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Discover your training Heart Rate

Training within Heart Rate (HR) parameters will give you an opportunity to gauge your improvements, monitor training loads, indicate effort levels and flag potential illness.





Laboratory Testing to establish Heart Rate (HR) zones  

We have talked before about the value of scientific testing but can a Vo2 Max test or Lactate Threshold Test give you accurate HR training zones. 

Vo2 Max Test: The aim of this test is to establish the maximal volume of oxygen that the body can deliver to the working muscles per minute. A Max HR will be established with this test. 

Lactate Threshold Test: This test will determine the intensity of exercise at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood at a faster rate than it can be cleared. Although this test is not a maximal test, you will establish a HR zone for Lactate Threshold and from this information, you can then calculate your various HR zones 


Testing from Home to establish Heart Rate (HR) zones

As above, there are 2 methods (albeit less scientific) we can employ to get us to our HR training zones. 

These 2 use a Percentage Heart Rate Reserve (%HRR) and a Percentage Maximum Heart Rate (%MaxHR). For both you will need to know your Maximum HR and you will also need to know your Resting HR for the latter. 

Finding your Resting HR (RestHR) is easy. Take your HR after waking but before getting out of bed. We would suggest you take your RestHR each morning because, unlike your MaxHR, your RestHR will fluctuate and tell you a lot about your body; tiredness, lack of sleep, illness etc. 

Heart Rate Reserve is the range of your heart rates from complete rest to maximum. 

HRR = MaxHR – RestHR 


The hard bit of the equation is finding out your Maximum HR, the tests for which, we have described on earlier papers. 

Running: How to find your Max HR

Cycling: How to find your Max HR

Rowing: How to find your Max HR 

These tests are best done with Heart Rate Monitors (HRM); it is annoying to have completed the test only to find there is a delay on counting your pulse. A HRM that records your HR would be ideal at 5 second or less intervals.


Calculating Heart Rate Zones using %MaxHR

For this example we’ll take your achieved MaxHR as 190 and you would like to train at an intensity which improved your general endurance. The training band for this type of exercise would typically be between 60%-70%. 

At 60% of MaxHR your training HR would be 114 beats per minute.

At 70% of MaxHR your training HR would be 133 beats per minute. 

Your HR would range between 114 and 133 beats per minute throughout this session. 


Calculating Heart Rate Zones using Heart Rate Reserve (%HRR)

As above, we’ll take the same MaxHR and training zone. But this time we will bring into the equation your Resting HR (RHR) which, let’s say, is 40. 

HRR = MaxHR – RestHR

HRR = 190 – 40 = 150 

At 60% of HRR your training HR would be 90 beats per minute.

At 70% of HRR your training HR would be 105 beats per minute. 





Training Zones

Oxygen Utilisation or Recovery Zone: 60% to 70%
Training in the Oxygen Utilisation or Recovery Zone will develop your endurance and aerobic capacity. At this intensity you will be burning fat which will help lose weight.

The Aerobic Zone: 70% to 80%
Training in the Aerobic Zone will develop your cardiovascular system. This is all about increasing the amount of oxygen to your working muscles whilst flushing out more carbon dioxide.

The Anaerobic Zone: 80% to 90%
Training in this Anaerobic Zone will develop your lactic acid system. Within this HR range, your body will be using more of its glycogen stores rather than burning more fat. When you burn glycogen, you create Lactic Acid. Training in this zone will improve the rate at which your working muscles can remove the lactic Acid and continue to function.

The Max Zone: 90% to 100%
Training in the Max zone will train your fast-twitch muscle fibres, developing your speed.


Things to consider when training by Heart Rate

As you fitter you should experience a reduction in your heart rate for a given intensity. However, there are some other outside factors to take into consideration when monitoring your HR. Changes can be caused by:

- Climate influences your HR. For example, heat and humidity could raise your HR by as much as 10 per minute.
- Being dehydrated could raise your HR by as much as 7-8%
- You could experience between10-20% increase in HR when training at altitude
- Biological variation can mean the heart rate varies from day to day by 2 to 4 beats/minute 



Finding out your HR using on-line generic calculations will not always give you the correct information. Garbage in; garbage out. The school text book says 220 minus your age but as with the other similar calculations, this is not accurate enough. The scientific approach is the best way to find out about your body.  



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