Maximum Heart Rate - Cycling


Maximum heart rate is the highest number of beats per minute your heart can pump under maximum stress.


Measuring your heart rate requires a heart rate monitor device. Smart Watches especially with a chest strap are very useful.

Alternative method is to use the radial artery in the wrist or the carotid artery in the neck.
This alternative method can be used to measure your HRM in a controlled environment, but very unpractical and even dangerous when riding a bicycle during (normal) training.


Please check with your doctor first before attempting any of these tests.

Procedure - Age Formula

While this is a good starting point, research has shown that this formula is not perfectly accurate for all people, especially for people who have been fit for many years or for older people.
Your maximum heart rate can be estimated with the formula: 220 - [Your Age]

Procedure - Indoor Trainer

You can do a test on a (smart) indoor (turbo) trainer to determine your maximum heart rate. A controlled environment would be ideal, perhaps in combination with measuring your VO2max and/or your lactate.

Procedure - Time Trial with Sprint

- WarmUp properly

- Ride as fast as possible doing a time trial for ten minutes
Ride the last minute flat out (maximum effort)
Sprint the last 20-30"
Don't stop pedalling!
- Read your (maximum) heart rate

- CoolDown for at least 10 minutes

- Rest for 3 days
- Repeat the test

Procedure - Use your cassette and Cadence

In this procedure you need a cassette with a x1 ratio (11/12/13/14/15/16/.....) and a cadence meter. Most smart trainers have a build in cadence sensor.

- WarmUp properly

- Use your large front chainring and the largest rear chainring (ignore for this time crossed-chain)
Ride for 2 minutes on a steady (for you) comfortable cadence (somewhere between 85 and 100), higher is better otherwise the test measures more power then heart-pump. Keep this chosen cadence for the whole test!

- Change the rear gear one sprocket, don't pause and keep your cadence.
Ride for 2 minutes

- Continue changing one sprocket every 2 minutes whithout pause and keeping your cadence.
Do this until you are really unable to go on
Don't stop pedalling!
- Gear back to the largest rear sprocket and Read your (maximum) heart rate

- CoolDown for at least 10 minutes

- Rest for 3 days
- Repeat the test

Procedure - Use an incline

- WarmUp properly

- Ride the incline as fast as you can and sprint the last section

- Turn around, ride down easy

- Repeat a couple of times

- Read your maximum heart rate for each effort

- Cool down for at least ten minutes

Take the highest heart rate over all your efforts as your MHR

How we use it

In general we use your MHR in the settings to auto calculate the zones based on your maximum heart rate and analyse the workouts afterwards.

Can you do a test with us?


We have a smart trainer in controlled conditions and offcourse the necessary software to do the test.
You can bring your own bike which in our believe is an advantage over standard watt-bikes.

Don't want to miss an article?
Subscribe for our newsletter! It is free, you can (un)subscribe at any time, once every 2 weeks and contains a selection of new or edited articles suitable for a newsletter.