Freeman Cebu Sports

The importance of heart rate monitor

Allan Choachoy - The Freeman

The heart rate monitor is an old gadget that is readily available in the market, but how many are using it correctly? Some are not even using it. Training with an HRM disputes the old training proverb, "No Pain, No Gain". For me, training with an HRM is a must and we must "know your pain, to know your gain". The purpose of exercise is to improve one's health and fitness, and by training with higher intensity, it may improve your fitness and pain threshold but you should not push yourself too fast and too soon. That's why HRM is being used in training so that athletes know if they are within the correct zone or intensity.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR HEART. First things first:you must determine your maximum heart rate. The easiest theoretical way to determine your maximum heart rate is the old formula, subtracting your age from 220. Example 220 minus with your age (40 years old) then the result will be 180. That is your maximum heart rate. Then you have to remember the following 5 training zones using the 180 bpm (beats per minute) for maximum heart rate for each training zone. By the way, this method is usually off by eight to 10 beats. The best way to get your max is to have stress test or max VO2 test in supervised conditions at a medical facility.

Very Light or the warm up and Maintenance zone: 50-60% of MHR (maximum heart rate) is between 90 to 108bpm. This zone is usually used as warm up before the actual workouts start and it facilitates recovery.

Light Zone or the Fitness and Fat Burning zone: 60-70% of MHR is 108-126 bpm. This zone improves basic endurance and fat burning. So for obese and overweight who is starting their fitness journey, this is the best zone they need to be in while rowing, swimming, running, cycling or even brisk walking. Anything less is not that effective for a fat burning effect.

Moderate or Aerobic, Cardio and Endurance Zone: 70-80% of MHR is 126-144 bpm. One should spend around 80% of his/her weekly training in this zone to improve endurance, cardiovascular performance. It is an enjoyable effort and basic training for a healthy heart.

Hard or Anaerobic, Lactate Threshold Zone: 80-90% of MHR is 144-171bpm. This zone is for shorter session. You can do 3-4 repeats of 10 minutes each. Keep the effort steady and don't sprint or push at the end.Plan out your energy usage so you can do one more repeat. The results will be higher heart rate and at which lactic acid flows to your muscle. It is at this time you feel the burning sensation in your muscle and in effect, makes you slow down. But by frequently training in this zone, you will improve your threshold to lactate acid and sooner or later, you will find that in a long uphill run or climb, you can do it faster for longer period time. For those who are obese and overweight please be careful in this zone, because training too much in the zone will make you a very ‘Fit Fat' person.

Maximum or VO2 max zone : 90-100% of MHR is 171-180 bpm. This is the hardest effort in your heart workout, but just a few minutes of it once a week will have a big effect or result in your strength and power as well as in developing your maximum performance and speed. After a good warm up in very light and light zone, do 3 repeats of 3 minutes at each pace so hard you can't last longer. Take it easy around 3-5 minutes after each repeats.

A well-rounded training program hits all these training zones several times a week. You can either go with the low-tech mode method, which is to run or ride and hopefully do enough of each level of intensity to improve. So basically, it is a guessing game or you can be more scientific and safer approach. Get yourself a heart rate monitor watch and get the one with a strap attachment to the chest.

In my previous article, I mentioned that "the average heart has a resting heart rate of 66 to 72 beats per minute ( take yours right now putting a couple of fingers alongside your Adams apple for 30 seconds as you quietly read this and double the count). By comparison, many well-trained endurance athletes have pulse around 40 when they awaken.Former 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong resting heart rate was mind boggling 27."

As you get stronger, your resting heart rate tends to get lower. A slower heart rate is absolutely beneficial for health and there are studies showing that people with the slowest heart rates live the longest. Someone who is very healthy will tolerate an injury much better and therefore have a lesser chance of problems and complications in the hospital. So having a healthy heart is like buying a life insurance and the required installments are a series of aerobic exercises. But again, having a healthy heart is not a guarantee of a longer life as you should still follow a healthy diet. And a regular visit to your doctor or a regular medical check-up is still a must.

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