altitude training – heart rate

  • Creator
  • #67650

    Hi girls,

    I was in the mountains the last two days to get acclimatized for my trip to Peru. I was surprised about my heart rate. During uphill hiking HR was lower than expected compared to the level of effort. Zone 1 felt more like Zone 2, Zone 2 more like Zone 3 (I sometimes couldn’t breath throw the nose and slowed down although my HR was still in my aerobic zone).

    Do you know if the AeT/HR/AnT change if you are (not acclimatized) in higher mountains?

    Thanks and happy weekend

  • Keymaster
    Coach on #67651

    Hello Laura,

    First, I am not an expert on acclimatization in general. I have trained many athletes to be ready for it, but I am still learning a lot along the way. Carolyn may have more knowledge on this topic!

    I am editing this message from yesterday as I chatted with one of our altitude experts this morning about this very topic. They said it is expected that your zones and AeT is going to be 10-15bpm lower at altitude. This is if you are coming from sea level and going to 6,000-8,000ft. If you are doing more than 8,000ft change you may see even more suppression in your HR. It is smart to train by feel and don’t push to your normal AeT because that will likely result in exhaustion!

    I hope that helps, and maybe CP will chime in a little more on this topic 🙂

    Anonymous on #67711

    Hi Laura,

    Maya is right on with what she stated above. One of the most difficult things with altitude is everyone is a bit different. However with decreased atmospheric pressure there is less O2 available with every respiration so a normal pace is too fast at higher altitudes. Your HR may remain lower with the slow pace but due to less O2 available your blood oxygen saturation levels are much lower, this is where we need to be cautious. No only with exhaustion but with AMS. Go with lower HR but again, watching your HR monitor doesn’t work well at altitude. Perceived exertion and patience is best. Acclimatize slowly, eat and hydrate, slow your pace using a mountaineers rest step and pressure breathing, go slow and rely on RPE, “Climb High, Sleep Low.”

    I hope this helps!

    Laura on #67739

    Thank you both for the great information! This is really helpful!

    Jennifer Jones on #68096

    I had this same experience the last 3 weekends, my perceived exertion was zone 1-2 but my garmin-recorded HR was bottom of zone1 or below. HR was about 15 bpm off where I would expect based on feel. It was greatest (HR difference) this past weekend; I would think as I become more acclimated, HR would start to creep back up toward normal level. So in TP it looks like I was slacking, but I think you’re saying that even with the lower avg. HR, I’m still getting the right training effect.

    I live at sea level and was hiking at 7-9.5k.

    Does having a depressed HR while hiking at elevation having any correlation to experiencing AMS?


    Anonymous on #68109

    Hi Jennifer,
    Yes having a depressed HR while hiking at altitude can correlate to AMS, though there are often other factors as well, fueling, hydration, preparation etc. I have had many clients (guiding) over the years have more acute AMS symptoms oon decent from a summit due to decreased respiratory rate (doesn’t feel as hard going down) and O2 sat then drops. So I have people focus on keeping respiratory rate up as well as trying pressure breathing on the ascent.
    I hope this helps ( :

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