Do heart rate monitors have a place in the gym?

Has anyone ever wondered why cardio machines are equipped with heart rate monitors and ask you for your age? I’m sure you’ve figured that it probably has something to do with factoring in the calories burned during your workout, but what if I told you there was so much more to it than that.

Your heart rate can be used to help you reach specific goals during your workout session. This is done by calculating your “target heart rate”. There are many equations that can be used to calculate this number but the simplest is:

220- (age)= Heart rate maximum

Heart rate max  x percentage of heart rate max

The heart rate max is a recommended limit for heart rate. It is a number you do NOT want to go over for an extended period of time. Pushing your heart to work too hard during a workout can leave you feeling dizzy, out of breath, and weak. If you feel any of these symptoms whilst exercising listen to your body and SLOOOOW down!

training_zone_diagram

 

Once you have your heart rate max you may then calculate your target heart rate. The target heart rate during a work out changes depending on your goal. For instance if your goal is fat burn then your target heart rate would be somewhere around 65% of your max.

 

Let’s use myself as an example. I am 24 years old. So my heart rate max would be 196 beats per minute.

220-24=196

If I wanted to find the target heart rate I would multiply my max by 65 percent which would give me roughly 127 beats beats per minute.

196 x .65=127.4

This means that if my goal is to burn fat once my heart rate hits 127 beats per minute my body is at a place that it is now utilizing stored fat for energy. Please note that this does NOT mean I would only burn fat in this heart rate zone. It only means that my body is utilizing fat as an energy source vs. glycogen (stored carbohydrates).

Once you get the idea of how to calculate your desired target heart rate you can play with it during your workouts by incorporating it in your cardio sessions, circuit training, intervals, weight training etc…

Track your heart rate next time you’re in the gym and see if you’re close to your target heart rate. As always feel free to message me with any comments or questions.

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