With only a limited timeframe to exercise in, it is understandable that you want to get the most out of it. Many people will actually plateau in their regime without even realising it – you might be working out for the same amount of time, but you aren’t receiving as many benefits. One way to ensure that you keep making gains is to use the heart rate controls on your fitness equipment.
The theory behind these controls is that, by knowing how hard your heart is working, you can determine your degree of exertion whilst exercising. On most pieces of fitness equipment, the controls are found in two stationary handgrips (such as the handlebars of elliptical machines and exercise bikes). You need to grab hold of these grips in order for your heart rate to be measured.
There are five different ‘zones’ that your heart rate is likely to fall into:
- Healthy Heart Zone – In this zone, you’re working at 50-60% of your maximum heart rate. For most people, this can be achieved with an easy walk. Aim for this zone if you’re just starting out with your routine.
- Temperate Zone – In this zone, you’re working at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. This can be achieved by walking at a fast pace or even a slow jog. You will receive the same benefits as you do in zone one.
- Aerobic Zone – In this zone, you’re working at 70-80% of your maximum heart rate. This can be achieved through a steady jog. You will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and strengthen your heart.
- Anaerobic Threshold Zone – In this zone, you’re working at 80-90% of your maximum heart rate. This can be achieved through high intensity exercise (such as a burning run).
- Redline Zone – In this zone, you’re working at 90-100% of your maximum heart rate. You should enter this zone with caution, as you can injure yourself if you sustain for long periods of time.
NOTE: Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age (so, if you’re 25 your maximum heart rate will be 195).
Understanding each of these zones and correctly using the heart rate controls on your fitness equipment can help you to achieve an effective workout. Many personal trainers recommend exercising in several different zones, as this can help you to improve your fitness levels and help you to vary your routine. You will also ensure that you don’t plateau and continue challenging yourself.