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Miguel Indurain’s Heart Rate (Revealed)

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Five times winner of the Tour de France Miguel Indurain has long been talked about as a super athlete, one whose general bodily abilities are so vastly different from the norm. But how fast was his resting heart rate?

Miguel Indurain had a resting heart rate once measured as low as 28 beats per minute. In conversation, he revealed that this was the lowest reading, and the more typical range was between 30 and 32 beats per minute.

This is in pretty stark contrast to the average resting heart rate for an adult male which tends to sit somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

In this post, I’ll look at:

  • What exactly was Miguel Indurain’s resting heart rate
  • What he said about his resting heart rate
  • The world record for the lowest recorded human heart rate
  • The heart rates of other prominent cyclists
  • Some other key stats of his fitness regime
  • His VO2 max levels
  • The physiology of Indurain’s heart (as recorded in tests carried out on him)
  • His training regime
  • Indurain’s top tips for cycling success
Miguel Indurain heart rate

Miguel Indurain Heart Rate

The peak of Miguel Indurain’s career was between 1991 and 1995. He was at this point between 26 and 31 years of age, and it was during this period that he won his five Tour de France titles.

During this period, his resting heart rate was somewhere between 28 and 32 beats per minute.

This is one of the lowest heart rates ever recorded.

What Miguel Indurain Said About His Heart Rate

In an interview with, Miguel Indurain said about his heart rate, ‘Normally I had a resting heart rate of 30 or 32bpm. The coaches used to measure it in the morning and in the afternoon to see if I was recovering. One day we did a medical test and it read 28, so there is some truth in it. But normally it was a little bit higher.’ (Source)

Miguel Indurain comes across as modest in all the interviews he does these days, and likes to play down the stories of his low heart rate. However, whether his heart rate was closer to 28 or 32, either figure is staggering and so different from the expected norm.

What Is The World Record For The Lowest Recorded Heart Rate

Miguel Indurain has only been slightly pipped for this title!

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the lowest-ever recorded resting heart rate is 27 beats per minute. That was recorded by Martin Brady in the UK. (Source)

His heart rate was measured at the Guernsey Chest and Heart Unit on the Channel Islands, on 11th August 2005.

Martin Brady was 35 years old at the time.

There has also been a physical trainer in the UK, Daniel Green, who was recorded as having a resting heart rate of just 26 beats per minute. However, this was over a shorter time frame, and he did not sustain this heart rate for longer than a minute (as did Martin Brady).

The Resting Heart Beats Of Other Prominent Cyclists

Miguel Indurain is not alone in the cycling world in having a heart rate dramatically lower than the norm. Some other notable cyclists with low heart rates include:

Chris Froome

Four times Tour de France winner Chris Froome allowed himself to be put through a series of grueling physiological tests to prove that he had no involvement in doping.

During these tests, they found that at one point his resting heart rate dropped as low as 29 beats per minute. (Source)

Chris Boardman

Boardman was one of the main guys when I was young. He was an Olympic gold medallist, and also was famous for training in an oxygen tent.

Sometimes he would cycle up to 8 hours per day in his brutal training regime.

His views on the heart-rate issue are very interesting. He thinks that physiology does play some part in success in cycling. However, he believes even more important is the desire of a cyclist.

In an interview, he said, ‘If you want it enough and apply yourself the right way, I think you can get to podium level on just sheer tenacity and desire.

Bradley Wiggins

2012 Tour de France winner and Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins, had a resting heart rate of 40 beats per minute when measured in his heyday.

Lance Armstrong

I was a bit skeptical about putting Lance Armstrong into this post, because of all the controversy surrounding him and doping. But, for the record, his resting heart rate was between 32 and 34 beats per minute in the prime of his career.

Please bear in mind, though, that he has been confirmed to have been taking performance-enhancing drugs throughout this period.

To see a longer article I wrote about all the Tour de France winners that have been stripped of their titles, then click here.

Prominent Cyclists’ Heart Rates

Here is a table of the heart rates of the prominent cyclist listed in a table:

CyclistResting Heart Rate
Miguel Indurain28bpm
Chris Froome29bpm
Lance Armstrong32-34bpm
Chris Boardman38bpm
Bradley Wiggins40bpm

Miguel Indurain’s Key Fitness Stats

Miguel Indurain was the subject of detailed physiological testing, and it was found that he had a range of fitness abilities that vastly defied all norms.

He was tested by the University of Ferrara (Source), and some of the findings including:

Amount Of Oxygen In His Blood

Indurain’s blood was able to carry 1.85 gallons (7 liters) of oxygen through his blood all around his body in one minute. That is in contrast to the average person that will be able to transport around 1 gallon (3-4 liters).

