Methods of Heart Rate Training
Hazen Kent - Tri-Newbies
heart rate monitors are being used in all forms of
exercise and have earned their place in the training world
as a legitimate training aid.
why are they so popular?
heart is the battery of our complicated human body, much
like a 12- volt battery is the heart of an automobile.
And like an automobile, when our “battery”
fails to operate everything else ceases to function,
regardless of how well the working parts are capable of
the introduction of the heart rate monitor, athletes have
been able to evaluate their health, fitness and athletic
performance simply by the beat of their heart.
This watch-like instrument coupled with a chest
strap can play the role of doctor, physiologist, training
partner and even coach.
you have a cold or flu? Are you stressed out about work?
Are you overtrained?
Did you sleep poorly last night?
Are you running too fast?
Are you cycling too hard?
Combined with a little common sense and deductive
thought, the heart rate monitor can answer all of these
questions. And its accuracy is remarkable.
it is no surprise that this wonderful little tool has been
so widely accepted among triathletes all over the world.
With the physical demand triathlon places on the human
body, the heart rate monitor has proven to be an essential
tool for a successful, well-balanced training and racing
triathletes use the heart rate monitor as a means of
keeping tabs on their aerobic system.
But it can also come in handy during anaerobic
training as well.
on there a minute…what exactly do you mean by aerobic
good question and one that should be addressed before we
triathletes in training and utilizing every ounce of
energy our body can produce, it is necessary to understand
the meaning of such terms and their place in the training
world for an effective training program.
our purposes we will keep the explanations as simple as
you wish to find out more about Aerobic and Anaerobic
training, you will find several excellent resources via a
simple Google search.
the term aerobic
has become somewhat of a buzzword synonymous with long,
easy, “steady – state” training.
And when exercising aerobically, all internal
systems are operating in synch.
Fat becomes your source of energy.
You take in just the right amount of oxygen, which
feeds the blood, which is pumped throughout the body by an
efficient heart, feeding the muscles, ideally
allowing you to exercise endlessly without fatigue.
Of coarse, you must have the physical strength to
keep pace with your aerobic system and this is where
proper base training and weight work comes into play.
training refers to exercise with a much greater effort and
is often synonymous with hurried, fast activity. When
training anaerobically, your internal systems become
somewhat out of balance as oxygen debt sets in.
As you increase the intensity of your training,
breathing becomes labored. You are taking in less oxygen,
reducing the amount of “food’’ for the blood.
The heart is forced to work harder in order for you
to maintain your pace and to continue to pump this
blood to the muscles.
Fat no longer becomes the source of energy.
Rather, the glycogen stored in your muscles becomes
Unfortunately, the glycogen stored in your body get used
up rather quickly. As the glycogen is burned up or used
up, within your muscles, it
leaves behind a byproduct in the form of lactic acid. As the lactic acid builds up, you begin to feel its effects
via that "burning" sensation in your muscles.
But anaerobic training does have its place in a
successful training regimen. Adding anaerobic training to
your workout in the form of quality or speed work, will
help develop your
“fast twitch” muscles (fast moving) as well as help
increase your aerobic capacity allowing you to run faster
while remaining aerobic.
where do you draw that fine line between aerobic and
best answer this question let us take a look at two of the
leading methods of heart rate training.
two methods of HR training have emerged as the most widely
used among athletes in training.
One is an updated version of the older 220 method and the other is Phil Maffetone’s
let us begin with the older and still popular method or
heart rate training sometimes referred to as the 220
method is based on your Maximum Heart Rate and at what
particular percentage of this heart rate should you train.
Your maximum heart rate represents the highest number of
beats your heart will beat per minute when training or
racing as hard and fast as you can (are you thinking
anaerobic?) Therefore, the first step is to find your
Maximum Heart Rate (MHR).
programs will have you run several laps around a track at
full speed, or ride a bicycle uphill (a long hill at that)
to determine your Maximum Heart Rate.
And yes these do represent the most accurate means
of achieving this figure, but they can also be the most
detrimental causing injury to someone new to the sport.
Thus, the 220 method will solve this problem by giving you
a close enough reading to your maximum heart rate without
the risk of injury.
Your Maximum Heart Rate
subtracting your age from 220 you arrive at a number that
represents your Maximum Heart Rate. Once you determine
your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR), you multiply a particular
percentage by that figure to reach a specific training
level or zone. Refer to the formula below:
Heart Rate x % of effort = Training Heart Rate (HR) in beats per minute
this method, there are four levels of training and each
represents a particular training zone (range). In our
examples, we will use the figure 180 as the Maximum Heart
Rate when determining these zones. On the following page,
we will illustrate how to find these training zones.
to 70% of your MHR
x 60% = 108 beats per minute
x 70% = 126 beats per minute
would represent a training range of 108-126 beats per
minute. This level represents easy, relaxed training.
