Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Using a Heart Rate Monitor for Workouts

I once had a heart rate monitor several years ago when I didn't know much about training. All it did was read my heart rate and all I knew was to workout within 60-65% range of my maximum heart rate which I estimated by taking 220 minus my age. Years ago, I may have been on the right track but the age-predicted maximum heart rate is not accurated as disputed in this article.

Now that I am trying to lose the last few pounds to my ideal weight goal, I am armed with another (newer) heart rate monitor to help me train within my target heart rate. This one beeps at me if I am above or below the training range that I have set.

The first step is to take a couple of tests which will help me estimate my maximum heart range (as it is not ideal to actually, physically get there--it could be dangerous), the sub-max step test and sub-max chair tests. One requires that I step up and down for 3 minutes, record my heart rate and add a fitness factor depending on my fitness level. The other requires that I sit down and stand up from a chair for 3 minutes, record my heart rate, and add a fitness factor to estimate my maximum heart rate.

My biggest question is in regards to my fitness level. Am I "poor", "average", "excellent", or "fit". My husband says my fitness level is "excellent" but since I've only started exercising on average 4 to 5 times per week for the past four weeks, I think I would be considered "average" fitness level. I took this quiz and my results...I'm an "intermediate beginner". So that puts me at "average" I think because I'm not quite "excellent".

After all this math, I've come to approximately 170 bpm for my maximum heart rate (which I think is a little low for me) but I will go with this and re-evaluate in a couple more weeks.

You can see on this chart, the training zone for my maximum heart rate. My goal is to train in Zone 5 once a week, Zone 4 three times per week, and Zone 3 once per week.

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