Cardiac Output

Cardiac output is the amount of blood that is pumped by the heart in one minute. Indurain’s cardiac output was 13 gallons per minute (50 liters), in contrast to an average person being around 5 gallons (20 liters).

This is possibly the stat that sets him out furthest from the norm.

Lung Capacity

Indurain had a lung capacity of about 2 gallons (7.8 liters), which compares with about 1.5 gallons (6 liters) of an average person.

VO2 Max

A person’s VO2 max is their ability to convert the oxygen in their blood into energy and is a key metric of fitness. (Source)

Indurain’s VO2 max was 88ml/kg/min. This is more than double the average male adult which would be around 40ml/kg/km.

Here are Indurain’s key stats in a table:

Fitness MeasureMiguel Indurain’s Fitness StatAn Average Person’s Fitness Stat
VO2 max88ml/kg/min40ml/kg/min
Oxygen Carried Round Body By Blood2 gallons (7 liters) per minute1 gallon (3-4 liters) per minute
Cardiac output13 gallons (50 liters) per minute5 gallons (20 liters) per minute
Lung capacity2 gallons (7.8 liters)1.5 (6 liters)
Resting heart rate28-32 beats per minute60-100 beats per minute

Tested At 46

In 2012, which was more than a decade after his retirement, Indurain went through further physical tests.

At this point, he was 46 years old. Though heavier, and not subject to such a full-on training regime, he still displayed cardio and lung abilities that were favorable to most other professional cyclists of the time.


Miguel Indurain Training Regime

Miguel Indurain’s training regime was built on a philosophy of building himself up throughout his training window, and reaching a crescendo of fitness at the right time, which was for him the Tour de France every July.

To summarize, he would go through periods of the year, which approximately were:

August – November: These would be his rest months. He would either not cycle, or would only engage in light cycling.

December 1st – This is when he began his training every season.

December – March: He would focus on long-distance endurance cycling. He would be building up his stamina and his muscle endurance. His focus would be anaerobic training. He could cycle for as long as 8 hours a day, but he would be focussed on steady flat cycling.

April – June: He would be integrated lots of climbing and speed interval training into his regime. He would be reaching a peak in time for the Tour.

July – Tour de France

This training regime is built on a steady foundation of endurance in the winter months. He built on this with a wider range of training techniques in spring and summer.

This approach he didn’t peak too soon. He also never plateaued. Long-distance cycling experts say that if you train in the same way throughout the year, you are in danger of reaching a 70% to 80% level of fitness and just plateauing at that level.

Indurain made sure he was building and moving forward throughout the year. (Source)

Other tips for success from Miguel Indurain

In 2012, Miguel Indurain wrote an article about his top tips for success in training for endurance cycling. In a nutshell, some of the most important tips include:

Focus on climbing

Some of these tips are really good common sense without being rocket science.

One of the most important is to focus on climbing. Indurain believed that the Tour was won and lost on the climbs, and this is feature of long races that really divides the peloton.

However, not many cyclist actually practice this element of the race as much as they should.

His message was simple – you need to really focus on climbing, and practice climbing as much as possible, to set yourself apart.

Good Climbing Technique

When climbing, it’s important to keep your posture, form and good technique. This is what helps you stay aerodynamic, and helps you conserve and maximize energy.

Stay In Your Saddle

Although many of us will naturally come out of the saddle when climbing, Indurain thinks this is a mistake. He believes you should stay in the saddle almost always. This is to help conserve the maximum possible energy.

The only time he would come out of the saddle was during periods of intense sprinting, such as during the last straight of a race.

Cadence Between 70 And 80rpm

Cadence is the speed of rotation of the pedals. He believed you should always keep this relatively high, and similar – at about 70 to 80 revolutions per minute.

This means going up hills at a very low resistance, but keeping pedal momentum in the down slopes also.

Improve Your Power To Weight Ratio

It is famous how Indurain lost a lot of weight in his early days, and this transitioned him into the formidable cyclist he became.

The power-to-weight ratio is quite simply your cycling power divided by your body weight. This determines the speed at which you cycle.

To go faster, therefore, you must either:

  • Lose weight
  • Or generate more power

Losing weight is generally the easier out of these two, and so Indurain advocates losing as much body fat as possible.

Weight Training For Power

He also advocates weight training of the lower body to provide additional power.

If you want to learn more about Miguel Indurain, then here is a video profile of the great man and his career: