AND THEN UP.(I ALSO COULD NOT GET IT UP ENOUGH)
ALTHOUGH MY ALL BLOOD WORK HAS BEEN EXCELLENT FOR 22 YRS(NEVER SMOKED)A FOLLOW UP TEST INDICATED THAT ALL HEART ARTERIES ARE 90 % BLOCKED AND I REQUIRE 6 BYPASSES.

Aug 28, 2009
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Monitor Seems Accurate
by: John Shier

I've checked the monitor reading against checking my pulse, and it seems right on.

I'm having a problem finding a lab to do testing...the good thing about living in Montana is lots of mountains and trails...the bad thing is not many labs.

Sep 03, 2009
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Livingston, MT huh
by: Rick Rund

I lived there from 70-82 and can tell you if those trails do not get your rate up NOTHING will.....I ran the Pine Creek Drainage, Trail Creek, up Harvats, cannot remember all. ENJOY that great country.....

Jan 28, 2010
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Unique but valid.
by: Anonymous

I know that Covert Baily author of "FIT or FAT" has a Max heart rate of 135. He has a chapter in one of his books , on this topic. Basically saying you have to find your own max because the 220 - age charts are not compatable with people like him. Or people like you it seems. Covert used a similar method of determing his max heart rate as you have indicated.

Jul 08, 2010
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low HR
by: mehike

I have low heart rate problem, to...
If I start training, I see in heart rate monitor about 178-182HR, but after 2-3months of training, I can't see more than 165HR, if I do strong speed work (tempos, intervals or so). But I know, if I go to lab, I can see abaout 183-186HR max. I don't know, what I must do - I can't run vomax intervals - my HR to low for it all time... My speed in that kind of intervals in min/km, is calculated from race pace and thats right speed. If i go harder, then legs going to tight and I must run slow.. I am 39y old, my polar and lab vo2max is 67-68, but race pace is about (see in some tables) 50 (or J.Daniels VDOT). speed is my problem, endurance is very good. but I di speed work in my trainings, to...

Dec 02, 2010
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me too
by: KikeB

Hi

I have a similar experience; I'm 35, female, my rest rate is 44 and max 158... I have good endurance but I cant go very fast. I ran a half marathon in 2:05 without training recently, but I have the feeling I will never be able to go much faster if I cant get my heart rate up!

Anyone out there interested in doing a bit of research on this??

regards, K

Jan 03, 2012
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You need speed work
by: Anonymous

I had the same problem. Do lots of really short intervals or start slow and gradually ramp up your heart rate over 4 min until you're maxed out . My max hr started at 155 and is up into the mid 170's and I've gotten way faster. Too bad I didn't do this earlier. I used to be able to run 36min 10k's with hr in the mid 150's when I was in my 20's.

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