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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am not planning to join any endurance XC race nor any race on a bike. I am a runner who loves mountain biking. I run about 20-40 miles per week plus 20-ish mountain biking miles. I guess this is the place that this sort of question would get answered.

Recently, out of curiosity I strapped on my heart rate monitor and found out that no matter how hard I push myself, my heart rate was capped at 85% (of my maximum heart rate). And it's really hard to get above 80% to begin with. Here I am talking about 10-20% grade fire road climbs.

However, when I am running (mostly on near flat asphalt trails) I could easily move my heart rate between 65% and 95% easily and I could do that back and forth.

Why is that the mountain biking having a lower cap on heart rate? Is it because of only a few muscle group being used during the sport? Thanks!
 

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I am not planning to join any endurance XC race nor any race on a bike. I am a runner who loves mountain biking. I run about 20-40 miles per week plus 20-ish mountain biking miles. I guess this is the place that this sort of question would get answered.

Recently, out of curiosity I strapped on my heart rate monitor and found out that no matter how hard I push myself, my heart rate was capped at 85% (of my maximum heart rate). And it's really hard to get above 80% to begin with. Here I am talking about 10-20% grade fire road climbs.

However, when I am running (mostly on near flat asphalt trails) I could easily move my heart rate between 65% and 95% easily and I could do that back and forth.

Why is that the mountain biking having a lower cap on heart rate? Is it because of only a few muscle group being used during the sport? Thanks!
It is probably because your running muscles are in better condition that your cycling muscles. There is a difference between heart rate and muscular fatigue. Could also be you are tired when biking and cannot work hard enough to get your heart rate up. My thoughts on this matter.
 

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For me - pushing max HR above 90% means GASPING for air......to the point of nearly puking. I rarely go there, since its anaerobic and I would rather burn more fat instead.
 

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Keep in mind that your heart only beats as fast as required to supply the demand from your muscles. It is pretty common for athletes to have different heart rates for different activities. If your heart rate is lower while cycling it implies your cycling muscles are less fit and your heart isn't the limiting factor. Given that you run a lot and bike relatively little, this isn't surprising.

Additionally, I would suspect that running uses more muscles throughout your body than cycling, putting more demand on your heart. This is just speculation on my part, and it probably varies quite a lot depending on how efficient your running technique is.
 

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+1 for max heart rate varies widely depending on the individual. You can punch it up on an MTB by riding on rougher or gravel/dirt surfaces and in areas with a long slight incline for a "controlled burn" if you will...

One person I ride with maxes out his heart rate at a seemingly unfathomable ~130. He completed the 2,480 mile Tour Divide ride a couple of years ago and tends to start off slow and crush everyone 1+ hour into rides (and for the duration of it on local 30-70 mile jaunts!) whereas I typically max out ~175. I rarely push it to that level and most often for very brief periods of time.

I do not wear my Bluetooth HRM all of the time... at this point every once in a while to target certain zones (1 being least effort and 5 being max) so that I can maintain a certain level without burning out due to over exertion.

Here is an example of maintaining steady "high zone 4" output over time which for me at least is not easy to do... particularly when I knew a pro racer was going hunt me down on a short/mock time trial MTB hammer fest between mile 5 and 10 we did on that particular ride ehehehe.

zone5.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Makes sense. So maybe my leg muscles for pedaling are not well developed (compared to my running muscle groups), they don't need all the heart pumping to supply them the oxygen. in this case, my muscle is the bottle neck and not my heart.

Thanks for the input guys.
 

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I've often wondered this myself, although that answer doesn't seem to answer the question for me. Even when I'm putting in more time on my bike than running, my heart rate is higher while running. My perceived effort is always higher on a bike than while running. For instance, I could run all day at 150 bpm, but maintaining that for much time on a bike, regardless of what sort of bike shape I'm in, is difficult.
 

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umm, you are in condition, that is what

you need to pedal a lot harder. running is very hard work and you need to just go much faster on the bike to make the same power expenditure. one thing you might need to do to achieve this (being a runner) is sit on a spinbike and work on your cadence and pedaling form.
 

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I see a difference between road and mountain. I ride 45 road, and 20 mtb miles per week. On the road I cannot max above 160 even when sprinting. During technical climbs off road I typically see 175 or higher. Not sure what running would do to me.


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I wish I could see a heart rate that low, my peak in my last race was 225 (I am almost 40). My average over most races is 155-165. My road riding max and averages are a lot lower than my MTB numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Some followups from me: I realized that I need more leg strengths 2 months ago when I first started this post. So I dedicated one day per week in the gym for doing deadlift, squats etc to boost my muscle strengths in my legs. It is amazing. My mountain biking heart rate is close to my running heart rate now. At power surges, my heart rate could easily move to the mid 180 bpm. And my trail times improve tremendously. So basically, what was holding me back all along has been my lack of lower body strengths, presumably from me doing too much running.
 
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