Heart Rate Training has always been an important concept of exercising especially with personal trainers and in rehab settings. Now it is becoming more popular in commercial gyms and studios. You have probably heard of hitting your "target heart rate zone" to help maximize your workout. There are a lot of new fitness facilities that are now focusing on this type of training. They want you to try and stay within your "zone" during your entire workout. So what exactly is heart rate training and how do you determine what zone you should be in? Here are some of the basics to get you started.
Target Heart Rate 101
Knowing your heart rate during exercise is a key factor in finding out whether you are working hard enough or need to step it up a level. To start, calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. This is a basic way to get you average MAX. This number is the maximum amount of times your heart should beat per minute while exercising. Your "target" heart rate range for exercise would be between 50-85% of your maximum. This may seem like a large range but it allows you to have different intensity levels.
*If you have a heart condition or are pregnant, always consult with your doctor first. They will help decided what range is safe for you.
Heart Rate Intensity Levels
There are different levels of exercise that are based on the percentage of your maximum heart rate. The intensity levels/zones are typically categorized as following:
Light Zone = 50-60%
This level is pretty easy and usually consists of a warm up like walking. You can carry on a conversation easily as there is no labor intensive breathing. At this intensity you are not really going to increase your fitness level but it is still good in helping to keep your body healthy.
Moderate Zone = 60-70%
Most people can get into the moderate zone with light jogging on a treadmill, cycling and/or weight training. You will be breathing a bit heavier but can still talk with others. This is often called the Fat Burning zone since your body tends to burn more calories from fat at this stage. It is however important to note that if you are looking to lose weight, burning more overall calories at higher intensities is the way to go.
Aerobic Zone = 70-80%
Now you are getting into more targeted training zones. Exercising within 70-80% of your max heart rate is going to have much greater aerobic and endurance benefits. If you can stay within this zone from anywhere to 30-60 minutes, you will start to reap all the benefits from this intensity. This is where all those new training studios come in to play. They try to keep their clients in this "zone" to help achieve greater results in a short amount of time. While keeping in constant movement from a treadmill to a rower and even circuit training with weights with little rest in between, you can keep your heart rate up high. This is a great level to be at but always remember to start slow and work your way up.
Anaerobic Zone = 80-90%
This is a very intense level of exercise that is usually done in short duration. Your breathing is very heavy and most people will not be able to speak. The anaerobic zone is where your body can't remove the lactic acid as fast as it is produced. Your body basically needs more oxygen than what is actually available which is why this tends to be very strenuous. This zone is typically most used by athletes trying to build strength and power.
Anything over 90% is really a zone to stay away from. Exercise above this level really only occurs with short and intense bursts of power. You will be very short of breathe and it can be dangerous.
So what are the benefits from heart rate training?
It comes down to knowing that you are getting the most out of your workouts. If you are looking to achieve a specific goal like weight loss or building strength and power, knowing what zone you should be training in will make all the difference in your success.
The higher the intensity level of exercise, the higher level of EPOC you will have. EPOC is the "excess post-exercise oxygen consumption" which helps your body continue to burn calories after your workout is over. Getting the maximum caloric burn both during and after exercise will help increase your metabolism too. This is why most people will want to train in that 70-80% range to get the most post exercise benefits.
To keep you on track, invest in a simple tool such as a Heart Rate Monitor. They are relatively inexpensive and come with different features depending on what brand or model. EKHO has a large selection to choose from and they are all available at Ironcompany. They come with a heart rate strap that goes around your chest and a watch that can track various measurements. Look for features such as maximum heart rate and % of max heart rate readings. It is also nice to have the "calories burned" feature making it feel like having a personal trainer on your wrist. Most watches will show the date and time as well so you can also wear it as an everyday functional watch.
To speak to someone about purchasing a Heart Rate Monitor or other fitness equipment, contact an Ironcompany representative at (888) 758-7527 or email@example.com for details and pricing. We've got it all!