Knowing your heart rate is a really good part of a successful exercise plan, but it’s not the only goal of gathering the information. Obviously, you want to make sure that you aren’t overdoing it and causing yourself genuine cardiac distress. You also want to make sure that you’re getting the best workout you can without under doing it because you’re worried about overdoing it.
Did you get any of that?
Heart Rate Refresher
Anyway, we have talked before about how resting heart rate improves with exercise as well as how you can calculate your the maximum heart rate you should push yourself to while exercising. If you need a refresher on either or both, here they are.
Resting Heart Rate
The typical resting heart rate for both women and men is 60-80 beats per minute. This can be affected by sex, age and health. Similarly, physically fit people tend to have lower resting heart rates.
Maximum Suggested Heart Rate
Your maximum suggested heart rate is calculated through a simple formula that relies primarily on age. To calculate the heart rate that you should stay under while exercising subtract your age from 220.
220 – (age) = Heart Rate Maximum.
The two numbers are pretty easy to go by, and they give you a baseline as well as a maximum to keep you out of the woods.
Your Safe Range
That being said, you don’t want to push it to your maximum when you’re working out. You can, but it’s not suggested to stay up in that zone for very long. The maximum means that you are in the an unsustainable and somewhat dangerous zone, and you have to come back down soon. The actual recommended area that you should stay within to make sure that your exercise gives you the most possible benefit is, in general, between 50-85 percent of your maximum.
Let me make it a little easier for you.
If you’re a 20 year old healthy male, then you maximum target heart rate would be as follows:
220 – 20 = 200 beats per minute.
We know that, for this young man, 200 beats per minute is the hardest he should work his heart during his workout. That being said, however, it’s better to stay in a more attainable range below that. The range that he should stay in to get the most out of his workout would be calculated like this:
200 x 0.50 = 100 beats per minute
Of his allowed 200 beats per minute, his low range is 100 beats per minute because that is 50 percent of his maximum.
His higher limit would be calculated a similar way.
200 x 0.85 = 170 beats per minute.
So in order for him to get the most out of his workout, he should be staying between 100 and 170 beats per minute.
His workout range is 100-170 beats per minute.
Zones Within Your Range
That’s a pretty wide range, though, and he does not have to fall all over it to get what he wants out of his workout. You don’t either. There are different heart rate “zones” that you can try to train in that will give you the most out of your exercise.
Why Do Ranges Differ?
Different sports actually require different heart rate capacities in order to be successful. This is because ever sport uses muscles differently than other sports. Football players have much more sedentary time during a game than basketball players do. Similarly, golfers and runners have totally different training needs from each other.
Lower Training Zone
Though there are differing opinions on which percentages of your maximum suggested heart rate equate to which training levels, the ideas are mostly the same. The lower ranges, from 50-70 percent, are generally used for activities that build stamina. This range is usually where the most calories are burned because the activities can be sustained for longer. Joggers will usually keep their heart rates in this area after they have built up their stamina.
Most cardio activities fall in this range. Over time, your body will allow you to get farther. In the beginning, you will spike above the lower range because you’re not used to consistent cardio. That’s okay. The heart is a muscle and it needs time to get in shape. Just don’t overdo it. You would focus on this aerobic zone for basketball, hockey, soccer and other intense sports that use constant movement.
Higher Training Zone
At 70-90 percent of your maximum recommended heart rate, you’re usually focusing on the activities that you have been working on perfecting or improving for a long time. Elite athletes tend to spend more time in the upper end of this anaerobic range. You may spike above the recommended 85%, but you won’t stay there for long. This zone is used mostly for pumping iron, lifting weights or strength training programs as well as the bursts of strength that you see from athletes who are “in the zone”.
Most athletes and fitness buffs don’t spend a whole lot of time at 90-100 percent of maximum recommended heart rate. It does put you well into what would be considered “overdoing it territory,” but the exercises that push you to this level are usually short.
Most people can’t sustain in this heart rate zone for long, so this area is used for time when you need speed quickly, but not for long periods. Baseball players who are trying to get to home before being tagged out may be in this area.. The rest of the time, they are probably at a much more normal heart rate for exercise.
To put it most simply, there are ranges that are better for calorie burning and trimming waistlines while others are better if you are working out just for the sake of fitness. No matter what your goal is, watching your heart rate is a way to keep yourself safe while making sure you’re getting the benefit from your workout that you deserve.