Maffetone method


It's me again.

As you know I am going to have a go at the middle distance event in Bala next year. I am really looking forward to this.

What you may not know is that I am changing jobs. I will be able to finish at 3.30 pm in my new job which means I will have a little more time to fit training in. And so I have been wondering if I might have a go at following a training schedule.

So I did a seach and came up with the trinewbie site, which offers an intermediate training schedule for the half ironman. Strangely Mr Scoobs also bought me a book called - Traithlon - An expert training comapnion. He got so much stick from his work colleagues as they all told him I'd prefer perfume and jewellary and stuff., Thank goodness he stuck to his guns and didn't listen! Perfume verses lovely book all about training??? No contest. I was delighted with his choice.

 Anyway - Bala is something I want to complete. I'd like to do it as well as I can, but I'm also not going to get hung up about times. I'm also not going to become a slave to a training schedule either. But I would like to give one a go as I have never done so before and I think it might be quite fun!

For me everything is more about the training. The event itself to me is second. I only enter events so that I have a reason to keep me motivated and training. It's the training I love the most.

So this book talks about training using a HRM. And it talks of recommending the Maffetone method. The formula it uses makes sense to me.  I have done a max HR test years ago. But I suspect it is defunct now!

It says to subtract your age from 180 and then place yourself in one of four categories.

The category I place myself in is one where I have had injury (I'm unable to run at mo, but that's another thread!). So I fit into cat b so I have to deduct a further 5 from the above.

This brings me out with a training HR of 134 bpm.

So I stuck the HR monitor on and off I went on the bike. Only to find that due to the hills there is no way on this earth I could stick to under this. Even if I pushed up the hills, I reckon it would go over. But my overall average HR is only a bit above - 138 bpm. I'm guessing due to the downhills.

The book talks about aerobic phase/base training. I like the idea behind this.

So do you think using an average HR for the whole ride would be Ok? I reckon I could get near to the ideal HR if I could use an average.

Has anyone used this method/heard of this method? What do you guys think of it?

I'd be very interested to hear what other peoples opinions/experiences are?

I'm curious! and it would be helpful too!

Many thanks


  • My personal view is that if you are training on HR then you need to stick to that as a max, and not use the average.  At first then you will crawl up hills, but that's jsut part of the method.

    Personally I'd suggest that HR is a bit on the low side for most, if I'm reading right then that would be 180-34-5 for me, so 141 which isn't totally away from other methods, but a fair bit below what I know to be right for me. 

  • TRTR ✭✭✭

    Hi Scooby - I dont do gadgets so cant help.

     My plan for a first 1/2 IM in the summer is to cycle a fair bit, run a bit and swim a bit. Its all about the training for me too. I do about 2 hrs a day, without any races on the horizon.

     If you want to test your max HR then you need to run a few reps flat out up a hill.

  • Cycling and run MHR are different, partly due to the different attitude (ie posistion/angle) for the two sports.  Running will be higher. 
  • TRTR ✭✭✭

    oops - you had best ignore me then !

    I still reckon on the bike lots, run a bit and swim a bit approach though. 

  • Maffetone will generally set your training zone very low, unreasonably low for a lot of people. At the end of the day you should train in all zones at all times of the year, the only thing that changes is the amount of training time devoted to each zone at a certain time of the year. That is why you need a training plan, so you know how much training at each intensity you should be doing at a particular time of the year

    The best approach is, find your weaknesses, work on them a more than your strengths untill the balance is evened out then re-evaluate.

    Lots of people believe in the bike a lot run a bit theory, and then lots of people have trouble with the run!!

    I still think the best attitude to have is, 'it's just a long warm up for a running race'  that way your training will focus on getting you to the run not jusst as quickly as you can but in the best shape to run image

  • There's some science out there that suggests the theory has little effect if its mixed with any other high intensity stuff. That was certainly my findings when I had a little play with it after my IM in the summer.

    Read up as much as you can, for me its something that should be tried in the off season and not as prep for a race.

  • Scooby
    i am afraid there is no substritute for doing a proper maxHR test to determine your effective training range.
    All formulas are simply estimates (guesses!!) and it will be a matter of happenschance if you get the right answer and are no substitute for a maxHR test.  Using Maffetone's method I am 22 bpm off my maxHR established by testing.

    I can happily tell you how otodo one - you may not be so happy doing it!!!!

  • whoops - sorry jusy reread your post and see you cannot run at the moment !!

    Not quite sure if a max HR can be sstablished on a bike as the lack of body weight bearing does not stress the body to its maximum but you should get to within 5bpm or so on a bike.

  • you could try this.....

    maxHR test on a turbo trainer

  • Thanks for all the feedback guys. Most helpful and informative too.

    I've had a think and I can't see how I can manage to keep my HR under 132 bpm (I calculated it wrong yesterday) for the duration of my ride. Crikey!  Even if I pushed the bike up the hills I'm pretty certain my HR would get higher than that.

    I guess if I was really serious I could try to find some flatter routes, but I'm not ''that'' serious.  It would mean being stuck to limited routes - I can't really come up with any that are not at least undulating, and it would spoil my cycling as I love getting up onto the moors or around the coast. Also Bala is going to be hilly so it makes sense to continue with the hill work.

    My main query was whether I could use an average HR as that's the only way I might get near to this theory. My last 2 long rides have had an average HR of 138 bpm. But on 3 hills my HR went up to 171 bpm, 169 bpm and 161 bpm respectively. On others it was regularly up to around the 150 mark. But of course it would drop right down when I whizzed down the downhills. image

    Thanks Torque, that test looks grim! One would need a puke bucket very nearby I suspect! image

    Hi Tr! image

    Andrew - yes I can see your point. Work on the weaknesses makes absolute sense. My weakness is running unfortunately. That's what lead me to tri. But June is a way away yet and I am keen to get back running as soon as I can. Until then I'm using the elliptical trainer as a substitute which is not ideal but better than nothing.

    So to summarise, I think I'll still use the HR monitor, but accept that I'm not going to be able to keep it down for the duration of my rides.

    Many thanks again everyone.

  • Keep you HR as low as possible up the hils - ave target plus 5 is normaly a guide, although you will be seeing HR drift to begin with so have a decent warm up and warm down
  • Ok Gumps, I'll try. Any tips on how to keep it as low as possible on the steeper hills?
  • It really depends how steep they are and how fit you are.  If I was not having an off couple of years I would have no shame using a triple with a 27 cog in the winter even if most of my rides were ave quite a bit over 18mph at winder effort
  • Sounds simple, but go slow from the start, select an easy gear, stay sat down and just pootle up.
  • Ok many thanks. I'll see how it goes. I don't have a triple anymore, but I do have a compact so almost as good and my bike is so much lighter than my old hybrid that I reckon it's pretty much the same. But of course I won't be spinning round as fast. I could avoid the real pigs of hills, 1:4's. I had thought it was good to visit them to gauge my fitness by how difficult I found it to get up them. But I don't have to do that. So for now whilst I'm trying to keep HR down, I'll see if I can avoid them. Many thanks, I'm learning loads!
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