Why is my heart rate so high on descents?


I hope all is well and RipRows are flying out of your garage! I have a quick question for you.

I have been training extensively lately with a heart rate monitor. I notice that my heart rate spikes significantly when I go downhill. I have a hard time keeping in under 160. My max is somewhere around 180. However I don’t feel out of breath or winded when riding downhill. Is this something you have seen before in riders? Any thoughts on it?



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RipRows are flying! And now we have a proper warehouse.

It’s common for your heart rate to be pinned while you are pinning a descent. I think that’s because:

Riding downhill is physically demanding. You’re doing a lot of leg extension/retraction, upper body pulling/pushing, some crazy torsion and tons of core stabilizing. Not to mention sprinting.

You’re pulling Gs. When you rip a descent, you subject your body to vertical and lateral G forces. The higher the Gs, the harder your heart must work to send blood where it needs to go.

It’s exciting. Depending on your mindspace, you’re somewhere on the spectrum between terror and stoke. The closer you are to fear, the higher your heart rate is likely to be. But any excitement will get your blood pumping.

You can tolerate high descending heart rates easier than, say, climbing heart rates because there’s so much going on and you’re not solely focused on your suffer score. 160bpm on a trainer sucks. 160bpm on a downhill is fun.

You can minimize your descending heart rate (and ultimately ride faster/better) by:

Improving your skills so all of your movements are more efficient.

Getting stronger and fitter so your body has more reserve.

Shifting your mindspace away from terror/excitement toward engagement/flow.

I hope this is helpful,


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