What Affects Heart Rate
Anything that can elevate your resting heart rate will affect your heart rate during exercise. If stress or anxiety causes your heart rate to increase at rest, then your heart rate will be proportionally increased during exercise. Hot weather and humidity can affect your heart rate, as can dehydration and elevation within your route.
With those factors considered, you may find it beneficial to use an additional metric such as perceived exertion when doing heart rate training. Use your heart rate monitor to target the right heart rate zone, but also assess how your breathing and perceived exertion during the run. Your easy run target heart rate should correspond with only slightly elevated breathing and the ability to carry on a conversation.
Whether you are a new runner who hopes to make running a habit or a more experienced runner looking to improve, heart rate monitors can help you achieve your goals. Heart rate monitors can teach you how to control your effort and run at an easy, comfortable paceand whether you just want to run comfortably for 30 minutes or want to run faster in a race, running within the just right intensity will help you achieve those goals and stay injury-free.
Please note: This blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Measure With A Heart Rate Monitor Or Your Fingers
Most fitness trackers and smart watches have a heart rate monitor built in. Many of them will also tell you what zone you are in while working out. When you set up your device you were likely asked to enter your age, weight and gender. The technology uses the data to figure out your target heart rate zones.
Alternatively, you can use a your fingers and a stopwatch to calculate your heart rate. To do this, place your index and middle fingers on your neck below your chin and next to your trachea. You can also find your pulse on your wrist directly below the thumb. Using a stopwatch, count your heart beats for 15 seconds, and then multiply by four.
Five Heart Rate Zones
There are five different heart rate zones and your training plan can include workouts in all five zones. This HR zones chart shows the level of intensity and percentage of Maximum Heart Rate used in each one.
Below is a breakdown of what each heart rate zone means and what the benefits of training in that heart rate zone are.
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Heart Rate Training Zones Sample Zone 5 Training Sessions
Maximum effort training is done mostly by time, not by heart rate. In reality, heart rate may not even jump to over 90% throughout most of the training session.
However, heart rate is a great way to check if the body has recovered from the intervals. As soon as the heart rate cant drop to Zone 1-2 after 2-3 minutes its time to end the workout.
- 5 sets of 3×20 seconds with 20 second rest
- 10×40 seconds with 2 minute rest
- 60 minute Zone 1 session with 5-10sec bursts at Zone 5 every 3-5min
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Have you had some experience with heart rate training zones already? Or are you just learning about it? Either way, share your experience in the comment section below.
Your Heart Rate Zone Calculation
Do you know your maximum heart rate? Use the heart rate zones calculator below to estimate your HR zones based on your maximum heart rate.
If youre looking for a heart rate zone training calculator, this is the best way to measure the variation you need.
Dont know your HRmax? Read more about calculating your maximum heart rate.
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Target Heart Rates According To Age
There are different factors that will affect heart rate so this is a general guide but its useful if you are looking for targets.
If you are 47, the age category closest to you is 50. Therefore, your target heart rate zone is 85 to 145 bpm, which is 50% to 85% of your average maximum heart rate of 170 bpm.
Another example is that if you are 40 years old, your maximum heart rate is 180 bpm.
To exercise in the moderate heart rate zone, you are looking a bpm of between 50% and 70%.
- 50% of maximum heart rate: 180 x 0.50 = 90 bpm
- 70% of maximum heart rate: 180 x 0.70 = 126 bpm
So, at the age of 40, an activity is moderate if your heart rate stays between 90 and 126 bpm
For vigorous activity, heart rate is ideally between 70% and 85%.
- 70% of maximum heart rate: 180 x 0.70 = 126 bpm
- 85% of maximum heart rate: 180 x 0.85 = 153 bpm
At the age of 40, an activity is vigorous if your heart rate stays between 126 and 153 bpm.
These are general rules and some sports experts state different values of 64% to 76% for moderate exercise levels and 77% to 93% for vigorous exercise.
If you want to find out your true personal maximum heart rate, rather than these average figures, you need to do a maximal test, usually overseen by a sports specialist, coach or a doctor.
