What's Your Heart Telling You?
Your weight on the scale.
Your body fat percentage.
Your physical strength.
Your appearance in the mirror.
Your food journal.
ALL of these are examples of ways to measure progress, or at least create awareness in an otherwise hectic life that can get away from us. The first step to improving anything starts with awareness, but when was the last time you really took the time and effort to track a metric that matters to you?
Today we tackle heart rate training, another powerful tool that if used correctly, can be a game changer for your fitness level.
The age old question when it comes to exercise is which is the most effective way to do it? Well, of course that depends on your goals. Do you want to run a marathon or compete in a triathlon? Endurance training is your answer. Do you want to improve your overall heart health? HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is probably your ticket.
And while these may be two very different ways of working out, both share a core principle that affects everyone’s results – heart rate training.
Recently at Training For Warriors, we’ve incorporated the use of the MyZone to encourage all our students to learn more about how to efficiently train smarter, which will result in better RESULTS.
Studies have found that the standard notion of long periods of exercise at 70% of Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) may not be the most effective way to achieve health advantages.
Researchers discovered that shorter bouts of more intense exercise – such as HIIT -- provided multiple benefits:
Boosting the performance of competitive athletes
Improving the health of recreational exercisers
Providing the benefits of continuous-endurance training with fewer workouts
Using a heart rate tool, like the MyZone, allows us to explore each person’s (MHR) and target heart zones based on their specific goals. The more you get used to what the numbers are telling you, you’ll discover your unique target heart rate and see how effectively you are working to stay in the sweet spot for the results that you seek
Generally, data will fall into 3 main categories: aerobic/low intensity, anaerobic/moderate
intensity, and anaerobic/high intensity.
To fine tune our heart rate training, we’ve expanded the zones to encompass more specific numbers. This results in 5 areas which coordinate with colors for easy navigation. These zones represent percentages of your maximum heart rate:
Light Grey - < 50%
Dark Grey – 50-59%
Blue – 60-69%
Green – 70-79%
Yellow – 80-89%
Red – 90-100%
If you are aiming to get the most out of your workouts, lose weight and improve your performance, then you need to be working intermittently in your upper zones.
However, some exercisers believe that “more is better” – the longer and more you are in the red zone, the better.
The truth couldn’t be more different. The red zone is a place that your heart should only be pushed to in small bursts. The fact that you get your heart rate up to nearly your max doesn’t determine your fitness. In fact, look at any person who is not used to training and you can see them getting to the red zone by just walking around the block or shoveling through 3 feet of snow.
The magic of getting to the upper levels of your yellow and red zones is how quickly you can recover.
An ideal sign of your fitness is if your heart rate drops 20 beats per minute after you stop exercising. You should be more concerned with how quickly your rate decreases after reaching your upper zones, not how long you stay at the top. That means you must incorporate recovery into your training.
Not allowing your body recovery during HIIT sessions or even strength training will increase your chances of injury and burnout.
As you explore your own heart rate zones and challenge yourself, you’ll see a marked improvement in all of your health markers.
The purpose of introducing heart rate training to your routine is to bring another level of intention to each training session, not to focused on what is “good” and what is “bad.”
Your heart rate is influenced by a multitude of factors including: insufficient sleep, insufficient nutrition, insufficient recovery, caffeine/pre workout supplements, emotions and anxiety, medication, the landscape/environment in which you train, illness, just to name a few.
We urge you to be mindful not to COMPARE or CHASE calories, max heart rates, and who did what…but to A) bring awareness to what is and B) enjoy the journey!
Did you give your best today?
Did you get better today?