How to Raise Threshold Heart Rate

I am a master’s skier, mid 40’s, and have been racing for about 30 years. In the past, I have been fairly successful. In the past 3-4 years, my threshold HR has gone down significantly. It used to be 165, now it’s much lower. I recently did two races, a 30 k and a 50 k, and my average HR was 152. I usually do intervals twice a week. I’m having problems with my quads really burning a lot, so that I can’t push hard enough to raise my HR very high. I have tried Incorporating more recovery into all my training, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Do I need to do short intervals, 30 sec-1 min with short rest to raise my HR without my legs burning so much and then gradually increase them? I do a lot of endurance, 14-18 hours total training/week.


Certainly try to shorten the intervals in the manner you outlined, that is, make them long enough to get the heart-rate up, but short enough so that you aren’t feeling fatigued in the legs right immediately. With shorter intervals, you would want to consider adding more repetitions so that you maintain training volume so as not to get a de-training effect.

Strength training. I don’t know if you are currently engaged in a strength-training regime, but having a strength plan that targets the leg and core muscles may help solve your leg-problem. You can even devote one strength session entirely to legs and reserve another day for arms to target the legs more dramatically.

After tweaking your training to account for these two suggestions over the next 6-7 weeks, I would re-test and reevaluate your threshold HR to see if catering to the limiting factor (legs) provides positive feedback. Hopefully you will see improvements in your threshold HR and/or quads.

Karmen M. Whitham
CXC Development Coach


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