Cardio Fitness Level


Anyone knowledgeable on cardio fitness levels?

I’ve been working on trying to improve my cardio fitness for around 5 months and it doesn’t seem to be improving.

I do cardio workouts where I’m hitting peak, intense and moderate heart rate zones during cycling. I do resistance training using body weight and recently dumbbells. Walk when I can. Take rest days. I was hoping to see improvement by now. By see I mean on my fitness tracker. It tells me it’s below average.

I have a resting heart rate of around 45 which as I understand is low. Could that be related to cardio fitness? Although I read lower is better in most cases

Normally I’m somewhere between lightly active and active day to day, currently I’m more sedentary step wise. (I do more intentional exercise but less steps) Could this be why?

Thanks


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Replies

  • FitAgainBy55
    FitAgainBy55 Posts: 179 Member
    How are you measuring this ? You shouldn't need a device to tell you whether or not you are improving. If you are improving you should be able to do more, longer and/or at a higher intensity level than when you started.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 27,886 Member
    I don't want to alarm you, but this articles says:

    "...Although there's a wide range of normal, an unusually high or low heart rate may indicate an underlying problem. Consult your doctor if your resting heart rate is consistently above 100 beats a minute (tachycardia) or if you're not a trained athlete and your resting heart rate is below 60 beats a minute (bradycardia) — especially if you have other signs or symptoms, such as fainting, dizziness or shortness of breath."

    https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/heart-rate/faq-20057979
  • Soul_To_Squeeze
    Soul_To_Squeeze Posts: 29 Member

    @FitAgainBy55

    Measured by Apple Watch. I can do more than when I started but I’m unsure how much I’ve improved by. I guess I’d like to see that it is improving.

    @kshama2001

    I have previously mentioned my heart rate at GP before when it was around 60, I thought it to be low considering I did no exercise, they didn’t seem worried. That was a while ago. I’ve seen it drop to mid 40’s since I’ve started exercising regularly. I will go back to them. I exercise regularly, but am by no means an Athlete.

  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 48,488 Member
    Cardio fitness IMO should be measured by perceived exertion by the individual and breathing. Other ways to tell is doing a timed distance. Are you getting there faster?
    And what's your recovery time? The more fit your are, the faster the recovery. Intervals as well. The faster you can recover between intervals, the fitter you are.
    HR monitors can be inaccurate since it's trying to read pulses electronically. And it could miss beats which is likely why you may have been getting inaccuracies. If that fails you, take your heartrate manually for 15 seconds then multiply by 4 to get a more accurate measurement.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png
  • Duck_Puddle
    Duck_Puddle Posts: 3,224 Member
    edited February 2021
    What kind of fitness tracked? I have several that assess fitness level via an estimate of vo2max - which is only estimated during certain types of activities (generally running or maybe walking or biking outdoors). If you’re not doing those kinds of activities (generally at least a few times within a couple of weeks), it’s not calculating a new estimated vo2max and therefore isn’t updating your estimated fitness level.

    Update-I see you’re using an Apple Watch. Apple Watch requires 5 vo2max estimates in 3 months and 10 in the last 6 months. These will only be calculated on outdoor runs (maybe walks). S
  • FitAgainBy55
    FitAgainBy55 Posts: 179 Member
    @FitAgainBy55

    Measured by Apple Watch. I can do more than when I started but I’m unsure how much I’ve improved by. I guess I’d like to see that it is improving.

    According to Apple this estimate is probably only going to work if you are waling, running or hiking. If your workouts aren't of that type, it probably isn't giving you a good measurement.

    Like myself and @ninerbuff have said, you should be able to judge your progress by other measures. For my runs, this is simple, I target my runs based on perceived exertion. As I become more fit I can sustain a faster pace and run for more miles at that same level of exertion. I suppose if you were to record your walks as an actual workout it might give you a better reading.


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  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
    Does your cycle have a power meter?
    It would be a great sign of improving fitness if you can produce more power for the same heartrate and sustain it for longer.

    Are you cycling faster for the same perceived effort? Is your recovery from intense intervals or sessions quicker?

    I'd really lean more to improved performance as a sign of improved fitness rather than a gadget unless you know exactly how that gadget is coming up with its numbers.

    A low resting HR can indeed be a good sign of improved fitness, a well trained heart can pump more blood with each beat.

    If you are relatively well trained then I wouldn't expect everyday steps to have any great impact on your sporting fitness one way or the other.
  • Soul_To_Squeeze
    Soul_To_Squeeze Posts: 29 Member
    @ninerbuff @FitAgainBy55

    I do record walks as a workout and afterwards it updates the estimated level with the date. It’s given me a Vo2 level of 33.9, below average.

    I wouldn’t matter if it’s not changing but I felt l like I’m improving a lot. But I don’t feel that I am massively. (Not a noticeable feeling that it was easier than last time) I do feel I am putting effort in and challenging myself regularly.

