Matching Watts and HR

I wear a Suunto M5 heart rate monitor.  I refer to it as “my coach on the wrist”.  It tells me when and how hard to workout based on my sex, age, general level of fitness, current weight, RHR and goals.  It is a clever device that keeps me motivated and helps me understand my capabilities better.

During the cold, wet, winter months, I train indoors on a Keiser M3 spinning bike both on my own and in a spinning class.  I have learned to use and understand the power reading on these machines thanks to the classes.  We do different workouts – repeat hill climbs, pyramids, flats and rolling terrain – but pay attention to 3 things.  Cadence.  Gear.  And, watts.  Often the goal is to maintain consistent power by regulating the cadence and/or gear regardless of terrain.

Today “my coach on the wrist” told me to do a 50 minute “hard” workout.  In her language that is 50 minutes averaging 125-135 bpm.  I wondered how that related to average watts.  I don’t have a power meter on my bikes but I frequently wear the heart rate monitor.

I can sustain 130 bpm for extended periods of time.  I am working and work up a real sweat indoors but it is manageable.  For 50 minutes, at least, I never feel that I need to quit or slow down.  This is a comfortable work load for me – an anaerobic workout where I am working at 80%-90% of my MHR.

So how does this relate to power?  Here are the numbers reported at the end of my 50 minute workout on the Keiser M3 computer:  average RPM – 80,  average Watts – 200 and average Heart Rate – 130 bpm.

This is not my maximum effort.  It felt like a long, steady climb at 3-5 degree grade.  I know I can work harder.  I have sustained a 300 watt effort for 45+ minutes during one of the classes.  Next I will record my average heart rate for the regular rides I do to see how much harder I can work.

I don’t know if this is good or bad.  I don’t know how it relates to others other than I have read a Tour de France rider sustains 200-300 watts for 4 hours or more.   It is what it is.  A benchmark.  Something to check from time to time throughout the season to see if there is any improvement.

3 thoughts on “Matching Watts and HR

  1. Nice post, I too just posted about heart rate monitors. Must be something in this Saturday air.

    All the best,

    • It’s the time of year I think. We are dusting off our bikes and beginning to question whether we are ready for that next long ride. I have a century coming up early in April and have not been able to spend much time on the bike.


      • I hear ya. While I am new to cycling and do not have any races planned, I know I felt the same way when I used to be a runner and was unable to train for upcoming races. Hopefully this weather will sort itself out soon. You will be A OK for your race.

        All the best,

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