/ Caffeine and heart rate

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Minneconjou Sioux 24 Dec 2016
So when I train on my indoor trainer I use a heart rate monitor as a guide. Yes, I do know its not as accurate as a power meter but tbh, at my level I doubt its that important.

What I do notice is that to get up to 160 bpm seems to take a full gear higher without any caffeine in my system. I know I'm slightly oversimplifying here but I'm sure you all get the gist. If I want to train in the 160bpm zone I seem to work less hard if I've had a drink of coffee within an hour of training.

Now, I get that caffeine increases heart rate so I'm not at all surprised by my observations but what i want to know is this; Does the caffeine mean:

a, I'm working less hard for the same heart rate and therefore achieving a less benificial workout
b, I'm working the same but it just feels easier therefore achieving the same workout.
c, I'm working less hard but, because the heart rate is as high I achieve the same workout

In my mind, because I'm using less power then I'm working less therefore its a less beneficial workout but I thought I'f check in the experts


Lee Proctor 25 Dec 2016
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

Caffeine is a well known legal PED - there are numerous studies investigating why this is so but have a look at the following and the linked articles within

http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/drink-coffee-ride-faster-141011

JLS 25 Dec 2016
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

I'd be surprised if the answer wasn't "a".
If, with the coffee, you are on a lower gear at 160bpm then you are outputting less power so not working as hard.
When I was a kid racing, I'd abstain from caffeine until race day, then have a can of coke before the race. It worked well. I still seem to be particularly sensitive to caffeine and "need" my coffee to have a good climbing session.
petrochemicals 25 Dec 2016
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

My heart rate i believe is about 60 to 70 at rest without caffeine. If i drink coffee all day this rate goes up to 80 to 90bpm at rest just due to caffeine.

So in my opinion

A) Caffene increaces heartrate significantly without any necessity

B) stimulants lead to the body being abused and missused without proper provision being in the body, ie you rarely see a fit cocaine or anphetamine addict. They give you a quick boost at the expense to your overall health.
Minneconjou Sioux 25 Dec 2016
In reply to JLS:

> I'd be surprised if the answer wasn't "a".

> If, with the coffee, you are on a lower gear at 160bpm then you are outputting less power so not working as hard.

This would seem logical. But does the increased heart rate confer a benefit on its own? I suspect not but I'm also not absolutely sure.
JLS 25 Dec 2016
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

Like you, I can only speculate but my guess would be the same, that there is no benefit from the artificially increased HR unless you are using it to operate at levels of power output you wouldn't otherwise reach. If you are just going to still at 160 on a lower gear rather than at 170 on a higher gear, I can't see you getting any benefit.
Minneconjou Sioux 26 Dec 2016
In reply to JLS:

OK. So on that note then, do I gain a benefit from training at 170 bpm on caffeine over training at 160 bpm without it?
Toby_W 26 Dec 2016
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

I avoid it, maybe a cup of coffee but none of these gels. I'm in my 40s but have vo2 hct etc that most tour winners would kill for. I can control my heart rate to the beat and reach and hold my max of around 200bpm for quite a long time...... Picked up one of those caffeine energy gels at an event once and it was like my heart had gone into neutral, shaky sweats etc. I am quite sensitive to too much caffeine.

Good luck with fine tuning your training.

Cheers

Toby
1
JLS 26 Dec 2016
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

The thing with caffeine is that it's supposed to help you train at a given intensity for longer. While at 170 on caffeine if you haven't increased you gear or cadence (I.e. Speed) or the duration of the session then I'd say it hasn't been of any benefit. As the pros seem to live on coffee I'd say in general there must something to be gained from it.
Minneconjou Sioux 27 Dec 2016
In reply to JLS:

Thanks everyone. TBH I only drink two cups a day, one in the morning and one at about 6pm. I have to say Toby W that 200bpm is pretty high for your age so I'm not sure you represent a "normal" sample I'm in my early 50's and I would say 180 would be my absolute max heart rate and if you follow any number of formulas then 180 would always be high end. That said I fully accept everyone is different.

