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Get your heart rate right

Get your heart rate right

Heart-rate and burning fat

The following can be quite daunting, however if you are trying to figure out a number or are a person who requires to know EXACTLY what is going on in your body then read the following. Once you have done the calculations you will find it easy to keep your heart rate in the optimal fat burning zone and adjust it accordingly as your fitness level increases.

Heart rate is important when it comes to effective cardiovascular exercise. You need to calculate your target heart rate for many reasons. The first reason is to determine whether you are working

aerobically or anaerobically. If you work below your target heart rate then you are probably not working hard enough and if you go above your target heart rate then you know your body has become anaerobic and you will soon tire out. Remember you want to work in intervals of high and medium intensity.

Your target heart rate will depend on many factors, the first being your maximum heart rate. You can work out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220, for example if you are 38; your maximum heart rate is around 182 beats per minute. The next important factor is your resting hart rate. The way to measure this is by counting how many times your heart beats per  minute. Take your pulse after you wake up and are still lying in bed as this is when your body is truly at rest.

There are a few different ways to determine your target heart rate. The first is by working between 50% (for beginners) to 80% (for the more fit) of your maximum heart rate, this is not 100% accurate but will give you a good idea of what your optimal range is. The next and most accurate method is called the Karvonen method and is worked out as follows: (note that there are very few mathematical calculations you will need to do in order to get fit, however this one is relatively important and will help you in achieving your goals.) To work this out you will need to subtract your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate. For example if your maximum heart rate is 182 (for a 38 year old person) and your resting heart rate (the amount of times your heart beats when you are resting) is 72 beats per minute you will end up with 110. You will then multiply this number by the intensity you feel you need to work out at (between 50% and 60% for beginners and between 75% and 85% for those who are in good shape). Then you will need to add your resting heart rate on to this number again. Now bare with me, you are almost there. If you are a beginner, and have not exercised in a very long time or are worried about over exerting yourself you will be working at a minimum intensity of approximately 50% and a maximum intensity of 60%, the formula will then look something like this for a 38 year old person who is very unfit with a resting heart rate of 72: 182 (max heart rate) – 72 (resting heart rate) X .50 (50% of 100%intensity) = 55 beats per minute 55 + 72 = 127 (this is your minimum target heart rate, anything below this and you are not working at a sufficient intensity to gain results)

To work out your maximum target heart rate, perform the above calculation but substitute the .50 for .60. If you are slightly fitter then you will need to adjust the percentage accordingly. When you are performing cardiovascular exercise your body is actually your best tool. If you feel that you can have a conversation with ease while exercising, then you are not working hard enough, if you feel that your heart is going to pop out of your chest then you are probably working too hard. If you do not feel the need to calculate your target heart rate then so be-it, just remember that you need to constantly change the intensity of your work-out, allowing your body to adjust accordingly.


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