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Efficient Fitness Training: Understanding Heart Rate

Monday, August 2014

Ever wonder what it all means when your Trainer takes your heart rate after some cardio work? Knowing your heart rate is a great way for your Trainer to help you to maximize your training time – and push you harder! So how does it all work?

What is heart rate?
Put simply, your heart rate is the speed of your heart beat, measured by the number of beats per unit of time - typically beats per minute (BPM). Your heart rate can vary according to your body’s physical needs, including its needs to absorb more oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide. In other words – if you’re huffing and puffing during a cardiomax session, there’s a strong chance that your BPM will be pretty high at that moment in time!

What does it mean?
Your heart rate is lower at rest, and increases when you exercise. Depending on the intensity of your exercise, your heart rate will change to reflect how hard your body is working. Your health and fitness goals, as well as your current level of fitness, will all determine your ideal exercise intensity.

It’s important to remember that heart rate will vary between you and your fitness training buddies due to a number of factors, so work at a level that suits your health and fitness, and remember: it’s not a competition!

How can you measure your heart rate during Fitness training?
Your Trainer will let you know when to start taking your heart rate, and time 6 seconds. Within that 6 seconds, you should be counting your pulse, using one of the following methods:

Neck (carotid pulse): Gently place your index and middle fingers on the side of your neck, next to your throat – you may need to move your fingers slightly up or down until you can feel your pulse.
Wrist (radial pulse): Place two fingers lightly over the radial artery (main artery of the wrist) directly in line with the thumb, until you feel your pulse.

Your Trainer simply adds a ‘0’ to the number of times you feel your pulse within the 6 second period to calculate your BPM, i.e. multiplying it by 10. They’ll then record this to track your progress and fitness overtime – and use it to understand when they can safely push you to work harder during your fitness training!

If you’re finding it difficult to find your pulse during training, or want more detailed data, then you might want to consider investing in a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM). A Heart Rate Monitor will give you detailed feedback and guidance on your Heart Rate during training, and can even tell you when your heart rate has dropped too much to help you get the most out of your sweat session! Step into Life sells a range of quality wearable Heart Rate Monitors for members – chat to your Trainer about ordering a HRM today to get started!

How can knowing my heart rate benefit my training?
Knowing your Target Heart Rate range will help you to track and guide your exercise intensity – meaning you can train more efficiently – think maximum calorie burn, optimal fat burn, and increased fitness! Knowing your heart rate will also allow for both you and your Trainer to tell when you’ve still got it in you to safely push just that little bit harder for improved fitness.

What should my target heart rate be?
For health and fitness gains, your target heart rate should be between 65%-100% of your Maximum Heart Rate (maxHR). For maximum health benefits, your goal during fitness training should be to work hard, but not too hard. Don’t forget to keep an eye on your heart rate during your warm-up and cool-down too – your heart rate should be sitting comfortably in the lower range in these periods.

You might recognize the information in the table below from your Step into Life training – your Trainer will have this information on hand to help you monitor your heart rate and understand how intensely you’re exercising during your session. To find your target heart rate, locate your age category and count your pulse for 6 seconds. This calculates your level of exercise intensity (65%-100%) and helps you determine your safe and effective training range. Get counting!

Target Heart Rate (6 second count)

If you’re new to exercise, then it can be a good idea to keep your heart rate at the lower end of your recommended target heart rate while you’re starting out. As your fitness improves over time, you can gradually start to increase the intensity of your workouts – which will in turn, increase your heart rate.


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Efficient Fitness Training: Understanding Heart Rate