Factors That Can Affect Heart Rate Data
There are certain variables that can raise your heart rate which you need to take into consideration. Some argue that this makes heart rate training unreliable, but if your heart rate is rising, your body is sending you a message.
These factors can include:
- Cardiac drift
Now that we have the gist of what heart rate training is, lets calculate our zones!
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Risks And Benefits Of Running
Running is good for your overall health. It helps to maintain weight, improve your mood, and may even help you live longer. There are other great benefits, too.
Improve blood flow. When you run regularly, you improve your circulation. A strong blood flow delivers oxygen throughout your body faster. This is helpful for all of the functions of your muscles, brain, and vital organs. Over time, improved circulation can relieve the tiredness you may experience during everyday activities.
Injury is possible. There are also risks associated with running. Common running injuries include:
- Runners knee pain you experience when your kneecap rubs against your thighbone
- Achilles tendon pain that happens within the tendons connecting your heel to your calf muscle
- Shin splints pain in the front of your shinbones, often caused by the impact of your feet hitting the ground
- Stress fractures tiny breaks that happen in your bones, also from the impact of running
Reasons You Need To Ditch Heart Rate Training
Saying that heart rate training is popular is putting it mildly.
You might be reading this article as you are looking for the best way to monitor heart rate while running or even a heart rate training running plan.
Thanks to running magazines and the companies that sell running gadgets, runners feel like they need a heart rate monitor to train for running, and without it, they are at a disadvantage to the rest of the running world.
The potential benefits of training with a heart rate monitor have been so ubiquitously espoused in running magazines that many runners feel its an absolute necessity to train by heart rate.
Heres the deal:
Heart rate monitors can keep you in the right training zones, prevent overtraining, and help monitor progress.
But, did you consider this:
Training using a heart rate monitor may be holding you back from reaching your potential.
In my experience as a coach and athlete, training by heart rate is less accurate and more problematic than training by pace and feel unless you are a very experienced runner.
Therefore, I dont recommend it to the athletes I coach.
Today I am going to give you three reasons why I do not recommend heart rate monitor training, and then give you the best ways you can improve your running without using heart rate.
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Gauge Intensity Without Heart Rate
Your heart rate is one of the best ways to measure the intensity of your workout, but it’s not the only way. Perceived exertion can also tell you how hard you’re working, and all you need to do is observe yourself.
If you’re able to comfortably hold a conversation while running, you’re working towards the lower end of the heart rate zone. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you can have a conversation but you can’t sing a song, you’re exercising at a moderate intensity. If you’re breathing very hard and rapidly and you find it hard to say more than a few words at a time, you are running at a vigorous intensity.
What Are Heart Rate Zones
There are different ways to identify your heart rate zones calculation. One simple way is to define them as percentages of your maximum heart rate, and thats what well focus on in this introduction.
Heart rate zones can be defined as percentages of your maximum heart rate.
Heart rate zones are closely linked to your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. Understanding this can really help when considering heart rate zones exercise, especially your heart rate zones for running or heart rate zone training for weight loss. But first, lets look at what the different zones are.
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How To Get A More Accurate Reading From An Optical Heart Rate Monitor
Here are your options to fix this.
First, try tightening the strap. If you can quickly and easily slide your finger under the strap, its too loose. Tighten it until your finger gets a bit stuck when trying to slide under the strap. This will mostly likely fix the issue.
If the strap is already tight, but you are still measuring your cadence, or getting erratic readings, try shoving the watch up your arm a bit towards the elbow. This will move it on to a thicker bit of flesh, with more blood flow and a snugger fit.
Another option is to switch the watch to the other arm. Most people are right handed, but wear their watch on the left. However their left wrist will be slightly thinner due to less strength from the hand bias. See if your other wrist gives a more reliable reading.
Oddly, if your strap is too tight, it will prevent your blood flow from being measured properly and might measure too low, for example during a hill session, youd expect it to be really high, but its not reacting and is staying low, so it appears your heart rate is low while running fast.
