There are many ways to train and workout as we turn the corner into 2012. The Health and Fitness Industry is as big as it has ever been and it is still growing! There are many ways to train and lose weight, so many that it actually can be confusing! I've known about heart rate training for quite a while, but I wanted to see exactly what it is all about in hopes of simplifying it for you! Heart rate training is based off finding your maximum heart rate and then training in percentages of your maximum heart rate to achieve various results. Heart rate training is typically used to achieve results in running, but can be used in other ways as well.
To find your maximum heart rate (MHR):
A general equation to find your maximum heart rate is to take 220-Age for men and 226-Age for women. These equations are based on approximations taken from standard curves. To find your actual maximum heart rate individually (which I recommend), use a heart rate monitor and treadmill to complete a personal test. Put your treadmill on an incline of 2-4 and complete 5 all out sprints. Track your heart rate the entire time and the highest it gets (which will likely come on the 3rd or 4th sprint) will be your maximum heart rate. It may be easier to have a friend with you to track these numbers.
To find the percentages at which to train it, we also need to find your resting heart rate (RHR). The best time to find this is right when you wake up in the morning. You want to measure your resting heart rate when you are the most relaxed and have no stress what so ever. Find your pulse and count for one minute. Have a stop watch laying by your bed so you can use that in the morning to track one minute.
After you have found both of these numbers, your maximum heart rate and your resting heart rate, you can create a chart of percentages. You want to create percentiles in 5% increments if possible from 100% to 50% (if you do not have time, do 10% increments).
Use this formula to create your chart:
(MHR-RHR) x Percent level + RHR
An example: Say my maximum heart rate is 200 and my resting is 60. This is how I find my 70% heart rate: (200-60) x .70 + 60: which = 158. So if I want to be working at 70%, my heart rate needs to be right around 158.
To use heart rate training, you need to implement a training program and track results. Most trainers do not recommend running 2 days over 70%. A hard day is considered 85% or higher.
Measuring results is quite simple. You want to be able to run or work faster and longer with a lower heart rate. As you improve, you will see that running the same distances, or working out in the same intensities will become easier and produce less workload on your heart (decreasing the percentages). You will eventually be able to work harder and run faster without the heart working as hard, producing "increased efficiency of the heart". Another way to measure results is to constantly keep logs of your resting heart rate. Increased fitness equals lower resting heart rate.
I hope you found this blog helpful and I hope you are having a great first week of 2012! There will be more on heart rate training and calculating calories coming soon!