Calisthenics HR vs Rowing HR

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jcross88
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Calisthenics HR vs Rowing HR

Post by jcross88 » July 29th, 2021, 10:05 am

Every third day I do a pretty simple upper body calisthenics workout of chin ups, push ups, inverted rows, and dumbbell overhead press. I'll usually do four sets of each with 80 seconds of rest between, and the same rest between the different exercises, with the current goal of hypertrophy. Every set has to be completed within 30 seconds after which the rest timer starts, regardless. In the past my rests have been 120 seconds with the goal of building strength. It's an effective little routine that requires minimal space or equipment and served me well back in college and during travels.

Recently I've started rowing, got onto Pete's Beginner Plan, am currently on week 8, and I'm absolutely loving it. I got a Polar H10 for the rower and was pleased to find that I can get quality heart rate data on my calisthenics workouts with it too. I'm a bit of a nerd, so I export all my workouts from logbook and Polar Flow and run libreoffice statistics on the data, looking at stroke rate variance, watt variance, percentage of strokes in each heart rate zone, etc. It's very satisfying to quantify how I'm pushing my AT, and see how I'm adding distance to my steady state days every week while simultaneously dropping my heart rate for the whole exercise. Along with HRV and RHR the data can signal to me whether I'm overtraining, which helps me push the envelope without going too far. Also, it can be tempting on those steady state days to push the pace, so instead I set goals to focus on my form or my breathing, and try to keep a more steady pace at a lower heart rate. It's a fun little game.

As satisfying as my rowing has been, it's cast a shadow over my calisthenics workout. I used to feel immensely satisfied after a calisthenics day, but compared to the rower it feels almost like my upper body workout is totally stalled out. My heart rate is mostly UT2 for the calisthenics, maybe a bit of UT1. I know those heart rate zones are meant to be specific to rowing, and rowing singularly raises your heart rate in a way most other physical activities simply cannot. Still, at the end of calisthenics the Polar app will taunt me, "Well done! This low intensity session improved your basic endurance...".

Low intensity?! I'm 158 pounds and just did 40 chin ups in 6 minutes while wearing a 20 pound vest! I do my inverted rows on gymnastics rings with my feet elevated 36"! The inverted row doesn't count unless my back is straight and my thumbs hit my nipples! I do my push ups on dumbbells with a full range of motion until my chest touches the floor! I'm sweating like a madman, probing my soul for motivation to maintain proper form and hit that last rep in time, and my heart rate data is telling me "Nice try".

On final reps of a set you can see my heart rate go over 90% max very briefly, only to go plummeting down to maybe 100bpm during the subsequent rest period, even near the end of the workout. I've never used a highly accurate heart rate monitor for this workout, only Fitbit (which routinely tells me my heart rate is 80 during a 3x2000 workout). I don't know what to expect, so maybe I'm over analyzing the data. I'm seeing results from the workouts, and successfully avoiding injury; What more could I ask for? It's not like I'm a professional athlete with a competition in two months I have to be at my peak for. I'm content with steady progress.

tl;dr My rowing heart rate is right where it should be, but my heart rate during calisthenics is mostly 60-80% max. Do I just have a healthy heart? Am I not pushing my calisthenics hard enough? Wherefore doth Polar Flow mock me so?

jcross88
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Re: Calisthenics HR vs Rowing HR

Post by jcross88 » July 29th, 2021, 10:35 am

To provide a concrete example, I'm 32 and my zones are UT2=126, UT1=145, AT=158, TR=164, AN=177+. This is just based on the formula. I haven't had my max heart rate measured or anything.

For my last row of 8.5k (181.2 Watts) I was 8% UT2, 51% UT1, 39% AT. Max heart rate 163
For calisthenics I was 23% UT2, 5% UT1. Max heart rate 161

The rest of both workouts were below UT2, out of range.

jamesg
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Re: Calisthenics HR vs Rowing HR

Post by jamesg » July 30th, 2021, 1:04 am

I'm 158 pounds and just did 40 chin ups in 6 minutes while wearing a 20 pound vest!
That's about 70 Watts average CV load done with shoulders and arms only, including eccentric work. Well done.
08-1940, 183cm, 84kg. Last seen MHR 158 in 2k = 220 - 77% of age.
2021-2: stroke 6 W-min. ½k 1:55.5; 1k 4:09.2; 2k 8:42.2; 5k 23:15; 30' 6247; 10k 49:36.

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hjs
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Re: Calisthenics HR vs Rowing HR

Post by hjs » July 30th, 2021, 4:24 am

I see no data of what you actually do on the rower. Its relative easy to row from very easy to getting close to passing out. Its simply how much effort you put it.

Tsnor
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Re: Calisthenics HR vs Rowing HR

Post by Tsnor » August 2nd, 2021, 3:46 pm

jcross88 wrote:
July 29th, 2021, 10:05 am
.. I'm 158 pounds and just did 40 chin ups in 6 minutes while wearing a 20 pound vest! ...
tl;dr My rowing heart rate is right where it should be, but my heart rate during calisthenics is mostly 60-80% max. Do I just have a healthy heart? Am I not pushing my calisthenics hard enough? Wherefore doth Polar Flow mock me so?
Chin ups impressive as anything.

Think you are using HR data wrong for your calisthenics. Chin ups are not an endurance sport. Nor is most lifting. You are not heart rate limited, so should not expect to see high numbers for heart rate. HR is not a good measure for how hard you are working.

Polar flow only knows heart rate. Those chin ups use less oxygen than walking uphill so will have a lower HR. So polar flow mocks you. Surprised "On final reps of a set you can see my heart rate go over 90% max very briefly", if 40 reps is 2 mins or less.

If the exercise uses a ton of muscle mass (think leg press) then you need lots of oxygen if you do it long enough. If the muscle is smaller (think chin ups) it can't use as much oxygen, and can't hit the same HR. Low reps with any muscle group will also give you low HR even at max.

Endurance cyclists who rely heavily on HR data for training have the same problem with how to count their weight lifting toward their exercise goals. Lifting does not input into a HR centric model so all the UT1, UT2 etc stuff goes out the window. So they fudge it in.

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