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What Is Your Heart Rate Telling You
Almost every smartwatch and fitness tracker these days has a heart rate monitor built into it. This data can be very useful for runners to gauge effort level and training adaptations, but if you want to get the most out of this information, you need to understand what exactly its telling you. Confused by the numbers? Consider this a crash course in heart rate data.
Resting heart rate
Before you can make sense of the numbers your watch is spitting out at you during a run, you need to know what your baseline, or resting heart rate , is. Most people have a resting heart rate that sits between 60 and 100 beats per minute , however, some runners heart rates can be in the 50s or even 40s, particularly highly-trained athletes.
To get your true resting heart rate, you should measure it first thing in the morning, before youve even gotten out of bed. A heart rate monitor is the easiest way to do this, but you can also take your heart rate manually by following these steps:
Max heart rate
Your heart rate during exercise
When should you be concerned about your heart rate?
How To Use Heart Rate Zones For Exercise
Variety is key if you want to improve your fitness or become a better runner so mix up your workouts and vary the duration of your training sessions. When it comes to your heart rate zone training running, paying attention to the key differences indicated by HR zones will ensure that you get the most out of what you put in.
Dont get stuck working out at the same intensity or running the same distance every time. Use the heart zone calculator to create a routine where you train in all five HR zones.
With this personalized training plan, you dont have to think about when or how to train, you can just focus on doing.
Are you a runner whose not sure how to create a training routine with enough variation from the above heart rate zone calculator running? Check out the Polar Running Program that offers a ready-made training plan for anyone training for a 5K, a 10K, half-marathon, or marathon.
If achieving a running goal isnt your priority right now, but you still want to see results from working out without having to spend too much time planning and thinking about what to do, take a look at the daily workout suggestions that the FitSpark daily training guide offers.
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How Do You Find Your Heart Rate Zones
Your heart rate is one of the most accurate measurements of intensity and effort during a workout. Finding a good heart rate for training in each zone can help improve your performance. Everyone has a resting heart rate, which is best measured when you first wake up, and a maximum heart rate, or the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity. Between these two values are different zones that mark your effort.
The most accurate methods to find your MHR are in a lab test, which is conducted by professionals with fancy equipment, or in a field test, which is often supervised by a certified trainer in a gym setting with a treadmill or indoor bike.
To find your heart rate zones on your own, the first thing youll need to do is calculate your MHR, maximum heart rate. Youve probably seen one longstanding formula for this: 220 minus your age, but the best equation currently available for the general population is . There are various models of heart rate training zones , but most nonelite runners follow five zones established by heart rate monitor company Polar, based on research from the 1970s. There are five zones: very light, light, moderate, hard, and very hard. Heres how the numbers stack up:
To calculate your personal zones, theres some easy math involved: Just multiply your max by the minimum and maximum percentages indicated by each zone.
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How To Find Your Max Heart Rate
There are a few different ways to test for your absolutely MHR, so that you can then better use the running heart rate training zones. If you dont have that top number correct its going to skew everything.
The best way to find out your max heart rate is on a treadmill at a lab through a VO2Max Test. This is expensive and a little nauseating, but honestly I love these kinds of tests and all the data. So I was happy to submit myself to it!
Use a 5K
Another way to find out your max heart rate is to run a 5k all out. Go as fast as you can sustain over the course. Your highest reading, likely toward the end of the race, will be your max.
This is probably my preferred method for most runners because its the easiest way to really push yourself and youll also set a good baseline for your running paces.
What Exactly Is Heart Rate Training
Heart rate training usessurpriseyour heart rate, measured in beats per minute or as a percentage of your maximum heart rate , as a guide for intensity. Using that individual heart rate, you create specific training zones that help determine your intensity for a given workout, explains Capell Nielsen. So instead of training by pace, you use personalized zones and a heart rate monitor to ensure your cardiorespiratory system is working at a specific effort for a set amount of time.
The idea behind heart rate-based training is to train your aerobic system without over-stressing your skeletal and muscular systems. By working out in each heart rate zone, youre making sure youre not just pushing yourself to the max, youre also holding yourself back from pushing too hard, which can help you avoid overtraining. And since your maximum heart rate is unique to you, using it to create training zones means youre getting a much more personalized workout.
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