Natural Fitness Studio

Target Heart Rate Training

Not all workouts are created equal. Find out how hard you should be training.
by Joseph A. de Silva

If you’re starting a new cardio regimen, it’s important to choose a program that is right for your body. One important element is to train at your target heart rate. This is the ideal heart rate at which you should be performing aerobic exercise. Training in your target heart rate helps your body produce and distribute oxygen at peak levels.

There are real negatives associated with exercising above your target heart rate. Over-training can lead to a loss of lean body mass, inability to recover from exercise, disturbed sleep patterns and a higher heart rate when not exercising. Don’t overdo it!

Ready to find your target heart rate? It’s pretty simple using a technique known as the “Karvonen Method.” First, you’ll need to find a resting heart rate. Find your pulse on the wrist directly under the thumb, with your index and middle finger. Apply gentle pressure until you feel the pulse. Count the number of heartbeats felt for 60 seconds. This will establish a resting heart rate per minute.

Also, choose a proper intensity level. How tough do you want to make it for yourself? When you’re starting a new exercise program, you shouldn’t push your body to its maximum intensity. Find an intensity level that feels right for you. For a beginner, a good intensity level may be approximately 50%-65%; an intermediate level would be 65%-75%; the advanced exerciser would be 75%-85%. Here is the Karvonen formula:

  1. 220 minus age equals maximal heart rate.
  2. Maximal heart rate minus resting heart rate equals heart rate differential.
  3. Heart rated differential is multiplied by intensity: 50%-65% for beginner, 65%-75% for intermediate, 75%-85% for advanced exercisers.
  4. Add back in the resting heart rate to get your target heart rate.

So if you are 40 years old and your resting heart rate is 60, this would be your formula:

  1. 220-40 = 180
  2. 180-60 = 120
  3. 120 x .55 = 66
  4. 60+66=126 as a target heart rate

You would perform cardiovascular exercise at a target heart of 126 beats per minute. As your body gets in shape over time, your target heart rate should go down. That’s a good thing! After a couple months find your new target heart rate and adjust your workout accordingly.

If you’re confused or think you’ll need assistance and motivation, consult a certified personal trainer for help. Now get out there and make it happen!

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