I love my gym workouts, but few times in my lifetime, I was on the verge of blackout while on my workouts. The recent one was few months ago during an HIIT session with weights where I went overboard. After my 3rd round, I was on the verge of blackout, I took me a while to regain my heart rate and act normal. I forgot the golden rule, “If you’re short of breath, in pain or can’t work out as long as you’d planned, your exercise intensity is probably higher than your fitness level allows” and I am a regular gymbie. Beware of pushing yourself too hard too often, back it off and build your intensity
Sports science has shown that as we exercise harder, the heart rate increases in direct proportion to the speed. Thus, due to the straight-line relationship between training intensity (speed) and heart rate, we can use heart rates as a means of determining training intensity.
The demand for oxygen rises with exercise intensity and heart rate has a close relationship to oxygen consumption
You might have already read the article on building Easy Endurance with Maffetone method, keeping the heart rate at 180. Now let’s learn about Maximum Heart rate for training intensity.
Checking your workout intensity using heart rate
One of the ways to check your workout intensity is to see how hard your heart is beating during a physical activity, the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity.
What is Maximum Heart Rate [MHR]?
Maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 220.
For example, if you are 40 years old, subtract 40 from 220 to get a Maximum heart rate of 180. This is the maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute during exercise.
Once you know your maximum heart rate, you can calculate your desired target heart rate zone — the level at which your heart is being exercised and conditioned but not overworked.
If you have a reasonable estimate of your Max Heart Rate, then you can create target training zones to help you improve your cardiovascular capacity and progress the intensity of your workouts. For example, if your max heart rate is 180 BPM [beats per minute], then I can give you a training plan that instructs you to run at 70% of your max heart rate for 30 minutes, or 126 BPM . So, your target heart rate in this case is 126 BPM, which is a very useful benchmark for future workouts.
Why do we need Target Heart Rate?
Each person’s target heart rate helps to determine their fitness level and by keeping their target heart rate in check a person is able to avoid under or over training, both of which severely effects the quality of the work out.
Under-training happens when a person’s heart rate is too low which results in a low intensity work out. If a person is not working to their body’s potential, there is no way they can burn enough calories to result in weight loss nor can they get up the endurance to build strength. Individuals who under-train will take significantly longer to see the results they desire.
Over-training can be just as dangerous. People who exceed their target heart rate are pushing themselves past their body’s fitness level, which can lead to dehydration putting you at risk for dizziness and possible fainting. If a person consistently over-trains they are at risk for infection or chronic pain.
The best way to avoid either of these scenarios is to continuously monitor your heart rate throughout a work out. Start each work out with some form of cardio and work your way up to your target heart rate.
Target heart-rate can be classified into 4 Zones depending upon the workout you are choosing to do.
Important : If are just a beginner to exercise program, aim for the lower end of your target zone (50 percent). You should gradually build up your workout intensity. If you are healthy and want a vigorous intensity, you can opt for the higher end of the zone.
Target Heart Zone Calculation
Calculations are mathematical, there are lots of online calculator available, but let me try to provide you a simple math. If you want to work out at a vigorous exercise intensity, I.e., at 70 – 80% of your maximum heart rate, the calculation will be:
For example. If your age is 40 years and you want to do vigorous workout, your calculation will be:
How to check if you are in the zone:
Now a day most of us have smart watches or heart rate monitoring straps, if you still want a conventional method of checking follow this:
- Stop momentarily during your workout.
- Take your pulse for 15 seconds [google out how to check pulse]
- Multiply your pulse with 4 to get your beat per minute.
Tips for Target Heart Rate Training
Guidelines: First and foremost, maximum heart rate is just a guideline. You may increase or decrease your maximum heart rate and your fitness level. Listen to your body, if you are felling nausea, hyper-ventilating, having headache or blackout, stop your workout and seek help. If you want a definite heart rate, plan it properly or discuss with your personal trainer.
Heart Rate Gender difference: Gender Difference for target heart rate zone is minimal, only elite athletes target that during their training. These differences are so small that most casual athletes don’t need separate calculations for men and women.
Heart Condition: If you have any medical condition [heart or cardiovascular disease], ask your doctor if you need to use a lower target heart rate zone. Kindly note that several types of medications, including some medications to lower blood pressure, can lower your maximum heart rate and, therefore, lower your target heart rate zone.
Internal Training: Research have shown that interval training [HIIT, Tabata], a short bouts of higher intensity exercise alternated with longer, less strenuous exercise throughout your workout, is well-tolerated. It’s even safe for those with certain cardiac conditions[but still consult your doctor]. This type of training is also very effective at increasing your cardiovascular fitness and promoting weight loss.
The Conclusion – benefits of knowing Target Heart Rate
Weight Loss: If your primary target is to lose weight, you want to build a program to burn fat and increase your endurance level. If you never get increase your endurance level, you will never develop the endurance you need for long term weight loss and building your basic metabolism to burn calories even when not working out.
Optimising Fitness Program: When you are trying to optimise your fitness level, target heart zone becomes not just important, but critical. When you are training for optimal performance, it is widely agreed that you should know your target heart rate and monitor while training.
To being Fit and Healthy: By planning your fitness program our energy systems are performing properly and at optimal levels. If you’re under training, you are not burning enough calories and you are not developing your stamina and strength, whereas if you are over training, you are impacting your health and possible injure yourself.
Enjoy your workout and stay in good health.
By – Sanjeev Saikia – a die-hard gym enthusiast, a gym trainer by hobby, a mountain-climber, a wannabe runner – based out of Taiwan and Singapore. You can direct all your queries at firstname.lastname@example.org