The heart rate monitors have reached our life and have done so strongly. Whether in activity wristbands that measure our heart rate while training or in sports watches with a built-in heart rate monitor, many of us – amateurs and non-sports enthusiasts – have for the first time a gadget that, from our own wrist, gives us information about our heart.
The point is that, precisely because it is new, we may see readings of these pulsometers that scare us or worry us and we don’t know how to interpret. Especially when we are training and we enter very high pulsations. In order to understand these measurements, what exactly they are telling us and when we should worry or reduce the pace, we need to know some bases.
What does it mean when our heart rate monitor tells us that we are in « red zone »
Usually, our heart rate monitor makes the calculation, based on our age, of what would be our maximum heart rate. While training we receive measurements of the rhythm of our heart and, sometimes, when we reach the maximum heart rate that calculates pita to warn us.
Does this mean that it is dangerous or that we should stop when it warns us? The interpretation we make of the data given by the heart rate monitor will depend on some things. The first thing is that when he whistles let’s look at the pulsation data it gives us. If we have calculated our training zones – and we have done well – we will know in which zone we are based on that measurement.
We must keep in mind that The heart rate monitor tends to make a downward estimate of our maximum heart rate (FCM) and whistle well before reaching our real FCM. Therefore, knowing our training areas we will know what we are in when it rings. Most likely, if you let us know it is because we are in zone four or zone five that are the highest.
When we are in zone five we are at 90-100% of our maximum heart rate. This is the frequency we usually reach when we do training for high intensity intervals such as HIIT. That is, the maximum effort that our muscles and our lungs can reach.
This area brings us benefits, as it helps to increase our glycolytic capacity as well as improve our energy supply. In this area a large amount of lactate accumulates in the blood, which helps to improve its tolerance. This improves muscle strength, has action on the conductance of the potassium channel ATP-dependent (adenosine triphosphate) helps us have more energy. It also improves anaerobic capacity and power. It is therefore desirable that in some workouts we reach this area.
What we should remember is that it is not recommended that we spend a lot of time in that area – it is recommended approximately five minutes – so we must remember that It can only be kept in short periods.
The importance of knowing our training zones and what our heart rate tells us
The first step when training with a heart rate monitor and being able to give it all utility is, therefore, to know what are the training zones, what do they tell us and how can we calculate them. And that is precisely what the heart rate monitor tells us when it shows us the heart rate during training or when it tells us that we are in very high pulsations.
Basically, training zones refer to the different work areas in which we train and the different intensities (from lower to higher intensity) to which our bodies respond and work. The different zones will be defined based on our heart rate.
Knowing these training areas will help us know what intensity we are working on, this allows us to schedule our workouts based on what we are looking for. But, in addition, it will allow us to understand exactly what our heart rate monitors indicate.
exist five different zones:
- Zone 1: 50-60% of heart rate. Low and gentle intensity exercises.
- Zone 2: 60-70% of FC. It is a soft middle zone.
- Zone 3: 70% and 80% of HR and corresponds to the aerobic or high intensity zone.
- Zone 4: 80-90% of HR and is known as submaximal zone, entering the anaerobic threshold.
- Zone 5: 90-100% of FC. This is the highest zone we can support and only maintainable in short periods.
How to calculate training zones
The theory is fine, but of course, in order to understand what our heart rate monitor is telling us, we need to know how to know our heart rate and how to calculate it. This way we will understand in what areas we are based on the heart measurement that the heart rate monitor makes.
The most advisable for this is to take a stress test, which is the most appropriate and reliable way to know our training areas. However, if we cannot take a stress test, there is a simpler method – although less reliable – that allows us to calculate them with easy formulas.
The first step is to know our maximum heart rate (FCM) for which we can use the Tanaka formula: FCM = 208 – (0.7 x our age). Once we have this data – which is indicative – we need to know our resting heart rate (FCrep) so that we can measure our pulsations when we are at rest and completely relaxed – we should repeat it several times during the week for reliability, but it is still also indicative -.
With these two data we can already calculate our training zones using the Karvonen Formula: % Objective FC = (FCM-FCrep) x% intensity + FCrep. Using my example as an example, my FCM is 186.3 and my FCrep is 65. If I wanted to calculate my zone 3, that is, at what heart rate I would be in an aerobic zone, the formula would be: FC 70% = (186, 3-65) x0.7 + 65 = 149.91.
What our training zones depend on
At first we might think that our training zones depend on our age, but the reality is that two people can have the same heart rate and age, but not the same training zones.
This is because our training zones depend not only on our age, but also on our physical state, our usual activity level and our state of health. They will also influence more external aspects such as the weather or the altitude in which we are working.
We must also bear in mind that heart rate monitor measurements are not always reliable at all and that we must take into account the altitude and climate in which we are training. Our physical sensations will also be an important signal of where we are and if we should reduce a little.
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