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  • Target Heart Rate Training and Perceived Exertion for Fat Burning

    By Travis Steffen on Tuesday, August 18, 2009in Exercises  

    hrimagesMaximum heart rate is considered to be exactly that; the maximum number of times your heart can beat per minute. Usually maximum HR is determined by a mathematical equation using your age as a variable.

    The standard calculation is:

    220-age = maximum HR

    Since this equation doesn’t account for fitness level, resting heart rate, general health or genetics, it leaves a lot of room for error. There are other, more complicated equations out there, but from a functional perspective this one should give you a good idea of how hard you’re working.

    Target heart rate zones are determined using a percentage of the maximum HR. For example let’s say you are 40 years old and you want to exercise at 65%-85% of your maximum (which is referred to as your target zone).

    Using the formula from above:

    220 – 40 = 180 bpm MHR
    180 x 65% = 117 bpm
    180 x 85% = 153 bpm

    Based on this equation, you want your HR to stay in the 117 – 153 beats per minute zone.

    Most cardio equipment offers heart rate monitors that can be used during a workout to automatically determine the zone in which your are exercising. Digital monitors using a chest strap and/or wristwatch can also be purchased or you can simply take your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by 6.

    Using target heart rate zones can be a useful practice in some types of training from time to time but for the average person simply looking to get into better shape and improve overall health and fitness level, it isn’t really necessary. Too much emphasis tends to be placed on a specific numbers when more often than not, perceived exertion is a much better gauge of intensity.

    Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a scale from 1 to 10 used to rate the intensity or degree of effort during a workout.

    For example:

    #1) No exertion
    #2) Very very light (standing still)
    #3) Very light (washing dishes)
    #4) Light (leisurely stroll)
    #5) Fairly moderate (walking the dog)
    #6) Moderate (brisk walk or hike)
    #7) Somewhat intense (jogging or uphill hike)
    #8) Intense (breathing VERY heavy, uncomfortable)
    #9) Very intense (cannot talk or maintain intensity)
    #10) Very very intense (cannot maintain for more than a few seconds)

    If you are honest with yourself about the intensity of your efforts, the RPE chart can be easily applied to determine the effectiveness and ‘zone’ of your workout without the use of any gadgets. Another advantage is not having to worry about variables such as your resting heart rate, genetics, faulty equipment or level of fitness skewing the results of your measurements, as you will be using a simple system of levels of exertion.

    If your training is sport specific, then knowing your precise heart rate may have it’s place, but if you are focused on improving overall health, losing some weight or just getting in shape, don’t get too bogged down with exact numbers. Using the perceived exertion chart is a very functional method in determining your efforts and will serve you well.

    Whichever method of measurement you choose, focus on putting everything you’ve got into your workout routines and most of all, have fun!

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    About Travis
    Travis Steffen is a Master Trainer and founder of WorkoutBOX. After years of experience training professional athletes and thousands of others just like you, he knows exactly what it takes to get you in serious shape. Follow his expert guidance and you're guaranteed to get amazing results.
    Want to hear even more of what Travis has to say? Keep in touch with him on Facebook and Twitter!

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