Establishing your maximum heart rate

Any tips besides used the common formula (220 - your age)?

Ride hard for 15 minutes to warm up, then go full hard as much as you can for as long as you can hold it. Look at your HR when you can no longer sustain.

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On my last ramp test I hit exactly 220-age in terms of max heart rate, so maybe that calculation works for me.

Wonder if the ramp test is not a bad way to check your max HR in game… Do people in general hit max heart rate in a ramp test in practice? I checked the last 4 hard rides I have done, and only one of them passed it, and only by one BPM. So maybe it’s as easy as “do a ramp test and check max HR”?


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That’s interesting thought, I looked back through my last 5 ramp tests and on 3 of them I was within 5bpm of my max and the other 2 were 8 and 15 below. This is assuming my max is 220 - age which I have seen on some very hard efforts. Not sure what was going on the day I was 15 below.

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The reason I was thinking the ramp test might be good is because I was reading this article:
3 Ways To Calculate Maximum Heart Rate And Why It’s Needed (

Which said:
"A much more formal (and accurate) way to calculate maximum heart rate would be to take a supervised laboratory test. Also known as VO2 max test, such analysis is a test of athlete’s physiological capabilities and, therefore, pushes athletes to the absolute maximum.

The protocol is quite simple – athlete runs on a treadmill (or cycles/kayaks/etc. on an ergometer) with an ever-increasing speed/power until complete exhaustion. Throughout the test a lot of data is gathered about athlete’s current fitness (including oxygen intake, speed of lactate build-up and lots of other ‘fun’ data)."

The “cycling with an ever-increasing speed/power until complete exhaustion” sounded pretty close to a normal ramp test. Not sure if in practice people tend to see their max HR on a ramp test, but it seems that way for me so far.


I’m finding that spending almost $2,000 on my setup was worth it just as an excuse to get involved in the community - Lots of great advice!

I think I’ll be doing that Ramp Test tomorrow :+1:

Thanks everyone!!

It is important that you keep seated during the test so you don’t involve muscles you don’t normally use while cycling.
Max HR will be different between activity types, depending on what muscles that are involved.

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ramp test is supposed to be seated. it’s also a gradual increase to failure, without the chance to do a real explosive section. it’ll get you close to your max for sure, but maybe not quite hit it.

wouldn’t be surprised if you could push ur bpm up a bit more by getting out of the saddle and going full send ;D

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Yes, that is why you should stay seated. If you go out of the saddle, you are engaging more of your upper body and therefore more muscles and higher HR. You don’t want to base your zones on max out of the saddle HR, because 99.9% of the time you are seated, so it is max HR in that position you want to have as base.

an example from me:
the formula 220-age is 180 for me.

for a longer effort, my max HR is somewhere just under 180bpm. if i’m in the upper 170’s i start feeling “on the rivet”.

for a sprint, if i stand up and hammer as hard as i can, my HR will spike to 190bpm. but i can’t function for long that high, so it’s only that high for a few seconds.

if i do a race, i’m sitting in the low 170’s for most of the race, and a sprint at the end might bump me to 185bpm. but after that i’m toast. i probably can’t get back above 170 if i try.

another weird thing i’ve noticed is that once i “prime the pump”, my HR rarely goes back below 135-140 during the ride. if i push into the 170’s, i find it stays up in the 150-160s for the rest of the ride, even if i go back down to zone 2/3.

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