Max Heart Rate Increasing, any ideas?

I’m 50 years old and have been an athlete my whole life but most of the sports I’ve done are anaerobic sports like BMX, Motocross, Jiu-Jitsu, and Mixed Martial Arts. I’ve ran for cross training but never did any sport that involves more than 20 minutes of activity. I started XC mountain biking with longer rides and using Sufferfest/Wahoo for my indoor training about 3 years ago. This year my max heart has jumped from 173 to 184 and I can’t explain it. It is now consistently 10 points higher than its ever been, any ideas why?

It is likely because you are now more aerobically fit, so your system can handle a greater load for longer.

Check out this article on Heart Rate Training for all the fun scientific details :blush:


Yes, all of my numbers are up. When I hit the high HR max is when I’m racing and I’m completely exhausted but no other symptoms. I’m doing XC short track for one hour so it’s basically an hour sprint. I asked my Doctor who is a distance runner but he said he’d never heard of anyone my age increasing their max heart rate, that’s why I asked here. Thanks for your help guys.

Have you tried a different HR-monitor, maybe your chest strap is faulty?

It’s the same on my Wahoo chest strap, Garmin Watch, and Whoop. I though the same thing at first.

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Powerlifting background here.

Been riding and racing XC last 10 years.

Noticed an initial higher hr on cycling than other activities from onset but never really dug into the data until recently. Been collecting data for years, but only started understanding it and how to influence it for the last 3-4.

Last 3 years after really stepping up my game with SUF and proper training my LTHR has gone from 153-154 to up to 163 on some tests. I’ve been hitting low 160s last few tests. So within the upper limits of your 10 bpm spread.

My max HR in races used to be upper 150s and now I regularly hit upper 160s low 170s.

So I think you’re stronger and more conditioned as the answer.

I know I am. At this rate, I’m faster than i ever have been and numbers are still going up. Can’t wait to see what the next three years bring.


Maybe time to see a cardiologists and do an exercise test on the bike with a cardiogram.

I do this every 2 years (advisable for everyone who works out a lot) because I had/have a wonky heart (luckily more training makes it better to the point that I seem to have a perfect heart at the moment)

I went there the first time because I saw strange things on the Garmin concerning heartrate. My typical heart deviation meant that the chest strap had a difficult being correct and my heart was OK but the measurement wasn’t.
First conclusion however, was to take beta-blockers. Now I really hate any form of medication (pharma is the biggest maffia in the world) so I said no. Het reply was that needed to get a lot healthier and fitter then. So I did (every year since I rode more then 10.000km annually, with this year already 16.000km on the clock)
For best training effect she also advised a powermeter and to use the heartate monitor only for analysis afterwards.

Worked out great.

tl;dr: just get checked out by a cardiologist

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I’m 5 years older than you. I wear a heart rate strap during bike sessions as I like to keep a check on it. So when I train, I’m targeting meeting the cadence, power and hr dictates of the session. The caveat being that we know there’s a delay in hr going up and then down following a hard effort. You don’t say if you use a wheel mounted bike trainer but if you do, I’d suggest ensuring the tyre pressure is right for all your sessions and if you use a road bike outdoors then matching that tyre pressure. I ignored this for a while and riding on a trainer tyre inflated to say 20psi impacted the effort involved in the session. These days, I try and keep the trainer tyre is in the range of 90 to 100 psi, matching what I’d ride on the road. I’d then suggest doing a new 4DP test. For me, it took 2 or 3 tests and ensuring training at constant tyre pressures but presently, the Sufferfest hr zones for each of my sessions are really accurate and if anything, I train slightly below the target hr zones. And my personal view is that with some of the harder sessions I’ve found myself asking if my legs or heart/breathing will give out first. In the early days I think there were times when my legs felt shot and that gave a false impression of what my upper hr levels were. Then as leg strength and fitness improved I found I discovered higher hr levels. I can’t remember where I read this but I usually keep half an eye on hr (even resting hr) and I put some store by the suggestion that if it’s elevated by say 10bpm then I take that as a cue that I need rest or might have a slight bug. And though this hasn’t happened yet, but if my hr is way out during a Sufferfest session then I’d consider if there was anything that day that might explain it - busy at work, lack of hydration say and if the answers were no then I’d probably bin the session and take a few days rest before resuming and monitoring once again.