Other/Mixed Question about resting HR reduction

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)
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Oscar

Level 7 Valued Member
Hi all,

This last year my resting HR dropped from 60 to 50. This got me thinking: When I reach my MAF of 146, my HR is now 96 beats above my resting HR, or is 192% higher than resting. OTOH, when I reached my MAF having a resting HR of 60, the increase was of 86 beats, or 143% increase.

It appears that the reduction in resting HR would represent a very high increase in work capacity at a given HR, for instance MAF. Using my example, 192% is a lot higher than 143%.

So my question is: How much has my work capacity increased by this reduction in HR? Actually, my question is: I dont know much about HR, does what I wrote above make sense at all?
 

Harald Motz

Level 8 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
So my question is: How much has my work capacity increased by this reduction in HR? Actually, my question is: I dont know much about HR, does what I wrote above make sense at all?
I think a pointer to an answer of your question lies in here:
"The problem is, PWC (physical work capacity) is not only skill dependent — racing a bicycle or snatching a kettlebell — it is also energy system specific. When we talk about energy systems, “capacity” has a very straightforward meaning — the size of one’s fuel tank. And alactic, glycolytic, and aerobic “tanks” are all filled and emptied differently. You cannot test all three with one test. To complicate the matters further, all three systems work at the same time, albeit changing the ratios of their contribution to the total energy needs. So the “capacity” tested by the five-minute snatch test is not the same as the one tested by the ten-minute test."
the above I copy and pasted out of an article from Pavel:
What is "Work Capacity"? [Part I] | StrongFirst
I think the best would be If you have a kind of standardized test, then and now to compare: 10min running test, 5 or 10min snatch test, a 10k run, a row for a distance...
 

Oscar

Level 7 Valued Member
I think the best would be If you have a kind of standardized test, then and now to compare: 10min running test, 5 or 10min snatch test, a 10k run, a row for a distance...
Indeed, this would have been optimal. The thing is that my resting HR dropped 10 beats suddenly, in the course of a month, when I started practicing buteyko. Unfortunately at that time I wasn't training much due to an injury, so I didn't have any standard test for before/after comparison.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
@Oscar, I think your question is an excellent one and I have searched for an answer to it in the past. Have never found one to my satisfaction.

Seems to be a simple math problem. If I condition the heart to develop an increased stroke volume, as evidenced by a lower resting HR, then the heart has to beat less for ANY given amount of work. Therefore I can do more work at any given HR -- as is commonly known, and attributed to various aerobic improvements -- but it could just be that I'm working at a higher level because of the more efficient heart.

Would love to know what @mprevost has to say about this...
 

mprevost

Level 6 Valued Member
You could work this out with simple math. Your heart rate went down in direct proportion to the increase in stroke volume (blood pumped with each heart beat). For example, using some make believe numbers.... Lets say that you had a resting heart rate of 60, and you were pumping 60 liters of blood per minute, giving you a stroke volume of 1 liter per beat. If your resting heart rate decreased to 50 beats per minute, now you are moving 60 liters in 50 beats, which is a 20% increase. That would theoretically give you a 20% improvement in work capacity reserve. Though your maximum heart rate did not change, your stroke volume did, so you might be able to move 20% more blood per beat at your max heart rate, giving you a higher max work capacity too.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Oscar, if your resting heart rate went down as a result of Buteyko breathing practice, we could attribute the change in numbers to the relaxation the Buteyko practice helped you find. This is a common enough thing, and one could describe it as having your Chi flowing better, or as a psychologically-based change, but if the cause and effect are clear, and it seems the cause isn't anything directly related to exercise, then I think it would be a mistake to assume the change was exercise-related. IOW, I don't think we can assume your stroke volume is necessarily changed, or anything else along those lines - maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

I will observe, non-scientifically and non-medically, that I haven't seen much written using resting heart rate as a number in any kind of mathematical relation to exercise parameters - your resting HR is lower, and that's better and, for me, that would be the end of it. Among the other things I don't think you can assume, I don't think you can assume you have an increased work capacity just because your resting HR went down.

