Confused: tired legs, good power but low heart rate?

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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calleking
Posts: 116
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 3:20 pm

by calleking

Hello!

Lately I've been feeling muscle fatigue when doing anything above z2 workouts. Legs feel tired and heavy but strangely enough my heart rate is really low. I hit my power targets during workouts for both vo2max, threshold and sweet spot so I'm where I'm supposed to be in terms of wattage week after week and improving but my RPE feels much higher than my heart rate indicates. My anaerobic thershold is at 183 bpm (205 max) and I can maybe hit 185 even when pushing all out until i'm almost dead. Been googling this issue for a couple of days now but can't seem to understand it. I would think i was fatigued if i couldn't hold my power targets but I have no problem doing that despite having a high RPE.

Background: This is my second year training with power. 73kg and 320W FTP currently so pretty happy with that but like everyone I want to get faster! Had the flu over xmas and had another cold a couple of weeks back but otherwise I've been training pretty well following TrainerRoads sweet spot base 1/2 training plans and some core workouts. Doing a build plan now with some more intensity but nothing crazy. I'm doing mostly 8 hours of training per week:

Tuesday VO2 (6x4 @ 115-120%)
Wednesday Recovery ride
Thursday 2x20 @ 95%
Sat 4x8 @ 105-110% give or take.
Sun recovery ride

Nothing extreme at all. Eating properly and sleeping properly. Not stressed at work.

Is this normal? Can there be differences between cardiovascular system and my muscles ability to actually use the oxygen being provided? If so how can i make my legs "catch up" faster as I feel like they are the ones holding me back? Longer distance rides or just have patience and keep pushing my current training plan until legs feel ok? Rest week?

Any ideas are welcome :)
Thanks!
Aeroad CF SLX w. ENVE SES 4.5

JackRussellRacing
Posts: 218
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:32 pm
Location: North Carolina, USA

by JackRussellRacing

My 2-cents worth (and that is overly generous) :

Do you know what your TSS has been for the last few weeks? CTL, etc? Sounds to me like overtraining and perhaps dehydration.

I'm in a rest week now (which absolutely sucks), but toward the end of my heavy TSS weeks --- I am in a build phase now -- I also see lower HR numbers and "heavy" legs each morning despite hitting all the workouts just fine. For me, as the TSS ramps up, it seems the only time my legs don't feel fatigued is when I'm on the bike.

by Weenie


calleking
Posts: 116
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 3:20 pm

by calleking

Thanks for the input.

My TSS has been roughly 400 per week. CTL about 40 and ATL at about 55-60 currently. TSB is -15 or -20. Bit tired but nothing extreme.

I'm thinking that this is maybe how it's supposed to feel when in a block of training and that my legs will "come back" after som rest? The strange thing about that is that i've been in similar training blocks before but nowhere close to this in terms of heavy legs. That's why I was thinking of the cardiovascular and muscle adapatations that come with training and if they can get out of sync so to say.

Will take a couple of days off over the weekend and hopefully my powerful pistons are back on tuesday :)
Aeroad CF SLX w. ENVE SES 4.5

sib
Posts: 86
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:03 am

by sib

I've been experiencing something similar, having recently upped my weekly mileage.
I'm also hitting my power targets, but my legs feel progressively more dead as the days tick by until my easy week, when they recover (almost?) completely.

Are you scheduling in an easy week every 4th week?

calleking
Posts: 116
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 3:20 pm

by calleking

Interesting! That's exactly how I have been feeling and if my legs started to respond I feel like I could improve my FTP during a tests by quite a lot.

You're right about the rest week. There's actually an easier week coming up next week so maybe this is how it's supposed to be by the end of the training block. Every 4th week is easier and the week after that starts off with an FTP-test as part of a new training block. Now it sounds like I've never done a training block in my life but it's just this dead leg feeling that's new to me and quite confusing.
Aeroad CF SLX w. ENVE SES 4.5

sib
Posts: 86
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2015 2:03 am

by sib

Just to give you an idea of what I've been doing:

Mon - 2x20mins @ 90% FTP
Tue - 2x20mins @ 90% FTP
Wed - easy spin @ <50% FTP
Thu - 2x20mins @ 90% FTP
Fri - 2x20mins @ 90% FTP
Sat - long ride @ ~65% FTP overall, but with a couple of hardish climbs thrown in
Sun - off

Even though my legs are dead, I'm hitting good times on the climbs on the Saturday long ride, and I hit a couple of PBs at the end of my last rest week (I've decided to do a ~20min climb instead of an FTP test at the end of each rest week).
I also try and go for a walk or a short jog in the evenings on days I do intervals - I'm not sure how much it helps my legs, but it's psychologically refreshing to do a little non-cycling exercise.

