Why You Should Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones
Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is functionally close to the 220-Age = Max HR calculation which is what most people use to determine heart rate zones these days. This means a large majority of people setting default heart rate zones of 50%-100% off that formula results in heart rate zones that are NOT meaningful or correct to that individual.
Have you noticed the zones don't seem right to you? Maybe you just know you are unique, and we agree.
Knowing about your body is important. In fact, certain basics are so important they are part of Step 1 of our 4 Keys to Cardio Fitness program. You really need to know and be aware of what your maximum heart rate should be, what your resting heart rate is, and have them measured in a controlled environment, so you can really understand your body. Creating custom zones to help you monitor and control your exercise and fitness pays off huge dividends. For those who want to exercise intelligently and be healthy through exercise, setting and monitoring personal heart rate zones is a critical practice.
Using Personal Heart Rate Zones vs. Calculated Zones 220-Age was never supposed to become a standard. If you are using the Haskel Fox formula, it is highly likely you are exercising in zones that are too high or too low, sometimes significantly. In fact, only about 20% of people fit comfortably in that Heart Rate Zone formula (220-Age), and even then only for certain activities.
The formula was developed from male runners, and running zones don’t typically apply to other sports. Each person has unique ability and physical development in specific activities. That’s why a runner who feels great after a long run at 85% max hr can only do about 10 minutes at that heart rate on a bike feeling totally exhausted after. It is also why so many have tried to come up with new heart rate zone calculations.
If you are in zones that are too high your workout will exhaust you and possibly be dangerous. If your zones are too low, you will not be pushing yourself enough to develop the base fitness you need to get healthy.
Custom zones assessments and fitness measurements are a the keystones of proper training and planning
Trying to Lose Weight When you are concerned primarily with losing weight, typically you want to develop your fat-burn and endurance systems. By knowing these zones, you don’t end up mistakenly developing your carbohydrate-energy converting systems or never get into the endurance development zones. If you never get into the endurance development zones, you will never develop the endurance you need for long term weight loss and building your basic metabolism to burn calories even when not working out.
Being Fit & Healthy What does it mean to really be fit and healthy? It means that each of your energy systems are performing properly and at optimal levels. If you often spend too much time in the same routine, you overload on one system versus the others. For example, spending too much time in the fat-burning zone and endurance zones and not enough in the anaerobic zones will result in not developing stamina, speed or power systems. Conversely, working out too hard in the Anaerobic, carbohydrate driven energy zones and not enough time in the lower zones will lead to your body not becoming very efficient at burning fat. Either of these scenarios can result in unbalanced systems, and while that isn’t critical, true health = true balance.
Another reason for fit & healthy people to create custom zones is to help you avoid injury and bodily harm. Races are more fun and enjoyable.
For many of the fit and healthy, a large part of why you might want custom zones is simply one of self-realization and self-actualization. Self-knowledge strengthens the mind-body relationship,and knowledge is power.
Optimizing Fitness When you are trying to optimize your fitness level, custom zones becomes not just important, but critical. When you are training for optimal performance, it is widely agreed that the only thing better than heart rate training is training with power sensors, but those are only available for bikes, and power sensors can be quite expensive. If you don’t know your personal heart rate zones, training for optimizing performance using the zones is simply a crap shoot. Without accurate zones, it’s like training in the dark. Perceived effort is fine for some, but nothing beats working out with heart.
Health Issues or Major Weight Loss If you have or had heart issues, knowing your danger zones (above max HR) and your “optimal” zones for developing the base level of fitness, is both smart and critical to monitor. In addition, it can provide the motivation to push yourself a little bit harder to help build fitness, but still be safe.
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