    If I do a walk a couple of times a week, then don’t walk for a week but still exercise at home all week, shouldn’t I see improvement the next time I do a outdoor walk?

    I do understand that the watch is just an estimate of course. I’d just like see it increase. Maybe I’m being too impatient.
  • Soul_To_Squeeze
    Soul_To_Squeeze Posts: 29 Member
    edited February 2021
    @sijomial

    Unfortunately not. It is the most basic bike.

    I’ve been doing follow along videos, (they are connected to watch) each time it’s a different ride. Fairly high intensity with recoveries in between the tough parts. As they are different rides I’m not sure how to tell for sure if I’m cycling faster for the same perceived effort or if my recovery is quicker.

    During the intervals where speed is dropped and resistance is lowered my heart rate comes down and I’m ready for the next interval when the coach is, most of the time.

    I guess I’d need to do the exact same workout a few times to know that? I could do that but i like to do the different ones else I might get bored.

    On the whole, by how I feel, I think I’ve improved a little but not as much as I’d have liked by now and I’m not sure why that is.

    Regarding the RHR, I don’t think I’d be classed as well trained by most. However this past year is for sure the most amount of regular exercise I’ve probably ever done, certainly in my adult life and I can see the point it’s dropped and stayed low since exercise regularly and keeping it up. But it does seem ultra low considering I’m not anywhere close to an athlete.
  • tbilly20
    tbilly20 Posts: 154 Member
    Your next step is to purchase a powermeter. This is a requirement for every coach I have ever worked with. All training and workouts are power-based.

    Once you get a powermeter, do a 20 minute power test. Multiply the number you get by .90-.95. That is your threshold. You can now establish zones and begin training! If you don’t know your zones, it is difficult to maximize your training, and it leads a lot of enthusiasts to ask the same question you posed. “Why am I not getting better?” Once you start training, you’ll probably see gains very quickly. Amateurs can gain 10 sometimes 20% in their first 10 weeks. Once you progress, gains become much more difficult.

    If you want to see where you stack up, or just want to know how good professional cyclists are, do a quick search for FTP charts. Everything is based on watts/kg. This should help you see what it takes to compete at a number of different levels.
  • lorrpb
    lorrpb Posts: 11,464 Member
    @ninerbuff @FitAgainBy55

    I do record walks as a workout and afterwards it updates the estimated level with the date. It’s given me a Vo2 level of 33.9, below average.

    I wouldn’t matter if it’s not changing but I felt l like I’m improving a lot. But I don’t feel that I am massively. (Not a noticeable feeling that it was easier than last time) I do feel I am putting effort in and challenging myself regularly.

    If I do a walk a couple of times a week, then don’t walk for a week but still exercise at home all week, shouldn’t I see improvement the next time I do a outdoor walk?

    I do understand that the watch is just an estimate of course. I’d just like see it increase. Maybe I’m being too impatient.

    Maybe your expectations are too high. I don’t think you’ll necessarily “have a noticeable feeling it is easier than last time.” This is pretty subjective, relied on your memory of your perceived experience, and isn’t a realistic rate of progress. One day can be better or worse than the last day for any number of reasons including stress, sleep, nutrition, weather, or the boogeyman.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 48,488 Member
    @ninerbuff @FitAgainBy55

    I do record walks as a workout and afterwards it updates the estimated level with the date. It’s given me a Vo2 level of 33.9, below average.

    I wouldn’t matter if it’s not changing but I felt l like I’m improving a lot. But I don’t feel that I am massively. (Not a noticeable feeling that it was easier than last time) I do feel I am putting effort in and challenging myself regularly.

    If I do a walk a couple of times a week, then don’t walk for a week but still exercise at home all week, shouldn’t I see improvement the next time I do a outdoor walk?

    I do understand that the watch is just an estimate of course. I’d just like see it increase. Maybe I’m being too impatient.
    I'll put it this way: If you practiced guitar one week, then skipped it a week but that week you practiced piano, would that make you better on guitar the next time you played?

    Pushing a bit harder helps to improve, but there's really no way to tell person to person on how fast they'll improve. Some take longer than others, just a like at other things.

    Personally I know for myself I'm not really that good at long endurance exercises. I'm better at high energy spurts of power or speed.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png

  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,970 Member
    Whether it's easier or harder than last time has as much to do with whether you're fresh or fatigued as it does with your overall fitness. If you're going to use perceived exertion you need to account for that.

