As the weather is improving, and we are all able to get out and workout more, it is important that we remember we’ve been locked up, and our heart muscle can weaken like any other muscle. Heart rate zones are a great way to improve your heart health and reach those goals. I often use them to train for 5ks, sprint tris, and marathons, in spin class, at orange theory fitness, and the possibilities go on and on endlessly.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR HEART: the muscle
How many of you thought that your heart was an organ? Then how could it possibly be a muscle? Well it is BOTH! Surprised? It is actually referred to as a muscular organ. The heart muscle works just like any other muscle, and as such suffers from the same downfalls. Muscles respond to the stresses placed upon them.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? If you sit around all day, not stressing the heart at all, it will become slower, weaker, and not as resilient. Conversely, if you just go sprint as fast as you can, as hard as you can too soon, you run the risk of over-stressing your heart and causing damage or hindering your ability to maintain the workout. Finding the place to challenge your heart, without overexertion is that “sweet spot”, for optimal health and a long life.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR UNDERSTANDING HEART HEALTH:
The following heart health terms and phrases will be helpful references for you throughout this article. Understanding the different methods of measuring your heart rate and how different activities can affect it is key!
HEART RATE DEFINITION: the number of times your heart beats per minute
RESTING HEART RATE DEFINITION: the number of heart beats per minute when you are at rest. This is best measured when you first wake up in the morning, without an alarm.
TARGET HEART RATE DEFINITION: the minimum number of heart beats in a given period of time. Usually used to attain a certain goal (see interval training below).
MAX HEART RATE DEFINITION: the maximum number of beats made by your heart in a 1 minute time period. Calculate this by doing 220-(your age).
Heart rate is directly related to the intensity of your exercise. With an increase in the intensity of your workout, comes an increase in your heart rate. The harder you push, the faster your little heart pumps away.
How fast the heart pumps (aka how many beats per minute) is dependent upon a variety of characteristics including fitness level, age, and the amount of effort required by your specific exercise. Every individual will have a different maximum heart rate.
GET IN YOUR HEART HEALTH ZONE
Oftentimes we think “I’m doing enough”, at the beginning, but then you don’t see the results you want fast enough, so next time you kill yourself at the gym. GUESS WHAT? Now you are so exhausted, sore, and tired that you have no energy left to keep going with throughout the week. Quickly things spiral and you have given up on your goals entirely before you know it. Sound familiar? Simple solution incoming!
Heart rate zone training, utilizing the Karvonen formula, can change your life by improving your heart health; it can even extend the length of your life when used correctly.
Measure your heart rate and find the heart rate zones that you need to work in, in order to achieve maximum calorie burn that remains in balance with your effort and energy level.
168 x .65 = 109.2 & 192 x .65 = 124.8
HOW READY ARE YOU TO BEGIN?
OVERALL AND HEART HEALTH CHALLENGE
I hope by now you have been able to try out the pelvic yoga positions and stretches I have available on my YouTube channel. Have you found the right modifications for your body? I challenge you to build those into a workout routine, or go for a run on the nicest day this week and utilize your new heart health training knowledge. Try it out, you’ll still be able to use the toilet tomorrow, I promise!
It is super important to add in things to challenge yourself to maintain and improve your heart health! A great example of this is interval training. Interval training can be done 2-3 times per week. You can do this type of workout for 20-30 minutes at a time, with a rest-to-work ratio that is 3-5 minutes of work, with equal amounts of rest.
I want you to be rigid on this one point, if nothing else. DO NOT OVER DO IT!! These heart rate zones are based on your body’s capabilities and current heart health. Weak self-talk during an exercise makes you push hard, push harder, push harder until, guess what ALWAYS happens? Burnout, fatigue, even injuries!
Remember, as you approach your workouts to integrate your new heart health skill, heart rate zone training. This will allow you to reach your goals safely and efficiently.
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