When it comes to heart rate training, we can all get a little overwhelmed with the ins and outs of the whole process. You have to know your resting heart rate, max heart rate and something about zones. It’s already hard enough to find time to workout, let alone find time to workout AND track your heart rate. So why even bother with heart rate training? Because heart rate is arguably the most important workout metric to track. Heart rate is the best indicator of our body’s response to a workout. Plus, it can make your workout more efficient and effective, help determine recovery time and provides the most accurate calorie burn data.
Also, heart rate training is not nearly as complicated as it seems. There are many tools out there that take the hard work out of heart rate training. It is no longer only for athletes and fitness instructors. We broke down the basics of heart rate training, so you can begin to get the most out of your workouts.
What is heart rate training?
Heart rate training consists of tracking your heart rate during exercise. It can be tracked manually or with a heart rate monitor, which can be in the form of numerous wearables, such as chest straps, armbands, watches or even headphones. This type of training uses zones (more on those below) that determine the highest and lowest limits of your exercise intensity. By measuring your heart rate, you can optimize your workout to get the best results and in turn train your heart.
Why should you heart rate train?
Heart rate training is essential to staying safe and getting the most out of your body. Without heart rate monitors, you can struggle to know if you are exercising at the right or wrong intensity and how much recovery time you need. At too high a heart rate, you can do serious damage to yourself. At too low a rate, you won’t see the results you are looking for. Heart rate training is a great way to avoid plateauing during your workouts.
What are my heart rate zones?
The most well-known way to predict your maximum heart rate zone comes from the equation 220 minus your age. However, this method gives you an approximate maximum heart rate and should not be used for an exact measurement. So, how can you find your maximum heart rate without going to a lab and taking a treadmill stress test? To find your resting heart rate it includes taking your pulse when you wake up, before getting out of bed. For most children and adults, the average resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (BPM). For well-trained athletes, that number decreases to 40-60 BPM.
A Breakdown of the 5 Zones
|Zone||Maximum Heart Rate||Effort||Duration|
|1||50-60%||Very Light||20-40 minutes|
This zone is great for losing weight. While it might be low intensity, this level is exactly what is necessary to burn fat, as it is the primary fuel source when exercising. Zone 1 is recommended for that initial transition from a sedentary lifestyle to an active lifestyle and includes exercises like fast-paced walking. It can also be used as a recovery zone from higher intensity workouts.
Like the first zone, Zone 2 is great for weight loss. It is also effective for building up to higher intensity workouts as well as building your endurance levels. You can also use Zone 2 as a recovery zone from higher intensity workouts. Examples include long-distance running or strength training.
Workouts for this zone include tempo runs or strength training. This zone is known to improve, maintain and strengthen aerobic fitness and training.
Includes exercises like HIIT (high-intensity interval training), introduces anaerobic fitness and is the point at which lactic acid occurs. Say hello to those burning muscles. By working through the burn, you will become faster and stronger.
Ideal for athletic training to maximize power and speed and should only be sustained in bursts, like HIIT or sprints. Advanced athletics will often push themselves to this uncomfortable level to become better and stronger. You generally wouldn’t train at this level every day, as your body will need some much-deserved downtime after being pushed to this level.
Don’t forget the most important part of heart rate training: the heart rate monitor. Let us know how your heart rate training goes!