Many people don’t realize just how important their heart rate is during a workout. If you wish to get the most out of your exercise routine, you need to reach a certain heart rate for a specific amount of time. It’s so important that many people simply pause to check their pulse, and you could do this, but it will disrupt your routine. Additionally, you may not be able to get an accurate reading when you have been involved in strenuous activity. The best option would be to purchase and use a simple heart rate monitor watch or other device each time you exercise.
The Importance of a Target Heart Rate
You need to reach a target heart rate with your exercises to see the best results. You need to avoid overtraining as well as undertraining.
In the lower zones—sometimes called “cruise zones”—you can train for longer periods of time. As you move up to higher-intensity zones, you need to decrease the amount of time that you spend in these, particularly in the top two (the Threshold and Redline Zones) where your body will make you stop.
Your five heart rate zones are specific to your maximum heart rate, not anybody else’s. For example, if there two runners are each maintaining a heart rate of 160 bpm, one runner might be in their Z4 Threshold Zone while the other might be in their Z2 Temperate Zone.
Each heart rate zone burns a different number of calories per minute. How many calories you burn within the range for each zone depends on how fit you are:
Zone 1 = 3–7 calories per minute
Zone 2 = 7–12 calories per minute
Zone 3 = 12–17 calories per minute
Zone 4 = 17–20 calories per minute
Zone 5 = 20+ calories per minute
Looking at this, you all probably want to be in zone 5 as much as possible. Unfortunately, the time we can spend here is limited. For efficiency, Team Beachbody workouts try and maximize the time spent in the higher zones, which we’ll get to in a moment. Training in the lower zones is also important. Check out the Target Heart Rate caluclator.
The Negative Effects of Undertraining
When you reach the right pulse, you are actually getting the most of your workout. What you may not be aware of is that when you undertrain or don’t reach that target heart rate, you won’t be burning as many calories, making your whole routine not nearly as effective. Additionally, by under training, you won’t do anything to strengthen your heart muscle.
You need your heart to be strong for your overall health. Additionally, the stronger your heart, the more endurance you can build for longer, more effective workouts.
The Problems with Overtraining
Overtraining can be just as bad as undertraining though. Working out too hard can be dangerous for your health. When you work out too much, you could become dehydrated and that may cause your blood pressure to bottom out. When your blood pressure drops, you could become dizzy and fall or even pass out.
Additionally, if you overtrain often because you don’t know how to reach your target heart rate, then you are actually in danger of chronic infections.
How to Find Your Target Heart Rate
Using a heart rate monitor is only half the battle. You actually have to know what your target is. This will depend on your overall health. Here are some tips on finding your target.
- You need to reach about 50 percent of the maximum heart rate if you are in poor health. If you are in better shape, then you can target closer to 85 percent of the maximum for you.
- You can use a simple formula that will determine the maximum heart rate for you. For men, subtract their age from 220, for women, use 226 less your age.
- Once you have the maximum heart rate, you can then multiply it times .50 or .85 to find out your target heart rate. Here is an example for a 35 year old out of shape man: 220-35= 185
185 x .50=92.5 (goal peak heart rate)
This is an estimated heart rate for your workout activities, and you may need to adjust the number plus or minus 15. However, this will give you a good place to start for your own heart rate monitoring.
Choosing the Right Heart Rate Monitor
Now that you know how important it is to keep your heart rate within the target zone, you can get started exercising in a more productive manner for your fitness goals and for your health. Now, you need to choose the right monitor so that you don’t have to interrupt and take your pulse every few minutes. You can spend anywhere from $40 to several hundreds of dollars on a monitor. You need to decide on a budget before you start shopping.
Consider heart rate monitor features.
The most basic monitors will only calculate your heart rate. More advanced devices will track speed, distance, and more. Some will even connect to your smart phone and home computer to track your performance continually.
Think about style.
The two main types of heart rate monitors are those that you wear on your wrist and those that you wear on your chest. Obviously, the wrist monitors may seem a better option, but they aren’t as accurate. If you want the best results, consider spending the extra money on a chest monitor.
If you choose a more in-depth monitor, make sure you know how to use it. These devices aren’t as simple as switching them on. You need to read the manual carefully and learn how to use all of the features that you just paid for. These features can help you build a more productive workout as well.
My Current Heart Rate Monitor
Right now I am personally using the POLAR BEAT heart rate monitor which syncs to my iPhone. The Polar Beat app is free you just need to purchase the chest strap with blue tooth. I found mine on amazon and it works really well. What I like best is I can see the read outs of calories burned and what zone I’m in while I’m working out. So I can tell exactly where I’m “dogging it” and when I need to raise the intensity.
Your heart rate is extremely important during your workouts. If you don’t reach a target heart rate, then you won’t be burning many calories. If you overextend yourself, you could be putting yourself in danger of injury or illness. Once you know how to calculate your target heart rate, the best way to keep up with it is a quality pulse so that you don’t have to pause your workout and check it regularly.
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