Target Heart Rate Zone

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Measuring increases in heart rate is a quick and easy method to gauge the intensity of your workout. It is important to note, however, that the increase in heart rate is not the training stimulus; it is only indicative of the oxygen consumption required during the exercise. If an increase in heart rate was all that was needed to increase aerobic capacity, then watching a thrilling movie while sitting on your favorite couch would provide an aerobic training benefit!

To measure your heart rate during exercise, count your pulse at the carotid artery (neck) or the radial artery (wrist) for 10 seconds (Figure 5-1). Multiply this value by six to get your heart rate in beats per minute (bpm).

Figure 5-1. Measuring Heart Rate at the Wrist

  • Use your fingertips, not your thumb, to find your pulse at the radial artery (at your wrist, below your thumb).
  • Count the beats for 10 seconds.
  • Multiply this number by 6 to get your heart rate in beats per minute (bpm).

Once you measure your exercising heart rate how do you know whether you are exercising at the appropriate intensity?

♦ First calculate your age-predicted maximum heart rate (max HR):

Max HR (bpm) = 220 - your age (in years)

  • Second, multiply your max HR by 0.60 and 0.90 to determine 60% and 90% of your max HR, respectively. This range is your target heart rate zone.
  • Your exercising heart rate should be in this zone. If it is not, increase or decrease your exercise intensity accordingly.

You may have seen the following figure displayed in gyms and fitness centers. Use this figure or Worksheet 5-1 to find your target heart rate zone.

Figure 5-2. Target Heart Rate Zones a a

200180' 16014012010080

Target Heart Rate Zone

Target Heart Rate Zone

Age (years)

90% max HR

60% max HR

Age (years)

Note: Max HR is lower during swimming and arm exercises. For these activities, subtract 13 from Max Hr before calculating your target training zone.

Worksheet 5-1. Determine Your Target Heart Rate

See "Training Design and Progression" on page 43 to determine what heart rates, within this range, you should aim for during exercise based on your level of physical fitness and your fitness goals.

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