Targeted heart rate training: Perhaps you’ve heard of it and know it’s supposed to be good for you. But, good in what way? To burn fat? To get the most out of exercise? To prevent overtraining? If you use heart rate training correctly, it can help you with all of that and more. Let’s investigate:
If you use heart rate training correctly, it can help you with all of that and more. Let’s investigate:
How Does Heart Rate Training Help You?
Before we jump into how to do it properly, let’s take a look at why you’d want to do it in the first place. Heart rate training can help you in a few different ways:
- You can get the most out of your exercise: Your target heart rate depends on the type of exercise you’re doing. If you’re jogging, you want your heart rate to be in a different range (lower) than if you’re in the middle of an intense anaerobic set. By knowing the optimal heart rate for each type of exercise, you can make sure you’re exerting yourself enough — but not too much — to get the results that you want.
- You can see how your body responds to different types of exercises: For athletes who want to tune their bodies to achieve a specific purpose, heart rate training can show you what you’re good at and what you need to work on. Where are you quickly overexerting yourself? Where are you doing well? By monitoring your heart rate, you can get a sense of where you need more work — whether that’s fitness-related or technique-related.
- It prevents you from overtraining: While you may have the mental toughness to push through the pain, heart rate training can help you identify when you are overexerting yourself. The end result means that you can prevent injuries.
Which Rates Pair With Which Exercises?
Now that we know how heart rate training can benefit your workout, let’s take a look at which zones are the best for certain types of exercise. It looks like this:
- Easy: 60% – 70%
This zone is ideal for slow runs or recovery runs. It’s the best place for your heart to pump blood and for your muscles to use oxygen.
- Aerobic: 70% – 80%
This zone helps you develop cardiovascular fitness and helps improve your body’s ability to get oxygen to your muscles and pull carbon dioxide away from them. In this zone, you should still be able to carry on a conversation.
- Anaerobic: 80% – 90%
This zone is where your muscles build up lactic acid, also known as “the burn.” Training in this zone helps your body increase its threshold before lactic acid buildup, meaning that your muscles get stronger and have more endurance. In this zone, you’re breathing heavily and your muscles are quite tired.
- Red Line: 90% – 100%
This zone should be used sparingly and only for short periods of time. Here is where you’re building up a sizeable oxygen debt to your muscles, so you can’t maintain this zone for long.
How Do I Know My Own Heart Rate Zones?
All right, so we understand the different zones and when to use them, but how do you determine your own heart rate zones so you know whether you’re training at 60% of your max or 80%? It’s a pretty straightforward process:
- Find your resting heart rate. Take your pulse right when you wake up or when you’re totally relaxed.
- Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. There’s your max heart rate. If you are 30, for example, then your max heart rate should be 190.
- Find your heart rate reserve: This number is just your max heart rate minus your resting heart rate. If your max heart rate is 190 and your resting heart rate is 60, then your heart rate reserve would be 130.
- With these numbers, you can calculate anything. Just multiply your target percentage by your heart rate reserve and add your resting heart rate. For example, if you want to reach 70%, your heart rate reserve is 130, and your resting heart rate is 60 — then you would just multiply 130 by 0.7, which is 91, and add your resting heart rate for a total of 151. That means, to reach your 70% zone, you’d be looking for a heart rate of 151 beats per minute.
- If all else fails, you can just find a handy heart rate zone calculator to do the work for you.
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Featured photo credit: Targeted Heart Rate Training via nordictrack.com