How To Lower Heart Rate While Cycling? (6 Essential Steps)
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How To Lower Heart Rate While Cycling
Cycling is a physical activity that offers numerous health benefits, among them stands out the assistance it provides in improving aerobic capacity and increasing the amount of oxygen reaching our muscles.
Despite its numerous advantages, it can be challenging due to the high heart rates experienced during high-intensity exercise. On the other hand, maintaining a low heart rate is essential to avoid exhaustion and maximize efficiency with each pedal stroke. Below, we will explore different ways to how to lower heart rate while cycling and maintain a low heart rate in order to enhance performance and physical capabilities on the bike, in addition to reaping all the physical and mental benefits of this sport.
Therefore, the heart rate during cycling is a fundamental aspect that directly influences sports performance.
Understanding Heart Rate
Before addressing how to reduce heart rate during cycling, it is crucial to understand how heart rates work. Heart rate is the number of heart contractions per unit of time, generally counted per minute.
Heart rate is a measure of the effort the heart puts into pumping blood through the body. During the practice of any sport, heart rate increases as a result of the physical effort being exerted. On the other hand, maintaining a higher-than-normal heart rate can directly impact athletic performance negatively, leading to fatigue and exhaustion.
Furthermore, we must highlight that the primary function of the heart in physical activity is to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, and maintaining an optimal heart rate enhances effort and minimizes fatigue. Therefore, maintaining a heart rate higher than normal would negatively impact not only sports performance but also our health.
Different ways to lower your heart rate while cycling:
1. Establishing a Fitness Base
When engaging in physically demanding sports like cycling, it’s necessary to have a solid fitness foundation to enhance athletic performance and prevent injuries.
One of the key aspects of reducing heart rate while cycling is establishing a fitness base. Incorporating regular cardiovascular endurance and strength training into your routine will help improve heart efficiency and reduce resting and exercise-induced heart rates.
To achieve this, cycling should be complemented with other physical activities to enhance performance. These activities may include core exercises, gym workouts, strength training, and other exercises such as swimming or running.
Also Read: What Is a Tabata Ride?
2. Maintaining an Appropriate Cadence
When it comes to cycling and maintaining an appropriate heart rate, one of the key points is to maintain a suitable pedaling cadence.
Pedaling cadence refers to the number of times the pedal completes a full revolution per minute and is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM).
Improving pedaling cadence brings numerous benefits, including better energy utilization with each pedal stroke, resulting in a more optimal energy efficiency.
Cadence, therefore, plays an essential role in heart rate control. Keeping a steady and appropriate cadence reduces stress on the heart and muscles. Aiming for a cadence of 70-90 revolutions per minute (RPM) is advisable to prevent excessive strain and keep heart rate under control.
3. Performing Warm-ups and Stretches
Another crucial point in discussing heart rate during cycling and how to reduce it is the importance of performing warm-ups and stretches before engaging in physical activity.
Before heading out to pedal, it is critical to perform warm-up exercises and stretches to prepare the muscles and the heart for exercise. Proper warm-up helps gradually increase blood flow, allowing the heart to adapt to the growing demand for oxygen without abruptly raising heart rate.
Through warming up, the body prepares for physical activity by increasing its temperature, causing muscles to work more efficiently and reducing resistance to movement, thus resulting in a lower heart rate during physical effort.
4. Controlling Breathing
Maintaining proper and controlled breathing during physical exercise can help reduce heart rate and promote better oxygen circulation in the muscles necessary for physical activity.
One of the most commonly used techniques in cycling to control breathing is called “abdominal breathing” or “diaphragmatic breathing.” Diaphragmatic breathing aims to avoid “shallow breathing,” which can result in insufficient oxygen delivery to the muscles.
Using this “diaphragmatic breathing” technique can help lower heart rate during cycling.
Deep breathing technique can be a valuable ally in reducing heart rate during cycling. Breathing deeply and in a controlled manner efficiently oxygenates the body and slows down the heart rate. This can help maintain calmness, even in challenging situations.
5. Monitoring Training Intensity
Training is the primary means for improvement, but it’s not always done correctly or with heart rate control in mind. For training to be truly effective, it should be conducted at an appropriate intensity to avoid training either too intensely or too lightly.
The intensity of physical activity directly influences breathing and heart rate. Therefore, to determine if you’re training with the appropriate intensity, the first step is to ensure you’re engaging in physical activity with a suitable heart rate.
Excessive training intensity can significantly elevate heart rate, so monitoring training intensity using a heart rate monitor can be useful to control your target heart rate and prevent it from skyrocketing to unsustainable levels.
6. Hydration and Nutrition
When it comes to cycling or any other physical activity, nutrition and hydration are fundamental pillars as they can impact performance. Hydration helps maintain the body’s structure and proper functioning. Hence, it’s of great importance to stay well-hydrated before and during physical activity.
All of this also directly affects heart rate. Keeping the body hydrated and maintaining proper nutrition will help keep heart rate under control.
On the other hand, dehydration and lack of nutrients can lead to the heart not functioning effectively and requiring more effort to maintain performance, thereby increasing heart rate.
7. Rest and Recovery
Rest and recovery are also two essential pillars for improving heart rate. In cycling, as in many other sports, there are two types of rest: active rest and total rest.
On one hand, active rest involves engaging in a workout the day after a race or high-intensity training, with the intensity always staying below 65%. This kind of training will consist of a light session.
On the other hand, total rest entails complete rest to fully recover the body after physical activity, thereby preventing overtraining.
Allowing the body to recover properly after intense exertion is crucial to maintaining a healthy heart rate during cycling practice.
8. Maintain Proper Posture
When riding on a bicycle, maintaining the right posture is crucial. Otherwise, our pedaling would be less efficient and less aerodynamic, resulting in more effort with each pedal stroke, affecting both breathing and heart rate.
With an improper posture, the heart and muscles experience higher stress and work less efficiently, leading to various drawbacks, including an increased heart rate.
On the other hand, maintaining a proper posture on the bicycle helps distribute the weight of the body correctly and evenly between the handlebars, the saddle, and the pedals, thus avoiding excessive pressure concentration in specific areas such as the lower back. Furthermore, this would assist in maintaining an optimal blood flow, thereby reducing the need for greater cardiac effort.
The best way to determine if you have the correct posture and properly adjusted bicycle is to consult a specialist and undergo a biomechanical study. This will help achieve better balance and performance with each pedal stroke.
The heart, as we have seen previously, is the main engine of the circulatory system and directly impacts sports performance by providing the necessary energy for physical activity and delivering the required oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. Therefore, a key aspect for optimal sports performance is maintaining a proper heart rate, as reducing heart rate while cycling is crucial to enjoy this physical activity and maintain optimal performance.
In relation to the above, in cycling, there are several important aspects to reduce heart rate. These include factors such as the posture on the bike, which directly affects the effort exerted and injury prevention, as well as the pedaling cadence.
In addition to controlling your breathing, which helps maintain an appropriate heart rate and manage effort more effectively.
Furthermore, there are various means to enhance heart capacity, such as establishing a fitness foundation to increase heart efficiency and maintaining a healthy diet.
It’s worth noting the significance of warming up and stretching before cycling to prepare the body for physical activity and prevent heart rate from escalating uncontrollably.
Therefore, there are numerous ways to lower the heart rate during cycling and maintain an optimal heart rhythm. These methods, as we have seen previously, can be used during the practice of this sport when heart rate increases dramatically due to the effort exerted, aiming
to reduce fatigue and strain. Alternatively, they can be used in conjunction with cycling activity to enhance heart capacity and improve cycling performance by maintaining a lower and controlled heart rate.