Feb 172012
 


Today is a continuation of Jennifer Lynn’s multipart series on Heart Rate Training Decoded. If you missed part 1, check out this link to get caught up.

Welcome back to the Fitness Electronics Blog for the day! This post is a continuation of a previous blog  (Heart Rate Training Decoded Part 1). We will pick up at Step 4.

The last entry asked for you to record your resting heart rate, ambient heart rate, and the highest observed heart rate during your workouts. It is time to get a little more in-depth about maximum heart rate and recovery heart rate so …. here we go!

What is Maximum Heart Rate? According to The Heart Rate Monitor Guidebook, “Your maximum heart rate by definition is the greatest number of times your heart can beat within a one-minute period. Your heart can only contract so fast and not one beat faster–that’s why it’s called your maximum heart rate……EVERYONE’S maximum heart rate IS DIFFERENT. Two individuals who are both fifty years old could have a difference AS HIGH AS 40 BEATS between their maximum heart rates.”

The definition and information in the previous paragraph is of KEY importance. It is quite common for people to say, “What should my max heart rate be?”  The answer is not black and white! Every single person has a different heart beat so the magic of heart rate training begins when you can recognize this and train within your  heart rate zones.

How do I find my max heart rate?

There are several methods we will discuss today. After you read the descriptions, pick one or two of these methods and test out your max heart rate. This information will prepare you for Part 3 which will discuss training zones and periodization.

1. The most common method is know as the “talk test.”  During the “talk test,” you exercise until you find talking uncomfortable and then add 30-40 beats per mimute (BPM) to that number, resulting in a guesstimate of your maximum.” (The Heart Rate Monitor Guidebook)

The talk test is a good starting point, however, there are several other tests that can give you more accurate information.

2. Take a sub-max test. A sub-max test is what it sounds like…a way to determine your maximum heart rate without getting at all close to your maximum heart rate. This method is much safer than actually attempting to reach your true max heart rate. Also, while on the topic of safety, never exercise unless you or your doctor deems you fit to take these tests. This blog is just a guide to understanding heart rate training. Before implementing such a plan, as always, seek the advice of a physician.

Determine your fitness level based on the descriptions below via Heart Rate Monitor Guidebook:

a. Low Shape–if you do not exercise at all, or if you have not exercised recently (8 or more weeks), follow the low shape guidelines.

b. Average Shape–you walk a mile 3x/week,or participate in any aerobic activity 3 times a week for 20 minutes.

c. Excellent Shape–you regularly have training sessions that total more than 1 hour a week, or you walk or run at least 5 miles a week.

Now that you have an idea of your level of fitness pick one or more of the following tests and get to gettin’!!

 

Test 1: The 1-minute Chair Test: Walk easily for 5-10 minutes to warm-up then sit and stand 30 times in one minute. That means 1 second to stand up and 1 second to sit down. I suggest setting a metronome to 60 beats per minute or watching the second hand on a clock to keep you pace correct. During the course of this minute, notice the Heart Rate and record your peak heart rate (highest number). After establishing your peak heart rate, refer to the following formulas.

a. Low Shape: Peak Heart Rate plus 40 bpm equals estimated max heart rate.

b. Average Shape: Peak Heart Rate plus 50 bpm equals estimated max heart rate.

c. Excellent Shape: Peak Heart Rate plus 60 bpm equals estimated max heart rate.

d. Fit Athlete: Peak Heart Rate plus 70 bpm equals estimated max heart rate.

 

Test 2: 3-minute Step Test: Warm up for 5-10 minutes with an easy walk then find a standard step of 8-12 inches in height. Using the foot pattern of right-left-right-left or up-up-down-down, you will begin your test. You have one second to step up and one second to step down which equals thirty step ups per minute. Again, feel free to use a metronome to keep your pace or a clock. Record your peak heart rate.

At the end of your step test, apply the following formula:

a. Low Shape: Peak Heart Rate plus 55 bpm equals estimated max heart rate

b. Average Shape: Peak Heart Rate plus 65 bpm equals estimated max heart rate

c. Excellent Shape: Peak Heart Rate plus 75 bpm equals estimated max heart rate

d. Fit Athlete: Peak Heart Rate plus 85 bpm equals estimated max heart rate

 

Test 3:  Two by Four Minutes: Warm up for 5-10 minutes then increase your exercise intensity quickly until you reach the highest heart rate you think you can sustain for an extended period of time. Hold this heart rate number for 4 minutes then slow down/decrease your effort for 2 minutes and repeat the test a second time for 4 minutes. Take the average of the two 4-minute efforts.

At the end of the test, apply the following formula:

a. Low Shape: Peak Heart Rate plus 50 bpm equals estimated Max Heart Rate

b. Average Shape: PHR plus 40 bpm equals estimated MHR

c. Excellent Shape: PHR plus 30 bpm equals estimated MHR

d. Fit Athlete: PHR plus 20 bpm equals estimated MHR

 

Now that you have 3 possible options, let’s meet back here next time and learn what to do with your Max Heart Rate Data!

Thanks for reading and for taking care of your health one day at a time!!

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