Examples of Training with heart rate technology
We are going to cover four typical training scenarios that have differed goals to illustrate how to coach your clients using heart rate technology. Too often, people are either training too hard or not hard enough to reach their goals. With heart rate based training, you will eliminate this problem.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is a very popular modality of training and with heart rate, you can be sure to get the maximum and highest quality benefits. One obstacle to training a group is making sure that all the participants are getting the intended benefit from the training. Exercise response and recovery is a very individual thing. Yet, during group training, it is very common for all the participants to be receiving the exact same cues from the trainer for and recovery intervals. The problem with this is that not all the participants are at the same point of stress/recovery. This means that not everyone is getting the same training effect from the workout.
For example, if you have group of ten individuals and you have them do a sprint interval drill on spin bikes, the traditional instruction would be to sprint for maybe 30 seconds at their maximum effort. Then, they would be instructed to recover for the next 60 seconds. The problem is that after the 60 seconds of recovery not all 10 participants will be at the same point of recovery as they begin the next sprint, this in turn means that not everyone is getting the same benefit. Maybe 4 of the participant will be recovered sufficiently to move on, three might be too recovered (the goal of HIIT is often to not allow a full recovery), and maybe three are not nearly recovered enough. See how this is a problem from an individualization and results angle? Now, if you use heart rate to cue the recovery and work interval you can make the workout, even in a group setting, specific to each individual. In this case the instruction is simple. Begin your next interval when your individual heart rate drops to 65%. Now you have corrected for different fitness levels and even overall fatigue. The fitter individuals will end up doing a few more intervals than the less fit individuals, but everyone will be getting the intended stimulus and benefits based on their individual needs. Now you have personalized the workout and will reap the best results.
This is also very important when working with athletic teams and individuals. The principal is the same and you will realize improve results.
Lactate Threshold or Anaerobic Threshold Training
Increasing your anaerobic threshold is very important for athletes and anyone wanting improved physical performance. Aerobic Threshold is the point when the body is working so hard that it is producing metabolic waste products like lactic acid faster than the body can clear it, leading to muscle fatigue, slower pace, and reduced performance. Raising this level is uncomfortable and without using some sort of objective physiological measurements can be very difficult. Heart rate is a very effective way to maximize your goal to raise Aerobic Threshold.
This takes some up-front preparation by finding out what your steady state heart rate is, which is an intensity you can maintain for a prolonged period of time without your heart rate increasing.
This is pretty simple when you use heart rate monitoring. Find a moderately hard intensity exercise on a cardio machine like a spin bike or treadmill. There is benefit in matching the machine to your preferred mode of exercise or sport. This can be done as part of a class offering or with an individual client. Gradually, increase the speed every one to two minutes, while monitoring your heart rate. The goal is to find a steady heart rate, a level at which you feel like you're working hard, but your heart rate doesn't jump up over the time you're training. This should be in that moderate intensity zone, about 75-85 percent of your max heart rate.
For example, lets say 75% - 85% of your max heart rate is 135-153 BPM (max HR is 180 in this example). Start at the lower end, 135 BPM, and stay at that intensity for three minutes. If, after three minutes, your HR remains unchanged, increase the intensity slightly and do the test again. If it starts to creep up after three minutes without changing the intensity, you have reached your Aerobic Threshold heart rate number. You can play with this setting with a different heart rate percentage for the test, remaining in that 75-85% of your personal heart rate max. Once you establish this number, train 2-3 times a week at that heart rate for about 40 minutes and you will see your Aerobic Threshold increase. Soon you will be working harder while maintaining a steady state heart rate, which means faster running & cycling, as well as improved overall fitness.
Recovery and Easy Days
One of the biggest mistakes people make, including trainers, is not sticking to low intensity on active recovery days. All to often someone will join a group run or ride intending to “take it easy”, yet when the group starts to pick up the pace past your recovery heart rate, you take off with the group. This leads to overtraining and all the negative training effects that go with it.
By using heart rate as your guide, you can closely monitor your work intensity and make sure to realize the very important aspects of active recovery. Knowing your numbers will help you maximize the intended benefits.
Improved Fat Utilization and Base Fitness
The myth of the “fat burning zone” has been around for a very long time in the fitness world. From a purely biological point of view, as a percentage of the fuels used by the body for metabolic function, you utilize the most amount of fat, about 50-65% worth while sleeping! The problem is that the overall total of calories is pretty small.
However, there are some very compelling and practical reasons to train at low intensities. When in motion at around 50-75% of max heart rate we can train our bodies to be more efficient fat burners and improve base fitness and general health. This will pay dividends when doing more intense work.
For example, by spending 35-90 minutes a week in the lower intensity ranges, you will increase fat metabolism and base cardiovascular fitness. Too often people go too hard in the “no-man’s zone” of moderate intensity. We call this “Junk-Training” intensity that often leads to increased hunger and fatigue. By using your heart rate monitor you can make sure to take it easy in the right zone, just under 70% of your max heart rate.
Lastly, you can pair a low intensity interval with your HIIT training. It has been documented that following a high intensity training session, if you have the time, you can spend 20-90 minutes doing a very low intensity activity, like walking or leisurely cycling, and you will increase the overall body fat you utilize. This is great when you are trying to lean out. The key is to take it easy, and that is easy to do when you utilize heart rate as your guide.