I don't seem to be over sensitive to caffeine. I can drink a cup of coffee before bed time and still sleep like a baby. So I think I'll use it as a tool to see if things improve. I guess it'll be tough to tell in the end but even if I get a placebo effect it will be worth it.
JLS 27 Dec 2016
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

If you are using you HR as a guide to your training you should know your max HR and not just be guessing it might be 180. Easy enough to establish, just warm-up/ramp-up for 15-20min then sprint full gas in a big gear at see what your HR goes up to. From that,by subtracting 10bpm, should give you a good estimate of where your aerobic/anaerobic threshold is which in turn will dictate you training effort levels/durations.

Minneconjou Sioux 27 Dec 2016
In reply to JLS:

Thanks, yes. Its 182 the last time I checked but I haven't done it for a couple of years so I should perhaps re-check? So do I re-check with or without caffeine ?
Mr Fuller 27 Dec 2016
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

Unless you're a very strong bike rider you're unlikely to get to your max heart rate in a bike-based test. For most people, running is a much better way to do it. However, if you can't do that or simply don't want to then do a test like JLS describes or hit a big hill for a 4-5 minute effort. My max heart rate on a bike is about 190 and anything over 180 feels very hard. In a 30 minute TT I can hold 175 on the ragged edge, but when I'm running I can sustain 180 for 40 minutes and can reach over 200. Basically, unless you've got pretty big legs you won't have enough output to put your cardio system under sufficient stress to hit MHR.

Your maximum heart is exactly that, so whether you drink caffeine or not it should make no difference. The key is to push yourself so hard that you can't hear anything, everything is screaming to stop, you might throw up, you have tunnel vision, etc.... My 'favourite' way is to run a ~15% hill for 3-4 minutes in an attempt to get the strava KOM. Road is best because you don't have to think about uneven ground.

I don't ever train with caffeine because I don't enjoy hot drinks and don't drink coke, etc.. It's also so I can save it for 'I'm out on my arse' moments, where a caffeine gel or a caffeine tab makes a big difference.
Minneconjou Sioux 27 Dec 2016
In reply to Mr Fuller:

Thanks. I'm also a runner but never use a HRM while running (probably because I'm lazy and don't want to be reminded how lazy I'm being). I'll give it a go to see what happens. That said, if I can only reach my Max HR while running how effective is bike training since, as you say, I'm unlikely to get up to 80% of max running HR on a bike?
Mr Fuller 27 Dec 2016
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

There's a lot more to training than just hitting your maximum heart rate, so cycling's still a very effective way to get fit. Most of your training should be in zone 2 - steady breathing, able to talk full sentences - whether you're running or cycling, and so you're nowhere near your maximum.

Maybe 20 % of your training should be hard, very hard, or maximal (zones 4/5), and there either cycling or running is still good. However, with cycling you might find that the limiting factor on very hard efforts is less your cardiovascular system and more your legs, which makes the training more sport-specific (training a muscle for an activity) rather than the overall aerobic effect gained from hard running.

I do a few duathlons a year and train for them very haphazardly by basically riding my bike mostly pretty steadily, occasionally going as hard as I can up a hill or on time trials or hard rides, and by running generally pretty slowly with the occasional race or fast hill session chucked in. That works better than what I used to do - full gas all the time then be too knackered to get out again that week - but it's not as disciplined as it could be.
JLS 27 Dec 2016
In reply to Mr Fuller:

Intresting. I always found I could get a higher heart rate on the bike than running. I guess it might depend on what you're better trained at.
JLS 27 Dec 2016
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

Ah right, so your 180 figure isn't going to be too far out. I know, due to weather, a lot of your training needs to be on the turbo trainer. What's your training schedule like?
Minneconjou Sioux 27 Dec 2016
In reply to JLS:

Well, in the new year I'll probably revert to "the time crunched cyclist" routine which is essentially cycling on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at varying levels of difficulty. I'll likely swim 2 or 3 mornings a week and maybe do an easy eliptical or treadmill on days in between cycling. Once spring hits I'll get outside but that won't be until April.

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