Until quite recently, HR training was only common with high performance and professional athletes. But in recent years the cost of heart rate monitors has come down significantly, which has triggered a significant increase in their popularity among amateur and hobby athletes.
This type of training essentially is a way of optimizing your training sessions in order to achieve either fitness or weight loss goals. Prior to a training session you set yourself a a target heart rate zone at which you want to perform and the HRM will keep you informed whether or not you are performing at the right level.
This is one of the main questions I had before I started using a heart rate monitor for training. But the benefits to your fitness levels can be incredible. Once you know what your optimum heart rate zones are you can then plan each training session to target a certain heart zone.
On some days you will aim for a higher level of activity while other days you will need to train at a more moderate pace in order to avoid burning out. Once I had this figured out I found that training was much more effective and I saw great improvements in my fitness levels.
Absolutely yes. Heart rate training can be incredibly beneficial for beginners, as it will significantly speed up your progress. If you are aiming to lose weight, then a heart monitor can make sure that you work out at a level that is optimal to trigger fat burning.
Or you might be trying to improve your fitness levels and preparing for half marathon or even a full one. Here, HR training can also be of immense benefit, as it will help you improve your fitness levels to a maximum.
A heart rate training zone is a range of heartbeats per minute. Training zones are generally divided into fat-burning, aerobic and anaerobic zones that are differentiated in the rate of beats per minute, which are calculated based on percentages of your working heart rate. More on this can be found on the How To Find Your Target Heart Rate page.
Each zone causes your body to react in different ways depending on the intensity of training. For example, in order to burn fat you need to be working out at a percentage range of 50% to 75%. For high performance, targeted muscle training you would train in the 85th to 95th percentile.
Training zones are a little bit complicated to calculate, and have to be worked out for every individual. The best possible way to work out training zones is through a clinically set heart rate test, and this is something that you should consider if you are a serious performance athlete.
But for most people, you find that this can be manually calculated. In order to work out your heart rate zones, you will first need to know your maximum heart rate and your resting heart. These values are then used to mathematically work out your target training zones. More on this can be found on the How To Find Your Target Heart Rate page.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is what do you want to achieve through heart rate training. For a lot of people the answer will be weight loss and this is a very good way to get started with improving your overall health.
Once you know your heart rate zones you know that you need to be performing at a level of heart beats per minute that falls into your personal fat burning zone. Then during your training session you need to make sure that your pace causes your heart rate to be constantly in that zone, not above and not below.
For more advance athletes the plan will end up being a lot more complex and should be tailored to your needs. Essentially you will be varying the intensity of training from one session to another, and also during individual sessions.
There is software that can put a training plan together for you, and also some of the more advanced heart rate monitors on this site have such functionality built in. Alternatively you can consult a personal trainer at your gym or sports club.
During training you need make sure that your BPM stay within the target zone you have planned for. For certain types of training this might involve spending a certain amount of time in the fat burning zone, before moving into the aerobic and anaerobic zones.
The most basic heart rate monitors will simply display your current BPM on the watch and it is up to you to keep looking at the value to make sure you do not go above or below a certain level.
However, we would recommend that you consider spending a little bit more to have a feature that displays and sounds an alarm whenever you move from one target zone to another. This means that you can focus on your pace rather than being constantly distracted by looking at your watch.
Essentially though, all you have to do during training is to make sure you perform at a certain predefined level and you will quickly see your goals achieved.