KC
Posts: 101
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 3:05 am

by KC

Some blood pressure meds will do this. Some of the common ones.


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Shrike
Posts: 1135
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:08 pm

by Shrike

Does this mean that you're not using your aerobic system as much due to poor form, and compensating with strength to maintain speed (strength after a tough workout stays for days IIRC and can be strung along repeatedly).

Asking because I had this situation in September before everything dived. Felt my legs were stiff and dead. Couldn't get heart rate up, but I was doing my best average speeds, even on windy days when I was slugging it out up hills and was thinking what a waste of time - I'd upload to Strava and got shocked. Was like that for a month. Then everything died off.

Too new to training properly to understand what was going on.

calleking
Posts: 116
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 3:20 pm

by calleking

Not taking any medication so that's not it. I've been pretty aware of my cadence during the workouts in order to save my legs and let heart/lungs do the work but that hasn't really helped much.

Should have seen it coming: Yesterday I actually couldn't hold the power target on my last 3x12 interval despite the lowish heart rate and decided to lower the insentity slightly. I guess it was just fatigue building up over time and that some deserved rest was needed. Time to fiddle with the bikes, hit the couch and test the legs next week :)
Aeroad CF SLX w. ENVE SES 4.5

jeffy
Posts: 1252
Joined: Sun Oct 05, 2014 11:51 pm

by jeffy

low HR to same power is common sign of fatigue. beginning overtraining. have 4-5 days of rest / easy spinning.

Willem
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:03 pm

by Willem

Exactly the same here during the racing season. Hit the power levels but at very low HR, almost 15-20 beats lower than in beginning of the season. This has been the same year after year for as long as I can remember. I have to rest far beyond what is really needed to get back up to maximum HR.

I think we all respond differently, but with me I can get my cardio fitness in check relatively quick, then the limiter becomes legs. In short, as fitness and form improves, irrespective of fatigue, my HR gets lower.

When that happens I don't pay too much attention to HR and base my training purely on power and RPE. My best measurement is an indoor trainer with accurate power meter measurement, meaning each test is under exact similar conditions. If pushing LT threshold power around 85% with low HR starts hurting, I know there is too much fatigue and back off training intensity until form comes back nicely.

My body does not respond to TSS at all, it is a nice concept to try and do analytical statistics, but there are just too many external variables not accounted for. That is just me and my life, some have very different opinions. Once I get on the bike, power and RPE tells me all I need to know.

calleking
Posts: 116
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 3:20 pm

by calleking

Thanks for the post Willem. I've backed of with training for a few days now and although it feels better I still feel a bit flat. I think I'll start ignoring the HR even more and just look and the power and RPE instead and we'll see how it goes.
I follow ATL, CTL and TSB metrics but despite having a low TSB (training stress balance) the feelings are just the same. I just use it to see trends at this points as we all respond to training differently and like you said it doesn't take into account work stress, emotional stress etc.

Anyway, would be nice to have power and feel great on the bike for once. Just once, please :)
Aeroad CF SLX w. ENVE SES 4.5

diegogarcia
Posts: 470
Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2010 7:31 pm

by diegogarcia

Foam roller being used post ride ?

nathanong87
Resident master of GIF
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by nathanong87

sib wrote:Just to give you an idea of what I've been doing:

Mon - 2x20mins @ 90% FTP
Tue - 2x20mins @ 90% FTP
Wed - easy spin @ <50% FTP
Thu - 2x20mins @ 90% FTP
Fri - 2x20mins @ 90% FTP
Sat - long ride @ ~65% FTP overall, but with a couple of hardish climbs thrown in
Sun - off


like, so u only do sweet spot ?

by Weenie


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Dr.Dos
Posts: 905
Joined: Sat Mar 27, 2004 11:00 pm

by Dr.Dos

jeffy wrote:low HR to same power is common sign of fatigue. beginning overtraining. have 4-5 days of rest / easy spinning.

+1
Or even better take 3 days totally off the bike and then 2 days easy spinning. Make sure you think about cycling as little as possible as there is a psychological component to overreaching/-training as well. Eat lots of ice cream and maybe even have a (one) beer.

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