Improving Fitness By Heart Rate Monitoring

A good indicator of whether you are training hard enough is your heart rate.  Monitoring your heart rate whilst training is an excellent way to stay in your training  zone but first you need to know what heart rate you should be aiming for.

Your maximum heart rate (MHR) can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220.  To maintain or increase cardio-respiratory fitness you should aim to train between 55% – 90% of your MHR.  This range is intentionally broad – you should select a percentage appropriate to your current fitness level and whether your goal is to maintain or increase fitness.

Let’s take the example of a 30 year old who is unfit and wants to increase their cardio-respiratory fitness.  Their MHR will be 190 beats per minute (bpm) using the calculation 220 – 30 years = 190.   Training at 60% of this MHR would mean a target of heart rate 114bpm.

If that 30 year old already has a good level of fitness they could aim to train at 80% of their MHR which would be 152 bpm.

There are many heart rate monitors available on the market with basic ones starting from around £20.  Most gyms also have heart rate recording built in to their CV equipment.  If neither of these is available, pulse counting can be used.  Simply count the pulse over 10 seconds and multiply by 6.  This will give you the bpm.

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