A lot of people get turned off when they hear ‘heart rate training’ because they think it’s going to be too complicated. But heart rate training (HRT) is actually pretty simple, especially with today’s technology.
Heart rate training is simply working out, or training, at a specific percentage of your maximum heart rate. What that percentage is depends on a number of factors, such as your goals, of course. Things like aerobic endurance, power, fat burning, anerobic and aerobic cardiovascular fitness.
Your heart rate is a simple way to determined the overall intensity level of your workout. Basically the harder you work (your level of intensity), the higher your heart rate is going to be during exercise. The more intense your workout, the harder your muscles work, the more energy they expend and the more blood your heart has to pump through your body.
How To Calculate Your Max Heart Rate
While there are more complicated formulas, the most popular is a very simple one. To calculate your maximum heart rate simply take 220 and subtract your age. If you are 25 then it’s 220-25 and your max heart rate is 195.
As stated, this is a rough idea, but it’s accurate enough for your training purposes. The max doesn’t truly mean max as people have trained at over this theoretical maximum rate. But it’s good enough to get the job done.
What Are Target Heart Rate Zones?
With the knowledge of your maximum heart rate, you can now utilize the idea of target heart rate zones for your training. For example, say you are a cyclist and you’re doing what is called an easy recover ride, so you might only want to train in the lower end, such as 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Take your max, 195, and multiply it by .6 (60%) and you get 117. Now multiply 195 by .7 (70%) and you get 137.
During your ride you’ll want to keep your heart rate in this zone between 117 and 137 beats per minute. On some heart rate monitors you can actually set a heart rate zone and it will beep when you fall below the minimum or jump ahead of the maximum.
This is a fantastic tool, especially for any type of training like cycling or running, because you can adjust the intensity of your workout using these zones.
The higher the heart rate, like over 85% of your max, can’t be sustained for as long. But it’s important, for overall fitness improvements, to train in a variety of heart rate zones.
You can also use heart rate training to monitor improvements. As your fitness improves, your resting heart rate becomes lower and it takes longer to increase during fitness. For example, you might complete a 3 mile run in 24 minutes at an average heart rate that is 85% of your max.
But a few months later you may complete that same 3 mile run in 22 minutes and your average heart rate is only 79% of your max. You not only got faster overall, but you didn’t have to run as intensely to do it!
If you want to make good progress with your workout program, you should really try heart rate training, instead of just ‘working out’ and hoping you get results.