Training Using Target Heart Rate Zones

Why Use Target Heart Rate Zones?

The maximal amount of oxygen that can be extracted from the blood during maximal exercise (VO2max) is a measure of aerobic fitness. With training, VO2max increases, allowing for higher levels of activity with less exertion. Ideally, an individual's VO2max is measured and used to develop exercise protocols. However, measuring VO2max is expensive and difficult. Instead, maximal heart rate (HRmax) and Heart Rate Reserve are simple and accessible methods for developing conditioning protocols. Recording heart rate values at rest, during exercise, immediately after a program, and during recovery after exercise can monitor conditioning improvements. Target heart rate zones are approximate and give an estimated range for exercise heart rates. Individual variations exist and depend on ones conditioning level.

Percentage of Age-Predicted Maximal Heart Rate (HRmax)

Measured in beats per minute (bpm)

(Aerobic Zone: 70-85%) (Anaerobic Zone: 85-95%)

Age

HRmax

70% HRmax 

85% HRmax 

95% HRmax 

5

215

151

183

204

6

214

150

182

203

7

213

149

181

202

8

212

148

180

201

9

211

148

179

200

10

210

147

179

200

11

209

146

178

199

12

208

146

177

198

13

207

145

176

197

14

206

144

175

196

15

205

144

174

195

16

204

143

173

194

17

203

142

173

193

18

202

141

172

192

19

201

141

171

191

20

200

140

170

190

21

199

139

169

189

22

198

139

168

188

23

197

138

167

187

24

196

137

167

186

25

195

137

166

185

26

194

136

165

184

27

193

135

164

183

28

192

134

163

182

29

191

134

162

181

30

190

133

162

181

Maximal Heart Rate (HRmax)

The maximal heart rate a person can attain is related to that individual's age. HRmax can be estimated by using the formula (HRmax = 220 - age). This age related maximal heart rate is accurate to within 20 beats above or below the value.

A more accurate way of finding the maximal heart rate is to have the skater do a program run-through with all the elements in it, and stroke full speed for two laps immediately afterwards. If a heart rate monitor is not available, then take the heart rate for six seconds immediately after finishing the 2 stroking laps. Take this number (usually between 16-20) and multiply by 10. This is the maximal heart rate.

Once the HRmax has been established, target heart rate zones can be calculated using two methods for aerobic or anaerobic/interval training. In the first method, the age-predicted heart rate is used to calculate the aerobic and anaerobic training zones. The chart, Percentage of Age-Predicted Maximal Heart Rate (HRmax), shows the heart rate ranges for ages 5 through 30. For example, the aerobic heart rate zone for a 20 year-old skater is between 140-170 bpm, and the anaerobic heart rate zone (for interval training) is between 170-190 bpm.

The Karvonen Formula is a more accurate method for finding the heart rate training zones. Find the maximal heart rate by using the age-predicted value or my measuring it after a program run-through, as described above. Next, find the resting heart rate (HRrest). This is most accurately measured first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed. Take the pulse for a full minute.

 

Plug the values into the equation:
     (HRmax-HRrest) = Heart Rate Reserve
     (220 - age) - (HR measured 1st thing in a.m.) = Heart Rate Reserve

Example:  a 20 year-old athlete with a HRrest of 60 bpm has a heart rate reserve of 140 bpm.
     (220 - 20) - 60 = 140


To find training heart rate zones, first determine the appropriate percentage of Heart Rate Reserve, then add back the HRrest:

  • For Aerobic (Cardio) Training (75-85% Heart Rate Max):
    • Heart Rate Reserve x 75% + HRrest = Exercise Heart Rate
    • 140 x .75 + 60 = 165 beat / min
    • 140 x .85 + 60 = 179 beat / min

Heart rate range for this 20-year-old skater for aerobic training is 165-179 beat/per min. The skater will maintain this heart rate range for the duration of the cardio session such as during biking, skating, sliding, hiking, etc.

  • For Anaerobic (Interval) Training (85-95% Heart Rate Max):
    • 140 X .85 + 60 = 179 beat / min
    • 140 X .95 + 60 = 193 beat / min

Heart rate range for this 20-year-old skater for anaerobic training is 179 - 193 beat/per min. The skater will maintain this high heart rate range for 1-4 min during high intensity interval training on cardio equipment, running, power stroking or a program run-through. The skater will repeat several intervals with a brief rest between intervals.

How to Take a Pulse

pulseThe pulse is the heart pumping blood. The most common sites for taking a pulse are at the wrist or neck. At rest, the pulse is counted for 15 seconds then multiplied by 4 to get beats per minute. During exercise, count the pulse for 6 seconds and multiply by 10.

To measure at the wrist, gently place the index and middle fingers of one hand on palm side near the thumb on the opposite wrist about 1 finger-width below the wrist creases.

neck-pulseTo measure at the neck, gently place the index and middle fingers of one hand at the level of Adam’s apple, the moving cartilage ring that rises when swallowing. Slide the fingers to the groove on the side of the neck. Feel for the pulsing of the heart. Immediately after high intensity exercise, the heart rate can easily be felt by placing the right hand over the heart as in “I pledge allegiance.”

Note: The pulse should not be taken directly under the jaw bone as blood pressure receptors are located there and the increased pressure from the fingers can cause the blood pressure to markedly drop, potentially resulting in fainting.

 

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