Q & A: Heart Rate Maximum and Threshold Testing Outside of a Lab


I’m reading Bike Racing 101 by the Wenzels, and I don’t see an alternate method of calculating Max HR, and threshold HR besides a lab. Can you suggest something I can do without going to a lab?

~Erich Shofstall

Head Coach Scott Saifer responds:

Hi Erich, You can certainly test your maximum heart rate without visiting a lab. In fact, most riders can get a higher maximum heart rate outdoors than they can in a lab. To test your maximum heart rate, warm up really well, at least 30 minutes including a few jumps. Then find an uphill or headwind where you can ride hard for about five minutes. Roll gradually up to an effort that gets you breathing hard for a minute or so, then sprint. When you think you can’t sprint any more, sprint again, two or three times. When your heart rate starts to drop even though you are still trying as hard as ever, you’ve hit your maximum heart rate.
Doing a good threshold test without a lab requires either good sensitivity to your body or good math ability or both. You can find the instructions here: https://www.wenzelcoaching.com/blog/lactate-threshold-test/

Good luck,