I’m trying to get my workout on. Like on the reg. Which, for those of you who don’t speak valley girl, means regular. So I’m trying what’s called heart rate training. Heard of it? I hadn’t really either until a few months ago. Basically you find your target aerobic heart rate zone and you exercise within that zone for an extended period of time.
This training method intrigued me because it helps build endurance, burn fat, and you can pretty much do variations of most of your favorite exercises with it. Since I just recently got back in the gym, the thought of trying something new is motivating, especially since this program adapts based on what machines/exercise I am in the mood to do.
First thing is first. If you’re interested in trying heart rate training, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the basics. No worries. I’ve got you covered, darling. Keep reading to learn how to find your zone and how I keep my workouts exciting. If you’re not into heart rate training, this is the part where you read one of my other blogs. Like: The Tinder Nightmare. That’s a good one.
Heart rate training is centered on the theory that when your body is kept in an aerobic state for extended periods of time, your body burns fat for fuel. Aerobic means with air. So as you’re breathing you’re delivering more air to your body. There’s also anaerobic exercise, which means without air. This happens during more intense workouts when you are winded to the point where it’s hard to speak.
Here’s where your heart rate comes in. Aerobic exercise typically occurs within 40-85% of your max heart rate. For beginners, you’d want to start at the lower end of that percentage and work your way up. And then, by finding your ideal heart rate zone, you can figure out where to keep your heart rate during your workouts.
CALCULATING YOUR ZONE
OK. It’s time for some math.
Step one: 220 – your age = your heart rate max (HRM)
Step two: HRM – your resting heart rate* = your heart rate reserve (HRR)
*To calculate your resting heart rate, count your heart beats per minute when you are sitting down and relaxed, without having done any strenuous activity for 30 minutes or more.
Step three: HRR * your desired aerobic percentage (between 40-85%)
Step four: Your solution from step three + resting heart rate = target heart rate
Hopefully that’s not too confusing, but if it is, let me give you an example.
Step one: 220 – 24 (my age) = 196
Step two: 196 – 65 (my resting heart rate) = 131
Step three: 131 x .7 (my desired aerobic percentage in decimal form) = 91.7
Step four: 91.7 + 65 (my resting heart rate) = 156.7
My target heart rate is 157 beats per minute when I am aiming for an aerobic state of
70% of my HRM.
So, how does this translate to the gym? My goal is to keep my heart beat as close to 157 as possible for 60-90 minutes at a time. By doing this, my body will burn fat and my cardiovascular system with become stronger.
There are several heart rate monitors out there. I got mine on Amazon for about 50 bucks. It’s a Polar heart rate strap with a watch for easy monitoring and tracking. The strap just goes around my body just below the band of my sports bra. I don’t even feel it during my workouts. Then the watch syncs with most gym equipment with heart rate technology, so I can monitor my heart rate without holding the grips on the machine or without looking at my watch. Pretty snazzy.
My typical heart rate training workout looks something like this:
60 minute treadmill workout, alternating 5 minutes on a 3 incline at 3.5 miles per hour, 5 minutes on a 7 incline at 3 miles per hour, and 5 minutes on a 0 incline at 4.0 miles per hour. By alternating what I’m doing every five minutes, my workout stays entertaining and it challenges my muscles in different ways, all while keeping me at about the same heart rate. I usually give myself 10 BPM on either side of 157 during my workouts.
Another variation of my heart rate training is done on the stationary bike and rower. I set the difficulty level at a 7 on the bike and aim for 95 revolutions per minute, I’ll bike for 10 minutes, then row on a level 10 difficulty for 5 minutes. I’ll repeat this three times for a 45 minute workout.
Like I said, this type of training allows for variation. As long as I have my heart rate strap on and I continue to monitor my heart rate, I can pretty much try anything that allows for an intensity that gets me where I need to be.
As my cardiovascular system improves, the intensity of my workouts will increase to help me maintain my desired heart rate.
So far I’m really liking this training method. I love how many calories I burn during my heart rate zone workouts. I do it two or three times a week, and then a weight lift, hike, or run on the other days. It’s just enough variety to keep me motivated and going back for more!
I’ll keep you updated on my progress as I continue to use this method, so keep checking back!
Have you tried heart rate training? If so, what did you think of it? Post your experience in the comments section below.