Tips For A Successful Target Heart Rate Training Workout

By: Michael Greeves

Target heart rate training allows you to work out more efficiently and track your progress over time. Different workout zones will help you pinpoint where you fit on a fitness level and those will be discussed later. First, we have to get some statistics!

To find out what your target heart rate will be, you need to figure out your resting heart rate (RHR). You can find your RHR by taking your pulse right when you get up in the morning. Count the number of beats for one minute, and that is your RHR. Some experts advise taking it three mornings in a row and then averaging the three numbers to get your RHR.

To get your maximum heart rate (MHR), the equation of 220-age is used. For a 22-year-old person, their MHR is going to be 220 - 22 = 198. For a 55-year-old, it will be 165. Now that you have your RHR and MHR, we will need to figure out what workout zones you will be in so we can pinpoint your target heart rate (THR).

Each workout zone is for people at a different fitness level, and it's important to stick with the one you are currently in. Pushing your body too hard can do more damage than good. The zones are:

Warm-up
- This uses 50-60% of your MHR.
- The warm-up stage is for people who are just starting to workout.
- The body burns a higher amount of fat at this level.
Fat Burning
- This uses 60-70% of your MHR.
- This level is also for people just beginning a workout - perhaps for people who are in slightlybetter shape than the warm-up level.
- The body burns more total calories at this level, with about the same amount of fat burning off.
- This is a good level for weight management.

Aerobic
- This uses 70-80% of your MHR.
- This stage improves cardiovascular and respiratory function, as well as increases endurance.
- This level is good for people training for marathons or other endurance events.

Anaerobic
- This uses 80-90% of your MHR.
- This is a high intensity zone for high performance training.

Red Line
- This uses 90-100% of your MHR.
- This is a very dangerous zone to perform in if you are not an extremely fit athlete.
- Most people (even athletes) can only perform at this level for short periods of time.

Now that we know the different workout zones, we can figure out your target heart rate. The Karvonen Formula allows you to take the numbers you already have and calculate a total. The equation is:

MHR - RHR x intensity + RHR = THR

The intensity in the equation is the percentage of MHR used in each workout zones. For instance, the 22-year-old who has a MHR of 198 and a RHR of 66 and is working out at the fat burning level would have the following THR:

198 - 66 x 0.60 + 66 = 145 THR

What this means is that to work out at the fat burning level, this individual will want to shoot for a heart rate of 145. The THR will differ for each level of intensity you choose. Over time, you will find that as your heart becomes more efficient, you may have to aim for a higher THR because your body is working like it should. By using a THR, you enable yourself to set a goal for your workout and monitor it over time!

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