Heart Rate Facts

What Heart Rate Means For Your Fitness Routine

What is your target heart rate during exercise? Does your pulse rate have an effect on your fitness in general?

If you’re like most people, you probably know that reaching a target heart rate during exercise is important for fitness and health. However, you may not know what that number is or how to find it.

You can optimize your training sessions by identifying what the best heart rate is and striving to maintain it while you work out. Whether you’re trying to lose a few pounds or simply want to keep your body in the healthiest possible state, tracking your heart rate will help you to get the most out of every training session.

The Importance of Target Heart Rate During Exercise

Heart rate is a way to measure how much of an impact each workout has on your body. The benefits of exercise come from the fact that, when you’re working out, your body burns off the calories you get from food. As the food burns off, its nutrients enter your bloodstream at a rapid rate. In turn, your arteries start working harder than normal. They expand and contract to accommodate the increased amount of blood flowing through your body. This sends nutrients to the various organs and muscles that use them.

In addition, your body needs more air while you work out. Your breathing process speeds up to rid your body of toxic CO2 and to bring clean, fresh oxygen into your lungs. The increase of oxygen intake signals to your heart that it needs to work a bit harder than normal. The key to good exercise is reaching that peak level of oxygen intake to promote fat loss and muscle building. If you’re not working out within the ideal heart rate range, you aren’t getting the most out of the time you spend exercising.

What is My Target Heart Rate?

The target heart rate varies from person to person, with age and fitness level being two factors. However, you can identify your own target by measuring your normal resting heart rate. This will give you an idea of how hard your heart works while you’re sitting, relaxing and not doing much activity in general. You can use your resting heart rate to determine what a healthy heart rate is during exercise.

Identifying your target heart rate will require a bit of simple math. You can find a heart rate chart online if you’d prefer. By calculating the number yourself, however, you’ll get a more precise number. Whereas charts will show you the average ideal heart rate of someone your age, they usually don’t account for personal details such as health or fitness level.

Here’s how to find your personal target heart rate:

Determinate your Maximum Heart Rate

Your max heart rate is the total number of times that your heart is physically capable of beating in a normal minute. This number is generally the same for people of a similar age. Find this number by subtracting your age from 220. If you’re 20, for example, your max heart rate will be 200. If you’re 60, your max heart rate will be 160.

Find your resting Heart Rate

Check your pulse to find your normal resting heart rate. Your pulse rate reflects your heartbeat. Hold your right index finger over the underside of your left wrist (toward the base of your thumb) and keep track of the number of times your pulse beats in sixty seconds. It will most likely be between 60 and 95 beats per minute. Try doing this when you wake up in the morning, before you’ve done any physical activity.

Find your heart rate reserve (HRR)

By subtracting your normal resting heart rate number from your max heart rate, you’ll find what’s called the HRR.

Multiply your HRR number by 70%

Take your HRR number and plug it into a calculator. If you can do the math in your head, that’s great too. Simply multiply it by it by .7 (70%). Add this number to your normal resting heart rate.

Multiply your HRR number by 85%

Take your HRR number and multiply it by .85 (85%). Add this number to your normal resting heart rate.

You’ve found your target heart rate

This is your target heart rate range. Your optimum heart rate will be between these two numbers. These should give you an idea of what your heart rate should be during exercise and, therefore, how hard you need to work out when you hit the gym.

Don’t Overexert Your Heart Too Fast

It’s important that you don’t aim for the higher end of your target heart rate range, especially when you’re new to fitness. Your heart needs to become accustomed to exercise, and going too hard too soon can be dangerous for your body. If you find yourself running out of breath or with muscle pain that doesn’t go away, you might be jumping in too fast.

Start by aiming for 70% of your target heart rate range and work your way up slowly. You’ll avoid injury and build up endurance so that you can eventually hit the higher end of your heart rate spectrum.

Importance of the Recovery Zone

It’s helpful for your body if, before each exercise, you slowly work your way up to your ideal heart rate. Likewise, it’s very important to gradually decrease your heart rate at the end of each training session. Allowing your heart rate to dip down into the 65% range before you call it a day will have a positive impact on the health of your heart. The “recovery zone” is the range between 60% and 70% of your target heart rate.

The recovery zone is a good place to be at the end of a workout. Your body will continue to burn fat and you’ll slowly decrease the amount of oxygen you need to take in. By dipping into the recovery zone and gradually returning to a normal cardiovascular state, you’ll increase your endurance and be in less pain as you leave the gym.

Measuring Your Heart Rate During Exercise

Once you’ve calculated your target heart rate, you can use this number to determine whether you’re working out hard enough. Start by going through your normal exercise routine. Once you feel that you’ve achieved a good, steady increase in heart rate, stop working out for a minute. Check your pulse rate for fifteen seconds. Multiply the amount of beats you count by four and you’ll have a measurement of your heart rate.You can compare this number to your target heart rate range. If the number doesn’t quite reach your ideal heart rate zone, you’ll want to step up your game a bit. Add some extra cardio exercises into your routine and try to do them a little bit faster.

Going Beyond Your Ideal Heart Rate

Certain exercise programs promote the idea that reaching 90% or 100% of your target heart rate is the best way to get a good workout. In some cases, this is true. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one workout technique that encourages people to achieve higher and higher heart rates. 

 While HIIT and other high-intensity methods are great ways to burn fat quickly, they aren’t for everybody. People who are new to fitness and elderly folks should be careful about skyrocketing their heart rates. Those who have heart conditions or are prescribed to certain medications risk having heart attacks or other serious problems if they increase their heart rate too high too quickly. 

 The best way to identify the safest ideal heart rate, especially if you have heart problems, is to consult a doctor or professional trainer. One of these people will be able to help you figure out how hard you should be exercising.

Optimize Your Training Sessions

Whether you’re a fitness expert or just starting to exercise, it’s important to identify your target heart rate. Doing so will help you to understand where you’re at with your fitness regimen and where you need to be in the future. It can take some time, but reaching your ideal heart rate zone will enable you to get the most out of each training session. You’ll increase your air intake, start burning fat and work toward an overall healthier body.


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