I could go 50 different directions with this post title, but in my last post I talked about the importance of following your heart when in comes to truly reaping the benefits of exercise. This is done by monitoring your heart rate to reach your goals. In todays post I want to show you a basic and advance way to calculate your target HR. Once you know your target HR you can make sure that you are in the right training zone to reach your exercise and fitness goals.
Target Heart Rate – Basic
The Target Heart Rate (THR), or Training Heart Rate, is a desired range of heart rate reached during exercise that provides the most benefit from each workout. The Target HR is a function of your calculated HRmax and then a percentage range of 65 to 85% based on your exercise intensity.
Example for someone with a HRmax of 180 (age 40, estimating HRmax as 220 − age):
65% intensity: (220 − (age = 40)) × 0.65 → 117 bpm
85% intensity: (220 − (age = 40)) × 0.85 → 153 bpm
Target Heart Rate – Advanced (Karvonen method)
The Karvonen method takes your HRmax and then factors in Resting Heart Rate (HRrest) to calculate Target Heart Rate (THR):
- THR = ((HRmax − HRrest) × %Intensity) + HRrest
Example for someone with a HRmax of 180 and a HRrest of 70:
50% intensity: ((180 − 70) × 0.50) + 70 = 125 bpm
60% intensity: ((180 − 70) × 0.60) + 70 = 136 bpm
70% intensity: ((180 − 70) × 0.70) + 70 = 147 bpm
80% intensity: ((180 − 70) × 0.80) + 70 = 158 bpm
90% intensity: ((180 − 70) × 0.90) + 70 = 169 bpm
It is important to note that your resting HR is taken after you have been lying down for 15-20 minutes in order to give you a more accurate reading. Using this method allows you to factor in your current level of fitness by using your resting HR. I feel that this is a more accurate reading and will help you get more out of your workouts.
Once you have your Target Heart Rate figured out, it is time to apply it to your training by staying in the proper zone to reach your goals.
The Health Heart Zone – 50% to 60%:
At only half of your max HR this is an easy and comfortable exercise zone and you should be able to carry on a full conversation even though your breathing maybe slightly elevated. This zone is great for an evening walk or Sunday stroll in the park. A much better alternative to plopping yourself down in front of the TV and eating a bowl of ice cream. The bodies calorie (energy) source is fat while exercising in this zone.
The Weight Management Zone or Recovery Zone – 60% to 70%
Breathing becomes heavier in this zone, but you should still be able to speak in short sentences. The bodies calorie (energy) source is still predominantly fat, with the add bonus of burning more in this zone. This zone may also be used as a recovery zone for those individuals tapping into higher HR zones during their exercise routine.
The Aerobic Zone – 70% to 80%
This zone is also referred to as the endurance training zone. Breathing becomes much harder now as your body has to work to transport oxygen to the muscles and remove carbon dioxide. As a result, speaking will become limited to short phrases. Training in this zone will improve cardiovascular fitness and allow you to sustain exercise for a longer period of time resulting in increased calorie burn in future sessions. The bodies calorie (energy) source begins to change in this zone from mostly fat in previous zones, to half carbohydrates and half fat.
The Anaerobic Zone – 80% to 90%
As you can imagine, it is hard to train in this zone for any length of time. Training at 80 – 90% max increases breathing, making it hard to say much more than single words. The bodies calorie (energy) source in this zone is predominantly carbohydrates stored as glycogen in the muscles. Think of this zone like the end of a match. When you light a match the flame is briefly brilliant and hot before burning at a slower pace when it gets to the stick. Once you have burned through the carbohydrates (glycogen) stored in your muscles you reach your anaerobic threshold and your ability to sustain this level of intensity quickly declines. The by product of burning muscle glycogen is lactic acid. Many of us have felt lactic acid in our muscles as a result of training in the Anaerobic Zone. With the proper training, it is possible to delay the onset of anaerobic threshold and improve your bodies handling of lactic acid. This results in increased tolerance to this training zone and the rapid burning of more calories.
The Red Line Zone 90% to 100%
If you have ever trained in this zone, you know that it is nearly impossible to sustain this for any length of time. Speaking is limited to single words at best, while you gasp for air. Training here effectively recruits your fast twitch muscle fibers and helps develop speed – think explosive types of exercise. This zone is sometimes tapped during interval training and is typically attained only by the ultrafit. While calorie burn here is very high, most are carbohydrates.
Now with this information in hand, you need to complete 4 steps:
- Calculate your Target Heart Rate using the advanced (Karvonen) method.
- Calculate your Target Heart Rate for each of the different zones.
- Decide which training zone best targets your exercise goals.
- Consistently exercise in your training zone.
Congratulations! You now are prepared to get the most out of each exercise session! Hopefully your exercise will become more targeted and meaningful as you monitor your single most important muscle – your heart.
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