Do we need to monitor our heart rate during training?

Should we check our heart rate during training?

Today I came across a few good questions from a client during our personal training session.

“How do we gauge or monitor our training intensity?”

“Why my heart rate shoots up so high during some exercises, does it benefits me?”

“Is light exercises like walking beneficial? Any benefits to fat loss or fitness?”

“Why do we need to do high intensity exercises such as sprinting , skipping , jumping and heavy lifting ?”

“What are the ways to monitor our heart rate during training ?”

“Does our resting heart rate or maximum heart rate determines our

Health or fitness level?”

The answer depends on individual person. Yes, monitoring your heart rate during training does have some benefits.

Firstly, let’s talk about some guidelines for monitoring heart rate during exercise or training.

Our heart rate respond to different intensities of work done during workouts. A good personal training program have to include 3 training intensity zones – high zone , moderate zone and Low zone.

Low training zone

  • 50-65% of Maximum Heart Rate (pure aerobic zone)
  • activities such as Golf, gardening, Cycling and walking
  • fats as the main source of fuel
  • helps to improve general fitness for day to day activities
  • reduce body fat slowly
  • reduce risk of Chronic heart diseases

Moderate training zone

  • 65-80% of Maximum Heart Rate
  • Activities such as jogging, body weight exercises, weights training, resistance training, functional training, recreational games or sports
  • Mixture of fats and carbohydrates used as fuel
  • More total calories are burnt than in the Low zone
  • Increase muscle tone and strength, strengthens the heart and lungs
  • Vast fitness improvements, ability to cope with higher intensity training
  • Helps reduce your Resting Heart Rate (RHR).

High training zone

  • 80-95% of Maximum Heart Rate (anaerobic zone)
  • intensive hard training or exercises such as HIIT, circuit training with short rest time, sprinting, intensive competition
  • Mixture of carbohydrates and fats used as fuel. Very high amount.
  • Burn way more calories than the Low and moderate zone in terms of fats and sugars both.
  • Efficiency in the anaerobic zone fitness
  • Huge fitness improvements, personal best, or performance oriented.
  • Improves sports performance and ability to involve in higher level of sports.


How do we measure our heart rate ?

The best time to measure your resting heart rate (RHR), is when u just woke up in the morning from your sleep. Reason is because early in the morning our body is calm at its lowest metabolism rate. Our body temperature is also at its most steady rate.

There are 3 ways to measure, by locating the radical pulse, carotid pulse or simply by using a heart rate monitor.

Maximum Heart Rate is measured during training when you go all out, pushing hard using maximum efforts. One must be at least fit and healthy in order to measure the maximum heart rate. Because pushing our body to maximum intensity can be dangerous. Imagine your heart is beating at least 180bpm! So be extra caution when doing it. Make sure you have a good night sleep and eat a proper pre-training meal before that.


Simple equation to estimate our maximum heart rate.

A simple equation to measure your MHR (Beats per min) is

220-age= MHR

Eg , for a 40 year old man his MHR is 220-40, which is 180bpm.

This is only an estimated guideline for healthy population.

What are the factors that can affect heart rate during work outs ?
  • stress
  • Body Temperature
  • Time of the day
  • Gender
  • Alcohol consumption

So start checking out your heart rate and work out in the different zones (low training zone, moderate training zone and high training zone). Initially , some unfit or sedentary personals might have to start below the 50% MHR zone . Meaning Super Low zone . Starting at a low zone does not mean anything bad or worry about. The important thing is to slowly build up your fitness level towards the higher training zones.

Recommended to start slow and build up your fitness slowly and steadily . Do not just jump into the high intensity or high zone immediately without prior training history. It is also good to consult a Personal Trainer or doctor before jumping into any high intensity training.

Having different exercise varieties and training intensity will involve all these 3 zones effectively. Therefore, giving you a more rounded and effective training effects, burning more fats and increasing fitness level at the same time! Hence, accelerating your fitness improvements.

Try it. Then tell me how you feel.

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