Most men are always looking for that ‘edge’ to improve their fitness regimen. There are many benefits of monitoring heart rate while exercising. While many people do use heart rate monitoring during workouts, many of them don’t understand why it is important.
Cardiovascular output is the result of two factors, heart rate and stroke volume. Your heart rate is determined by how many times your heart beats a minute.
Stroke volume is the amount of blood that pumps through the heart ventricles during a heartbeat. Stroke volume is not factored into heart monitoring during a workout. Heart rate is important for both safety and success in increasing your fitness level.
Safety is the number one goal of tracking heart rate during exercise. If during your fitness program, you find that your heart rate is excessive and your heart is not returning to normal range after working out, these are warning signs you are exercising too aggressively.
Determine the normal rates for each level of heart rate, resting, maximum, and recovery. If your heart is beating well outside the parameters of your normal range, you need to take precautions. Abnormal heart rate may be a sign there is a problem. Consult your doctor if you see consistent signs of abnormal heart rate ranges.
Gauging your success is another great reason to monitor heart rate. You will know when you have reached your fitness goals. If your heart rate is not increasing beyond your resting rate, you know you aren’t working hard enough.
As you increase your workout intensity and can maintain a good MHR and achieve RHR quickly, then you are on track to improving your level of fitness.
Knowing Your Heart Rate Numbers
There are many sources for determining your maximum and target heart rates. Heart rate tables and charts are available if you prefer a visual reverence. The rule of thumb for maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.
The purpose of a heart rate calculator chart is to allow you to determine the best heart rate for you during exercise intensity zones. You can calculate a maximum heart rate by using this MHR following formula:
206.9 – (0.67 x age)
One of the criticisms of this equation is that it isn’t accurate for older individuals. It tends to underestimate the MHR.
If you are older and using this formula, perhaps adjust your zones for individuals who are 5 to 10 years younger.
An advantage of using fitness bands or smartwatches is that your heart rate is measured automatically. These devices are adjusted using the latest research and technology. You can find how many beats per minute for any percent of MHR through the online target heart rate applications. During your workout, your heart rate will be displayed and compared the charts for your age.
All your fitness data can be tracked, from resting rate, through the various intensity zones, and finishing with your recovery rate.
Utilize Target Heart Rate Zones
Perhaps you are still not a fan of using gadgets and technology to monitor your heart during workouts.
There are four training zones that are based on heart rate. They can be broken down into the following categories based on the percentage of your heart rate above resting heart rate.
60 -70%. This is the fat-burning zone. You can achieve this by keeping an easy-going pace. This pace is good for building stamina. This zone is considered “easy” as it is achieved by a brisk walk, slow jog, or easy bike ride.
70 – 80%. You are now in the aerobic zone. Known as the most effective zone for building cardiac fitness, you are building stamina quickly. This zone is achieved by faster, more steady runs and brisk workouts like those that include resistance training.
80 – 90%. Achieving this rigorous anaerobic zone means you will be exercising at a fast pace and breathing hard. It will pay off in that you will be improving your anaerobic level of exercise that increases your lactate threshold. The lactate threshold is how long you can sustain this level of exercise. Your goal should be 80% or above for maximum threshold training.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend a lot of time in this zone to reap the benefits. You can introduce interval training or short speed drills. In between the intense training, you have lengthy recovery periods. You don’t want to spend a lot of time in this high heart rate zone.
90 – 100%. The VO2 Max zone is an area where you are pushing your limits. This is often used by sprinters. This is not a zone to be achieved by those new to exercise. Even people in training spend a couple of months conditioning before they train in this zone. You must be in good health and have an excellent base before pushing yourself into the VO2 max zone.
Which Training Level is Best for You?
It’s essential to have a training plan in place with a mix of heart rate zones addressed. A good heart rate threshold can be achieved by mixing low and higher intensity training.
Zone 1 Training
• Target heart rate 50-60%
• Easy level, can be sustained all day
• Promotes blood flow to the muscles and speeds up recovery during more difficult sessions
• Suggestion: 60 minutes of Zone 1 with 5 – 10 second burst of Zone 5 every 3 to 5 minutes
Zone 2 Training: Aerobic based, easy pace
• Target heart rate of 60 – 70%
• Easy level, works just above the aerobic threshold
• Allows the body to gain endurance at a low intensity
• Slowly improves overall endurance
• Long sessions are 90 minutes of sustained Zone 2
• Aerobic workout sessions are 30 to 90 minutes of varying intensity
Zone 3 Training: Building aerobic endurance
• Target heart rate of 70 – 80%
• Challenging workout but sustainable without undo discomfort
• Helps develop capillary and improves oxygen to muscles
• Builds stamina and mitochondria in the muscles
• 3 sessions 10 to 30 minutes with Zone 1 or 2 in between
Zone 4 Training: Anaerobic capacity
• Target heart rate of 80 – 90%
• Mostly used by professional athletes
• Builds power in muscles and increases speed
• High intensity workouts, very difficult
• Should have 40 to 60 hours of Zone 3 training
• Sets of up to 10 minutes with 1-minute rest intervals
Consider Monitoring Your Heart Rate
No matter your age or level of fitness, consider heart rate monitoring to keep track of your health. Just like frequency, intensity, and duration, your heart rate is an important factor in the effectiveness of your exercise program.
Measuring your heart rate will tell you how hard your body is working. By measuring your heart rate, you can understand how your exercise is affecting your heart rate.
This is easily accomplished with all the advanced technology available today. You can even download an app on your smartphone to monitor your heart rate when exercising.
Tracking your heart rate when exercising will help determine if you are making improvements when you exercise and will give you a better indication of your overall fitness level.
Consider finding your resting heart rate and using your heart rate levels to maximize your workouts and monitor your healthy heart. Your heart will thank you and you will have safer and more effective workouts.