-S-
 

Oscar

Level 7 Valued Member
@Steve Freides, I agree it can be related to relaxation or other non-exercise related benefits. As it wasn't exercise related, and it was quite fast, I don't think a change in stroke volume is possible.

However, I don't fully agree that my work capacity hasn't increased. As a simple example, my work capacity before at 60 was zero: I had to be sitting down. Now, in order to reach 60 I have to do some kind of movement. So, at 60, my work capacity increased.

Maybe my work capacity has increased very little: only as much as my organism is working better or more relaxed while resting (possibly 20% of my resting metabolism?). Or maybe I'm functioning better in general, so that makes a higher output possible.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
so you might be able to move 20% more blood per beat at your max heart rate, giving you a higher max work capacity too.

Thanks @mprevost , that all makes sense and I agree... except regarding this statement I quoted, wouldn't this only be true if heart rate was the limiter in max work capacity? If it's not the limiter -- i.e. fatigue, breathing, musclular failure, etc. is the limiter at max work capacity -- then it would only mean that at that same max, I would have a lower HR. So effectively, lowering your HR by changing the stroke volume might lower your max HR in this case.

The thing that makes this whole concept a bit confusing is that if one develops more stroke capacity through cardiovascular training and adaptations, then the HR lowers, then it seems like the HR at all levels of work would decrease from what it was previously... which means that effectively, the MAF HR would be LOWER in an aerobically trained person. Except that aerobic training also produced other adaptations, such as aerobic enzymes, mitochondria in slow twich fiber, better capilaries.... so I suppose that then tips the scales back the OTHER direction, so that with aerobic training, one can remain aerobic (as measured by RER with a metabolic analyzer) for a greater volume of work and up to a higher HR number.
 

mprevost

Level 6 Valued Member
Hi Anna

The MAF heart rate would be the same but you would run faster at your MAF heart rate, which is increased fitness.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
However, I don't fully agree that my work capacity hasn't increased. As a simple example, my work capacity before at 60 was zero: I had to be sitting down. Now, in order to reach 60 I have to do some kind of movement. So, at 60, my work capacity increased.
I think we have to clarify terms - work capacity, at least in my mind, means how much you can do, not how much you can do at a particular heart rate. A more relevant question might be how fast you could run for 20 minutes while keeping your HR at MAF level, or perhaps even more relevant, how fast can you run 5 km?

Make some sense? I think you're not thinking of "capacity" as that, IMHO.

-S-
 

mprevost

Level 6 Valued Member
I think we have to clarify terms - work capacity, at least in my mind, means how much you can do, not how much you can do at a particular heart rate. A more relevant question might be how fast you could run for 20 minutes while keeping your HR at MAF level, or perhaps even more relevant, how fast can you run 5 km?

Make some sense? I think you're not thinking of "capacity" as that, IMHO.

-S-

That's right Steve. That is exactly what I am thinking. Faster is faster. If you ran a 5 k before training and then after training, you would probably reach the same heart rate, but after training you would be going faster at that heart rate.

You are also right on the other point. Resting heart rate can go down because:
1. You reduced resting energy requirements (relaxation, reduced blood pressure-which reduces flow resistance)
or
2. You increased your stroke volume

#2 would increase max work capacity but #1 would not. Both are positive changes. Ideally you would do both.
 

Bryant W

Level 6 Valued Member
@Oscar, if your resting heart rate went down as a result of Buteyko breathing practice, we could attribute the change in numbers to the relaxation the Buteyko practice helped you find. This is a common enough thing, and one could describe it as having your Chi flowing better, or as a psychologically-based change, but if the cause and effect are clear, and it seems the cause isn't anything directly related to exercise, then I think it would be a mistake to assume the change was exercise-related. IOW, I don't think we can assume your stroke volume is necessarily changed, or anything else along those lines - maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

I will observe, non-scientifically and non-medically, that I haven't seen much written using resting heart rate as a number in any kind of mathematical relation to exercise parameters - your resting HR is lower, and that's better and, for me, that would be the end of it. Among the other things I don't think you can assume, I don't think you can assume you have an increased work capacity just because your resting HR went down.

-S-
Your "non-scientific" and "non-medical" observation has some scientific merit. Both breathing exercises and aerobic exercise can increase parasympathetic tone, one effect of which is to lower the heart rate, which gives more time in between heart beats for the ventricle to fill with blood, resulting in a rate dependent increase in stroke volume that has nothing to do with the structure of the heart, as well as other benefits to the peripheral vascular system.

@Oscar There are strength coaches who use a parameter called the functional reserve range, which is the difference between the resting heart rate and the heart rate at lactate threshold, as a parameter to target the aerobic system. A strength coach at UMinn named Cal Dietz has lectured about this, and interestingly enough talks about combining various lifting strategies (contralateral aerobic circuits, strength aerobics a la Verkoshansky, certain varieties of energy density training,etc) with certain breathing practices that seem quite similar to Buteyko, to really target aerobic adaptations for a few weeks as the initial phase of his training cycle.
 

Oscar

Level 7 Valued Member
@Steve Freides yes, you are correct, I was thinking of work capacity at a given HR, not the overall maximum work capacity. Those two running tests seem to be a good indicator of my idea of work capacity at a given HR: How much distance I can cover running 20 minutes at my MAF, 146 HR (or what average speed I can sustain, which is the same). I think that both you and @mprevost are right in that my resting HR adaptation seems to be related to relaxiation, reduced blood pressure, etc.

@Bryant W that concept of functional reserve range is what I was thinking in my original post, thanks. I just googled the concept and apparently the Karvonen formula is based on this.

I did the math with the Karvonen formula, comparing a resting HR of 50 and 60, and this is what I obtained:

upload_2018-3-7_23-38-24.png

For instance, at 140 BPM, the intensity is 3% for a resting HR of 50 is 3% higher than for a resting HR of 60. This might make sense, since the increase of HR from 50 is 10 beats more than from 60. This seems to be a too teorethical, but well, I like numbers. Maybe, in reality, by the time the body is aroused from exercise and out of the relaxed state of resting, the reduced resting HR wont make much of a difference, as @mprevost and @Steve Freides said.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Maybe, in reality, by the time the body is aroused from exercise and out of the relaxed state of resting, the reduced resting HR wont make much of a difference, as @mprevost and @Steve Freides said.

That's sort of what I'm thinking. There are multiple inter-related things going on, but if we simplify it for the theoretical discussion:

If your resting HR reduction was due only to better relaxed state at rest, then your "fitness" wouldn't change, and your heart rate while exercising at any given level of effort wouldn't change.

If your resting HR reduction was due to only a change in heart stroke volume (which is probably not possible without also improving other aspects of cardiovascular/aerobic fitness, but for theoretical discussion...) then your HR at any level of effort would be reduced by the same percentage, so you would be able to perform more work at any HR, but it wouldn't really be due to any improved "fitness" other than the heart itself.

If your resting HR reduction was due to an overall improvement in cardiovascular/aerobic fitness (the norm), your HR at any level of effort would be reduced, AND you would be able to do more work at any HR, representing an actual improved "fitness."
 

Al Ciampa

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
If your resting HR reduction was due only to better relaxed state at rest, then your "fitness" wouldn't change, and your heart rate while exercising at any given level of effort wouldn't change.

This isn't my observation, nor the observations in at least one study. Breathing practice, and especially breath control during exercise results in a significant reduction in blood lactate at the same work output. This reduces the biological cost of exercise and improves recovery rate.

In the same subjects, the pulse itself had only a marginal reduction at the same output, so again, HR does not indicate everything.
 

Denny Phillips

Level 6 Valued Member
I have been training primarily at my MAF heart rate for the last two years and am wondering if it can result in a reduction in ejection fraction as opposed to higher-intensity zone training? The EP I had been seeing for years had me undergo an echo five years ago with my EF being 75% at the time. Last summer I was asked to undergo another echo prior to a hernia repair with the resultant EF being 69%. My EP stated that the 75% was outstanding and that there was no need to aspire to exceed it. Am I reading too much into the whole situation? Also, apologies for going off-topic if you view it that way.
 
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