The keys to heart rate training – Part I

Kendall Railing, CSCS

Do you ever wonder if you’re exercising hard enough or too hard?  Do you ever wonder why you’re not making more progress even though you exercise regularly.  Do you ever wonder why you seem to be making great progress and then all of a sudden you get hurt, again?  I hope part 1 of this article can help you understand one very simple training method to keep you moving forward in your fitness journey.

Heart Rate Training.  Believe it or not, if you’re reading this article, you have a heart rate – no purchase necessary, and knowing your numbers can help you to exercise more effectively.  Here is the small print.  Medications can alter your heart rate. Make sure to contact your pharmacist or doctor to see if Heart Rate Training is right for you.

To get started here are some things you have to know and determine prior to getting started:

  1. Where to find your heart rate: See diagram below.

Heart Rate pic2. Defining and determining Maximum Heart Rate: MHR is the highest number of times your heart can contract in one minute.  There are several at home or at gym tests that can be done to determine your MHR. A general formula is 220 – your age = MHR.

3. Determining Resting Heart Rate: For three days to one week, measure your HR prior to getting out of bed. You can take your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to come up with your RHR.  For example, 15 beats (in 15 seconds) x 4 = 60 beats per minute(BPM).

4. Calculating Heart Rate Reserve: Subtract RHR from your MHR to determine your HRR. For example, 180(MHR) – 60(RHR) = 120(HRR).

5. Heart Rate Zones

Using the example Heart Rate information above we’ll determine the training zones for the light category:

180(MHR) – 60(RHR) = 120(HRR)              180(MHR) – 60(RHR) = 120(HRR)

120(HRR) x 0.6 = 72                                   120(HRR) x 0.7 = 84

72 + 60(RHR) = 132(BPM)                          84 + 60(RHR) = 144(BPM)

The HR limits for the light category are going to be 132 to 144(BPM). You can do this for each zone once you determine your own MHR, RHR, and HRR.

In part 2 of this article, we will discuss more about training zones and the length of time that should be spent in each.  Until next time, happy heart rate training.

Heart Rate Zone