Heart Rate Training Zones and Exercise
November 23, 2015 | Published by Victoria Shupe

Those of you using the MyZone system can already see the benefits. It gives you instant feedback on your training zone, effort, and calories. However, the MyZone system is just another tool in your training toolbox, it’s not going to solve the world’s problems or cook your dinner.

Two questions that we get daily are, “where should my heart rate be?” and “is it bad that I’m in the red?” The answer; it depends.

The MyZone system predicts your maximum heart rate based on your age and fitness level. Your target heart rate will be exercise-dependent, it’s okay to be in the red for certain exercises, but not so for others. If you are foam rolling and your tile is red…that’s a problem. Conversely, if you are running on the treadmill and your tile is grey/blue…this is also a problem; ie: you need to pick it up!

As your fitness coach, we love using MyZone to determine your rest periods. For example, if two people (at different fitness levels) are performing intervals of 30s hard/30s easy on the bike, we may find that 30s is too short or too long of a rest period. For an individual with a lower level of fitness, they may need more than 30s rest in order to perform the 30s of work at a high level. Without adequate rest, we will see a gradual decrease in effort and performance. It may be the opposite for the extremely fit individual; they shouldn’t have time to recover below 65%. Basing our rest on heart rate recovery, the same cardio workout becomes extremely individualized. The go-to method for interval training is resting until you have reached 65% before starting the next round. This way the rest is appropriate for each person.

Another important thing to learn is when to PUSH yourself. Self-limiting exercises are those in which once you start to fatigue, you will just slow down or do less with a low risk of injury. For example, sled pushes, rope, medicine ball throws, skipping, push ups, chin-ups and inverted rows fall into this category. With self-limiting exercises, it’s okay to bounce from one to the next in the 80-90% zones; you will be tired and it will be difficult but not harmful. It is important to pay attention to your HR when you are coming from the sled push to the bench press. You should not lay on a bench and press heavy weight over your face if your heart rate is 172 bpm. That has all the makings for disaster. The bench press is not self-limiting, just think about your teeth! Other exercises that would fall into this category are dead lifts, chest press, shoulder press and split squats, just to name a few.

If you are lifting weights, your tile should spend most of the time in the green/yellow (70-85%) with a splash of red (90%). If your workout is more conditioning/interval style, it should be yellow/red (80-100%) with adequate rest periods.

At the end of the day, most people know when its time to chill out in the gym and listening to your body is still the best gauge. The MyZone belts, or any heart rate monitoring system just takes the guess work out. Plus it’s fun!

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