Ideal for long runs and long rides.
to 80% of your MHR
x 70% = 126 beats per minute
x 80% = 144 beats per minute
would represent a training range of 126-144 beats per
minute. This level represents your aerobic zone.
to 90% of your MHR
x 80% = 144 beats per minute
x 90% = 162 beats per minute
to anaerobic training!
Workouts are of a greater intensity such as
interval based training. For running, this would include
track workouts or fartlek runs.
For cycling, a time trial.
to 100% of your MHR
x 90% = 162 beats per minute
x 100% = 180 beats per minute
is maximum output. Usually
represented by short bursts such as the end of a race.
note: If you read and research heart rate training you
will find that these percentages will vary.
For example some consider the aerobic zone between
65%-75% of your maximum heart rate. If such discrepancies
leave you frustrated than stick to the middle of each zone
and you should be fine.
method of heart rate training that has gained popularity
over the past
several years is the 180-Formula introduced by Dr. Phil
Unlike the 220-Formula, this particular method is
not based on your Maximum Heart Rate but rather your
Heart Rate (MAHR). And
there is a difference. For example, my Maximum Heart Rate
on a run is about 185 beats per minute. My Maximum Aerobic
Heart Rate, based on the 180-Formula is 132 bpm.
Once you determine your MAHR, you must then
determine your base aerobic zone. This zone will act as a
base or foundation from which a more specific zone can be
determined based on your current fitness level. To find
your base aerobic zone, simply subtract 10 from your MAHR
and the result will yield a number that represents the
lower end of the zone.
example: my MAHR based on my age of 48 years is 132 bpm or 180
– 48. This number also represents the upper end of my base
aerobic zone. Now, subtract 10 from 132 and you get
122. This figure represents the lower end of the base
aerobic zone. So, in this example, my base aerobic zone
would be 122 – 132 beats per minute. This means if I
keep my heart rate in this zone during exercise, I am
maintaining an “aerobic” pace. Anything over this zone
or 132, and I cross into anaerobic training. Now, let’s
explore this in greater detail.
Your Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate and Base Aerobic Zone
first step in this process is to find your Maximum Aerobic
and base aerobic zone.
According to Dr. Maffetone’s formula, this figure
is achieved by subtracting your age from 180.
For a 40 year old adult, the Maximum Aerobic Heart
Rate would be 140 or 140 beats per minute (bpm): 180 - 40. This
would also mark the upper end or maximum rate of this
aerobic zone. But
in order to create a “zone” we must now determine the
lower end. To do so, simply subtract 10 from the MAHR and
you have it!
(140 - 10 = 130)
So for a 40 year old individual, the aerobic zone would be
130 -140 beats per minute (bpm)
this “zone” acts as the base or foundation for
determining a truer aerobic
zone based on current fitness levels. Below we will
look how to reach your truer aerobic zone.
your Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate to your Current Fitness
next step is to adjust the
base aerobic zone to your present fitness level.
If you are currently ill or are recovering from an
illness (heart problems, operations, hospital stay etc),
or are on any regular medication you will want to adjust
your entire zone down 10 beats from your base figures.
For the 40 year old adult the results would be an
aerobic zone of 120 – 130 bpm.
If you have not
exercised before; you typically exercise but are currently
injured; have cut back on your training; or often suffer
from colds, flu’s or allergies, adjust your aerobic zone
down 5 beats from your base figures.
For the 40 year old adult, this would result in an aerobic
zone of 125 – 135 bpm.
If you have been
exercising for up to two years without any real problems;
have been making progress in competition and have remained
injury free, no adjustment is necessary.
For the 40 year old adult, the aerobic zone would be 130 –
If you have been exercising for more than two years
without any real problems; remained injury free, but have
noticed that your progress has reached a plateau, you can
figures upwards by 5 beats.
For the 40 year old adult the resulting aerobic zone would be 135 – 145 bpm.
these numbers representing your aerobic training zone with
the upper or higher number of the zone being your Maximum Aerobic
Heart Rate, not your Maximum Heart Rate.
These numbers are also expressed in beats per
minute or bpm.
there you have it. There
are some wonderful books on the market that explain in
greater details the benefits of heart rate training and
the use of heart rate monitors. I recommend reading all
you can. Good
luck and train smart!