    Your Apple Watch can't tell how fit you are on a bike from HR alone. Your HR could be very high because you're unfit, or it could be high because you're going at a very high intensity. The watch doesn't have a way to know which. You need HR and power to determine VO2max cycling. Your watch would tell you you're getting fitter if you could do more work at the same HR or the same workload at a lower HR. But it doesn't know or have a half decent guess at your workload on the bike. Might as well be throwing dice.
  • dolorsit
    dolorsit Posts: 92 Member
    I think a power meter is a bit over the top for most people. I actually have one (Assioma - single sided), and don't really get a lot out of it other than a bunch of stats I barely look at. I measure my fitness by my 5k or 10k all-out run time, or bike time/heart rate up some particularly gnarly hills I ride. Yesterday I went up a 12% hill at an average heart rate of 139 that was 163 last year for the same time up the hill. Also, as a simple metric, Strava has a fitness graph (subscriber version) which I like to track.

    qclaq09tl1pj.png

    I think that does a reasonable job.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member

    Unfortunately not. It is the most basic bike.

    I’ve been doing follow along videos, (they are connected to watch) each time it’s a different ride. Fairly high intensity with recoveries in between the tough parts. As they are different rides I’m not sure how to tell for sure if I’m cycling faster for the same perceived effort or if my recovery is quicker.

    During the intervals where speed is dropped and resistance is lowered my heart rate comes down and I’m ready for the next interval when the coach is, most of the time.

    I guess I’d need to do the exact same workout a few times to know that? I could do that but i like to do the different ones else I might get bored.

    On the whole, by how I feel, I think I’ve improved a little but not as much as I’d have liked by now and I’m not sure why that is.

    Regarding the RHR, I don’t think I’d be classed as well trained by most. However this past year is for sure the most amount of regular exercise I’ve probably ever done, certainly in my adult life and I can see the point it’s dropped and stayed low since exercise regularly and keeping it up. But it does seem ultra low considering I’m not anywhere close to an athlete.

    There's a big element of "if you can't measure it, you can't manage it".
    Fitness tests (whether speed or power) are repetitions of the same test to compare results.

    As you are doing different rides with no solid data all you have is feelings. If your rides are getting more difficult but feeling the same effort you are improving, but you just can't put a number on it.
    Your watch really isn't much help and is just giving you a pretty random number which is best to ignore if it demotivates or irritates you.

    RHR has a big element of genetics in it which makes comparisons of limited value. The trend is more significant than the numbers, be pleased that stepping up your exercise has had a noticable affect on your heart - well done!
  • tbilly20
    tbilly20 Posts: 154 Member
    @dolorsit - I agree with you. For most people a powermeter is unnecessary. Carbon wheels and electronic shifting are also not needed in any way. You can enjoy the act of cycling without those things! A powermeter starts to become a logical suggestion when someone asks why they aren’t progressing.

    Think of it like this. When someone posts on this forum and says, “I am eating so good, why am I not losing weight?!?” The first reply is, “Are you weighing everything you eat???” Riding without a powermeter is like not using a scale. You are eyeballing it. You’re using RPE to guess what your gains are. Your way of judging a known climb is great... if that climb is your goal. Once you try to take that fitness elsewhere it might not translate on say a crit course. The powermeter is only a means to an end. You need to know how to train and ride with it as well. Otherwise, it is just another number that flashes on your Garmin or Wahoo.
  • FitAgainBy55
    FitAgainBy55 Posts: 179 Member
    If you want a second opinion on your vo2 max then you can use this calculator: https://www.omnicalculator.com/sports/vo2-max

    It supports multiple methods of estimation -- for you I would not use the resting heart rate.
  • dolorsit
    dolorsit Posts: 92 Member
    tbilly20 wrote: »
    Riding without a powermeter is like not using a scale. You are eyeballing it. You’re using RPE to guess what your gains are. Your way of judging a known climb is great... if that climb is your goal. Once you try to take that fitness elsewhere it might not translate on say a crit course. The powermeter is only a means to an end. You need to know how to train and ride with it as well. Otherwise, it is just another number that flashes on your Garmin or Wahoo.
    I understand, but I don't think a powermeter is quite like using scale. When it comes to cardio fitness, most people starting out and at least for the first 6 months, make such huge gains, you don't need a scale, you can almost use a sundial :) When I go from unfit to fit(ter), my 10k run time goes down by 2 minutes a week and my 40k bike time something similar too. I think you only need to start thinking about power meters when you've been training consistently for a few months and barely seem to be making any gains.

    Now if you *want* a powermeter, then go for it. I love gadgets and I've got every gadget imaginable including foot pot running power meters, sleep mats, swimming heart rate monitors, electronic shifting, you name it. They motivate me just for the sake of having them.
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,970 Member
    edited February 2021
    It sounds like the OP is using an indoor exercise bike. Likely it isn't possible to install a PM. Also likely even a Stages would cost more than the bike.
  • dewd2
    dewd2 Posts: 2,449 Member
    Here's the thing about VO2max... It measures a certain type of fitness but it is not the only indicator. In my case my VO2max goes up when I'm training for road races since I incorporate a lot of speedwork. It goes down when I train for ultra trail races.

    So which is better? I higher VO2max that allows me to race a very fast 5k or a lower VO2max when I run 60 miles without stopping? Tell me I'm less fit when I run 50k vs 5k even though my numbers are lower.... :)