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Heart Rate Threshold Test

It is always advised to speak to your doctor before you participate in any test or exercise program


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Heart rate threshold test


Training zones are based off of your “threshold” heart rate range. A threshold heart rate is going to vary for everyone depending on genetics and fitness, not age. The easiest way to determine your threshold heart rate range is to perform a time trail, race pace effort, working fast for at least 8-10 minutes on a long interrupted road, preferably on a hill or slight grade or on an indoor trainer. If you have the fitness and feel good to work fast for 10-15 minutes go for it but a 10 minute average to determine heart rate ranges will work well.


You want to be well rested for a test – At least a week prior to the test with fewer training hours. For example, working back from the test day - If the test is on a Sunday for example - You would want to spin easy with no efforts for 30-60 minutes on Saturday to keep the legs loose - Take off Friday – 60-90 minutes Thursday working short 30-60 second race efforts with 5-10 minutes of easy spinning between efforts - Easy one hour spin Wednesday - 1-2 hours on Tuesday working shorter 1-3 minute race efforts with long 10 minute easy spin breaks between efforts - And off on Monday. No other exercise is needed within this time frame to ensure you are well rested.


Test is best performed on an indoor trainer, or outdoors on uninterrupted roads. If outdoors, test is best done on a long steady climb between 4-7% steep.


Indoor/Outdoor test –


The goal is to record your average heart rate for the 8-10 minute fast effort of the test. You can hit the lap button on your monitor to record an accurate heart rate average – You can also start your monitor as you start or seconds before you start into your hard effort and then shut it off at the end of the effort to view your average heart rate for the test. Or you can upload your file into Training peaks and look at your Peak 6 and 10 minute heart rate numbers to determine the test results.


If indoor testing, test with a fan to circulate air or in a well-ventilated place


Take your time warming up today and warm up for 20-30 minutes spinning mainly easy – Check how your feeling while warming up – If feeling any fatigue either mentally or physically, add more time to your warm up spinning with deep breath - Then when you’re feeling good and warmed up, start the test – ADDITIONAL SHORT WARM UP INTO THE TEST - After your initial warm up, spin seated for 3-4 minutes working a moderate pace – on a scale of 1-10, work at a 6-7 for the first 3-4 minutes approx. – Slowly increase your intensity towards the end of the 3-4 minutes AND THEN GO FOR IT - START TIMING AN 8-10 PLUS MINUTE FAST RACE PACE EFFORT - JUST GO HARD LIKE YOU ARE IN THE START OF A VERY SHORT 1 HR RACE – ON A SCALE OF 1-10 YOU WANT TO BE WORKING AT AN 8-9 FOR THE TEST BUT NOT ALL OUT AT A 10 - Work with as much force and spin as you can for at least 8-10 minutes – If you feel good to carry the test on for 10-15 minutes go for it but only a 10 minute effort is needed.


Recover spinning very easy after performing the test for as long as you would like. Determine your average heart rate for the test and use this heart rate number as your “threshold” heart rate.


Use your threshold heart rate number with the heart rate zones below - Zones by Joe Friel –

Bike Zones

Zone 1 Less than 81% of LTHR

Zone 2 81% to 89% of LTHR

Zone 3 90% to 93% of LTHR

Zone 4 94% to 99% of LTHR

Zone 5a 100% to 102% of LTHR

Zone 5b 103% to 106% of LTHR

Zone 5c More than 106% of LTHR


It is important to be well rested to gain accurate numbers for a test. Heart rate threshold ranges can change over time. So it is important to test, or view peak 10 minute heart rate ranges every 4-8 weeks from either a hard ride or a race and when well rested or not overly fatigued. This will help you to continually confirm your threshold heart rate ranges and notice an increase if and when it happens.


Have questions or need support? Feel free to email me at - schultz@highlandtraining.net



Highland Training LLC


Phone: 814.289.6620 | Email: schultz@highlandtraining.net